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Front garden plant ideas

Hi everyone,

We moved house a few months ago and I'm trying to come up with a plan for adding colour to the front of the place. We don't really have a proper front garden as it's mostly a driveway/parking area etc but we do have a verge at the front which I'd really like to do something with. I've grabbed some images from Google Street View just to show how it looks at the moment. The site is pretty much East facing (tiny hint in the North-East direction).







I'd like it to be really bright and colourful so am quite taken with the idea of planting some Spring bulbs in what is now the lawn area and then attempting to turn it in to a cornfield annual mix of wildflowers. However I'm not so sure whether this would be practical as I guess it would then become a bare patch of soil in the late Autumn and Winter after it's been cut? Has anyone got any thoughts on whether it could work out, or any alternative ideas?

There are some small beds at the front of the house under the bay windows. Currently there are lots of small shrub rose plants and some white valerian. If anyone has any ideas of what might look particularly nice there I'd be glad to hear of it. There's a couple of the shrub roses that look like they could be really nice if they were allowed to get bigger, but I don't know about having a line of many small rose plants. 

Other than that we'll be keeping the Weigela and eventually replacing the tatty fence with a 3 foot solid fence, tongue and groove type style, so hopefully it'll all look a bit tidier eventually.

Thanks for any input or ideas of what could work and look good.

Lucid :)
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  • You are right about the annuals leaving it bare over winter. A perennial meadow would be a better bet, but one with tall growing plants and grass would look untidy in that context as you have found.
    One possible option would be a low level meadow - daisies, bird's foot trefoil, prunella , creeping cinquefoil, red and white clover, yarrow etc, that tolerate being grazed or mown. Mowing every 3 or 4 weeks with the mower set on high would keep it tolerably  tidy and give some colour, especially with the addition of spring bulbs. Keep to low growing ones though, as you need to leave the foliage to die back naturally for them to flourish and naturalise.
    A second possibility would be prairie planting, mixing selected grasses and perennials. It would require more work, but would give more interest. You could choose the height you want and the colours and shapes you like, but it could be potentially more vulnerable to dogs and footfall. You might want to keep the ranch fence though, so you could see it :)
  • ObelixxObelixx Vendée, Western FrancePosts: 26,424
    I agree about the fence.  If you're going to the trouble of planting it up you want to be able to see it and keep an eye on it.  A solid fence will not be pretty from indoors and will encourage passers-by to think the verge i snot yours and they can litter/trample/let dogs poo on it as they wish.

    I agree with @Buttercupdays' suggestion or prairie planting too - spring bulbs followed by perennials spread over the season so you have colour from spring thru to late autumn but you'll need to improve the soil first with barrowloads of well-rotted manure to get them established and make it low maintenance.  I would also suggest a border of hand or slightly larger sized stones round the edges to show it is "owned" and cared for. 
    "We don't stop playing because we grow old; we grow old because we stop playing." - George Bernard Shaw
  • LucidLucid Posts: 385
    Thanks @Buttercupdays and @Obelixx. Quick reply before I head out with the dog but will come back properly later as you've both given some helpful advice and thoughts. But I just wanted to clarify on the fence in case others comment similar as I probably wasn't clear what I meant. We'll just be replacing the line that comes down the right side of the boundary from the house to the back of the Weigela. We won't have anything coming across the front etc.

    Lucid :)
  • FairygirlFairygirl west central ScotlandPosts: 40,868
    Do you mean the verge isn't yours?
    I'd still want a barrier of some kind there, even if it's to the inside if the verge is 'council' owned. It's not the most attractive thing to look at, and it would give you more scope for planting as you could bring it round from the right hand side, and plant to the inside of it, without compromising the parking area. 

    It's a place where beautiful isn't enough of a word....


  • Ferdinand2000Ferdinand2000 Posts: 527
    edited October 2020
    I think you need to demarcate your territory - at the moment the whole frontage feels a bit too much like part of the road imo.

    Even if the verge wasn't mine I might make an executive decision that it *was* mine, and plant a couple of large, attractive spreading bushes with several contributions to largely cover it in a few years and create a block, with bulbs and other things around them. A simple fence might work well whilst they grow.

    For now I think I would suggest lots (and lots and lots) of bulbs.

    TBH I think you need to bite the bullet at some point and deal with that parking area and its not-very-attractive. You seem to have parking for about 5 or 6 cars - is it needed?

