Front Garden Design Tips

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First impressions count – and when it comes to your home, that’s why the design of your front garden is very important. A well-designed space could increase your property value and transform the look and feel of your neighbourhood – it’s part of that all-important kerb appeal.

There are more demands on this space now than in the past – the number of wheelie and recycling bins seems to increase with every passing year, and with parking spaces often at a premium, there’s more pressure on homeowners to create one outside their homes.

As space is often limited, it’s vital that you plan how cars will be parked in the plot – and also to consider how your garden will affect the environment. Excess rainwater needs somewhere to go and as paving takes over, less water is soaked up by our soils, increasing pressure on drains.

Although you are less likely to sit in your front garden, there is no reason why it can’t feature a wonderful array of plants. Have fun choosing colours that link to your home and bring out your personality. However, before dreaming about plants and picket fences check the restrictions put in place by your local planning authority and your house deeds.

Work out your plan:

Before you put pen to paper, there are some decisions you will need to make – it’s important to get the basics right before you get too far down the line. Here are the points to work through before starting your design.

Start with a list

First, create a list of all the practical features you need to include – for instance, how much space do you need for wheelie bin or bicycle storage? You need to be realistic about what you’ll need, as well as what you’d like.

What’s the main purpose of your front garden?

Would you like to make a big impression on your visitors, or are you simply looking for extra parking? Is the front garden your only outside space? If so, you’ll need to consider privacy and try to fit in seating and storage.

The most important consideration with a front garden is practicality. You’ll be travelling through it regularly with shopping bags, and possibly pushchairs, so make sure paths are wide and direct, and install some lighting.

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Do you want a theme for your front garden?

It’s a good idea to avoid any very strong themes here – the best designs are those that fit in with the house and surroundings. Your neighbours may not thank you for an over-the-top Japanese theme that stands out in the street like a sore thumb.

What permanent features will you include?

The permanent features in a front garden are usually the wheelie bins and the car – we consider driveways separately below, and it’s good to disguise wheelie bins with a or screen if you can. As with every garden, you’ll need to consider any manhole covers, and there may be utility meter boxes too.

If your property is situated along a highway, you’ll need planning permission for any feature, other than plants, over 1m tall as features exceeding this can cause poor visibility along the highway.

Valuable permanent features such as benches and urns should be concreted or secured in place to prevent theft.

Which way does your garden face? 

If your back garden doesn’t get any sun but you have a south or west-facing front garden, there’s no reason why you can’t include some seating here – if you do, you might want to consider some kind of screening – the trick is allowing enough light in while providing privacy. screen for privacy.

The aspect of your front garden will also determine what plants you’re able to grow. South-facing gardens are a good spot for highly scented plants such as lavender, and a north-facing plot is the ideal home for hostas and other shade lovers.

Consider the setting

The design and feel of your new front garden should be dictated by your home and street setting.

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Thatched cottages in a country village cry out for a front garden packed with roses, perennials and even vegetables. A modern home on the coast would be the ideal setting for a gravel garden planted with coastal planting. Modern houses with boundary free front gardens are suited to lawns and containers, while town houses look great with topiary and wide formal paths leading straight to the door.

Will you need landscaping? 

You’ll probably a builder or specialist landscaper if you’re installing parking – see below for more on this. Try to keep some of the garden free for plants, even if it’s just some large pots. Don’t dismiss a lawn if you can easily access the space with a mower – if not, artificial grass could provide an alternative.

When creating a new path to the door, make sure it’s wide enough for people to pass and smooth enough to avoid trip hazards. If you’re using gravel, pour it into cellular mats to prevent it from shifting in heavy rain. And never put the surface of a path or drive above the damp proof course. Keep it well below, and ideally seek advice from a qualified builder. Whatever you do, be sure to choose materials that compliment your home, otherwise neither will look their best.

Parking

If you’re planning to create a parking space, it’s essential that you contact your local planning authority for advice. You’ll certainly need permission if you intend to use a non-porous material, but ideally all new drives should be created with a porous material such as gravel or porous asphalt to avoid excess rainwater runoff.

If space is limited but you really need to include a parking space, you could consider including a car turntable to avoid reversing out of a drive – this may be useful if you live on a tight bend or when space is limited.

Remember to seek permission from your local authority to have your kerb dropped if you’re crossing a footpath – and you’ll have to pay for this.

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What kind of plants will work?

In a formal setting, follow the tried and tested formula and plant a pair of specimen plants either side of your door to accentuate the entrance to your home – it’s a classic design feature because it works well.

Scented plants will offer the warmest welcome, which is why it’s popular to plant lavender at the front of a border. Evergreens work well as they provide interest all year round – they can be planted in beds or pots – and if space is short, hanging baskets, climbers, and window boxes will add interest and colour.

What’s your budget? 

If you’re installing a drive or parking area, it will significantly bump up the cost (see above) – other than that, it’s best to avoid investing in very expensive features for the front garden as there’s is a higher risk of theft here.

Our top 10 tips for a contemporary garden design

  • Make sure the path to the front door is as wide and level as possible.
  • Install lighting for your evening guests.
  • Avoid using non-porous surfaces to reduce the risk of flooding.
  • Never install fences over 1m without planning permission when near a highway.
  • Choose plants with scent to welcome your guests.
  • Fix valuable pots, benches and features to the spot to prevent theft.
  • If space is tight, grow climbers and use hanging baskets and window boxes.
  • Consider how to hide your wheelie bin.
  • Choose landscape materials that suit the style of your home.
  • Grow evergreen plants to ensure a garden of interest all year.

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The next step: draw your plan

Once you’ve thought it through and made your list, it’s time to get out the graph paper and draw a plan. We’ve sketched out two examples below.

Garden Plan1

Plan for a small terraced house

This very tiny plot is packed with planting on one side and enjoys a lawn on the other. Hedges cushion the house and work well with character of this small terraced home. Being south facing, a bench provides a welcoming touch and a place to enjoy visiting birds. A wide path with inset lighting is easy to travel down, and the storage for bins is a positioned in a convenient place for bin day.

Garden Plan2

A front garden with parking

Here, a strip of planting softens the parking area, which is divided from the rest of the garden with a pergola for climbers. A crossroad of paths makes all parts of this garden accessible and prevents people taking short cuts across borders. The generous storage area to the left provides space for bins, bikes and logs and is made very much part of the garden thanks to its green, living roof.

3 inspiring front garden designs

Here are three designs we especially like, chosen to give you an idea of the different effects you can create.

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The perfect cottage front garden

Seasonal planting, plenty of flowers of all colours and scent from rosemary and lavender combine to create a traditional cottage garden. This garden would be alive with butterflies and bees and offer change throughout every season. A new honeysuckle is making its way up the wall, which will offer more scent. The blue door and window frame work well with the pastel colours of the planting, showing that it’s worth thinking this aspect through.
Image Credit: houzz.co.uk

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Paving with a twist

This is a town house front garden with lots of style. The house is dripping in wisteria, which offers scented blue flowers in May, when their perfume will drift in through any open windows. The central bed is planted with a colourful mix of perennials.

Recycled brickwork makes for a smart and practical path and the bin store to the right is just the ticket for disguising the rubbish. Open metal fencing is welcoming – this family are happy to show off their plot from the pavement.
Image Credit: houzz.co.uk 

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A driveway that blends in

This modern home allows for parking, but breaks up the paving with creeping thyme, which will add scent underfoot and help with drainage. Raised beds divide the steps to the house and the parking space, which is an excellent idea for safety, especially if you have young children. Lastly, the entrance to the house is well lit and welcoming.
Image Credit: Gasta Architects