The best front garden ideas – smart, easy and cheap

July 17th, 2016
Posted In: Garden trends & design

Here are some favourite front garden ideas.

Your front garden is part of your community. It’s what people see when they walk home from work. You can talk to neighbours while you’re working in it.

Your front garden also has an environmental impact. The RHS’s Greening Grey Britain campaign aims to prevent everyone from paving over their front gardens to make parking spaces. It also has good ideas for those who want a parking space but are prepared to share it with plants.

The most important thing to consider is the architecture of your house. You may decide to complement or echo it in your front garden. Or not. But certainly the architecture of your house influences your front garden much more than it does the back yard.

See here for low maintenance front garden ideas.

So, in no particular order, here are some front gardens that cheer people up when they walk past them. They’re (almost) all easy to adapt yourself and they’re not expensive.

Note: links to Amazon are affiliate, see disclosure.

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Small front garden ideas on a budget

Many tips about low-cost front gardens are surprisingly expensive when you check them out.

For example, you’re often advised to add colour to your front garden with pots. But once you’ve bought the pots, the compost and the plants, then this is not a ‘budget-friendly’ option. You usually have to change plants in pots too (unless you have evergreen plants), so this is an ongoing cost. And pots are more work than plants in the ground.

Artificial grass is expensive to install. And it can be quite a lot of work because you have to weed and sanitise it regularly.

The least expensive way of filling your front garden is either to grow plants from seed or to tell friends that you’d love any plants that are being thrown out.  Jo Rutherford has filled almost her entire garden with friends’ leftover plant (see how to transform your garden from scratch).

Small front garden on a budget

Jo Rutherford painted her fence a smart dark colour. She then filled her front garden with forget-me-nots grown from seed and plants that friends were going to throw out.

Friends with established gardens often have to dig up groups of plants to divide them. That leaves them with leftover plants.

And if you have to buy plants, then shrubs and perennials will live in your front garden for years. If you don’t know what perennials are, see this post on perennials made simple. They are plants which live in your garden for three years or more. That means you don’t have to replace them every summer!

Plant shrubs for an easy-care low cost front garden.

Plant shrubs for an easy-care low cost front garden. Shrubs are woody plants, so look out for special offers in garden centres. If you buy small shrubs, they will grow bigger in a couple of years. Small shrubs are cheaper than large ones.

Many flowering plants only live for one year, so if you buy plants in flower for your front garden, you would have to buy them again next year.

The horticulturalist’s front garden

If you are mad about plants, then your front garden is a wonderful place to display them. This garden below is one of four gardens in a row near me in Faversham. Each of the four front gardens is completely different but delightful.

Front garden ideas for plants

This front garden makes plants its priority. It’s always a pleasure to walk past. Angel’s fishing rods and agapanthus work well.

Alliums and persicaria

Another Faversham front garden for plant-lovers. It always has something in flower.

A formal front garden

This is the next garden in the row of four. It has a classic formal design, and is planted mainly with lavender. The blue of the lavender works well with the duck egg blue front door.

Classic front garden

Classic rope edging works well in front gardens because there usually isn’t any lawn. It’s also appropriate if you have a Victorian house. You can get stone/concrete rope edging from Amazon here.

Colour co-ordinated front garden ideas

The ‘row of four gardens’ shows an excellent use of colour. In this garden, the colour of the front door matches the colour of the garden gate. Even the box (for electricity meters?) on the side of the front door is painted in the same smart blue-grey. Colour harmonising is one of the cheapest, easiest and most effective front garden ideas.

Match up front garden colour

The twentieth century garden gate matches the Victorian front door and also the edging tiles. Use an all-surface paint suitable for indoor and outdoor use, such as Rust-Oleum.

A simple front garden planting with just one kind of plant

This is the last of the ‘four gardens in a row’. This front garden has a relaxed, easy feel and is filled with Erigeron karvinskianus, otherwise known as fleabane. This looks so charming – it just froths up everywhere. Planting just one kind of plant in your front garden is one of the simplest and most effective front garden ideas, especially when it’s an easy-going daisy like this.

Topiary front garden ideas

The garden below probably cannot be described as either ‘easy’ or ‘cheap.’ But it does show how effective topiary can be in a front garden. You can buy box and yew from markets and grow your own topiary.

