It’s frustrating isn’t it when you don’t like how your garden looks, but you don’t know where to begin to improve it.
The owners of this pretty house had exactly this dilemma, in the six years that they’ve been there they’ve radically changed the interior, it’s very smart and contemporary. But the garden needs to be more traditional, in keeping with the style of the house, they were completely stuck about what to do so asked me to create a concept plan for it.
We started off with a cup of tea and I listened to what they wanted, how they want to use the garden and how they’d like it to look, then we had a good look round.
We spent over three hours together at this one-off meeting, they had sent photos of the garden prior to the visit, so I had some pre-visit thinking time as well.
I made suggestions and gave them ideas about the possibilities to find out what would be right for them, then sketched a lay-out. I took all the information and notes back to the office and a few days later sent the finished concept plan, sketches and a plant list.
These are the main issues they faced:
The clients wanted parking space for their car and van without vehicles being the focal point of the whole garden.
There’s enough room, the issue is how to make the best use of the space. Lots of useful room is taken up by the conifers, so thinning them out and taking a slice off the border adds nearly three metres to the Drive, making plenty of room to tuck the van out of the way.
My first impression was how the the conifers loom over the house, making a huge, dense wall, you can also see how cars take up so much of the space.
Reducing the height of the conifers so that they’re level with the roofline, will let more light into the house and garden, and they’ll be less imposing, more in scale with the house.
How to soften the appearance of the house?
The clients felt that the expanse of white brick-work looked too stark but couldn’t think of the right solution.
A number of changes will make all the difference:
° Planting three evergreen climbing plants along the side of the house will soften everything. They’ll be tied onto trellis that’s hooked onto the wall, then the whole thing can be lifted off the wall when it needs painting.
° Choosing a softer colour, something like Farrow & Ball exterior paint in Clunch, will look less severe.
Try out paint samples first to see what they look like at different times of the day. There’s much more variation in how the light effects paint colour in the garden than inside the house.
° Trellis on the boundary wall will create a nice sense of enclosure and break up the intensity of house-walls, the back garden will also feel more private. It’ll be good quality trellis, nothing too spindly and not too tall so that it’s in scale with the space and house.
How to make the back garden more private?
A solid timber gate instead of just a gap, will screen the garden from the road.
How to make the entrance look welcoming?
The border in front of the house is rather an awkward shape, it’s just made up of the left-over space between the house and the Drive.
Reducing it in size to a much more pleasing shape and filling it with attractive plants will be a much more welcoming sight.
The key is to choose the right plants that will thrive without growing too big for the space. Evergreen shrubs will give structure and the picture will be energised by spring flowering bulbs (always a welcome sight at the end of winter), summer flowering plants and ornamental grasses will add shape and texture.
The landscaping can be done at any time, but planting is best done between September and March.
The new the new lay-out creates much more useable space so vehicles aren’t the first thing you see when you look out of the window. A direct path to the front door gives clarity about which entrance visitors should use and the two planted borders will look attracative with very little effort.
With this Concept Plan they can either get all the work done in the next few months or carry it out in stages over time. They may opt to do some work themselves and have more complex things done by professionals, either way they know where they’re going and can feel confident that it’ll all work out.
My top tips for creating a practical and attractive front garden :
- Think of the space as a whole area or it’ll end up like a patchwork of ideas.
- Don’t fill it all up with stuff, you need a balance of empty space and mass.
- Keep the planting simple, try and have interest at different times of the year.
- Make sure the style fits in with the house and surroundings.
- Think about the view when you look out through the windows and as you approach the house.
I hope you’ve enjoyed reading this and maybe got some ideas for your garden?
All images: Jill Anderson