Front garden design makeover – Case study

Front gardens can be difficult to get right because often as not, they have to be functional, to accommodate the car and driveway or utility area for bins.

Just because a driveway is there, it doesn’t mean to say that the area should not be treated as a garden and be made to look beautiful.


So how do you go about making a practical space a beautiful one?

Step 1 Design it as if it were a garden first, then make it practical.

This is the most important part of the design process. If you get too bogged down in the practicalities of having a functional driveway or a place to store the bins etc., then you often won’t be able to come up with something that looks pretty.

Whereas if you tackle it the other way round and have a garden first and foremost, do the design you’d like to have, and then work out how to accommodate the car and a drive etc., then it becomes much easier to create something of beauty.

Step 2 Get creative with the shapes that you use.

Your front garden doesn’t have to be bland and boring. Experiment using sweeping bold curves, circular shapes, or if you have a very modern house perhaps interlocking block shapes.

If the area is small, try to use shapes and materials that will visually make space larger.

Step 3 Now you need to make it practical.

So, now you’ve designed your front garden as you would had it has been just a garden, we need to start to think about how you can incorporate space for a car or utility area, or whatever your practical needs are for your front garden.

So obviously, you will now need to modify what you’ve already done on paper, but doing it this way round will enable you to create something much more artistic and visually pleasing.

If you have to accommodate a car into your driveway, allow a lot more room than you think you need.

Front garden case study

Before the builders added an extension to this house, the front garden had just been lawn with a few plants. After the building work had finished, there wasn’t much of either left! However, the owners did not want to go back to having a plain old boring lawn. For a start, there’s the additional maintenance of grass cutting, and they thought that it could look better than just grass.

In our case study garden, a bold sweeping curve shape was cut into the tarmac drive and then small natural stone paving slabs were laid in a random bond, mixed with light coloured gravel and planting.

The paving slabs were of a thickness that if they needed an additional car parking space, near where the pot is on the photograph below, they could take the weight without cracking.


Thymes were planted in gaps left in the paving, and these could take being driven on occasionally. This allowed for the area to still look like a garden, yet function as a parking space.

The paving also functioned as a path to the front door as well as around the planting sections. By using the same material all the way through, and in their relatively small sizes, it makes the area appear larger and the consistent use of materials brings clarity to the scheme.

Need more help?

If you’d like to learn more about exactly how you can transform your garden, then check out the online garden design courses I run here at Successful Garden Design.

Learn how to design your garden – Attend one of our FREE Fast Track Garden Design online classes…

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Front garden makeover – Case study

The front garden makeover in this case study had a driveway either side of it and a small lawn at the front. The design needed to be viewed from all angles and be welcoming as you approached the house from the road, whilst also looking good from the view from the window. Front-garden-before So how do you go about creating a garden that looks good from every angle?

Step 1 Choose a shape that enhances the space and looks good from whichever point you view it.

The easiest way to do that is to choose a shape that is simple. If you try to use irregular curve shapes in a small space, it never looks right. So, keep it simple and base the shape on a circle or box shape.

Step 2 Make sure that the shape you choose enhances the area.

Again, circles are wonderful for making any space look larger. Simplicity really is key. If you try and overcomplicate things, it will never look right.

Step 3 Make it interesting with a clever choice of materials or focal points.

You don’t have to fill every last space in your planting borders with plants. If you use a gravel and cobble mulch, you can leave areas of empty space so that you can clearly view the cobbles. This creates additional space and makes borders more interesting, and it’s also low maintenance because you have less plants. If you are going to use a gravel or cobble mulch, make sure you put down a good weed suppressant membrane that will help keep the maintenance low.

You can see in our example garden that we edged the lawn with pavers to match the driveway. This created continuity with the existing materials and it also kept the maintenance lower because it meant the lawn didn’t need to be edged and would never lose its shape. The shape also mimicked the fencing panels, which furthered continuity in the design.Front-garden-AFTER The curved shape pointing outwards from the house helped make the area look longer from within the house as well as creating a welcoming shape as you approach from the road.

You don’t have to spend a fortune and it doesn’t have to be difficult!

This is a really simple makeover. It didn’t need anything overly fancy or ‘designery’, nor did it need a small fortune spending on it. Design shapes are what REALLY make the difference, not how complex you make it or how much money you spend!

Circles and curves really are your best friend in the garden, just having a simple shape like this on your lawn and patio area makes a tremendous difference. Even though we were unable to fit a whole circle or semicircle into the space, the design shape did originate from a circle. Never underestimate the power of the circle, it’s why garden designers use them so much!

Need more help?

Attend one of our FREE Fast Track Garden Design online classes…

Register on this page:

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