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All ideas welcome for large front garden

LiriodendronLiriodendron Scariff, County Clare, IrelandPosts: 6,987
Hi folks.

Below is a plan (only slightly out of date, because the tree in the bottom left corner blew down last week!) of my front garden.  When we moved in last October it consisted entirely of weedy gravel drive, 2 bumpy lawns full of wild flowers, monumental brambles and 3 rowan trees.  Gravel is still weedy, lawns are still bumpy and flowery, but some of the brambles have gone, and I've dug temporary beds near the walls for emergency occupation by young plants grown from seed etc.



I think it needs a strong overall design to bring the 2 sides together, as the odd shape means it lacks cohesion.  I've had one idea so far, but would really appreciate more input...

I'm planning fruit trees and bushes, and veg, at the back, so they don't need consideration here.  I'd like something for the neighbours to look at, in addition to it looking good from the house.  I'm happy to remove quite a lot of lawn, though as we get older the garden will need to become lower maintenance, unless I can find a proper gardener to help me with it; my previous garden's steeply sloping section had a variety of ground cover which meant I scarcely had to weed that area in the end.  We don't have much of a slope here, but ground cover under the trees could be good.  I'm not much of a fan of bare soil.  We could put in paths (gravel or bark for preference, or grass, I suppose) if they fitted with the design.

I like strong, simple shapes for beds, not faffy wiggles nor - common round here - shrubs planted in grass.  Within the strong shapes I like looser planting.  My go-to shape is a simple curve, circle or oval, but I'm happy to consider something more angular if it fits the bill.

The concrete block walls are ugly.  The dry stone wall definitely isn't, though it's covered in brambles and ivy to a large extent.  The native hedge is a huge asset, as a windbreak, a wildlife haven and food source (for us and the wildlife!).  There are glimpses of hills, cattle (in the fields both sides of the garden) and horses.  Too many glimpses of cars, though the road which borders the garden to the south isn't horribly busy.

Thank you in advance for your time and input!   :)







"The one who plants trees, knowing that he will never sit in their shade, has at least started to understand the meaning of life."  Rabindranath Tagore
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  • Lizzie27Lizzie27 Bath, SomersetPosts: 7,771
    @Liriodendron, nice big garden to play with! I think I might be inclined to mirror the curve on the right side with a new one on the left then get rid of all the lawn going down to the shed, gravel it all and turn it into extra parking? Do you share one car or have one each? Might make it easier to turn round and space for larger delivery vans. We only found out that our drive wasn't wide enough for an ambulance when we needed one!

    Then I would plant a selection of flowering shrubs along the block wall to help shut out the road and just have one or two borders for smaller perennials/bulbs etc to cut down on future maintenance.
  • PerkiPerki Rossendale - LancashirePosts: 2,009
    edited August 2020
    What sort of soil are you working with @Liriodendron ? and whats the colour palate . Are you likely to sit in the front garden during the day ?
  • LiriodendronLiriodendron Scariff, County Clare, IrelandPosts: 6,987
    edited August 2020
    It's good to heavy loam, @Perki.  It varies from slightly acid (next to the road) to slightly alkaline, and more clayey, where it's grassed.  We're on the boundary between limestone and shale - the dry stone wall is limestone.  Whether we sit in the front or not will depend on the design, I think; we've discussed it and aren't averse to a seating area provided it has a little privacy.  And colours:  I prefer pastels to brights, on the whole, and love blue/mauve/pinks.  But the house is painted white and terracotta, and the concrete walls have terracotta coping stones...  

    Thanks for your input, @Lizzie27.  More gravel, and mirroring the curve, is an interesting idea...  we have only the one car though.  (The thought of having a bigger drive hadn't occurred to us because we haven't had a drive at all since... 1984, I think... our previous house had nowhere to park without blocking in the neighbours - it was on a single-track cul-de-sac - and we parked on a different road down a flight of 50 steps from the house!)  I've grown a lot of Rosa rugosa from seed, and am planning a rose hedge next to the road - perhaps a mixed shrub hedge might be preferable... thanks for the thought.  
    "The one who plants trees, knowing that he will never sit in their shade, has at least started to understand the meaning of life."  Rabindranath Tagore
  • edhelkaedhelka GwyneddPosts: 1,972
    I guess different people want different things. I would get rid of most of the drive and only leave parking space for one or two cars (two or three spaces to make it easier to resell in future) right next to the gate and then only a path to the house shed and the back garden.
  • B3B3 Posts: 18,677
    It rains a lot in Ireland. Getting the car close to the house might be preferable😉
    In London. Keen but lazy.
  • LiriodendronLiriodendron Scariff, County Clare, IrelandPosts: 6,987
    Thanks for the idea, @edhelka.  I'll run that past OH but I suspect he'll want to keep most of the gravel - though the strange shaped bit next to the east wall might turn into a gravel bed...

    It does indeed rain a lot here, @B3 .  But not more than in the Pennines where we used to live - about a metre per year.   :)
    "The one who plants trees, knowing that he will never sit in their shade, has at least started to understand the meaning of life."  Rabindranath Tagore
  • PerkiPerki Rossendale - LancashirePosts: 2,009
    I've done a quick plan not to scale or anything just to give you the idea. 
    I would use hard structural planting for all year round interest using topiary nothing to small but not to high where it starts dominating  ( green round circles ) . I then soften the planting going with more of a cottage garden theme lavender / roses etc but I would still keep some repetition going up the drive with plants. 
    I'd go with evergreens to hide the concrete wall under the rowans - osmanthus burkwood - viburnums etc and other dapple shade lovers like acanthus - actea . The square bit is a bench to catch the evening light. 



    what plans do you have in mind Liriodendron ? 
  • LiriodendronLiriodendron Scariff, County Clare, IrelandPosts: 6,987
    Thanks so much, @Perki.  That's definitely food for thought - and I like the idea of tying the two sides together with repetition of the same structural plants.   :)

    My previous garden was across the road and down 15 steps, so you saw the "plan" from above, which meant that the basic outlines were really important.  So that's what I had in mind for here, really, but I'm sure you're right about repetition of planting being the thing which will make it feel unified.  My provisional design was based on concentric circles - I don't have the ability to "draw" on my photo on this computer so I'll pencil it on the plan and photograph it, in a bit.
    "The one who plants trees, knowing that he will never sit in their shade, has at least started to understand the meaning of life."  Rabindranath Tagore
  • LiriodendronLiriodendron Scariff, County Clare, IrelandPosts: 6,987
    Hi again @Perki - sorry, the weather was unexpectedly good and I had to seize the moment and do some gardening!  Here's my idea, not sure if it would work on the ground:


    "The one who plants trees, knowing that he will never sit in their shade, has at least started to understand the meaning of life."  Rabindranath Tagore
  • Lizzie27Lizzie27 Bath, SomersetPosts: 7,771
    Good plan @Liriodendron
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