In the row houses, the garden usually has to be divided into two areas – the one in front of the house (representative) and the one behind the house (private). While you can arrange the backyard to suit your taste and the needs of your family, the front garden is more of a semi-public space that acts as a prestigious entrance and must always look well-maintained. Because landscaping on the north side of a home can be challenging, it pays to seek the advice of an expert around gardening and landscaping. Find out which plants are suitable for this shady location in this gardening tip.
Our reader, Mrs. Raab, is having trouble designing her front yard with a northwest exposure. Her doubts concern a small flower bed between the garage door and the front gate. It is the last row house in the row, so the entrance gate is on the side of the property.
“There is a small, thin spruce growing in this round space, but it was planted by my brother so I have a fondness for it, and a large, old box tree that is rotten from the inside. It is also important to me because it was moved from my family’s house in Rostock. Recently I started to trim the boxwood a little, and it is getting thicker,” Mrs. Raab writes in her letter. “The boxwood unfortunately obscures the square, which logically should be visible from the street, but on the other hand, it is also a nice privacy screen through which you can not see what is happening in the garden on the side of the house. The square still has a small silver spruce, seasonal flowers and heather. In fact, I don’t have a decent idea how to design this corner of the garden, nor do I have the courage to make serious changes,” Mrs. Raab complains.
The small front garden is next to a busy street, on the northwest side, and the sun shines there in the late afternoon. It would be difficult to reach the site with a lawn mower, so a lawn in that location is more out of the question.
In response to Ms. Raab’s letter, Agata Kies of Studio Green Creations created three concepts for how to design a modern front yard on the north side. Each of the concepts included suggestions on how to screen the bed from the busy street with plants or prefabricated wooden fence panels at a similar height to the existing fence. In the flower bed, at Ms. Raab’s request, the existing spruce and evergreen boxwood were left in place and should be trimmed regularly to maintain a compact, healthy growth. In the new projects, due to the northwestern location, the existing heather (Calluna), a small prickly spruce (Picea pungens), and ornamental grasses from the fescue genus (Festuca) were omitted because they require a sunny location.
Take a look at the three bed ideas and get inspired for your own front garden. The planting plan will help you better plan the number and arrangement of plants. By the way, you can find more free planting plans for the front garden in this article.
First concept: brighten the shade with yellow plants.
The greenery relies on the color yellow and refers to the existing sand-colored paving and the bright facade of the house. Here, a variety of plants were used that bloom exclusively in shades of yellow and light yellow. The front garden designed in this way will brighten up the shady corner on the north side and give it a warm, individual character. The mixture of evergreens and perennials, which bloom in succession, will ensure that the bed remains beautiful in all seasons.
Plants that are comfortable in the shade and prefer urban conditions were used for the greenery. In the back of the bed, three columnar yews (Taxus baccata ‘Hicksii’) were arranged to create a distinct, vertical accent in the bed. Against this backdrop, groups of large-flowered foxglove (Digitalis grandiflora), which blooms from June to August, and long-spurred garden columbine (Aquilegia chrysantha), which blooms from May to August, are suggested. The perennials reach a considerable height of up to 100 cm at flowering time.
In the middle part of the bed should be an evergreen shrub, an ornamental mahogany (Mahonia aquifolium ‘Apollo’), with small, yellow, fragrant flowers that appear from April to May.
In the front part of the bed, soft lady’s mantle (Alchemilla mollis), Amur’s adonis (Adonis amurensis), carpet golden strawberry (Waldsteinia ternata) and evergreen creeping spindle (Euonymus fortunei) are used as ground covers. The season begins with the Amur Adonis rose, which blooms as early as March, then the flowers of the golden strawberry appear from April to May, and from June the numerous, small flowers of the lady’s mantle. The greening of the front garden design is planned in such a way that the flowering periods of the individual plants complement and merge with each other.
Second concept: noble design of front garden with hydrangeas
For the second concept, diverse and multicolored plant compositions were chosen. The front garden impresses not only by the blooming magic of the plants. The different shapes and sizes of the plants give it a spatial dimension.
The front garden was screened from the street by a tall columnar yew of the ‘Hicksii’ variety (Taxus baccata ‘Hicksii’) and a medium-sized panicle hydrangea ‘Pinky Winky’ (Hydrangena paniculata). The hydrangea reaches a growth height of up to 150 cm and scores with attractive, initially white and later dark pink flowers that appear from July to October.
The lower tier is formed by a Japanese daisy (Astilbe japonica) with crimson, fern-like flower panicles and a funkie with attractive, large leaves and purple-colored flowers. Both perennials bloom profusely from June to August.
The shady border is complemented by the sky-blue flowers of the spring memorial vine (Omphalodes verna), which appear between March and April, the purple flower shoots of the creeping günsel (Ajuga reptans) (flowering period May-June), the heart-shaped purple flowers of the dwarf heartflower (Dicentra eximia), which can be admired from May to June, and the red elfflower (Epimedium x rubrum), which fascinates with its attractive leaves in April and May.
The flower bed was designed to bloom all year round and be a highlight in the front garden.
Third concept: modern and low-maintenance with gravel
The third concept focuses on minimalism and simple elegance. The use of evergreen ground covers makes the bed attractive even in autumn and winter. Placement of tubs in intense colors enlivens the composition.
The square was screened from the busy street with wooden fence panels, which visually close not only the interior of the flower bed, but also the entire front garden, creating a more private space.
The main vertical element here is also a yew tree of the ‘Hicksii’ variety (Taxus baccata ‘Hicksii’). The existing boxwood (Buxus sempervirens) was joined by another, smaller one, also spherical in shape.
The center and main point of the bed is formed by decorative garden slabs of various sizes, laid on gravel. Two large tubs with a modern, elegant design were placed on the slabs. The tubs were planted with boxwood balls, but can optionally be provided with seasonal flowers from the second half of May. Impatiens, fuchsias and begonias, for example, prefer shady locations.
Thickman (Pachysandra terminalis), low mockberry (Gaultheria procumbens) and carpet loquat ‘Eichholz’ (Cotoneaster radicans ‘Eichholz’) form pretty carpets around the panels. To keep the bed attractive in fall and winter, evergreen ground cover plants such as carnations (Dianthus) are suggested.
The third concept does not use lush flowering perennials, so it is a simple but original greenery, which is easy to implement and does not require special care.
In the design, the landscape architect opted for fence panels in warm brown tones , which can be combined with light, white or cream colored tubs. However, the design can be varied by using panels in shades of gray, for example, and choosing colorful, “eye-catching” tubs, such as an intense purple. The colors of the tubs, as well as the seasonal plants that are planted in them, can be changed according to your mood, creating a new effect each time.