I’ve been working on a few front garden designs recently which as I have alluded to before, can be more challenging than back gardens, as there are many more elements that must be considered. So I thought I’d cover the Top 5 key elements to consider in this blog;
1- Make The RIGHT IMPRESSION
As your front garden is the first aspect of your house people see, in my opinion they should look smart and reflect your style. If you love cottage garden, neat simplicity or prairie style then do what represents you. I am amazed at the number of ugly boring front gardens I see everywhere, it is very much the most neglected element of many homes, even smart ones.
2 – Consider Layout
When laying out your scheme, you should think about the practicalities first as front gardens are often very functional spaces. Make sure your path is straight between the front door/letter box and your gate. Winding paths look pretty but are annoying, and fly-droppers will take short cuts if they can.
If parking is required and possible, where will your car go? Can you hide the car from main view of the house and how will you get from the car to your front door with shopping? Also make sure there are no structures that your car doors could hit, like low walls. And that there is plenty of space to get in and out of your car and the car out of the driveway, safely.
If you can hide your bins or bikes with an attractive storage solution, easily accessible from the house then do it – you’ll never regret it!
3 – Rules & Regs
It’s also important to be aware that there are planning regulations governing front gardens, the boundary adjacent to the pavement can be no more than 1.2m in height. Many local authorities have regulations about materials which can be use for hard surfaces to minimise surface water run-off, on to the pavement and road. Make sure your designer has checked this as it can greatly influence the materials you can used, and planning approval maybe required if the materials to be used aren’t permeable.
4 – Appropriate Materials
The hard-landscaping elements should be in keeping with the period of your house, so if your home is Arts & Crafts/Edwardian then think brick paths, gravel drives. Victorian, again use brick but add an encaustic tiled path and rope edging. The materials should reflect the pallet of the exterior too. If the brick work is honey coloured London stock, then so should your wall.
5 – PLanting
Planting wise you need to consider structure, seasonal interest and which angles can be viewed from the house and pavement. See this blog for some tips on year-round interest.
When designers talk about structure, they are normally referring to the shrubs and trees that are visible all year round. Think about texture so bushy, spiky and fluffy/clubby forms. Many shrubs are generically green and bushy, so consider colour and try to use of a range of foliage options; yellow, purples, reds and variegation, as well as flowering plants of course. These will give you some element of interest all year round.
My absolute favourite garden is in Dulwich Village, referenced in the lead image at the top of this blog. It has a high hedge which arches over the gate framing the view of the house beyond, which is a feature, very much in keeping with the style of the Arts & Crafts house and the planting within the front garden is also reflective of the period. You can achieve this look with an arching structure like a pergola or metal arch dependent on the style of your house. You have to admit it nails it!
Last but not least, don’t forget about scent as this adds an uplifting and welcoming element to you and your visitor’s arrival. Consider wisteria, like my neighbours in the image above. Or try Lilac, philadelphus, daphne, roses, mahonia, viburnum, jasmine, have a look at this list from the RHS as there are many options.
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