Choosing the right front garden idea is important — after all, kerb appeal is one of the most sought-after aspects of any property. Regardless of whether you’re renovating, extending or building your dream home, those first impressions set the tone for the house for visitors, friends and family alike.
Front gardens are multifunctional spaces too, and when it comes to their design, you need to focus on practical considerations, such as parking and access for services, as well as designing a welcoming and engaging sanctuary space which makes your house a home.
Take a look at these ideas for ways to create a front garden with impact and ensure your home has the best kerb appeal on the street.
Planting Ideas for Front Gardens
From a colour perspective for your front garden planting, you may want to think about colour psychology and the role it plays in creating a welcoming first impression for your home.
- Green and white as a combination are ‘slow colours’ meaning guests will take time to subconsciously read the landscape but also understand where you want them.
- Dark foliage plants, reds, purples and silvers are all colours which stimulate the brain and make people uncomfortable, so unless you want your guests turning up feeling uneasy, think twice before including these in your design.
- Variegated plants in front gardens are distracting and highly decorative, so perhaps a little overstimulating for a front garden design.
- Adding colourful flowers is a great idea for creating a cheerful front garden, but in a small space, be weary of how many hues you're introducing. A simple colour palette with one or two accents may be more effective than a colourful but chaotic display.
Play around with height and structure in your planting design too. Think about what can be seen over your garden wall or fence, to ensure that the front garden looks just as good for your neighbours as it does for you.
Driveway Ideas for Front Gardens
One question you’re going to have to answer early on is whether you are including parking in the design. If your house is on a wide, leafy street with enough on-street parking then, for the sake of the environment (and if the planners allow), leave the cars on the road and keep the garden for plants.
Unfortunately many of us don’t live on such roads, and provision for parking may also be a requirement when applying for planning permission for a new home — as such you may require a different approach.
If cars are to be parked on the garden then it’s not game over for living plants. If possible, don’t be tempted to block pave over the entire front garden — plenty of plants will live with parking, so modern drives can combine parking and green functions.
When choosing a material for driveways, from block pavers to tarmac and gravel, think about it in tandem with your paving choice and ensure that the two not only work together, but create a contrast that stops the driveway feeling one-note.
Gravel is one of the cheapest choices for a driveway, however, it remains popular as it acts as as a deterrent to would-be burglars entering your property as it makes a noise underfoot.
Storage Ideas for Front Gardens
For some properties, front garden storage is essential, especially to preserve your kerb appeal when dealing with the likes of wheelie bins and bikes.
A small shed or storage box, either made from treated timber or plastic, may do the job just fine for your garden, and can be positioned in a way to make sure they're not a dominant feature in your garden, hidden behind foliage or tucked around the side of the property.
(MORE: Best Plastic Sheds)
Alternatively, opt for a handsome, bespoke design that matches in with your front garden design. You could match a timber storage box, created to your storage needs, with fences and other finishes on the front of your property.
Log stores are also an attractive feature for the front of your home, with many kinds of sizes and styles available.
Path Ideas for Front Gardens
Often from a design perspective we want visitors to know the route to the front door and not to feel like they can wander at will. Thinking about the width of paths and access routes, as well as the size of containers, can direct visitors where you want them to go and avoid a surprise guest wandering in through gates in the garden.
Framing a path with flower beds is a charming way to make your home's entrance feel more intimate, rather than simply merging the driveway with the front of the house. Visual cues such as lighting will also help guests find their way into your home after the sun goes down.
Lighting Ideas for Front Gardens
When it comes to front gardens, accent lighting is key. While you may look to floodlights on your driveway to illuminate when entering and exiting cars or as a security measure, front garden lighting's main role is to highlight and create night time kerb appeal.
Uplighting on your property will highlight the best of your home's design, but this can also be extending to feature trees in your front garden.
The most functional lighting you'll require are path lights to illuminate the way to your front door, and wall lights to ensure you're not fumbling for keys in the dark.
(MORE: Garden Lighting Ideas)
Fences and Walls for Front Gardens
The rule of thumb in the UK is that while back garden fences and walls can be up to 2m high under Permitted Development rights. However, front gardens, or more specifically those next to a highway used by vehicles, can only be up to 1m high without requiring planning permission.
If rebuilding an existing brick wall, try to source bricks that match the style of the house to avoid a jarring look. If it's a period property, this can be potentially achieved by sourcing reclaimed bricks or using services such as brick tinting.
If you want a fence or wall higher than 1m, largely you'll need to apply for planning permission, however, there may be some work around possible. Check with your local authority how they classify trellises for example. Some will count trellis within wall height, some will count them as a temporary structure, and some will only include it within the fence height limitations if attached to the fence.
In the latter case, a freestanding trellis could be erected with its own upright support to offer better screening from the road and neighbours.
Screening Ideas for Overlooked Front Gardens
An equally important aspect of front garden design is creating privacy — screening is an important part of keeping your house sheltered and obscuring the view into your home.
Evergreen trees or shrubs are often a go-to, but these can seriously reduce light levels, so be selective and use only in a situation where the loss of light is worth the evergreen nature of the plant.
Creating privacy doesn’t preclude other planting advantages either. Many twiggy trees and shrubs not only have wonderful flowers but also pleasant seasonal autumn foliage, fruits and or interesting winter bark. One of the best small trees with many variations to choose from is the Malus.
Also consider how your front garden planting will help to screen your view of the road outside, as well as reducing road noise. Shelter belts of mixed planting (small trees, large shrubs and herbaceous plants) can, when planted as a deep border, reduce sound levels and buffer some passing noise, too.
Some trees are also good at purifying the air in busy urban environments with lots of vehicle traffic — look at Alders or Platanus (commonly known as the London Plane) in these situations.
If you're looking for planting ideas to overcome the fence height restriction set out by Permitted Development, pleached hornbeam trees are a popular idea, trained to a specific height and shape.
Choosing a Front Garden Idea to Match Your Property Style
Give some consideration be given to the style and age of house you live in when designing a front garden. This is particularly true if you have self built a traditional timber structure or been particularly mindful of a vernacular style.
Think about your planting and how it will complement the external appearance of your new home will make the garden sit more comfortably with the house and add kerb appeal.
Georgian properties are often accompanied by Hornbeam (Carpinus) hedging and trees, while traditional timber frame houses commonly sit alongside Yew (Taxus baccata) or Holly (Ilex).
(MORE: Building a Georgian Style House)
There are no hard and fast rules, and the easiest way to get this right is to spend time walking around your local area and looking at what similar houses have as mature plants.
In general, it's wise to match the garden to the vernacular, but don’t be afraid to try something different if you have a contemporary home or want to stand out.
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