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Allan designs and plants flowering gardens in Montreal, Zone 5 [USDA Zone 4] .

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Entries in small front yard gardens (1)


Tiny Front Yard Gardens

I have just returned from the Boston suburb of Brookline where front yard gardening has been raised to a high art form. Street after street of apartment buildings, presumably condominiums, populate the area south of Beacon Street and west of Winthrop. Each has a small square front yard, where  grass has been removed and replaced with a miniature garden that has been landscaped to look like a jeweled brooch.

  The trick to designing small front yard gardens is to keep the height of the plants low. Except for a tall center plant in the middle of the square garden shape, all of the plants should be no higher than ankle height or mid-calf height, at the most.


The function of a tall plant in the center is to anchor the garden to its small space and to create a backdrop against which the other plants may be displayed. If a tall plant is not desired, a bird bath or a fountain will serve the same purpose. Some gardeners choose to plant a boxwood shrub in the center while others prefer a small grove of day lilies.


 The Boston growing zone is sufficiently warm to make the planting of a tall ornamental grass another reasonable option for the center because it will attain a decent height quite early in the growing season.


Another gardening trick for a small space is to restrict the varieties of shrubs or perennials planted to just a few and then to repeat them to create a symmetrical rhythm. Many of these small gardens are located in shade, given the maturity of most of the trees growing in this neighborhood. It is amazing how many different kinds of shade gardens one can see in Brookline, with no two ever looking alike. The possibilities are endless.