We may spend more time in the back garden, but the front garden is just as important and deserves the same amount of time and effort to make it look appealing. Not only do we walk through the front garden every time we leave and enter the house, but it is also the first part of the home guests get to see, so it’s worth creating a welcoming space. The front garden is also the only part of the home that most passers-by will ever catch a glimpse of. Kerb appeal makes a great first impression and will help attract buyers if you ever decide to sell up and move on.
As front gardens are usually smaller than back gardens, it can sometimes be tricky to come up with creative garden designs that are both aesthetically pleasing and functional. The good news is that you don’t need a professional landscape designer to have an attractive front garden. These front garden design ideas have something for everyone, whether you want to give your outdoor space a gentle spruce or a complete revamp.
Small Ideas for Brightening up the Front Garden
Sometimes all a front garden needs is a little TLC and a few bits to add interest and colour to the space. Making small changes and adding a few carefully selected pieces can make a significant impact and make your front garden appear thoughtfully tended and well-maintained.
It may sound obvious, but one of the most valuable tools for sprucing up the front garden is a quality weed killer. Weeds are unwanted plants that can pop up anywhere, from flower beds to lawns. But they look most unruly when sprouting between paving slabs on paths and driveways. Let’s face it, a path or drive covered in big green weeds is not a welcoming sight, does nothing for kerb appeal and ruins even the best front garden designs.
The best time to apply weedkiller is between April and September when the weeds are actively growing. During this period they’ll absorb the weedkiller more quickly, and the treatment will be more effective.
Once the weeds are dead, pull them from the ground, taking care not to leave any parts of the root behind. Doing this will help reduce the number of weeds that appear the following year and keep the garden looking neat and tidy.
Flank the Front Door with Potted Plants
Flanking the entrance with potted plants or trees is one of the quickest and easiest ways to add structure and visual interest, drawing the eye to the front door. Choose bay trees for height interest or topiary shapes that stay green all year round. Flowering trees add colour and fragrance to the entrance and are a pleasure to walk through during spring and summer.
Matching pots tie the look together and create an inviting statement. Sleek metallic pots fit a contemporary home, while wicker baskets or even barrels provide more of a cottage garden feel. For added kerb appeal, give the front door a lick of paint to complement the look you’re aiming for.
Build a Topiary Display
Topiary doesn’t just look good flanking the front door but can also be used to build an interesting front garden focal point. Pick a corner of the garden and fill it will pots of varying sizes containing a mixture of tall, medium and short topiary shapes. Place box balls in smaller containers towards the front of the feature with tall cones and spirals in larger pots adding interest above.
Topiary is fairly low maintenance and thrives with only a light annual trim to keep the shapes neat. Ensure the pots get rotated occasionally to provide even sunlight and prevent the shrubs from growing more noticeably on one side.
Climbing plants have lots of uses in the front garden. By their very nature, they draw the eye upwards and fill a space with flowers and greenery without taking up much floor space.
Star jasmine, climbing roses, hydrangeas and clematis look amazing growing up fences and spilling over boundary walls in a cottage-style garden. English ivy is perfect for evergreen colour, is incredibly easy to grow and is loved by wildlife.
Climbers can get planted in the ground or into pots to keep them contained and stop them from spreading to areas they’re not welcome. Some need a trellis or support to climb up, while others have little suckers and can climb fences and even house bricks without a helping hand.
Hanging Baskets and Window Boxes
Bright, cheerful and generally inexpensive, hanging baskets and window boxes are a great way to add colour and show off plants and flowers. One of the big advantages of these types of containers is that they create interest at different height levels, leaving the ground free for other plants or essential paving.
Traditionally, hanging baskets come into their own in early summer as flowers start blooming for the season. However, they can also hold trailing plants, like ivy, to add more greenery to a small space.
Window boxes can house a flower display or a kitchen herb garden. Plant mint, chamomile or lemon balm in a window box for a pleasant fragrance that offer a warm welcome to anyone who wanders up the garden path.
Freshen Up Paving Slabs
Paving takes the brunt of dirt and grime in the front garden. Pathways are used multiple times a day, and unlike grass and flower beds, they aren’t freshened up every time they’re mowed or turned over. Hiring a power washer is a great way to clean up paving and driveways, and you’ll be amazed how much brighter the space will appear when you’re finished.
Place a Bench Next to the Door
Front gardens can be sociable places where we chat with neighbours and passers-by as they go about their days. A bench beside the front door makes it easy to find time to stop and chat and is a great vantage point for keeping an eye on young children when they’re out playing with friends.
A bench gives the impression that the front garden is a desirable place to be, sitting in the fresh air and watching the world go by. Keep the finish natural or paint it a funky colour to complement the style of the garden, and make it a feature piece. If you have a little more space available and feel like going all out, opt for a porch swing instead!
Decorate with Garden Ornaments
From elegant sculptures to stone statues, metal animal figures and even cheeky gnomes, there is a garden ornament out there to suit every style and budget. As well as being great ideas for a feature in a small front garden, ornaments can also help set the tone of your whole house and show off a little of your personality.
Place a sculpture or statue in the centre of a flower bed, or position little creatures so they are poking out from large plants waiting to be spotted and raise a smile from passers-by. Hang some outdoor art from the house wall or even add a mirror to create the illusion of a bigger space.
Garden decor adds style, structure, whimsy, and even humour to a small front garden. Less is often more when it comes to garden ornaments so don’t overdo it. Allow one or two select pieces to do the talking.
Bigger Ideas for Front Garden Design
Maybe some raised beds of plants, hanging baskets, and a general spring clean won’t quite cut it in your front garden. Or perhaps you just fancy a bigger change. Either way, these garden ideas will give you food for thought and help you design the perfect front garden.
