Bring back the front!

Front gardens don't get as much TLC as our beloved back garden. Is it because we are worried that our pots will be nabbed by jealous garden rivals? Is it because we can't bear to see the neighbour run over our borders when they drive too fast into their driveway? Is it because we have had to convert our front garden into a driveway to prevent Dave the builder from parking outside the house even though you have told him several times not to?

Gardens at front of victorian terraced houses
Referenced: - Getty Images Martin Leigh

What has been happening to the British pride and joy?

The front garden in the UK has been diminishing slowly over the past few years. We have been paving and graveling and tarmacking the front of our homes, turning 1 in 4 front gardens into a parking space. There are streets and suburbs in the UK that were designed during a time where roads didn't exist, let alone cars. This means that a lot of our houses have not catered themselves for such luxuries. 

We are also more conscious about spending money. If we can make one garden look great, it may as well be in the back. This also means less time maintaining countless beds and borders. In order to make our lives easier, we have killed our front gardens. 

However, things are gradually altering. In 2015 the RHS launched the 'Greening Grey Britain' Initiative. This was introduced to encourage people to revive the spaces outside the home, along with dull or dilapidated community and public gardens. 

It is a well known fact that nature has a profound effect on our mental and physical well-being too, so why oh why are we breaking up with our front gardens!?  

There are so many reasons why we can benefit from both a front and back garden - and there is more to it than just having a pretty exterior to the house.  Just embrace it. 

1) Be environmentally friendly: Trees, shrubs and other plants in your garden control the rise of urban temperatures and absorb rainwater better than hard surfaces. Hedges, shrubs and climbers are your natural defense against dust and noise. Plant screens and green walls will also provide you with some privacy, too.

2) Be friendly to you: The calming effect of vibrant colours and vigorous greens on your mental well-being is an irrefutable fact. Just feel the smile emerge on that face of yours when you pull up to your house that is surrounded by colour.

3) Make Money: You may not be thinking about selling right now, but it's likely to happen at some point, so if you're putting money and effort into your garden, think about your gardens kerb appeal. What do you want to see and think of when you see a house for the first time?  The saleability of your property will immediately shoot up if your front garden looks well-maintained and lush. Who wants to buy a block of tarmac? 

Getting Started: 

If Dave is really driving you mad and you need that bit of driveway, why not combine a parkway and green space? Dig out a little flower bed or border if you have the space, or if not why don't you introduce pots and hanging baskets, cleverly placed to induce a little bit of colour. 

Choose hardy perennials that can withstand harsher weather conditions and exposure to wind and rain. They also don't always require too make care, making them a better choice for those of you with limited time. 

Alternatively why not look for hedging, bushes or evergreen shrubs? 

Hedges will provide a gorgeous facade (if kept neat) to the front of your house and will provide you with a certain element of privacy. The most appropriate hedging plants are yew (Taxus), box (Buxus) and beech (Fagus). 

If you would prefer something with a little more flamboyancy and colour, opt for a colour-changing Hydrangea, or a elegant looking Buddleja

Perhaps year long interest is what you are looking for? Evergreen shrubs will provide you with year-round foliage in various shades of luscious green. They are not hard to maintain and will add texture to your front outdoor space. Choose a gorgeous Pittosporum or Eucalyptus

The Vertical Garden: 
If you have such limited space, incorporate trellises and framed structures and grow climbing plant varieties of your choice. This way, you’ll be able to play with depth and perspective, by creating different contrasting layers of greenery and blooms. Even if your garden lacks soil, you can use different sized pots, wall plant pot holders and plant stands to bring a palette of colours into your life.

Vertical, living and green walls in a garden
Referenced: (Kate Gould)
Fit In: 
Ensure that your plant varieties complement the exterior of your house. Do not try to add a contemporary style to a Grade II listed property. It just wont work. Think evergreens against red brick, or a white-washed seaside building with gravel, pots and splashes of orange. Don’t be afraid to allow your garden to 'show off' a little, spilling alongside the pavement with striking colour. 

Spring Flowering Cottage Front Garden, Staffordshire, UK
Referenced: Getty Images/Ron Evans 
Whatever your style and size of front garden, lets try and make it a little more effort to green up our greying Britain. What is your front garden like? I would love to see!


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