The traditional idea developed in the 1850s of front gardens as tiny pieces of lawn, surrounded by flower beds and a few shrubs, isn't necessarily the most exciting one. A dense planting, perhaps with smallish trees right by the house, can give a much more exciting and romantic approach as well as screening the house from neighbours, passers-by and the street. Dense planting can also reduce the effect of street noise, though it will mean a slight loss of light from front ground-floor rooms (although deciduous trees will allow plenty of winter light, if you can cope with fallen leaves).

North American and continental European suburbs are always much more leafy than British ones, and even in deep shade lovely plantings are possible. Many old town gardens have high stone or brick walls which are perfect for mixes of climbers. In modern housing developments, divisions between gardens are more likely to be low timber fences or wires tautened between posts, which also offer good planting opportunities. Before you rush out to buy a hundred 'Leylandii' conifers, consider using a stout trellis to support climbers. Use treated laths measuring at least 2.5 x20 cm (1 x8 in), spaced at 30 cm (12 in) intervals - nailed vertically and horizontally and well supported on 10x10cm (4x4in) posts. Metal post-holders are simpler to use than concrete for securing the posts, and easier to replace if needed. In small spaces, a planted trellis will take up much less room than a hedge (especially of conifers), take less out of the ground, and give you a great deal more pleasure. It will give you privacy just as quickly. It is possible to buy trellis panels in fancy architectural designs, often painted dazzling white or bright green. Lovely in shop window displays or as a restaurant fitting, they can, however, be rather dominating in a garden.


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