Whether you're a business or residential property owner, keeping your front garden looking neat is important. It improves the overall appearance of your property, but it can also help boost security and discourage crime. Here are some tips for creating a beautiful front garden on a budget.
Use Complementary Colours
Try to use colour to tie in with the house's colour and tones. For example, this front garden is planted with low-maintenance plants in various shades of green, set off by loose slate tiles and chippings.
Design Tip: Note here the colour of the window frames and door awning complement the slate paths. Climbing roses further brings the garden to the house and softens the house walls. The front door and wood store are both painted black.
Save money: loose materials are cheaper than solid ones, such as paving stones and allow water to percolate into the soil, preventing flooding. Always lay landscape fabric beneath loose materials – it will stop weeds coming up but let rainwater through.
Use White To Create A Focal Point.
The entrance to a front garden can immediately set the style of the space. This welcoming white wooden gate, surrounded by cottage-style planting, signposts that there's a fabulous cottage garden waiting to be explored.
Design tip: white can be quite a dominant colour. Use in small doses only. It may be just a bit too flashy for your garden.
Save money: look out for reclaimed or second-hand gates, and spruce them up with a fresh coat of paint.
Hide Bins With Bespoke Screening
Bins and recycling boxes are often the first things you see in a front garden. Unfortunately, it's easy to hide them away. This box unit has been designed to hide the bin while still enabling easy access, and the planting space above looks pretty while reclaiming the lost earth taken up by the bin.
Use a variety of plants of your choice – green roof plants, such as sedums and sempervivums, don't need much soil depth and are drought tolerant.
Design Tip: Cover the planting pocket's base with a plastic membrane to stop it from rotting, then fill with a mix of peat-free, multi-purpose compost and grit.
Save money: make it yourself from old pallets and decking planks.
Use Containers To Enhance Paved Spaces.
It's amazing how many plants can be grown in pots and other containers. This front garden is paved, and all plants are grown in pots hidden by trailing flowers and foliage.
Design Tip: Browse our list of plants for pots and choose wisely, considering how much time you'll have to water and feed your plants. Choose the largest pots you can find or afford – the bigger the container, the better, as you can combine several plants and reduce the amount of watering required.
Save money: grow as many plants from seed as possible. Try to recycle and upcycle containers – virtually anything can be used, from old sinks to large olive oil tins.
Use Topiary For A Formal Look.
Consider a formal layout if you have a symmetrical house with a central front door. Topiary trees and shrubs work well in these situations, such as this cloud-pruned box. You can also buy 'lollipop' trees of bay, yew and privet.
Design tip: plant your specimens symmetrically – such as on either side of your front door, in matching pots, for the best effect.
Save money: there are some very convincing faux terracotta and faux lead planters on the market – they cost less than the real thing and are also lightweight.
Use Hanging Baskets For Height And Colour.
Hanging baskets help break up a harsh brick wall and soften the front of the house. Change the plants seasonally to keep the display looking cheery and welcoming.
Design tip: choose flower or foliage colours that work well with your house bricks or front door, such as the orange flowers, here, which pick out the colour of the bricks behind.
Save money: raise your bedding plants from seed, or buy as plugs early in the season, then grow them on. Keep summer bedding plants indoors until after the last frost.
Use Lots Of Different Sizes.
Here a random collection of vibrant plants in pots of various sizes has been brought together using the same terracotta finish.
Design tip: this display works well because the pots have been arranged by size, with the tallest at the back and a row of dianthus along one side. Add fragrant plants for passers-by and visitors to enjoy.
Save money: lookout for small plants and multi-buy deals – you can often make great savings by buying seasonal plants in quantity.
Grow Shade-Loving Plants In Shady Gardens
Shady gardens needn't be tricky. Instead, these ferns show that even a few plants in pots can break up an otherwise harsh junction between a wall and concrete path.
Design tip: include some evergreens, as the garden will be seen daily throughout winter. Evergreen ferns such as the hart's tongue fern (Asplenium scolopendrium) or the soft shield fern (Polystichum setiferum) are perfect for shade.
