Front Garden Project

My front garden has left me feeling dis-satisfied for some years now.  I posted about if back in 2010 when I was trying to decide what to do with the area.  As I said back then when we moved in about 7 years ago the front garden consisted of grass and a ridiculously large conifer which was taller than the house and seemed to swamp most of the front garden.  The conifer went within the first couple of months much to my neighbour’s delight as it blocked out a huge amount of light.  The silver  birch was added, it was a birthday gift from my sons and I really must try to work out how to propagate from it as one day I will want to move and will regret leaving it behind.   The beech hedge went in to hide my neighbours trailer that sat on the driveway full of rubbish for months on end and the laurel hedge was planted one Christmas Eve to give us more privacy from their visitors.  I like my privacy and found it very hard to be so on view.

The plot is quite large for the size of the house and is as larger, if not larger, than many of the back  gardens on our housing estate.  However, as with many people I’m not very good at spending time in the front garden.  I find it hard to be so on view.  Therefore the plan was to go for low maintenance.  I added some shrubs by the birch and a border along the side of the driveway, shaping the lawn into a sort of oval (see below) but it was just wrong.

After staring out of the window for over a year – well not constantly you understand but from time to time – I decided that the lawn was too dominant and that I wanted something more formal.  I knew I didn’t want to have box  hedges etc firstly due to the maintenance and secondly the cost – my budget is non-existent.  I toyed with circles but felt that the sides would result in too mean a border.  I toyed with digging up the whole lawn but that would mean a lot of work in maintenance even if I covered it in gravel and again that would cost a fortune.  I actually quite like lawns in the front garden being an old-fashioned kinda girl so the lawn was to remain and eventually the obvious  thing to do was to go for a rectangle.

I measured it out  and was very pleased with myself  at  checking the diagonals as well as the length and width.  Canes were put in and then I tied some rope around the four canes to help with cutting the turf at this point I realised that  I hadn’t done the rectangle square to the house so the boys started again, there was much muttering about their mad mother,  but  soon the canes were re-positioned and approval given from the upstairs window.

We, well my eldest, lifted the turf back at the end of April and then the rain came and I have struggled to get the opportunity to take the garden forward what with the allotment and work.  When I did get a moment the ground was sodden.  Anyway, finally over the last couple of weeks I have managed to set to on three of the sides.  We haven’t lifted the turf on the edge nearest the house  as we need access to the lawn to cut it.  Eventually there will be a border along the path with a paving slab in the middle to give access to the front garden.  Yesterday, the sun shone and feeling better from my soul-searching previous post I set too.  I still have to clear the area around the birch and also the top right corner but I decided that planting out some of the plants I had waiting on the patio would be more positive plus there is a complicated moving programme where  one plant is dependent on another moving its place that I shan’t bore you with.

The idea is that each of the long side will be planted with Alchemilla mollis to tie the planting together  and the  bottom short edge has a row of Deschampia planted along it.  I am thinking of planting a similar row along the top edge.  The colour theme for the garden will  be reds, blues, purples – a sort of rich tapestry which sounds very grandiose but it’s the only way I can explain the image in my head.  So far I had planted out  red shrubby salvias, nepeta and irises.  I have still to add some peonies and bergenias which are going in near the beech hedge which is very  shady.  I also have some cistus to go  in the deep border at the front but they are quite  large so I need to work myself  up to that.

Finally, I like what  I see when I look out of my bedroom window.  It may be that the laurel hedge goes in the future once the current and soon to be added shrubs fill  out and form a baffle but I haven’t decided  yet.  Oh and I have ordered lots of ballerina tulips  and alliums to add a dash in the spring.  Hopefully by this time next year it will have  really filled out.


15 Comments Add yours

  1. croftgarden says:

    Good news you are obviously feeling better. Small front gardens are a nightmare, but I think you are right to keep the grass. Just give it time and if you don’t like the results than change it -after all it’s your garden.
    I do like the Sorbus!

  2. Love the silver birch !!!

  3. alison says:

    Glad to read about your new lease of energy. The front garden is looking good with the rectangular lawn but I feel just a little anxious you may be making too much work for yourself at the expense of your back garden. How about planting more low maintenance shrubs? Will watch with interest whatever you decide to do!

  4. Hardy geraniums might fit into your color scheme – ‘Brookside’ or ‘Rozanne’. They are low maintenance plants. Also woodland phlox or campanulas. ‘Paprika’ is a nice red yarrow. Also ‘Cheyenne Sky’ is a low Panicum grass with red highlights. So many good options to choose from. Your front garden looks very good – enjoy!

  5. glad you are feeling better Helen and like your redesigned front garden, you are right the rectangular lawn looks better than the round lawn, I look forward to seeing the gardens progress in future blog posts, Frances

  6. exposed, is how I feel on our driveway. That’s why it is always the last most desperately urgent bit to make look kempt, you know, as if there ARE people living here. Sounds as if chocolate and burgundy foliage would sing with your rich tapestry.

  7. I feel exposed all the time with neighbors…I really like the square in the square front garden…looking forward to seeing it develop.

  8. I enjoyed your post. This is my first time to your blog and I’ll be signing up!

    Front gardens are difficult. Small areas need a brave idea. Real definitive design and structure, far more so than a large rear garden.

    I admire your dogged persistence.

    Im currently struggling with an area of my rear garden. My procrastination comes from a real lack of innovative ideas! Good luck with yours!

  9. hillwards says:

    Funny how turning an oval to a rectangle changes the whole feel of the garden, it does look more formal and the proportion of border to grass seems more satisfying too. Great to have new spaces for more plants too. 🙂

  10. Holleygarden says:

    Very nice. I like the design, and I hope now when you look out the window you feel great satisfaction. I also love that you remembered to add some spring bulbs. Those tiny little bulbs seem so important to us gardeners!

  11. It does look a lot better now i hope you will be happy with it, i’m one of those gardener’s who has to have everything perfect, if somethings out of place it has to be moved or gotten rid of.

  12. Oh, much better! Funny how the rectangle works so much better than the oval. Love the sound of the planting. Am also reassured to know that I am not alone in having a complex series of plant moves impending, each dependant on the next. I get exhausted just thinking about it.

  13. Helen, the borders now sit in better proportion to your lawn (or t’other way around), plus you have all that new room to plant!

  14. James says:

    Your front garden looks beautiful. I actually like both the oval and square lawns but if you prefer one that is more traditional and maybe easier to manage then the square lawn was the way to go. I know you’re a bit concious about gardening in public and it looks lovely as it is but with a tiny bit more time it could look outstanding.

    James @ Capital Gardens

Please feel free to leave comments as its always lovely to get feedback. I try to respond to comments as much as possible but sometimes life and work get in the way but I will do my best to respond especially if your comment is a question.

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