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Does your front garden have kerb appeal? What does the view of your home say about you, and how much does it matter? In fact, do you ever step back to notice how it looks? The chances are that you concentrate on your back garden because it's more private and you spend a greater amount of time in it. Front gardens are generally more for show than for play, but they are places through which people walk all year round, whatever the weather.
People tend to form judgements about other people during the first minute of meeting them, based on clothes, manner and appearance. It's much the same when they glance at the front of your property or walk to your door. If the kerb appeal is poor, with space cluttered by old bikes, bins, litter and dead or dying plants, people will tend to assume that the inhabitant is similarly casual and off-hand. Maybe they are un-caring? So even before they meet you, they will subconsciously think they know what to expect.
Broken fencing, tumbledown garden structures and lack of plants all contribute to the impression you are creating, not only for visitors but also for your own mental wellbeing.
Create something positive
Once you start to notice your front garden, you might decide you would like to create a different impression.
Improving kerb appeal is a lot easier than you might think, and once you start to alter your front garden you are likely to feel enthused and energised. In fact, changing your surroundings can easily alter the way you feel and behave. In the famous words of Henry Ford 'If you always do what you've always done, you'll always get what you've always got'.
A great job for autumn, winter and early spring
Clearing clutter and changing the image of your property can make you feel happy! The quieter months of the year are the perfect time to improve your home's appeal. There are only a few other outdoor winter tasks needing your attention, so make the most of the window before you are fully engaged in the wonder that is spring. Here's our winter check-list to help improve your kerb appeal:
Sweep up all those old leaves. They present a slip hazard as well as being an eyesore.
Clear debris, including fallen leaves, litter and clutter.
There are many different storage options for bins, they aren't the most attractive focal feature of a garden.
Tuck dustbins away tidily preferably out of sight.
These dirty windows don't make a very good first impression! Clean the windows and paintwork or cladding and you'll instantly raise your kerb appeal.
You don't need to make your own hedge into a giraffe, but a neat hedge always looks good! If you have hedges, trim them neatly. Instant kerb appeal!
A neat lawn makes the world of difference to a front garden. Don't forget to trim the edges too. If there's grass, cut it and neaten the edges.
There's not a lot of appeal for wildlife on a bare hard surface! Make sure there is some planting in the front garden. According to the RHS, over 20% of front gardens are fully paved with NO plants whatsoever!
Dead plants in odd pots aren't the most attractive feature of a front garden! Remove old flower pots containing plants that are past their best.
Ornamental grasses in stylish, matching pots make a great statement in the front garden. Improve your kerb appeal by replacing odd pots with large, matching containers with plants that link the space together.
This simple front garden design looks highly effective due to the repetition of plants, even in a small space. Consider matching the planting to the style of your house i.e. formal clipped evergreens that are inspired by the shape of the property; flowers that complement the colour of the house; or flowing shapes that blend with the property.
You can add some colour during the spring and summer if you want something a little more frothy.
Create a style that suits your home
It's always a good idea to look around you and aim to fit in with the street scene. You can add personal style without standing out in an awkward and obvious manner. Gnomes and gargoyles might be fun, but perhaps keep them in the back!
Beware adding something too quirky where passers-by can see it! People just LOVE to criticise.
Neatness is important. The most difficult look for a front garden is a naturalistic wildflower meadow. It's likely to look unkempt for much of the year, and not in a good way.
Wildflowers look great in a large space but don't generally work very well in a front garden.
Make sure you have structure and definition. Evergreens and architectural plants can be highly effective in the front. They look good all year round and can be supplemented by annuals, pots and hanging baskets in the summer if you wish.
A great garden design has a measured amount of architecturally pleasing plants.
Ensure that the route to the front door is obvious. This can be achieved with a path or big pots as a signal to mark the entrance.
Avoid anything too quirky. One day you might want to sell your home and your taste might be off-putting. Most house-hunters cruise past the front of the house before booking a viewing.
Beware of adding too many quirky features. They might not always be tasteful!
Bear in mind relevant planning rules. For example, you should be aware that that front garden surfacing needs to be permeable and cannot drain into the mains system unless planning permission is sought. This helps to minimise flood risk. There may be local laws regarding heights of fences, colours of paintwork etc. The planning department of your local council can help you.
New hard surfacing in front gardens does not need planning permission provided it is permeable (porous) so that water can drain through.
Perfect Plants Ltd is an on-line supplier of garden plants, house plants, garden equipment, furniture and gifts for all seasons www.perfectplants.co.uk