A tight squeeze: gardens down the side of your house

Lots of homes will have these difficult spaces. Thin little garden beds (or even just paved paths) that run down the side of the house, with the windows looking out onto bare fence and occasionally letting the neighbours peep in.

It can be hard to work out what to do with these long, but often super narrow gardens. We want to look out onto something beautiful, but maintenance, light and soil make it hard to find something that works!

We have a couple of great ideas that we think work a treat for these spaces, and will make you fall in love with this little bit of extra garden!

narrow garden, driveway garden, trees for narrow spaces

Add some height!

Just because you cant go wide doesn’t mean you can’t go tall. Adding height to these narrow garden beds can not only give you extra shade for windows as well as privacy, it also looks pretty impressive too. You often won’t need plants to be more than 2-3m in height, and if they bush out a bit at the top, they will form a nice umbrella that will block out prying neighbours.

Keep in mind that it is often difficult to do high canopy pruning in narrow spaces, so if choosing plants to grow taller than you can easily reach, make sure they grow naturally how you want them to be.

There are a lot of great options for tall, narrow (or easy to keep narrow) plants. Some of our favourites include:

  • Camelia (prune to desired width)

  • Bamboo (choose smaller varieties for easy maintenance)

  • Straight and Narrow Lily Pilly (Grows to max 1-1.5m wide)

  • Upright Birch (9m tall by 4m wide)

  • Magnolia Kay Parris (5m tall by 2-3m wide, clip to keep narrow)

  • Cercis Avondale

  • Acer p. Senkaki

  • Port wine Magnolia

  • Strelitzia nicholai

  • Brachychiton Griffiths Pink

  • Upright Hornbeam

  • Standards such as Bays and Cumquats

  • Crepe Myrtles

  • Lady finger palm

Magnolia tree narrow garden garden ideas.JPG

Go flat!

Being a narrow space, the obvious solution is to plant things to grow flat against the wall, for maximum green while still allowing for easy access.

There are 3 options for horizontal growth in a narrow garden bed; self attaching climbers, twinning vines on a structure and espaliered trees.

Self attaching climbers are great for their ease of nt requiring anything to grow up, and often fast coverage. they will need some pruning to keep them to just the areas you want, but they often give the most seamless look. Consider the following options

  • Creepign fig

  • Boston ivy

  • Virginia creeper

Virginia Creeper boston ivy parthenocissus climbing plants

Twining vines will often have great attributes such as flowers and striking foliage, and won’t grow where they are not wanted. They will however need something to twine around, which is a bit of work at the start, but in the long run you will have a beautiful, easy to maintain display! Try any of the following

  • Star jasmine

  • Wisteria

  • Clematis varieties

  • Ornamental grape vine

  • Stephanotis

star jasmine climbing plants creeping plants

Espaliered trees are probably the most labour intensive option for creating a wall of green foliage, but they are definitely the most spectacular! they can also be a great way to introduce some productive elements to the garden! Why not give any of the following a go?

  • Fig tree

  • Citrus tree

  • Forest Pansy

  • Camelias

  • Ginkgo

  • Olive

espaliered citrus tree courtyard garden fruit tree

Fill, fill, fill!

Small plants can have a big impact when you have a narrow space. Even if all you have is a long continuous line of one type of plant, it will look lush and dramatic, as no matter where you are viewing it from, you will be up close and personal with it!

Opt for evergreen plants so that no matter what time of year your side garden will always look great. mix and match foliage colour and texture for interest, but make sure you plant in multiples so it doesn’t look too messy.

Some of our favourite plants for these narrow garden beds are

  • Aucuba varieties

  • Arthropodium

  • Daphne

  • Liriope

  • Gardenias

  • Viburnum davidii

  • Pittosporum Miss Muffet

  • Philodendron Xanadu

  • Westringia

  • Correas

  • Asparagus meyeri

  • Ground cover Star Jasmine

liriope evergreen ground cover

Don’t have soil? Go for pots!

A tasteful pot arrangement outside a window can be just as beautiful as an overflowing garden bed. Whether you opt for a large, bold single pot with architectural foliage, or a cluster with spilling, soft plants, there are endless looks you can create! Even if you have some garden beds, the addition of a nice pot can be a great focal point.

pot plants trees for pots evergreen lush plants

No matter how difficult your garden may seem, there is always a planting option that will thrive. Here at The Tree Shop, we love finding exciting planting choices that make the most of every inch of your garden. If you have a garden you don’t know what to do with, drop by and see us in store, or book in for one of our garden consultations to get some great ideas right in your own back/side/front yard!

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