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  • Writer's pictureDesigner James Treble

First Impressions: the Front Garden

If you suspect your front garden may feel overgrown and cluttered or naked, or boring… chances are, it is. We may choose cutting down some planting to allow the house to ‘breath’ and allow for light to enter our homes. However, plants can add intimacy to a large garden, and shade us from excessive sun exposure. Plants can be used also to distract from or accentuate traits of our homes, to protect and, of course, to embellish.

Bill and Hillary Clinton's residence in the 1970s

How to achieve a front garden that looks right and will add value to our property? Many are the possibilities, but it is important we apply choices that are tailored to each home. Surf the net, look for inspiring images. Walk around your neighbourhood and see what plants seem to thrive in your area… Whatever the choice, always make your house and its shape the reference point.

soft planting to moderate harsh corners

Shape: One medium height leafy tree will soften harsh lines and corners of a modern home, while a tall tree is perfect to frame the overall look of a low and wide built. Add rounded looking plants in front of wall surfaces that need softening.

round shaped plants to soften modern walls

Height: still depending on your property’s style, choose a look that is elegant and easy to maintain. Place short plants at the front, medium height plants just behind and taller ones here and there to stand out like well positioned sculptures would. Avoid invasive plants or fast growing ones and your garden will keep the chosen look for longer.

elegant one-colour flowering garden

Colour: if it is a romantic look we aim for nothing beats flowers, but better choose plants that flower in the same colour, which of course will be compatible with our property’s external walls. But flowers come and go, remember, while a plush green bush will adorn for the whole year. Hence: stay away from skimpy looking plants no matter how beautiful their flowers may be.

Money: Why not ask family or friends for snippets from their gardens? Autumn is when most pruning is done, and it is the best time to ask our neighbours for their off-cuts. This is also a great time for new planting… perfect timing! At Council Collection time, the footpaths also become a great source of fresh snippets we can collect and recycle.

tidy but organic look added to a severe looking home

To summon: always choose planting that enhances the look of your property. Create interesting layers of green of different height and differently shaped leaves. And if choosing flowering plants, go for the elegant touch and stick to one main colour for your buds.

‘Balance’ the overall garden/home final look. For a house that is straight and hard lined, moderate its volumes with soft hedges and rounded shapes of luscious green. For romantic and detailed homes, a structured and straight lined garden will work best to highlight the building’s character.

And to conclude, aim for minimum maintenance. You may have better things to do on Sundays than prune, spray or rake your time away.

NOTE: pruning is best if done early autumn, giving the plants time to absorb the shock, go dormant in winter and come back to new life in spring. Planting is best in late winter to early spring. Roots will stretch and settle best if away from the extreme cold or hot weather. If you missed these times and still choose to plant, move or cut, refrain from doing it in summer hot temperatures. Choose cool days, instead, or rainy days, and do it at dusk. This may lessen the stressful experience the plant is already going through.

James Treble is an ambassador for Planet Ark and firmly believes in sensible purchasing, recycling and creative re-purposing. James has three decades of accumulated experience in the Building Industry, Real Estate and Interior Design and regularly shares his knowledge and experience in adding value to properties through effective design & styling. Watch his free videos on YouTube, and follow him on Facebook and Instagram for more free information.
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