Choose an easy low-maintenance option that looks both modern and stylish to set the tone.
The latest trends use a combo of different types of material such as brick work, pavers and gravel to break up dull stretches of hard landscaping, interspersed with neat pockets of contemporary style planting to add interest, colour and texture.
Front doors take on a new look from a cool palette of greys and black, while paths are back in a big way with eye catching geometric designs. Co-ordinating planters in the latest materials such as textured concrete add the finishing touch to frame doorways.
Here’s our round-up of these ideas and more to give your front garden added kerb appeal.
REFRESH THE FRONT DOOR
One of the simplest ways to smarten the look of your front garden is a paint makeover for the door. French grey is a great choice for urban homes, especially when off-set by crisp white paintwork and flanked by structural green planting to frame the entrance.
“We have seen a move towards darker colours used on front doors,” says Helen Shaw of paint experts Benjamin Moore (benjaminmoorepaint.co.uk). “Versatile neutrals such as deep greys and ‘off blacks’ have become popular for exterior woodwork. They make the property stand out in subtle and stylish way.”
Shapely ferns and palms in cubic planters add sculptural definition.
CHOOSE A STATEMENT PATH
The path sets the tone for the front garden and is key to the design aesthetic as it’s such a dominant feature. Classic retro-style tiles in a geometric pattern are a good choice as they work for both modern and period properties.
“Creating a striking pattern with tiles and playing with symmetry to enhance the effect makes the most of a geometric design,” says Abby Reilly of tile specialists wallsandfloors.co.uk. “Your path needs to be practical and hard wearing too. These Victorian quarry tiles are crafted from sturdy grade 5 porcelain.”
The chequered edging detail completes the look to take the path up a level from ordinary to eye-catching.
ADD ON-TREND PLANTERS
If you want an instant modern look switch things up by introducing some of the latest pots. Modern planters will take you from season to season with just a quick refresh as the seasons change. Concrete adds a cool industrial edge that looks good with architectural grasses and small ornamental trees.
Choose pots that work with your overall colour scheme in terms of complementing the materials used in the hard landscaping and exterior paintwork. To layer up the look choose matching ones and group them together near the front door for maximum impact. This really helps to lift an entrance and is a good way of including more planting if space is limited.
GO FOR THE CLIPPED LOOK
If you’re in any doubt when it comes to what style of planting to choose, neat and formal works every time. Take your starting point from the door and windows and make sure your planting design feels like an extension of the house rather than an afterthought.
Low maintenance topiary in classic-style planters that look good year round is a good choice for enhancing your front porch, which sees more action than any other part of the garden so always needs to look good.
Neat evergreen shrubs are the go-to for this clipped look. Try box, hebe or yew. All they need is a light trim with secateurs once a year to keep them shapely.
LIGHT UP THE ENTRANCE
Choose the right lights to create a warm welcome and draw attention to your front garden’s best features by throwing a spotlight on them. This will also enhance the look of your property at night to ramp up the kerb appeal. Use sleek and modern cast aluminium bollard lights to illuminate porches and pathways.
If you have planting on either side of the door add drama by using them as backlights to silhouette the shapes of the plants. LED exterior spike lights are also ideal as they can be easily moved around according to the mood you want to create. Use them for highlighting a path or angling towards shrubs or walls for a soft wash of light.
ENHANCE YOUR WINDOWS
If you have deep window sills opt for co-ordinating window boxes to create added interest. They’re also a great way to max up your planting space if your front garden is on the small side, adding more layers of plants at eye level for an extra horticultural hit.
For a stylish look go for minimal and matching hebe, box or lavender in sleek white or black troughs. This always looks smart and is a low maintenance option if you live in an apartment and access is difficult.
Alternatively add pops of colour to co-ordinate (or contrast) with the front door paint or exterior masonry. The latest realistic faux planted window boxes are another easy option.
FIND A BESPOKE LOOK
A chequer board mosaic path is a timeless design aesthetic that will enhance the appearance of your front garden. Extend the look into the porch for continuity. Choose the right tiles and you can create a bespoke look to suit your space.
“While based on traditional Victorian style, these red and black chequer mosaic tiles allow you to create a geometric pattern with a contemporary twist,” says Colin Lincoln-Evans of tilemountain.co.uk. “The range comes with a choice of companion border and corner tiles allowing you to create a truly bespoke look.”
Tiles with a practical matt finish look good and require no post-installation sealing.
INTRODUCE INSTANT IMPACT
Sometimes all you need is one plant to stop people in their tracks. In this case agapanthus is the star of the show. They look stunning woven into your planting, introducing colour and shape with their magical mauve-blue globes. Balls of starry petals rise high on spiky stems to float above other plants, and add a strong vertical accent that works like an exclamation mark.
The bobbing heads add a pleasing touch of geometry to your garden design, and whether planted in a drift or bursting up at random these pretty spheres make an eye-catching feature. You can achieve the same effect with alliums, pompom dahlias or mop-headed hydrangeas.
MAKE A TREE THE FOCAL POINT
The right tree in the right position will make a beautiful statement and provide interest throughout the year, whatever the size of your garden. A small ornamental variety with interesting leaves and bark adds a strong structural design element without swamping the space.
Underplanted and up-lit, it will bring an architectural element that enhances everything around it. This works particularly well as part of a simple and understated design where the tree takes the lead.
A well-chosen tree adds variance in height and structure to your garden, as well as vibrancy with a striking silhouette. It can also be used to frame the approach to a front door.
USE SYMMETRY IN YOUR DESIGN
Symmetry and structure are key when it comes to designing a smart front garden. Get the structure right and the rest is easy. Well-defined flower beds, solid planting and straight lines are a good starting point. Plant a structure of evergreens as the backbone and use low box hedging as the signature look.
The new trend for trees in town gardens is to incorporate them into the hard landscaping. Manageable varieties with slender trunks work really well for this look especially when underplanted to double the wow factor.
Break up the planting with sections of gravel to create variety rather than a repetitive stretch of hard landscaping.
What style detail should every modern front garden have?
Keep it simple when it comes to hard landscaping and planting to keep the look modern. Don’t over complicate things by including too many elements but instead refine your choices to a couple of colours/types for both materials and planting to keep things on brief.
To switch things up fast try adding some contemporary touches with the latest paint shades and planters in industrial materials such as textured concrete or rusted metals like corten steel, which look fabulous planted up with ornamental grasses.
What are the best plants for the front of the house?
Your front garden is on show all the time so needs to look good all the time. Plant a structure of evergreens for year round interest then fill in with low maintenance choices such as mounds of pretty ornamental grasses that look good with minimal input from you.
A small shapely tree such as an acer or ornamental cherry is always a good choice as it adds an architectural detail that lifts the space. Planters flanking the front door and window boxes max up your growing space and add a welcoming touch.
How do you design a front garden?
First look at what’s around. Take your cues from the style of front garden that’s popular in the area and take your cues from there, whether that’s a case of replicating a look you like or avoiding what you dislike.
Try to resist introducing a look that’s too quirky and individual as this could date quickly. Work with the house and the windows, and keep things smart, simple and low-maintenance. Remember the most important thing is going for a look that says loved and cared for.