How to Plan Your Front Garden
Large Front Gardens
With a quarter of an acre plot or more, it is likely that you will have a fair amount of space to play with at the front of the house. This is not an invitation to elaborate schemes. Front gardens — unless they are on specially awkward sites — should be simple, with enough shielding with trees and shrubs to afford a degree of privacy from passers-by.
A fairly open outlook from the windows is called for. Properties of all ages can be set off admirably with a ‘clothing’ offor the front wall. You will have a double viewing situation to cater for — one from the house, the other from the road.
The lawn area can be used to shape the garden and it is probable that your drive and paths will have some bearing on this factor also.
An in-and-out driveway, for example can be a most effective addition to design schemes, though this is generally not suited to properties with less than 60 feet frontage.
The use of trees and shrubs can also be effective in establishing the shape, and remember the repetition ingredient which are particularly useful at the front with, for example, columnar conifers on either side of the drive.
On the boundaries, try to avoid hedging. For gardens of this size they tend to emphasise the enclosed look. Some sort of barrier, such as ranch-fencing, wicket fence, or heavy chains between posts, look far more effective, supported by some imaginative plantings of trees and shrubs.
Small Front Gardens
Small front gardens present their own special challenge because so often these days the area you have to play with is so small as to be inevitably plain and simple. There may also be the additional problem of an ‘open plan’ ruling. Because of the smallness of the area, tall trees are usually out of the question since they will cut off the light from the front window.
So you will be faced with perhaps a couple of slim trees backed up with bushes or low-growing shrubs, just to give a shade of privacy from passers-by.
One solution is to turn your whole front garden over to a special feature — like terraced paving with containerised plants, and with one or two slabs left out for planting with heathers or dwarf conifers. Alternatively you could try a sunken garden or an alpine garden. At least one should try to avoid a square patch of lawn and a few dot plants in the border.
If the ‘open plan’ is your lot try to bend the rules. Try planting tiny, young conifers that will take some years to grow; plant roses that can become bushier and more vigorous as the years pass (by which time those responsible for that open plan covenant may no longer be interested). Another way of breaking the monotony is to plant a border of heathers, or a herb hedge which will be initially low, but could discreetly climb to four feet in a few years.
Finally, ‘clothed’ walls of climbers and container-grown plants that can be moved to strategic positions out front will all help overcome this garden system imposed upon us by the planners of our towns and cities.