Save money: you can often buy multi-packs of young fern plants, which are great value for money.
Add Height Where Possible.
Try to get some height into even a small space. A single small tree or large shrub will make all the difference and can be grown in a large container. Read more about trees for small gardens. A deciduous tree can act as a net curtain, giving a degree of privacy from the street all year round but letting light in winter – read more about trees for privacy.
Grasses are a great option in a sunny front garden. They have a long season of interest, and many keep their form all winter. In addition, this miscanthus is the ideal height to provide a soft screen for the window behind it, creating a little privacy indoors.
Design tip: let ornamental grasses stand tall through the winter months. Then, wait until spring to cut them back and tidy them up.
Save money: grasses are usually fast-growing and quickly bulk up, so don't waste your money on large specimens.
Fit In With The Street Scene
Every road has a 'look', and if you take your front garden too far away from what's normal for your street, you will create a 'wow', but not in a good way. But you can still raise the tone – if other front gardens in your street are neglected, you can go for quietly smart, and if every other garden has been made over like a daytime TV programme, you might have to work a bit harder. If in doubt, go for a low key, neat and formal.
Symmetry And Structure
When it comes to a front garden, lean towards well-defined flower beds, straight lines, and solid planting, the hardest look to pull off in a front garden is a wildflower meadow with plants flowing everywhere – go for the opposite of this you'll be on the right track.
Think About Winter
A structure like this will work in winter and summer – and winter is a key time in the front garden. It will likely be your one glimpse of greenery on your way from house to the car, so getting the winter look right is crucial. The shapes of the flower beds will be seen, and the structural bones are visible in winter, so it's essential to make sure those bones look good.
Consider The Layout
The layout – the garden's bones – needs to signal where people should go. It's an obvious point but one that's often forgotten. For example, when visitors walk to your house, the front garden needs to show them the way to the front door; its purpose, if you like, is to direct.
The easiest way is to mark the front door with a clear path and a big signal. Big pots on either side of the front door will do the job.
Work With The House.
When putting in the structure, work with the house and the windows. So planting is high between the windows, low in front of them. Accentuate the patterns of the house, don't work against them.
It will often give you a good pattern to copy around the rest of the front garden. You can use the lower and higher planting pace at the sides and alongside the road. Use the same spacing, and the whole thing will come together like a symphony.
You may not think about selling right now, but it's likely to happen, so if you're putting money and effort into your front garden, think about kerb appeal to buyers. What would you like to see if you were thinking about buying this house? It's another really good reason to avoid anything whacky at the front.
Kerb's appeal is about looking neat, well maintained and cared about. Case in point: Dustbins can be a real eyesore, so screen them with shrubs or trellising, invest in wheelie bin storage, or as horticulturist Alys Fowler suggests, 'Make your garden so you won't draw pretty your eye to the bins at all!'
Watch Out For Planning Rules.
These are often specific to front gardens and can cover anything from the height of your front fence to the colour of your house. Again, the planning department of your local council will be a good place to start.
Foster order by limiting the number of species of flowering plants, shrubs, and trees. Aim for no more than five to 10 species of perennials, three to five different shrubs, and one or two types of trees.
Although it is tempting to buy new plants when they catch your eye, resist the temptation when it comes to purchases for the front yard landscape. Fewer species will result in a landscape that holds together well instead of appearing to be several different small gardens dotting the yard. Instead, plant-like species in groups and repeat them throughout the garden.
Plan for planting beds that are large enough to accommodate your desired mix of plants. Planting beds that span at least half of the width of the house is often a good bet.
Also, sweeping beds that extend from the home to the sidewalk or roadway will keep the planting bed in pleasing scale with the house. Anchored by a tree and filled with shrubs, these large beds need not be labour-intensive. You'll likely find that they require less maintenance than the lawn.
Make It Flow
Repeat plant forms and textures to unify plantings. Lead visitors to the front door by planting bold blooming perennials near the sidewalk or roadway. Repeat that planting along the entry walkway, about halfway between the roadway and the house, and then again near the house.
