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Small front garden

Hi folks,

Ripped up the garden and it's overcome with weeds. As you can see by the photo it's relatively small. I'd like some colour all seasons but I've no idea what to plant. I'd also like a small feature tree if that makes sense but nothing that grows more than a few metres high. 

I've been checking out dwarf azeleas for example which look a good start. As my windows are low I don't want anything high in front of them.

Thank you
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  • Nanny BeachNanny Beach Posts: 8,714
    Afraid we need to know whether garden faces NSEW type of soil,how much time and money you want to spend,and something about YOU to gauge tasts. That's not a small front garden, I consider the little patch on front of Victorian houses which are about a mtr deep to be small. Anyway,give us some more details please
  • Hi,

    It is East facing so gets the morning sun. Completely in shade shortly after noon really. Can get the full force of any winds also.

    I think the soil is mostly clay. It's not that deep especially at the sides. You can see beneath the windows the concrete sticking up not covered.

    Time isn't an issue as long as I can work at it but ideally low maintenance once completed. Money is an issue though but I can add at a later date.

    Thank you
  • ObelixxObelixx Posts: 30,003
    Poor, shallow soil is not going to be any good for azaleas or any other shrub or tree to thrive, even a small one.   Azaleas also need acidic soil as they don't like calcium in the soil or water and they won't like winds whipping about.

    I suggest you invest some time and effort in forking over the entire area to remove any rubble and weeds and their roots and then put on a thick layer - several inches - of well rotted manure or other soil conditioner which can be bought in bags form a good DIY store or maybe sourced by the tonne if you have a local supplier.

    You could consider something like this ornamental cherry - https://www.rhs.org.uk/plants/details?plantid=5318 as it is not fussy about soil type but beware that small conifer growing up to take a lot of space too.

    Looks to me like an ideal spot to try either a dry garden with low growing ground cover plants that need little water or maintenance https://schoolgardening.rhs.org.uk/Resources/Info-Sheet/Creating-a-Dry-Garden or you could go for taller plants such as you would find in a "prairie" garden - https://www.rhs.org.uk/advice/profile?pid=1025 

    Both would be low maintenance but colourful and involve no lawn mowing or hedge cutting but be colourful, varied and beneficial to wildlife.
    Vendée - 20kms from Atlantic coast.
    "We don't stop playing because we grow old; we grow old because we stop playing." - George Bernard Shaw
  • Hi Obelixx, thank you very much. I will check out those links now.

    That small conifer will be going as it's not done to well there.
  • I like the prairie garden idea too with some weed suppressant and shingle on top will be really low maintenance
  • ObelixxObelixx Posts: 30,003
    edited June 2021
    Don't use weed suppressant fabric.  It is plastic and a nightmare and will not stop weeds seeding into the gravel/shingle but it will stop your chosen prairie plants form spreading at the roots.   Well prepared soil and some deep enough shingle will allow for easy growth and maintenance.   Also easier to change yuor mind and move things about without the membrane.

    That conifer could be moved to a pot with good John Innes no 3 mixed with 20% MPC for moisture retention till you decide on a good home for it.   Water well before digging it up.
    Vendée - 20kms from Atlantic coast.
    "We don't stop playing because we grow old; we grow old because we stop playing." - George Bernard Shaw
  • FireFire Posts: 18,927
    As can get very windy, maybe put some kind of border around it. A dry garden style sounds like a good idea. Geranium Rozanne would be ok there for starters - long flowering, colourful, good for bees, happy with shade, tough as old boots, cheap and cheerful. Euphorbia, heuchera, hellebore, erysimum, snowdrops, iris reticulata.
  • didywdidyw Posts: 3,521
    I agree with all of the comments above, but if it was me, I'd dig it over, put down a thick layer of shingle and cover it with pots - huge ones at the back down to smaller ones at the front.  Then you can have what you like, including a pot with ericaceous compost for an azalea or a camellia.  Unless you think the pots would get nicked!  Depends what your neighbourhood is like!
    Gardening in East Suffolk on dry sandy soil.
  • Busy-LizzieBusy-Lizzie Posts: 23,772
    Apart from getting nicked, pots need regular watering, can be awkward when you are away.
    I like the dry garden idea, easy, undemanding plants surrounded with gravel.
    Dordogne and Norfolk. Clay in Dordogne, sandy in Norfolk.
  • ObelixxObelixx Posts: 30,003
    For ideas on dry garden plants, visit Beth Chatto's garden or website.   I went there in May 2016 and took photos.  Here are 3 of them - plenty of colour and texture but you'd need to make sure some plants perform later on or it would be dull.








    Vendée - 20kms from Atlantic coast.
    "We don't stop playing because we grow old; we grow old because we stop playing." - George Bernard Shaw
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