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".