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North-east facing front garden ideas

Hello, this is my first post.  Im a complete novice, but am willing to learn.  I love plants and really want to sort out both my front and back garden.  For now, im sorting out the front as it's smaller and, at the moment, bare.

I moved in 2 years ago and when we got here the border to the right had some ivy on the wall and some sort of unknown shrub which had gone out of control.  The border to the left and front were over grown with bluebells.  It was all messy and so i've spent some time digging out bulbs and roots etc.  Ive added some compost and now I want to plant some things.

The Soil is clay, im guessing probably neutral but as yet I havent tested it.  My neighbours gardens are mostly bare gravel or paving except to my right who have planted roses and small conifers just last year and some other bits.  Large trees are out the front across the pathway.

I would like something that flowers, provides some green, looks interesting and doesnt get too big as the photo below is taken from my master bedroom window looking down on the garden.  The house is on a hill, garden faces approximately north east and gets not much sun, maybe a few hours in the morning, but due to houses/trees in the way and the wall height its pretty much in shade.  My neighbours to the left successfully grow hydrangeas in containers, they are pretty large though!! (the plants, not the neighbours)

I like hydrangeas, roses, camellias, lavender, hellebores, fuschias.  Basically im stuck as to what to plant.  some sort of shrub along the left border?? The borders are about 40cm width, 2.5m length.  I dont really want to dig them any wider.  Id be interested in having some containers of things along the small path directly in front my of my lounge window. 

Please, help!!!!

To the left of this picture would be my front door at the top of the steps.  There is a large drop down over the left to next door.  It can sometimes get quite windy in the winter, if that makes a difference.




  • FairygirlFairygirl Posts: 54,358

    Hi Peter - it's a tricky little plot but there will be a solution. The narrow borders will limit the scope, but you can have year round colour. 

    What height are the walls? 

    The shade means lavender won't be happy so I wouldn't try that, but Camellias and Hydrangeas will probably be fine. I'd position them where they're protected from the early morning sun, so the two farthest corners would be ideal. You could then have clematis on the wall in between them, underplanted with perennials (the Hellebores will be fine) to give a more formal look. There are plenty of plants which we cansuggest for a shady area.

    If you prefer informal, you could use one Camellia as a main evergreen, with some of your other choices filling the rest of the borders. The deciduous ones can be underplanted with bulbs for spring. Repeat planting is a good idea to give a bit of unity to  the area, but you'll have to choose carefully because of the size of the plot.

    To make a real impact, make those borders wider, or make one big one in an arc across one side. That would give you more scope to plant.Otherwise you end up with a line of random shrubs which never looks very successful. 

    It's a place where beautiful isn't enough of a word....

    I live in west central Scotland - not where that photo is...
  • pansyfacepansyface Posts: 22,742

    Hello Peter. Do you use the space for anything or is it just a dead area? If you don't use it for anything you coukd really fill it up with plants and let them get on with it. Unless your soil is limey or alkaline you could plant rhododendrons and azaleas in there. 

    Everything has its season, but with a good variety of rhododendrons you could have carefree colourful plants from early spring to mid summer.

    Apophthegm -  a big word for a small thought.
    If you live in Derbyshire, as I do.
  • Hi, cheers for the replies.  There are some good things to think about already!


    The wall to the right is about 3ft high, the front and left walls are about 1ft.  The drop behind the front wall is about 3ft to the pathway to the front.  The front garden is essentially a dead space, but as it's so small I thought i'd tackle it first. 

    I dont really want to dig the borders out any wider really, but if I did, which would be the best to do?  all of them, or have an arc from left to right making the front one larger?  Im really clueless at getting any sort of vision for these things.

    I like the sound of some hydrageas in the corners with clematis along the wall.  I'd prefer an informal look I guess. 


  • FairygirlFairygirl Posts: 54,358

    You could simply make that one along the back deeper - about four feet. That will give you a lot more scope, or take a curve from the start of the left hand one across to meet the other side.  Draw a simple plan on paper and play about with shapes if you want to make anything bigger.  image

    It's hard to see in your pic but I assume that the 'rear' wall is stepped up at the right side to meet the right hand wall? You could have lower growing planting on the left side which would spill over the wall and soften it a bit. Roses might be good for there - I don't grow roses but you could start a specific thread for suggestions if you liked that idea. Carrying on with pansyface's suggestion, some of the smaller evergreen Azaleas would also be fine there. 

    Think about colour too - keep the flower colours to a minimum to avoid a clashing look, but if you want a riot of colour then go for it - and keep the foliage colour similar to avoid giving you a headache!  A repeat of something like Hellebores will tie everything together, and you can also do that with bulbs for this time of year. 

    It's a place where beautiful isn't enough of a word....

    I live in west central Scotland - not where that photo is...
  • Good information Peter! Cyclamens would thrive in shady, clay and NE aspect. For a formal evergreen Christmas/Sweet Box in the winter would fragrance and greet you and your visitors and it too prefers a bit of moist shade.

    Another shade tolerant plant, Hardy Fuchsia, would arch well over the border edges or you could raise them up in containers. Keeping plants tucked within the walls will reduce wind the scorch.

    Choosing white flowers or variegated foliage would lighten the area if you don't want to use solar lighting or an exterior light. (Personally I would use containers and then move them about at my will or whim) You cleverly went on a recce to see what neighbours had grown successfully - so many people don't. The Inspiration sections on this site are brilliant. Have fun designing Peter and can we have an 'after' pic pretty-please?
  • Peter I have had some more ideas for your NE facing garden borders. Lilium martague, harts tongue ferns, Arum italicum and Zantedeschia aethiopica Crowborough would thrive in that garden. Bergenia would tolerate the shady moist part too.
  • Wow, thanks so much fore the ideas.  Im going to have a look at the ground and see how easy it would be to extend the border at the front to around 4 ft, probably taking a bit of a curve from left to right.

    The wall steps up about 1ft to compensate for the hill, about half way along, but doesnt quite reach the same height as the wall to the right.

    I'll get some more pictures up when I have got round to the digging/next bit.


    Thank you all!

  • FairygirlFairygirl Posts: 54,358

    Take your time Peter -  make sure you really like the plants you want to put in. It's much more important in  a small space. Plants need to earn their keep  image

    It's a place where beautiful isn't enough of a word....

    I live in west central Scotland - not where that photo is...
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