Make a great first impression with our front garden design tips.
In this Ian Barker-designed garden, the style complements the home.
When contemplating a front garden design, it pays to get a fresh perspective. Stroll up and down your street a few times, noting how the space looks as you approach it from either side, and from across the road. Most of us tend to see our front yards from either the path that takes us from the driveway or garage to the front door, or from inside the house looking out. Seeing how others view the space from the street will help you achieve a balanced design that complements the look of your home and the overall streetscape.
Designed by Dirtscape Dreaming, this front garden adds a subtle modern twist.
1. Complement the house
It should go without saying that the design of a front yard must be in harmony with the architecture of your home. This can be achieved in various ways, from matching colours and materials to using decorative features in keeping with the home’s design. A period house is a good example of the importance of matching the design of the front garden to the home. The front garden will best relate to the residence if it features construction materials and plant species specific to that period.
2. Functionality matters
Functionality is equally paramount. You want garden paths that allow you safe passage to the front door, which means no overhanging foliage, awkward turns, or hard-to-negotiate steps. And you want paths that are well lit for the comfort of visitors and for your own safety.
3. Make an entrance
The same principle applies to your front door. At night you want good lighting and an unobstructed view so you can see who is outside. Even if you tend to access your house through the garage or the backyard, your front door is the main entry point for visitors so the area around it needs consideration. You can signal a warm welcome in various ways — perhaps with a matching pair of potted topiaries (one placed on either side of the door), or a timber entry bridge traversing a tranquil pond dotted with aquatic plants.
4. Low maintenance
Practical matters also come into play. Since most front gardens are on show all the time, the easier it is to maintain, the better. You don’t want a high-maintenance area and a messy, overgrown front yard quickly becomes a neighbourhood eyesore.
5. Light your way
There are several elements to consider when it comes to lighting. Practical lighting provides security and allows people to safely negotiate the pathways (and steps) to your door. This can be in the form of flood lighting and/or bollard path lighting that can be sensor-activated for convenience. Mood or aesthetic lighting can enhance the overall look of the house and front garden. You might be surprised how subtle accent lighting or feature lighting (up-lighting a large tree, for example) will increase your enjoyment of your home.
6. Prizing privacy
Privacy is a key consideration for many. This is especially so if you have security concerns or if your back garden is small and you need to use your front garden as an outdoor living space. Privacy can be achieved in a number of ways, ranging from high hedges to high walls. The latter is a popular choice in urban areas, where creating a walled entry courtyard can provide security and a private space for entertaining.
7. Defining borders
If all you want to do is define your boundaries, opt for a simple garden bed or low-growing hedge. Choose a hedging plant with a compact growth habit and something that is hardy. For garden beds, strappy, drought-tolerant plants such as liriope or dianella are ideal.
8. Front fences
A front fence is yet another significant differentiation between designing front and backyards. In addition to thinking about the style and type of fence so it visually relates to the house — and ensuring access to the house is not diminished — there are council regulations to be considered (especially if the fence is on the front boundary of the property). Often there are height restrictions, dependent on construction materials and the degree of transparency. This will vary from council to council so check before beginning any work.
9. The driveway
Don’t forget the driveway. It claims quite a large proportion of most front yards so you don’t want it to look like a soul-less landing strip. Choose pavers that complement the exterior façade of the house and any garden paths you may have. Get some expert advice when choosing appropriate pavers because you need something that can bare the weight and offer maximum resistance to staining, wear, and tear.
The letterbox and house number also warrant consideration; just because a letterbox is a necessity it doesn’t have to be boring. Access to it should be easy for both you and the postie, while the more visible the house number, the easier it will be for visitors to locate your home.
By Karen Booth
From Outdoor Living and Design magazine 26th Edition