Up front with gardens - spruce up your street-side space
How many of you steer your car into your front driveway, park it and walk through your front garden to your front door without giving your surroundings a second glance?
If you are guilty as charged, you are not alone. Yet first impressions are all important when it comes to your property, as you only get one chance to make a grand entrance, so make sure you get it right first time. After all an impeccably designed garden will define your home and can add significantly to the value of your property.
Parking is often a priority and there has been an increasing tendency to pave over front gardens in urban areas to maximise parking space. However, this has been found to be counterproductive environmentally, with impermeable hard surfaces contributing to flooding.
So if you do want to provide parking in your front garden, make sure you choose permeable products that allow rainwater to soak into the ground. These include:
These offer a more traditional look and their interlocking design allows rainwater to filter between the gaps. They can be laid in attractive patterns or you could put down two rows as tyre tracks on which to park a car.
This is the cheapest form of permeable hard landscaping and comes in many different colours and shapes.
Matrix or cellular paving
Relatively low cost and simple to install, this consists of plastic cells that are used to hold gravel in place.
There is a range of ground reinforcement products, such as grass protection mesh, which protects grassed surfaces from the wear and tear inflicted by cars or heavy pedestrian traffic.
A front garden is the setting for your home and needs to be attractive as well as functional. One of the most important points to remember when designing a front garden is that plants and flowers can make even the smallest space green and inviting, so make sure you incorporate plenty of greenery and colour in your plan - they also aid privacy and provide a haven for wildlife. One of the best ways to maximise limited space in a front garden - particularly if it has to accommodate parked cars - is to think vertical and grow climbers up house and boundary walls. Use trellis to train plants to climb - you could even install an attractive archway to mark the transition from one space to another.
Plants to choose
There is an endless choice of plants and flowers that are suitable for front gardens, including tough varieties such as creeping jenny and thymes, which can cope with being parked over. To attract wildlife, choose shrubs, trees and hedges that will provide shelter and nesting sites. Plants such as pyracantha will provide berries for birds, while catmint, honeysuckle and ivy will provide pollen and nectar for insects. Aim to choose plants that flower in every season, so you get the benefit of year round interest and don't forget to plant out planters that can be moved about the garden.
1. A well designed front garden will welcome visitors and can add value to your home
2. Decorative gravel is an ideal permeable material for a front garden
3. Honeysuckle is an excellent climber that will attract insects
4. Birds will enjoy pyracantha berries
5. Ivy will help conceal unsightly walls or fencing and will provide pollen for insects
6. Plant flowers in containers that can be moved around the garden for year round interest (blue hyacinth)
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