Front garden ideas: 14 golden rules to achieve wow factor all year round (2024)

Front gardens are special and very different from rear gardens. They are often for show not for relaxation, and for kerb appeal, not for parties and play.

There are lots of ways to create instant impact and maximise space out front, all while adding value to your property in the process, and no matter how small your front garden, is, with careful planning you 
can make it both a beautiful and useful space.

Before your house comes into view, your front garden is the first thing visitors will see, and a neat exterior will most certainly create a warm welcome. A well-maintained, flower-filled front garden also adds to the overall look of your neighbourhood, and most importantly, 'A front garden full of plants also means a home and food for wildlife,' says Leigh Hunt, horticultural adviser at the Royal Horticultural Society.

In reality, for much of the year we're likely to see more of our front garden than our back, until spring and summer arrives, of course. Every time we walk to our car or out of our house, whatever the weather, we'll be immersed in this front garden, so why not give it the attention it deserves?

Follow these front garden ideas and everything will fall into place...

1. 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 low key, neat and formal.

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2. Focus on symmetry and structure

When it comes to a front garden, lean towards well defined flowerbeds, 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 and you'll be on the right track.

3. Think about winter

Structure like this will work in winter as well as summer – and winter is a key time in the front garden. This will likely be your one glimpse of greenery on your way from the house to the car, so getting the winter look right is crucial. The shapes of the flowerbeds will be seen, and the structural bones are visible in winter, so it's essential to make sure those 'bones' look good.

4. Consider the layout

The layout – the bones of the garden – needs to signal where people should go. It's an obvious point but one that's often forgotten. 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 to do this is with a clear path and a big signal to mark the front door. Big pots either side of the door will do the job.

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5. Work with the house

When you're 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 house, don't work against them. This will often give you a good pattern to copy around the rest of the front garden. The pace of the lower and higher planting can be used at the sides and alongside the road. Use the same spacing and the whole thing will come together like a symphony.

6. Prioritise kerb appeal

You may not think about selling right now, but it's likely to happen at some point, 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? Kerb 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 trellis, or invest in wheelie bin storage. Or as horticulturist Alys Fowler suggests, 'Make your garden so pretty your eye won't be drawn to the bins at all!'

7. 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. To find out what applies in your area, the planning department of your local council is a good place to start.

8. Choose plants for every season

The main requirements for plants in a front garden is that they give structure and don't take too much looking after. They need to be steady, not glamorous. As a general rule, choose plants that flower in every season (violas for winter, tulips in spring, alliums in summer and agapanthus in autumn), that way you'll always have something new to welcome you home, and window boxes or hanging baskets are great for adding vibrancy too. As you get more confident you can start to get more adventurous with your containers and combine colours to make really bold and wonderful statements.

Keep eight big pots on the go in the rear garden and plant them up in pairs for each season. Wheel them out as they begin to shine. The great thing about this is, if an experiment goes wrong and doesn't look good, a quick trip to the garden centre for some emergency flowering plants will fix it in an afternoon.

    9. Pick classic evergreens

    Shrubs which stay green and have a good bulk all year round are key to front gardens. Try box or yew, hebes or sarcococcas. Choose the size you need to create your look and one of these will fit the bill.

    Use evergreens in the borders. A great low maintenance front garden idea, these will quietly get on while giving you shape and structure. They don't grow too much, don't need staking, and once they're established, usually after one season, they don't even need watering. OK you won't get many flowers from them, but they tick every other box.

    10. Choose your climbers

    If your house isn't pretty there's a great temptation to grow climbers up the front. That's not necessarily a bad thing but what is a bad idea is to grow self-clinging climbers. So, say no to ivy, boston ivy, climbing hydrangeas – these all have suckers and will find their way into the guttering, the mortar and, eventually, the windows. The climbers that are less likely to damage your house are ones which need support to grow up, so wisteria, clematis and roses. These can't get a hold themselves so are a lot less scary. A good tip is to grow them up sturdy trellis which is just hooked on to the wall. The trellis (and the climber with it) can be removed for cleaning or painting the walls.

    Front garden ideas: 14 golden rules to achieve wow factor all year round (10)


    Front garden ideas: 14 golden rules to achieve wow factor all year round (12)

    Wisteria sinensis


    Front garden ideas: 14 golden rules to achieve wow factor all year round (13)

    Clematis 'Apple Blossom'


    Front garden ideas: 14 golden rules to achieve wow factor all year round (14)

    Rosa 'Paul's Scarlet Climber'

    Pretty much inevitably, if a tree is growing in a front garden, it's going to be close to the house. Even small trees grow into big trees and you might think, 'Oh we can take it out if it gets too big,' but no, you might not be able to. Once the roots go down under the foundations, taking a tree out can cause as much damage as leaving it in. It's just safer all round to avoid trees anywhere near your four walls.

    11. Opt for low maintenance paving

    Gravel or paving are popular low maintenance options; the rule is that the more hard landscaping you have the lower the maintenance will be. The easiest solution to look after is paving – bricks, slabs, driveway pavers – but it can prove to be expensive to put these over the whole of the front, even if your garden is small, so gravel is a decent halfway house. It'll need an occasional bit of work to rake it back into place.

    12. Add lights

    Battery operated, warm, white fairy lights, wound around the structural plants like box balls will make the garden look wonderful in winter. You don't have to wait until Christmas and they don't have to come off in January – keep them going until spring for a really magical look which will make you, and the neighbours, smile.

    13. Avoid going whacky

    The place for expressing yourself in your garden is in the back. In your rear garden you can paint your fence blue, grow tropical plants and fill it with all the wonderful ornaments you like. At the front, tone it down and think of the way the street looks as a whole – your neighbours will silently thank you.

    14. Think about security

    It's not a good idea to put anything too expensive in the front garden. Big pots or ornaments are lovely but will they go walkies? Plants to hide the view to the road are great but will they also hide burglars trying to get into your property? There's a very good argument for keeping anything expensive hidden away at the rear.

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    Front garden ideas: 14 golden rules to achieve wow factor all year round (15)

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    Front garden ideas: 14 golden rules to achieve wow factor all year round (2024)


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