What does your front garden say about you?
Sometimes small front gardens can be more difficult to plan than larger spaces. We’ve put together some ideas for front garden design to help.
Too often the front garden is dominated by the car and a gathering of dustbins and bikes, while the horticultural delights remain hidden around the back of the house. This is a common occurrence, particularly in Oxford, where space – especially for parking – is at a premium, bikes are a necessity and an ever-increasing amount of recycling bins need to be stored. All have to find a place in a limited area at the front.
When it’s successful, the front garden should enhance the house and give a lift to the spirits as well as performing its utilitarian functions. There are three broad outlines that should be considered when re-designing a front garden.
It should have unity with the lines and materials of the house; the plants should be properly proportional to the space; and the character of the property should be reflected. Many suburban gardens still reflect the time in which the property was built. A shaved lawn, sharply trimmed at the edges, framed by perfect rows of bedding plants, is time consuming and inappropriate for modern living.
Not many people want to spend their time tending to precious plants on a busy street but that doesn’t mean you should stick to a boring lawn or slabs. Here are a few ideas for small front garden designs that will make your garden look fabulous!
Front Garden Design Ideas
Just adding a tub either side of your front door can brighten up a small front garden and make a big difference. Hydrangeas, Fuchsias and Foxgloves will give you a lively display of flowers throughout the warmer months, and evergreen plants with variegated foliage or something structured like a Bay tree provides all year-round colour. Alternatively, a small flower bed under the window filled with alliums and tulips has the same effect.
Using Climbers in your Front Garden
If you don’t have space for tubs you could use climbing plants like Clematis, Climbing Roses (‘Graham Thomas’ is a lovely yellow one with the added bonus of strong fragrance) Ivy or Wisteria to decorate the area around your front door. These will look stunning against a stone or brick wall and the effect of the trailing leaves or flowers will soften a harsh doorway. You do need to keep on top of them though, as they grow fast and can quickly become unmanageable.
Front Garden Paths
Most small front garden designs include a pathway and there are lots of ways you can work with this. Planting small shrubs either side of the path adds colour – but be aware how big the plants will grow! For example, Buddleia or Hydrangea might seem like a good idea at first, but they grow quite large and you will be fighting a battle to keep the plants away from the pathway – particularly problematic in wet weather as soggy leaves often mean soggy trousers too! Spiky plants like Holly and Juniper are also worth avoiding, as they can catch on clothing and skin when overgrown. To give a scented frame to a pathway, Lavender is a good choice.
Ideas for Screening in a Front Garden
Wheelie bins, recycling boxes and bikes stored in a small front garden can make it look untidy. Instead, hide them away behind a wall of fragrant Rosemary or exotic Bamboo. Alternatively, you could fit a trellis and then plant Rose of Sharon, Ivy, Jasmine or Clematis to create a screen. Another idea is to use something like a Box hedge to create a natural boundary between the garden and the pavement. When planning a small front garden think about texture as well as colour. A tiny lawn can be difficult to maintain as there’s often not enough room to manoeuvre a mower. Try combining slabs with slate chips, gravel and large rocks to create a dramatic effect.
Ideas for Lighting in a Front Garden
Subtle outdoor lights extend the feeling of space in addition as being practical. Adding outdoor lighting along paths and walkways can help to define the edges of a path and also illuminate any flowers that are planted next to them. The key thing to remember is that a little goes a long way and remember that darkness can also be used to good effect to conceal any less attractive areas! Decide on the areas you do want to light and focus on those and in this age of energy efficient outdoor lights, the cost of running is minimal.