Front Gardens: Trends in Hard Landscaping

IMAG4150IMAG4152IMAG4161IMAG4163I gave this blog post a neutral title because I want readers to make up their own minds. However, I think it is a terrible shame that people continue to rip up their front gardens, not just for off-road parking, but because they appear to be uninterested in plants, gardening, or the environment. And by ‘environment’ I mean the immediate surroundings of their property and neighbourhood, and also in the wider ecological sense. I believe if people are lucky enough to have their own space outside the front door, they could at least do something to make that area look pleasant, and also provide environmental benefits, eg providing soil for rainwater absorption and therefore reducing the risk of local flooding.

I guess many people are put off by the perceived time, effort, knowledge and expense involved in establishhing and maintaining a garden, but a patch of lawn and a few hardy shrubs can pretty much look after themselves – and a decent local garden centre can advise you what to purchase and plant.

All the above photos were taken in the south London neighbourhood where I am based…

1. What a contrast. I guess the area in the foreground is owned by people who want to be able to park their car close to the front door. Next door’s garden contains a wonderful selection of mature palms, shrubs and grasses, which will only require periodical pruning, and perhaps a bit of compost in the autumn. This sort of planting also serves as a more attractive alternative to net curtains.

2. Why?? Another guess is these residents wanted something contemporary looking and low maintenance. Personally I think all that slate looks a bit grim, and the small olive tree an insufficient focal point. As the garden is not an attractive feature I wonder why they didn’t just create a partking area, like their neighbours. Actually it may be that this is the sort of job done by people who want a quick makeover so estate agents can describe the space as a front garden and therefore add a few £££ to the value of the property.

3. I just don’t understand this one. Perhaps the ‘P’ stands for parking. But the pathway entrance is too narrow for a car. It will remain a mystery.

4. Two things here: a) I have so many clients who say the previous owners/ my previous gardener put down this mesh to keep the weeds at bay. Well after a few months it tears and perishes, soil is blown over the top and weeds push through. b) A small selection of natural bark chips can serve a purpose – but an expanse of red ones? A lawn would be fine here, in this sunny corners, especially as it is not big enough to serve as a parking space.

As I write this on a bus on the A40 passing endless residential forecourts, my conclusion is even a small shrub bed, some roses in containers, or even a conifer or two – just a dash of green would make all the difference. And there are hardy low maintenance shrubs and flowers, very reasonably priced, all with care instructions attached, available at your local garden centre, Homebase or even Aldi now.



Have tools, will travel!