It’s frustrating when you’re not happy with how your garden looks, but you don’t know how to improve it, or where to begin. The owners of this pretty house had exactly this dilemma, they’ve lived here for six years, but were completely stuck about how to improve their front garden, so they asked me to create a concept plan.
We started off with a cup of tea while I listened to what they wanted, how they want to use the space and how they’d like it to look, then we had a good look round the garden. We spent nearly four hours together at this one-off meeting, they had sent photos prior to our meeting, so I had some pre-visit thinking time as well.
We discussed ideas and options and I sketched a new lay-out of the garden. I took all my notes and information back to the office and a few days later sent the completed concept sketch, notes, sketches and the plant list.
The clients wanted parking space for their car and van without using up most of the garden and making vehicles the focal point.There is enough room in their garden, the issue is how to make the best use of the space. As you see from the photo below, lots of useful room is taken up by the conifers and raised border to the right of the gate.
Thinning out the number of conifers and taking a slice off the border adds about three metres to the Drive, making plenty of room to tuck the van out of the way.
My first impression was how the conifers loom over the house, making a big, dense wall. Reducing their height to make them level with the roofline, will allow 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 owners 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:
- Removing paving and planting three evergreen climbing plants along the side of the house will soften everything. They’ll be tied on a 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. It’s always best to try a paint sample first to see what it looks 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.
- Then, installing 60cm high trellis above 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. A larger garden and two-story house could have much taller trellis, but here it would look over-whelming.
This is a problem that most of us face, it simply needs a fence panel as a screen with a climbing plant trained over it to help it blend in with the boundary fence at the back. A good, solid paved base for the bins is essential to make moving them easy. Attractive planting in the little border in front of the fence will be a welcoming sight as you drive in.
How to make the back garden more private?
A solid timber gate instead of the gap, will screen the road nicely.
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. Reshaping it to allow for a path to the front door, giving it a more pleasing shape and filling it with attractive plants will be a much more welcoming sight (see before and after photos at the top of this page).
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 any time, but planting is best done between September and March. 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 attractive with very little effort.
Here’s a plan view showing the proposed changes:
With this Concept Plan they can either get all the work done at once 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.