Frame The Door
Make the front door a focal point and steer design lines in that direction. A walkway is a great way to lead the eye to the front door. Create a wide (4 feet or larger is best) and easy-to-identify walkway that frames the front door. Curving walkways are pleasing and a joy to traverse, but keep the doorway in view as the path meanders.
Plan For Year-Round Interest
Remember the quiet garden months of November, December, January, and February when designing your front yard landscape. Visitors are likely to knock on your door in these holiday-filled months as they are in the riotous bloom shows during the summer.
Call on evergreen trees and shrubs to add form and texture year-round. Plant breeders continuously develop small and dwarf trees and shrubs that maintain their compact habit for years with minimal annual pruning.
Another source of winter interest is trees and shrubs that produce food for wildlife. Enjoy an animated show as birds flock to crabapple trees and viburnums to dine on the colourful fruit.
Plant A Climber
Walls offer the ideal planting opportunity, especially where space is limited. A climbing rose is the ultimate cottage-garden favourite, enhancing a pretty property or helping to disguise less-than-attractive architectural features. Clematis armandii and wisteria have sweetly scented flowers, while on a sunny wall, you could try star jasmine (Trachelospermum jasminoides) or the flamboyant trumpet vine Campsis x tagliabuana 'Madame Galen'.
For autumn colour, consider Virginia creeper (Parthenocissus quinquefolia, right), the crimson glory vine (Vitis cognitive) or Boston ivy (Parthenocissus tricuspidata).
Entranceway Potted Charm
Containers can bring the garden to your doorstep, providing colour and interest exactly where you want it. Rustic baskets are great for growing herbs to keep handy by the door, and because they are lightweight, they can be easily moved or swapped about.
Line the baskets with plastic cut from old compost bags and punctured with a few holes to improve drainage. Oregano, mint, rosemary, thyme and sage all thrive in pots.
Add A Seasonal Table.
If you have a veranda or a space by your entranceway under the protection of a porch, add interest there with an old piece of painted furniture such as a table or dresser base. It's a great opportunity to create an outdoor display, mixing vintage pieces with small pots and containers showcasing plants that deserve to be admired at close quarters.
In winter, this could be miniature cyclamen or a collection of heaters, to be exchanged in early spring for some choice hellebores or favourite snowdrops. Later, miniature ivory narcissus 'Elka' or dwarf Iris reticulata would be good choices. Finally, in winter, incorporate some scented plants that will catch you unawares as you pass, such as a sweet box (Sarcococca confusa).
Walk Under An Arch
Something is compelling about an arch – place one over a pathway, and you will always feel drawn to pass under it. Choose a ready-made version (see suppliers below) or train hedging plants such as yew to make an evergreen arch.
Deciduous beech or hornbeam adapt well to being trained – either as a single arch or repeated to form a tunnel. In winter, their bare branches add strong structure to an entrance.
So, whether you're looking to create a private oasis for yourself and your loved ones or want to design a front garden that will make your home the envy of the neighbourhood, we hope these tips have given you some ideas on how to get started. If you need more help, don't hesitate to reach out for professional assistance.
A well-designed front garden can add immeasurable value to your home – not to mention; it's just plain nice to come home to a beautiful view every day. So, what are some of your favourite front garden design tips?
FAQs About Home Builders
Pattern – Charming patterns can be created by employing both texture and contrast. Balance – Balance in both symmetrical and asymmetrical forms can be created by placing the elements carefully. Unity – Simplicity is important if one aims to bring unity to the garden design.
The principles of landscape design include the elements of unity, scale, balance, simplicity, variety, emphasis, and sequence as they apply to line, form, texture, and colour. These elements are interconnected.
The basic landscaping principles include proportion, balance, contrast and harmony, colour, and repetition.
The most basic garden plan consists of a design with straight, long rows running north to south orientation. North to south direction will ensure that the garden gets the best sun exposure and air circulation. On the other hand, a garden that runs east to west tends to get too shaded from the crops growing in the preceding row.
The easiest way to achieve balance in your landscape is to plant the same stuff on both sides. But, when designing a layered landscape, you may not want your garden beds to mirror themselves from side to side.