There are houses out there in the big wide world that make an fantastic first impression. They are the I Ching of kerb appeal! I took a couple of snapshots over the past week to share some of the amazing examples I have come across in my travels. These front gardens lift my spirits!
Having our home create a welcoming and pleasant first impression is really important to me, but let me just say our house was seriously lacking in this department. My spirits were certainly not being lifted! Among all the other problems with our house that I have already shared with you, the front also had a list of decorative ‘issues.’ We had crazy paving, a crumbling pebble dash front wall, a white plastic front door, unfinished render and mismatched pillars.
I got the builders in to fix the render and front wall. One of the front pillars wasn’t in line with the front porch, so I had the wall extended along so everything lined up. Because this work was done at the same time as the kitchen and dining room, it remained unfinished for a while but I knew right from the outset how the space was going to function.
The only area I wasn’t sure about was the actual garden space. So during the time between moving in and having the front path done, I tried different layouts and plants to see what grew well and looked good throughout the year. Our front garden is tricky to grow plants in – it is north facing and has terrible London clay soil which is dense and has very poor drainage.
I had grand plans of having a carpet of alpine plants around the outside of box hedge. Keith and I went to great lengths to make this work. For every little plant we dug a hole 20cm deep to remove the London clay and replaced it with soil and alpine grit. Our downfall was using a weed protection sheet and small bark chippings. Doing these two things stopped the plants from spreading as much as we wanted them to. Also the limited sunlight at the front of the house meant the little plants didn’t get the sun they required. It’s worth trying these things though…it’s a good way to learn…I suppose???
We were at a garden party one summer and my friends parents had their old front door leaning up against the side of their house. I was like a child looking at a nicely wrapped gift – Whose is it? Can it be mine? They were very kind and offered it to me. We had our carpenter build and install the surrounding frame and then I painted it all in Farrow & Ball Railings No.31.
We had always loved tiled paths and this was our end goal all along! When we had saved all our pennies we went ahead and had our front path done. I had the builders reduce the height of the path to make it flush with the pavement out the front. The step up was moved to line up with the covered porch. This meant we would be able to wheel the bins from the side of the house, along the front and out through the pillars without dragging them up onto the sides or end of the path which might cause damage. Once again I bought all the tiles by boosting our Tesco grocery vouchers. I carefully drew out the plan for the placement of the tiles. I did this to the nearest millimetre and went over it in great detail with the builders.
After all the trials with plants, I decided I wanted the garden to look lush and green all year round so aside from a miniature maple tree, all the rest are evergreen plants. I have used privet, lavender, box, Californian lilac, griselinia, camellia and a range of bulbs that will pop up within the box boundary all throughout the year.
Knowing I was writing about front gardens, I have been having a good look around analysing what makes some of them stand out above others and I can categorically say – it is the greenery! To analyse these front gardens even further – the super special ones have differing heights of greenery and have some form of blossom and/or bloom to them. And achieving greenery, blossom and bloom is even possible in a small garden…our little London fixer upper only has a tiny eight square metres of garden to the front.
Working on the front garden has been a great way to get to know our neighbours. One day I was working on the garden and a neighbour introduced herself and said ‘my eyes take a rest when they look at your garden.’ What a beautiful compliment! Now, on a daily basis, my spirits are lifted as I come and go from our own home.