Lay a Lawn
A neatly manicured lawn is a great way to fill a front garden with natural greenery. Grass can make small spaces appear larger than they are and is an integral part of many front garden ideas.
However, laying turf or sowing grass seed does come with some commitment. The front lawn is usually the first thing visitors notice about your property and if the grass looks unkempt, it can detract from the rest of your garden design. While grass is relatively low maintenance, a manicured lawn does need to be mowed at least every couple of weeks over the summer.
Of course, you can always let it grow and mix in some wildflower seeds to create a whimsical cottage garden!
Plant Borders and Flower Beds
Lifting paving slabs or turf around the boundary affords space for planting up interesting borders and flower displays in the front garden. Even a small border can have a big impact by planting the right shrubs and flowers.
Consider whether you want the formality of a border with straight lines or prefer a more relaxed appearance with rounded or curved edges. Choose a colour scheme of 2-3 complementary shades for a classic look, or create a riot of colour by planting a rainbow of hues. Mix sizes with larger plants against the wall or fence and small plants at the front.
A defined border is a great way to add colour and interest to the front garden. It also provides shelter, food and valuable nectar for local wildlife, helping pollination and increasing biodiversity.
Plant Up Large Containers
Front gardens with lots of hard landscaping don’t have to be without plants. A large container or 2 filled with a mixture of annual and perennial plants can create a striking display.
The key to container gardening is planning ahead and including plants that flourish at different times throughout the year. Dwarf conifers, lavender and some ornamental grasses are low-maintenance plants that provide year-round interest. Use evergreen shrubs and plants as a base and leave enough room for spring bulbs and summer bedding plants to fill the gaps with colour.
Lighting is an important aspect of any front garden design, particularly during the cold, dark winter months. As well as guiding you and visitors safely to the front door and deterring potential burglars, lighting can be used to illuminate the best bits of the garden, such as a water feature or standalone tree.
Front garden lighting can be as simple as placing a few small solar-powered lamps along the side of the path. For more of a feature, opt for a Victorian-style lampost and imagine you’re returning to Narnia whenever you come home, or drape small lights in tree canopies to draw the eye upwards. Wall lights and strings of small bulbs hung along fences are also interesting ways to create a cosy glow in the evenings.
Jazz Up Paving
An element of paving is essential in the front garden design. Whether you opt for a simple path from the gate to the front door or an ultra-low-maintenance garden with larger areas of hard landscaping, paving doesn’t have to mean drab grey slabs.
Slate paving, for example, is durable and comes in strong colours for a statement path. Alternatively, use patterns or shapes to create under-foot interest and accentuate your outdoor space. Creative paving can be made into a focal point and is a great way to jazz up a small front garden.
Include a Water Feature
A water feature can add a relaxing vibe to the front garden, which is especially welcome if you live near a main road or thoroughfare. The tranquil sound of running water can help you focus on something other than the much less soothing street noise.
Most front gardens don’t have space for a pond or other large water features, but a stylish fountain or even a bird bath can look amazing. There are plenty of options, and no matter what style of garden you’re aiming for, you’re sure to find a water feature to suit.
Create a Wildlife Haven
Whether you like to spend time sitting out the front or prefer to observe from the living room window, wildlife in the garden can be fascinating to watch.
Considerate planting helps attract birds and small mammals who find shelter and food from trees and shrubs. Meanwhile, bright, nectar-rich flowers are a magnet for bees, butterflies and other beneficial insects. A strategically placed (out of reach of cats) and well-stocked bird feeder brings lots of different bird species to the garden, especially during the winter months when there isn’t much food to be found elsewhere.
A wide variety of plants, flowers and shrubs is the best way to encourage local wildlife into the garden.
Make a Feature of a Tree
One of the most common front garden ideas is to plant a tree. Planting a tree adds height interest, provides winter structure and looks great in every setting, from contemporary to cottage-style gardens. Even if you don’t think there is enough room for a tree in your front garden, you might be pleasently surprised. A fruit tree or compact acer can fit even a tight space, making the garden look well-established.
Turn the tree into a prominent feature that draws the eye by incorporating it into the rest of your garden design. Build a circular bench with the tree in the centre or dig a flower bed around the tree, filling it with shade-loving greenery and colourful annuals. Add some creative lighting to illuminate the branches after dark.
Replace a Fence or Wall with a Hedge
A fence or brick wall may make a relatively low-maintenance boundary. But it can begin to look a bit tired and perhaps even dated after a while. Replacing it with a hedge gives your boundary a timeless appeal and a much softer appearance. It also adds greenery to the front garden without taking up too much space and makes a welcome addition to the area for local wildlife.
Cherry laurel and boxwood shrubs are among the most popular hedges in the UK. This is partly because they suit the environment well, and their evergreen foliage provides year-round colour. The other reason is that they boast dense foliage, which is ideal for privacy screening as well as filtering noise and air pollution.
Create a Low Maintenance Rock Garden
If you like the idea of a front garden filled with exotic-looking plants, but don’t have the time or inclination to put much effort into looking after them, a rock garden may be the solution. Easy to build and low maintenance to look after, the rock garden idea is currently enjoying a revival.
This type of garden design demands much less attention than a traditional flower bed, adding texture and depth to even a small front garden. Rock gardens tend to be drought tolerant and don’t need to be pruned. Alpines and other low-growing, hardy plants such as thyme are ideal for planting in rockeries.
Bear in mind that there is no right or wrong when it comes to front garden landscape design. The most important thing is that your design is well-suited to what you use your front garden for and that it doesn’t require any more effort to maintain than you’re willing to put in.
With a little imagination and some TLC, your front garden can be transformed from a place to store the wheelie bins to an inviting space you’ll be happy to wander through as you approach your front door.