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Big Front Garden Design Help Needed


Normally I have good ideas on how to design gardens, but my front garden has me perplexed, mainly because there is so much that you can't do/build/set up in your front garden (unlike the back garden).

Images will show the size - we're lucky to have a corner plot.

We are planning to have some additional block paving done, but it's what we do around it that;

a) is aesthetically pleasing

b) low maintenance, and

c) cost effective

We're planning to add lots more gravel and eventually a border around the curved side next to the kerb. I'm thinking of vertical 80cm high beams that are separated by 7.5cm gaps along the curve. We will be painting the fence black and the beams black too. But we're open to ideas.

Of course we want to add some plants too, but it's all about making it fit together.




Hope you can inspire me.

Many thanks


Syston, Leicestershire

Last edited: 17 January 2018 16:16:06


  • Lizzie27Lizzie27 Posts: 11,676

    Hi Imran,

    That does look a tricky plot to design!  I'm thinking it would look good if the beams were curved along the top in a kind of swoop for starters and if there's room, curve them back round in front of where the skip is now.  I agree that gravel is the way to go, you will need to put down a very tough ground cover material first - Terram, if you can afford it. Then I'm thinking some tall grasses like Miscanthus "Flamingo" (pinky plumes) maybe some pink/purple phormiums (3 in a clump) and other tough plants which would look good in a gravel setting. Some big rocks, or weathered driftwood trunks might also go well. In the far corner, I would suggest amixture of evergreen flowering shrubs in front of the fence, at least 3ft wide, or more, then also mulched with gravel to keep the weeds at bay. You might have enough space, behind the 2nd row of beams to have a sitting out area? Might I also suggest a bigger size of gravel will help to keep cats off it. Plants will also need to be tough as it gets cold in Syston - I know because my sister lives up in Leics and she says so!!

    Hope this helps to get the creative flow going. Beth Chatto's book on gravel gardening is good.

    North East Somerset - Clay soil over limestone
  • Thanks for that.

    The swooping curve effect was on my mind already but glad to see you’re thinking the same.

    I’ve always liked Indian Summer Miscanthus especially the  Autumnal colours it gives off. That’ll look great against the black fence.

    Finding driftwood near me has always been a pain but I’ll do a search. I like the sound of large rocks.

  • BorderlineBorderline Posts: 4,700

    Do you know what type of soil you have by the old lawned area? Also, what is under all the current gravel. Helps to know if the area is ready for more deep rooted plants. Shrubs tend to be low maintenance in general. Evergreen shrubs will stand out year round, especially in winter, but shrubs that are not evergreen can offer changes through the season.

    What level of low maintenance do you consider low maintence to be. For instance, six monthly pruning to shape and cutting down plants once a year and general tidy up is very low maintenance for me, but is that a bit too much work? 

  • Not sure about the type of soil - so I better check that.

    Pruning, weeding, and general tidy up is fine. I do a lot more in the back garden, but you can get away with a week of ‘a little messy’ around the back whereas as you can see in the photos - the front is best looking clean and organised.

    Evergreen shrubs are my preference.

    It’d have been great if u could add an outbuilding (maybe a small garden office) or something to help fill the space, alas Planning Dept are very strict on that.

  • Nanny BeachNanny Beach Posts: 8,622

    Which way does it face?  I think if you want low maintenence, you need to go with a lot of shingle, you could go for a bigger size stone.

  • East.

    We get lots of sun during the day when there is any.

  • ObelixxObelixx Posts: 29,653

    I would think about some bright stems for winter colour as just evergreen can be dull as it's the same all year.  Have a look at cornus alba sibirica which has glorious red stem colour in winter, fresh foliage then flowers in spring and summer and good autumn foliage colour.  To get the red stems you just need to prune them all back to a few inches high (just above a bud)) every March.  

    As for evergreens, avoid the kind of conifer that is labelled dwarf but doesn't stop growing when it gets to 10 years old and becomes a monster.  Aim instead for variegated hollies which will give colour and berries (and free Xmas decs), variegated eleagnus, golden choisya ternata Sundance, mahonia for winter flowers, sarcococca for a clippable shrub with winter perfume on insignificant flowers.

    Mix things up so you have a pleasing orchestra of tone and form.

    Last edited: 18 January 2018 09:29:06

    Vendée - 20kms from Atlantic coast.
    "We don't stop playing because we grow old; we grow old because we stop playing." - George Bernard Shaw
  • raisingirlraisingirl Posts: 6,912

    The prostrate junipers are reasonably well behaved - blue carpet or blue star. And whipcord hebes are tough and provide a bit of foliage colour variety. The broader leaved hebes are pretty if there's shelter from cold winds - they need more looking after though.

    Convolvulus cneorum gives a good colour contrast if your conditions are suitable (it can be fussy) likewise coronilla citrina. Both are easy when they are happy.

    “It's still magic even if you know how it's done.” 
  • Thanks for the tips on planting.

    I'll be stirring clear one conifers. I won't scare you with how much it has cost over 5 years to clear 32 giant conifers in the front and back garden.

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