It’s often the most ignored part of any outdoor space but the front garden makes an important first impression and you can even use yours to help enhance the look of whole neighbourhood.
Getting to your front door is the single most important function of the space in front of your house. But that doesn’t mean it can’t also lend itself to enhancing not only the aesthetics of your home but the re-sale value too. You need a generous pathway and one not blocked by plants that will soak your trouser legs as you pass along and so the key here is to design a path that looks generous and creates a feeling of space, not meanness. Parking outside their home is important to a lot of people but even if you have allocated hard landscaping space for cars, that doesn’t mean you cannot soften it with clever planting and incorporate greenery and a strong design aesthetic. The perfect front garden will accommodate space for family cars, hard and soft landscaping and that all-important area to neatly hide away the rubbish and recycle bins. The thought of having to bring tools and water through the house to maintain a front garden is a deterrent to most of us – including keen gardeners – so it makes sense to opt for a design that combines maximum aesthetic impact with minimum gardening chores. This means scaling back planting to shrubs and clipped hedges so the upkeep will be no more onerous than a simple trim and a good sweep up.
We would actively encourage tree planting in front gardens and not least because with so many of our streets now cleared of neighbourhood pavement trees, this is one of the last places left for beautiful trees. That said, be careful about planting any tree too close to the house and make sure you avoid fast-growing varieties such as Eucalyptus which has a nasty habit of shedding limbs and falling over in the kind of high winds we’ve seen in the recent spate of winter storms – both of which can cause damage to property, cars and even people. And when you do choose a tree think about its impact in the space at the front of your house. You don’t want a variety that is going to shade light from the windows at the front of the house so look instead at something like a silver birch which gives a beautiful dappled shade effect.
Here are our tips for the perfect front garden depending on the type of house you live in:
Victorian Terrace House
Keep the materials you use sympathetic with the architecture. If you can get your hands on authentic Victorian tiles in their myriad of patterns then you have the materials for the perfect front path to your door. Iron railings on brick walls with Yorkstone copings are very traditional but can still look sharp if copings are neatly cut and railings freshly painted.
A suburban bungalow
With a bit more space to play with, I would have large blocks of planting for large grasses and then plant perennials for colour and movement, with some taller trees to add height. I would avoid high walls and suggest instead using this planting to screen parking areas and create privacy.
A modern architect-designed inner city industrial-looking home
Again I would mirror the architecture with modern planting and materials. Sawn natural stone such as a dark basalt or grey limestone in a stacked pattern with tight joints will reflect a contemporary aesthetic. Tall grasses can then soften the architecture whilst still looking modern.
In today’s society, the garden space is becoming more and more important not only as additional living space but as a retreat, a private sanctuary where you can relax in a natural environment that has been custom designed for you and your way of living.