Townhouse Yards: Maximize Beauty with Minimal Space

Is that sorry 12-by-12-foot patch of grass out in front of your townhouse mocking you every time you come and go? Do the brown patches in your “lawn” and its overall neglected look cause you to hang your head in shame?

Don’t fear. It’s not so hard — or even expensive — to fix up a townhome yard and add some much-needed curb appeal to your largest investment.

Photo provided by Urban Garden

Contain Yourself

If minimal effort is what you’re looking for, containers are the solution. Few tools are required, they look great and they’re easy to care for. They’re available in all types of materials — ceramic, stone, terra cotta, wood, plastic and more. You can even make your own containers out what would otherwise be considered trash, like old boots or paint cans (but not dryer lint — sorry Pinterest devotees). Just plunk your containers down on your stairs or along the front walk for an instant boost of color and life.

Another type of container that lends itself well to city living is window boxes. These also run the gamut as far as material, appearance and cost go, but remember whatever you plant in them is going to (hopefully) grow, and will likely obscure the box altogether, so there’s not much need to put a lot of thought or effort into this type of container. Affix it to the wall. Add plants. Wait.

Let There Be Light. Or Not.

For a front yard that gets a lot of shade, coleus and caladium will provide big sprays of brightly colored leaves. If you prefer blossoms, try impatiens or begonias.

Geraniums or petunias are perfect for sunny yards, and the latter in particular are great if you want to hang some of your planters. Get year-round use out of your investment and hang (or place) houseplants like philodendrons or spider plants outside, then simply bring them indoors for the winter.

The beauty of many of these plants is that you can buy them at your local supermarket or big-box store and simply set them out front without doing any work at all. Garden? Check!

Get Earthy

However, many homeowners prefer to put their plants in the ground. It encourages growth and discourages stealing (thieves hardly ever carry spades), but requires a bit of effort and the purchase of a tool or two.

If your yard is already a barren landscape of dirt patches interspersed with a few stalwart tufts of green, your job will be easier and the rewards sweeter. Sod-busting is not for the exertion-averse. And getting rid of those stubborn patches of crabgrass will actually save you time (and embarrassment) because you won’t have to “mow the lawn” anymore with your string trimmer (or scissors, when you’ve run out of gas).

At the very least, you will need a shovel for planting — a trowel, perhaps, if your plants are small, or the serving spoon you got at Target if you’re planting just seeds. Sunflowers and zinnias are a couple of showy blossoms that are easy to grow from seed.

A bag of nourishing soil is better than whatever you have in your yard now, but if you choose plants that are hard to kill, you can get away with skipping this step.

Once they’re in the ground, a regular watering is all they’ll need, and you can use a container from your recycling bin for this chore.


Maintenance-free beautification is always popular, and a fun example of this is adding a gazing ball. Along these lines, you might also think of courting your local feathered friends with a birdhouse, birdfeeder or birdbath.

Dress up your little corner of the concrete jungle and treat yourself to a little extra joy every time you go through your front door!

townhouse garden

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