Look around any new housing estate and in the front gardens and the communal areas you’ll see the lovely red leaves of Photinia ‘Red Robin’ or the bright yellow leaves of Elaeagnus ‘Limelight’. Often they’re placed in front of windows or beside paths. To the uninitiated they’re colourful evergreen shrubs that make the front of the house look more saleable.

But these colourful shrubs are ticking time bombs...

‘Nice plant, wrong place’ is a forgivable mistake if you’re a new gardener. But here it’s built-in obsolescence. Both these plants will grow 4 metres tall (13ft) and 4 metres wide, which leaves you with a dilemma 18 months down the line. Either you spend hours constantly hacking them back to within an inch of their lives or you eventually get fed up and dig them out, which means you have to start again.

If this sounds painfully familiar, I can help. If you need someone to identify the plants you have growing in your new front garden get in touch. I can visit your garden, let you know what’s there and, more importantly, let you know how large they’ll grow. I can also suggest more suitable alternatives. A few well-chosen plants could make all the difference.

Your front garden could look so much prettier and colourful and be zero maintenance.

If you’d like a friendly garden doctor to help you make informed decisions email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

 New housing estate gardens by Nick Turrell