    You might find you can get away with a single or double turning head on the front, and leave the cars there then reversing into the drive to "exit in a forward gear" (depends on the road - I have recently stopped turning in my drive as I live in a tiny lane and can  reverse out).

    That or similar would give you space to do more in the front garden, and you could perhaps use one of the grass-reinforcing mat systems to make it more attractive.

    Ferdinand

    “Rivers know this ... we will get there in the end.”
  • LucidLucid Posts: 385
    Hi @Fairygirl, the verge is ours and part of our property. I don't think I'm explaining very well so here are a couple of amended photos to show the boundary lines etc. :)

    The red line here shows our property's boundary:



    The blue lines here show the proposed new fenceline - a low tongue and groove style solid fence:





    So what you're advocating Fairygirl is to extend the fenceline to the front of the pavement? The reason I had thought to stop it at the verge was to allow for the bright colours I was hoping I could get in to the verge/bed. I was envisaging you'd see it as you were walking down the road etc.

    Lucid :)
  • LucidLucid Posts: 385
    @Buttercupdays - thanks for your reply earlier. Yes I did think that might be the issue with it being wildflowers. Such a shame as I was hoping for a massive burst of colour there but at the same time, it'd look awful to just be left as soil the rest of the year. I will investigate the small wildflower planting plan - I wonder if Californian poppies at least could sneak in there too? I will have to explore the prairie planting plan - I guess it depends how well I could change it in to a bed but I do like the look of grasses mixed with the brightly coloured flowers.

    @Obelixx - thanks for your reply earlier. The fence would definitely not come across the front of the verge so it should all still be viewable etc. Yes, I'll have to explore prairie planting further and see whether it's possible there. I know it can look very effective if done well, but it's whether I could achieve that or not. I'll take on board what you said about manure and the possibility of edging with stones too. 

    Lucid :)
  • LucidLucid Posts: 385
    @Ferdinand2000 - thanks for your reply. Sorry I'd not seen your post when I replied to Fairygirl just now. I've put up some photos to show our boundary line now, but the verge is ours. The parking area is actually a little deceptive on those photos. The block paved right hand side just about fits our two cars, side by side and parallel to the house. Technically we can fit a 3rd car on the grey block type paving to the left but only if they park really close to us. The driveway with cobbles in the middle is pretty much out of use as a parking area as it would block our neighbours' cars in to the left. And the driveway that goes up the side of the house is too narrow to use - we'll be knocking down the garage soon and extending at that side so that there's not so much wasted space there. The mix of 3 paving styles is hideous and we are going to be getting it redone at some point but I'm not quite sure we can lose the area we have paved. We were wondering about widening the drop down curb (is that what you mean by turning head?) to make it easier to get in and out but that would then decrease the bit of verge we do have. 

    I do like the idea of lots of Spring bulbs for now and will explore if we could use shrubs on there. It was easier when I was envisaging wildflowers but I guess it's just not going to be practical while still trying to keep it looking nice! 

    Lucid :)
  • FairygirlFairygirl west central ScotlandPosts: 40,868
    If it was mine, I'd bring the fence right round  :)
    2 reasons. One - it makes your boundary clear - to everyone. Whatever planting you put there, people will allow kids/dogs etc to walk over it. The fence doesn't have to be high either, especially across that section. 
    Two - it won't affect planting.  :) If you like the idea of the prairie style plants - most of them, and grasses, are around 3 feet or more. A low fence won't cause any great shadow. You can have smaller planting towards the front[ on your side]  anyway.
      
    The biggest drawback of this style of planting is that it starts later, but you can have masses of spring bulbs in there, and some early-ish perennials to give you a succession of flowering. The odd evergreen too if you fancy, so that you don't have bare ground to look at for very long    :)
    It's a place where beautiful isn't enough of a word....


  • SydRoySydRoy Posts: 166
    My own personal approach would be evergreen hedges - nice and tightly clipped which would give you "green" all year round, define your boundaries and give a small amount of privacy. Then add a few decorative terracotta pots with colourful annuals or or mix of shrubs that will live happily in a big pot for a number of years.
    Meadows are great and are "the thing" just now but are harder work than you'd imagine and IMHO need to be quite large.
    And yes, less concrete would be nice.

    My late aunt used to live in Benfleet - in house almost exactly like yours - I had to do a double take!
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