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karyanca 04-26-2009 10:14 AM

We live in a condo complex - tall narrow townhouses, tiny gardens. In the front of our house, we have a small side garden (about 5'x3') sheltered by a stairwell on three sides with a driveway bordering the fourth side. We also have a small front garden (about 5'x 10.5') shared with our immediate neighbour. The front gardens are west-facing and are exposed to extremes in temperature, rainfall and wind. We have one deciduous tree in the middle of the front garden and some struggling plantings - due to poor soil, water erosion, salt and kid traffic. The general area is zone 6a.

Both gardens are used to pile snow in the winter - several feet deep, mini-snow mountains.

Also, we have the neighbourhood "Garden Police" who have very definite ideas about what is acceptable - and will send the property manager after you if you don't comply.

So, my plan is to work on our little side garden first then, with that as a visual aid, get our neighbours approval to complete the front garden. The main thing is I want to add a stone border (dry stacked, 3 layers) for the edge facing the driveway, with some landscape fabric to hold in newly added soil. I've already checked out another neighbour's front/side garden that was done this way and it looks very nice and seems a good solution to stop the soil from being washed away.

The part that I'm a little unclear about is the plantings. What will survive in this situation? Following the Garden Police rules for the front garden:

* The tree stays. No problem.

* The rear of the garden should have four medium height shrubs. Problem: Only three of the original deciduous shrubs are left and they aren't doing well after the landscapers pruned them nearly to the ground. Even if they regrow, I have been searching for years for a replacement for the missing fourth shrub. Personally, I'd like to remove them (donate to someone else) and replace with four new shrubs - maybe four upright conifers. But would these survive being buried in snow? I could encase them in wire cages and wrap them in burlap each fall, but this isn't just normal snowfall, it's massive heavy compacted snow.

* The remainder of the bed should be planted with flowering plants. The Garden Police suggest annuals, although I think a mixture (bulbs, annuals, perennials) would be better. But the space is quite small and I don't want it to look sloppy.

Oh, and the house is a red-tone (light and medium) brick.

Please, pretty please, help me!

P.S. Part Two will be the "Back Garden of Eternal Gloom".

LucidAnne 04-27-2009 05:19 PM

iwould suggest checking out your local garden shop/ greenhouse. they should be able to tell you what plants are hardy in your area. im not sure of your climate or of your microclimate (as in the immediate spot...wind, sun, temp,e tc)

also, you should get your soil tested and see if it should be amended. some plants need more or less acid or alkaline.

das_nut 04-27-2009 09:37 PM

For shrubs, four nanking bush cherries should work in many zones.

They grow in Minnesota, so cold isn't a problem.

The fruit is edible, but isn't as sweet as most cherries. If mixed with sugar, they make good pies.

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