The design of driveways and front gardens poses a somewhat different set of challenges to those faced when creating a back garden design.
Generally speaking, the main function of the front garden is simply to look good from all angles – from the house, the drive, the pavement, across the road. On occasions, we design front gardens with sitting areas, but for the majority of people, it’s not somewhere where they want to sit and relax!
As occupants and visitors come and go, the front gardens main job in life is to provide a pleasing welcome, and perhaps to give the house a certain wow factor. Because a front garden is usually so visible to the outside world, it’s normally important to ensure that it’s designed to function effectively with a relatively low level of maintenance!
Most modern front gardens are rather tiny – or small at best. Providing sufficient parking space whilst also maintaining some aesthetically pleasing green space can be something of a challenge. But with a bit of forethought and a touch of inspiration, in most cases it’s not an insurmountable one. Here are some practical pointers to consider:
- How many car parking spaces do you require? Don’t forget that you need space for manoeuvring cars and also enough room for getting in and out of the car, along with your shopping / young children / buggies / other random paraphernalia (delete as appropriate!!)
- It’s worth looking forward at this point too – if you have teenagers growing up, you’re likely to need an extra car parking space in a couple of years’ time or so.
Privacy & Security
- Is privacy from the road or other houses important? Is there space for some strategically located plants..? See our blog post on screening for small spaces for more ideas.
- Consider security – if the garden is too private, no one will see any misdemeanours on the part of local crooks! Conversely, it is generally unwise to locate anything too valuable within easy reach / eyeshot of the road.
- As well as other people looking in, think about your view looking out – the view of the garden from the house. Most people would prefer not to have cars parked right outside the living room windows… can a view to something more beautiful be created?
- What route will the postman take? This is a surprisingly important question as many frequent visitors to the house have the unfortunate habit of taking the easiest / shortest route to the front door, even if this means cutting across a lawn or flower bed, or walking right in front of the lounge window. Can a path be located in such way that provides easy access, but stops people walking where they are not wanted?
- Is a lawn really required? For some people, a front garden just wouldn’t quite be right without a lawn. But if it’s going to end up being tiny and a pain to mow, it might be easier to incorporate some attractive planting instead.
Drainage & the Law
- The law changed in October 2008 in response to the growing trend for front gardens to be paved over (often to make room for more parking). The concern was that with more & more non-permeable surface area, larger and larger volumes of water were being washed into roads and public storm drains over short periods of time, during spells of heavy rainfall.
- In most situations, the new law is straight forward to comply with – by installing a channel drain to a soakaway or by using permeable paving for example. Planning permission is not usually required. You can read more on the Bradstones website or on the gov.uk website here, any professional landscaper will also be able to provide sensible advice.
Materials & Lighting
- Costs and aesthetics are likely to be the two most important factors when considering materials for your front garden/driveway. Gravel is good for security, but can be difficult to wheel the dustbin over, and small gauge gravel tends to get walked into the house.
- Lighting is especially useful in a front garden, where people will often be arriving when it is dark. Read more on our blog post about lighting in gardens.
It really is possible in most cases to have a practical front garden – and a beautiful one too! If after reading through the above, your struggling to know where to start, call ALDA & we’ll design a beautiful and practical front garden for you – 0118 934 2958.