Gardens will always be the first thing you notice about a home. No matter how well designed a porch or a house’s facade may be, the vibrant hues of flowers and intricately moulded pots and planters will be the first things you will want to feast your eyes on.
The concept of the front garden, however, is becoming a relic of the past in 21st century UK suburban homes — but why so?
At the Ideal Home Show in London, experts discussed the demise of the front garden and what could possibly have contributed to its downfall. The last time anybody seemed to care about front gardens was when neighbours drank cups of tea while chatting to their neighbour over the garden wall, back in the roaring twenties.
According to chartered horticulturist David Donomey, the loss of the front garden has had an impact not only on the aesthetics of the home but also in the preservation of wildlife. Today’s homeowners use their front gardens as dumping sites for bikes or rubbish bins or as a paved surface for parking their car, turning plush planting grounds into useless soil. Front gardens are suffering from neglect.
It’s important to nurture plant life, especially in an era when where we’re increasingly surrounded by bricks and concrete. Donomey supports Cultivation Street, a national campaign that aims to cultivate community gardens and front gardens by inspiring people through discussions and demonstrations on suburban horticulture. Giles Perry, the event director of the Ideal Home Show, also pushes for the revival of the front garden, arguing for the importance of bringing flowers and wildlife back to the home.
Horticultural colleges all over Britain have come together to create their vision of a sustainable, urban front garden. With stunning creative designs for the suburban garden as well as innovative solutions for storing rubbish, the front garden is having a renaissance in suburban horticulture.
Before you begin to plan anything in your garden, you must make sure you’re working with fertile soil. It’s important to get the soil ready for flowers and any greens you might want to grow in your garden. Organic soil is good for urban gardens because it is odourless and has excellent moisture qualities. Don’t be afraid if you discover worms. Worms in the soil are a good thing – living organisms help maintain the quality of your soil.
Beautiful flowers cannot grow without healthy soil. What your plants need is a powerful foundation that supports and strengthens them as they establish their roots.
Start by thinking about the atmosphere that you would like your garden to have. Kendra Wilson, author of My Garden Is A Car Park And Other Design Dilemmas suggests that your garden design should begin at the door and work out from there, complementing the feel of your home. Nothing gives a warm welcome better than a stylish garden, filled with plants, flowers and trees, just outside your door.
Conceptualise the topography, whether that’s opting for a leaf-filled courtyard or a vine wall, yet keep your main idea simple. Think big yet think smart. All the decisions you make should revolve around making your front garden a masterpiece without overpowering the entrance to your home. While a beautiful garden will definitely grab attention, it’s still best to keep the front door of your home as the focal point of the front garden. Design the garden so that the lines flow towards the door, curving the walkways as you please.
When choosing what goes into your front garden, keep the seasons in mind. The trick to keeping your garden blooming throughout the year is to dedicate at least a week before the end of each season to plant flowers that thrive in the next part of the year. Although creating a garden of seasonal flowers and shrubs might need extra work and planning, you’ll find it easier to care for them.
Having a variety of plants that bloom throughout the year is also better for the environment. The symbiotic relationship of plants and bees is dependent on flowers. When bees can collect nectar from healthy flowers, the ecosystem rejoices.
And who would mind coming home to fresh blossoms every day?
Here’s a shortlist of flowers and bulbs that grow in each season:
All homeowners in suburban areas must find a way to deal with household rubbish. Dustbins and recycling bins can be huge eyesores, especially if you have just completed your front garden redesign. Frustratingly, there is usually no option but to store the bins in your front garden. They’re an essential, if unsightly, part of your home.
To hide your dustbins and help steer the eyes away from them, you can plant tall foliage which will provide colour and privacy. It will also provide a good home for insects. Alys Fowler from BBC Gardeners’ World suggests that shrubs or trellising can make striking features in your garden. They may make your garden so pretty that guests won’t even notice the bins.
Dan Rutherford, a landscape designer, incorporates his fascination for rocks and his degree in geology into his love for garden design. He installs sculptural pieces and stone and driftwood columns into his garden designs. He takes the time to make sure his gardens reflect the personalities of the owners of the property while adding an element of surprise.
There have been many seminars and articles on garden design but don’t feel compelled to follow them by the book. Be inspired by Rutherford who uses lighting, water and the art of illusion to add interest to his gardens. Use your creativity to set out your vision while giving it a touch of something unique.
It doesn’t take a horticulturist to make a front garden fantastic. Visit Oakleigh Manor, and we’ll help you bring your vision to life.
This article was written by Josh