I’ve been asked to work on quite a few front gardens of late. I’m not sure whether there is any reason why this should be, but it has increased my awareness of what can be achieved in a sometimes rather small and difficult environment.
Modern life demands a lot of a front garden –an ever increasing number of bins and containers for waste – often the dreaded wheelie bin – (too high to be hidden by the average front garden wall or hedge), bike storage – especially in terraced homes, where the hallway, or a traipse through to the back garden is the only alternative, and of course (for those lucky enough to have the space), parking.
Now, some aren’t going to be concerned by this, but I’m thinking as a designer, and on behalf of my clients – how on earth do you reconcile these demands with a space that calls to be an attractive foreground to the front of your house? Perhaps even a thing of beauty in its own right? There are a few who are blessed with large front gardens, and fitting all or any of the elements mentioned is really not a problem, but I reckon for the majority, it can be tricky.
Some things to consider – in no particular order:
A driveway does not have to be a scaled down version of a bus station – the area certainly does not need to be solid paved. This means that the area can be water permeable – this is environmentally good, and you could even use some low level plants here.
If you’ve inherited an overgrown Privet – it can be cut back hard, in height and width, thereby freeing up space for the beloved bins etc. Hedges can be cut or new ones planted to enclose a bin area too. If you don’t care for hedges, walls, railings and timber screens take up a lot less space of course, and although they are not natural, can be very attractive. They can be an instant screen for bins, or bin storage and can work well with bike shelters
Large containers or raised beds can be used for planting, where a ground level bed is difficult, and the raised soil level makes for a happier plant – though watering may be necessary in the warmer months at least.
Make something of your path, and invite people to your front door. A combination of this and attractive planting can be a good focal point.
A high degree of construction in a small space can be offset visually by planting – either formal or informal, and a climber or two on the front of the house, or even a small tree can be very attractive, and help privacy from the road.
Think of the front garden as part of your house – it’s yours, and it’s what people see first – why not give them (and you) a nice welcome.