THE FRONT GARDEN IS THE PUBLIC FACE OF THE HOME AND AN OPPORTUNITY TO SET YOUR HOUSE APART FROM THE MUNDANE STREETSCAPE. THERE’S NO ONE-SIZE-FITS-ALL APPROACH TO FRONT GARDENS – A CALIFORNIAN BUNGALOW, FOR EXAMPLE, MIGHT SUIT FORMAL PLANTINGS THAT ECHO THE TONE OF THE FAÇADE, WHILE A CONTEMPORARY HOME WOULD REQUIRE A TOTALLY DIFFERENT APPROACH – BUT THE END GOAL IS ALWAYS THE SAME: TO CREATE A SENSE OF ARRIVAL, A SERENE SPACE THAT SAYS, ‘WELCOME HOME’.
Start at the nature strip
The nature strip is often a shameful stretch of weeds and patchy grass, but giving yours a makeover is an easy way to set your home apart from the rest. Returfing is an easy fix, or consider another form of groundcover, which might grow better in the space. Depending on the location, local council restrictions may apply, but they’re often happy for you to put in a beautiful tree – usually native, by default, but not always – which has the benefit of adding beauty to the streetscape, potentially blocking your view of the unsightly flats across the road, and also adding an important sense of scale to your front garden, without actually taking up any of your own valuable garden real estate.
Create a sense of journey
It’s very common to have a straight path leading from the street to the front door and then down the hallway, creating a runway effect and eroding privacy, as passersby can sometimes peer all the way from the street to the backyard! A solution we like to employ is to offset the gate from the front door, building a sense of journey and allowing guests to enjoy the garden as they move through it. Setting the gate in a bit from the fenceline is also an effective technique, creating a buffer between the public street and the private garden.
Add a sense of drama
As a guest walks through from the gate to the door, the front garden should unfold with a sense of excitement and drama. As with any garden space, consider all the senses, tantalizing with texture, colour and scent. Add interest with pots, sculpture or eye-catching plantings, while remembering to maintain a sense of scale and balance, and keeping the rest of the palette simple and sympathetic to the architecture. Clever lighting can combine practicality with drama, using shadows to turn simple plantings into something sculptural.
Tiny finishing touches can also have a transformative effect. Little things like door hardware, street numbers or a striking letterbox can really set your home apart.
Don’t forget the practicalities
Front gardens are about business as much as pleasure and it’s important to balance the practical with the pretty. For example, driveways are not only unattractive but also hazardous to pedestrians – both issues can be addressed with clever plantings to delineate the space and encourage people onto a car-free path.
Rubbish bins are another unfortunate reality of many front gardens – and one that is frequently overlooked. You obviously don’t want these within eyesight of the main thoroughfare, but they do need to be readily accessible. A bin housing is one solution, but a screen or some smart planting is often easier and more discreet.