Design Tips

Front garden design tips: 5 ways to keep it simple

0 Written by Lisa on 24th Jan 2014 in Design Tips

Concept sketch sutton front garden Lisa Cox Designs

Welcome to the first edition of my blog series about front gardens.  I’ve written about them before but I hope that I’ll be able to give you some tips to help you to improve what you have.  Whether you’re ready to start again from scratch or just make a few changes I hope I’ll give you some inspiration to have a go.

Front gardens are practical spaces, they need to accommodate one, two or more cars, the rubbish bins and possibly other types of storage such as a log store or oil tank.  But they’re also the window to your home so they need to look great and give your home some kerb appeal.

Lavender & stone bench in Leatherhead Garden Lisa Cox Garden Designs

You don’t normally want to sit out in the front garden but that doesn’t mean it can’t have some “wow” factor.  We have a bench seat in ours and although the only time I sit there is to tie my running shoes, it gives an attractive focal point both from the Lounge and when you pull up in the car and walk across the driveway.

The key to front gardens is to keep them simple.  Here are my five top tips to help you to do just that:

1. Use simple shapes when planning your layout

Front garden concept plan West Horsley Lisa Cox Designs

Straight lines often work best in smaller spaces so if you have a small garden think about the layout as a series of squares and rectangles that are slotted together.  Try to design the shape of the things you want to include i.e. the driveway & pathways and ignore the shape of the flowerbeds, when they’re full of plants you won’t really notice what shape they are.

If you have a larger garden you’ll have the space to use curves but take care to ensure that any pathways leading off the curves run into the radius point of the circle.

2. Use reference points on the house

Front garden Wandsworth Lisa Cox Garden Designs

If you have a pathway or paved area it’s always nice to line it up with a reference point on the house.  So, for example, a pathway leading to the front door should ideally be designed so that it’s the full width of the entrance.

Windows can be great reference points too so, for example, if you have an area at the front of the house that you won’t be parking on, think about lining the hard landscaping up with the edge of the window.  This will ensure that the view from inside is much more balanced too.

2. Ignore the boundaries

When there’s not much in the garden it can be tricky to ignore the boundaries, but if you can try to think of designing the garden from the middle outwards, it will always feel much more balanced.  As I said earlier, it doesn’t matter what shape the flowerbeds are as you’ll only notice the positive shapes of the designed elements.

3. Do you really need a lawn?

Concept-Sketch-2-Sunbury-Garden Lisa Cox Gardens

Lawns in front gardens only really work if you have a huge space.  Small town and suburban gardens just aren’t really big enough,  sometimes they haven’t even the space to park a car.

By the time you’re done planning in the pathways and other functional things you’re left with a lawn the size of a postage stamp which quite frankly just isn’t worth the effort of getting the lawnmower out.

4. Choose your plants carefully

Ideally front gardens need to have a high proportion of evergreen plants.  They’re the only bit of your garden you’ll walk through whatever the weather and time of day/year.  So they need to be interesting and structured every day of the year.

If you live in a cottage in the country then you might want to bring a cottage-garden feel to it, but consider carefully what it will look like in the winter – the last thing you want is bare soil for 4 months of the year.

Front garden in Leatherhead Lisa Cox Garden Designs

I hope this has given you some help to get started.  If you’re trying to improve what you’ve got already there may be some small adjustments you can make to the layout to give them a more balanced look and feel.

For example, you may be able to square off any odd angles or curves to give a cleaner finish or adjust a pathway so that it connects with the driveway in a different way.

Next week I’ll be getting into a bit more detail about materials and how you can use these to influence your subconscious mind.

In the meantime I hope you have a lovely weekend!



Giving your home some kerb appeal

0 Written by Lisa on 21st Jan 2014 in Design Tips

Front garden in Wandsworth by Lisa Cox Designs

There was an interesting article in The Sunday Times’ home supplement on Sunday about revitalising your home. It offered lots of advice and ideas about ways you can improve your home. These ranged from inexpensive decluttering to full-scale structural changes. Read more

Why not phase the installation of your garden lighting?

0 Written by Lisa on 13th Jan 2014 in Design Tips

Walled garden in Berkshire - Lighting by Ornamental Garden Lighting

Lighting in the garden takes on various functions including lighting a pathway, improving security and creating a mood or aesthetic that enhances your garden at night. Read more

A visit to Horsham Stone in West Sussex

1 Written by Lisa on 7th Nov 2013 in Design Tips

Horsham Stone Quarry Lisa Cox Garden Designs

On Monday I visited the Horsham Stone quarry in West Sussex with my local Society of Garden Designer’s cluster group. Read more

Dealing with sloped gardens

2 Written by Lisa on 29th Oct 2013 in Design Tips

View of deck from under willow tree Lisa Cox Garden Designs Surrey

Sloped gardens can be a bit daunting to deal with, but they provide an easy way to make a garden more interesting because you can use what’s already there to your advantage.  Of course flat gardens can be interesting too, but a naturally sloped space will present different opportunities that you might not otherwise have. Read more

A great front garden will make you love your home more

0 Written by Lisa on 22nd Oct 2013 in Design Tips, Inspiration

Concept sketch for front garden in Wandsworth

I went to see a potential client in Clapham on Saturday. They live in a beautiful Victorian town house and are slowly restoring its original features. They’re very keen to improve the look and feel of the front garden first, the back garden will come later. Read more

Sometimes a parasol just doesn’t really cut it!

2 Written by Lisa on 24th Jul 2013 in Design Tips

Umbria Parasol by Garpa

It’s been really hot in the UK now for almost three weeks and we’ve all been very glad to be in shorts and sitting out in the garden at every given opportunity.  I haven’t much envied the commuters to London – I know what it’s like to travel home in a train without air conditioning! Read more

What’s involved in the preparation of a landscaper’s quote

4 Written by Lisa on 24th Apr 2013 in Design Tips

Box topiary and stone bench in Box, Wiltshire

I spoke with one of my landscapers this afternoon because I’ve just sent over the drawings for my project near Muswell Hill.  He can’t get started on his quote until next week because he’s working on a tender for a large job in London and this will take him the majority of the week to pull together. Read more

Constructing a garden…it gets worse before it gets better!

8 Written by Lisa on 12th Apr 2013 in Design Tips, From the drawing board

Leatherhead Garden under construction Lisa Cox Garden Designs

If you read my blog regularly then you’ll know that the construction phase has commenced at one of my projects in Leatherhead.  Sods law it rained the minute the garden was stripped out and this means that the conditions on site are now a bit challenging. Read more

Three key tips to help you to design your pathways

0 Written by Lisa on 2nd Apr 2013 in Design Tips

York Stone Path at Sissinghurst

Pathways are a crucial element to a well designed garden.  They take you on a journey from one area to the next so they need to be practical but also provide some interest along the way.  It’s therefore important to plan them carefully to ensure that they are fit for purpose. Read more

Lisa Cox Welcome

I specialise in helping families to turn their gardens into an extension of their home and into a space that can be used and enjoyed all year round.

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