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Be a good garden neighbour

​As land developers build single family dwellings, semis, and freehold town houses on smaller and smaller plots of land, this also means that homeowners have smaller front gardens and smaller backyards. From a garden design standpoint, small plots present a different kind of design challenge.

Wise homeowners do several things on small plots of land: First, they pick plants, shrubs and trees suitable to their smaller property. Second, if they want to plant a larger tree, they consult with their neighbours. Third, if they want to plant a vine anywhere near their property line, again, they check with their neighbours.

However, annuals, perennials, and shrubs generally do not pose a problem for your neighbours. Certain trees and vines are a whole different story.

You may love that particular tree—but your neighbours may not. Generally, people plant bigger trees toward the end of their property—which is where their neighbours’ property begins. Trees require space to grow. Some trees, like silver maples as well as fast-growing poplars and willows, are known for having roots which cause homeowners problems. The roots of these trees are found 6 to 12 inches below the soil surface. This means it is difficult to plant anything else under them, including grass. As well, established trees tend to rob all other plants around them of water and nutrients.

Don’t plant a tree any closer than 10 feet to the foundations of your house, driveway, sidewalk or patio. Importantly, don’t plant trees near water or sewer lines; allow at least 20 feet of clearance. Here are some useful do’s and don’ts for planting trees.

New homeowners love vines because they, too, are fast-growing and provide much-needed privacy. Some of the more popular choices include wisteria, silver lace vine, and trumpet vine. Watch out! Not only do these vines grow fast, they also send out new shoots in places you don’t want them, and many are self-seeding. Five years from now, you may be pulling them out. Regular pruning is always a good idea with fast-growing vines.

Again, be a good garden neighbour; don't make more work for your neighbours.

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