Topiary front garden

A traffic-stopping topiary front garden in Putney, London.

Choose your front garden path with the house in mind

If you have a yellow brick house, then have a yellow brick path. It’s such an easy thing to forget. In fact, it’s a good idea to remember that all the elements of your front garden ought to work together, from the colour of the front door and garden gate to the path and the planting.

Brick path

Garden consultant Posy Gentles had a concrete path. She replaced it with a brick path more in keeping with the house.

And front garden colour schemes too…

Blue and white colour theme

A simple blue and white front garden scheme in Faversham. A white door, blue pots and blue flowers all add up to a charming sight.

Garden to match street sign

I love the way this front gardener seems to have planted her front garden to match the street sign!

Pink and blue front garden

This front garden has a pink theme. In summer, Rosa ‘Bonica flowers for months on end. There are also have hot pink wild gladioli (self-seeded) in May and pink nerines in September.

Pink themed front garden

The pink Rosa ‘Bonica’ flowers endlessly, and many commuters say love seeing them on their walk home.

Front garden obelisk

Miranda Alexander has painted an obelisk in her front garden. It’s in harmony with her front door. Use a paint formulated for use outside, such as Shabby Chic Chalk Paint or Cuprinol Garden Shades.

Upcycled front garden ideas

Fern Alder started Full Frontal, a community front garden initiative which spread all over the country. She believes in making the most of front gardens and encourages people to do interesting things, such as recycling unusual objects as planters.

Dustpan with succulents

Fern has planted a rusted old dustpan with succulents and hangs it beside her front door.

Wellie boot planters

Old wellie boots planted up at Doddington Place Gardens.

How to landscape your front driveway

If you have a front garden big enough to park a car in, then think about what landscaping materials to use. You can make your driveway look more attractive and more eco-friendly. Choose permeable paving or use a mix of materials, making sure that some are permeable.

Permeable paving is important, because of run-off. So many front gardens in our towns and cities have been paved over for parking. This means that when there is a heavy rain, the water isn’t absorbed by the soil. It rushes off into the town drainage system, which gets overloaded and causes flash flooding.

In the 2019 BBC Gardeners World Live show, Professor David Stevens designed two front gardens with parking areas as part of the Young Landscapers Award. Two teams of landscapers competed on how they delivered the designs. One garden was in a traditional theme and the other was contemporary in style. Both front gardens featured a mix of paving.

Mixed materials used in front garden paving

These two front gardens both have paved parking areas. Designed by Professor David Stephens for BBC Gardeners World Live, they both feature a mix of materials – it looks atrractive and is also a way of delivering a partly permeable paving, which is essential to prevent run-off in our cities and towns.

Raised beds in front gardens

Professor Stephens also featured raised beds in both the front gardens. A raised bed works well in a front garden because it delineates the space as well as a fence does. And it raises planting up, so you can enjoy it from your front windows.

Raised beds for front gardens

Raised beds instead of a fence in this front garden designed by Professor David Stephens as part of the Young Landscapers Award at BBC Gardeners World Live.

Read more front garden ideas – or ideas that will also work in your front garden in How to Style Your Garden. If you’re particularly interested in an easy care front garden, then read Low Maintenance Front Garden Ideas – the myths and the facts.

It’s also worth remembering that your choice of a front garden path is important, and there’s more about how to choose your garden path here.

And if you’re thinking of adding a hedge to your front garden, this has essential tips.

And, of course, privacy is often important in a front garden. Get three top tips for garden privacy here.

Shop my favourite gardening books, tools and products

I’m often asked for recommendations, so I’ve put together useful lists of the gardening tools, books and other products on The Middlesized Garden Amazon store.

For example, if you’re new to gardening (or want to buy a present for someone whose new to gardening), there is a list of the 7 essential gardening tools with the brands I use. Or if you’re looking to make your gardening more environmentally friendly by composting or being more wildlife-friendly, then see My Favourite Sustainable Gardening Products.

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Front garden ideas

Grab a pot of paint and transform your front garden now…

I hope that’s given you some good front garden ideas. Let me know your pretty, smart or unusual front garden ideas. And do share this, using the buttons below – thank you!

12 comments on "The best front garden ideas – smart, easy and cheap"

  1. eMoov says:

    The formal front garden and Topiary front garden looks so fabulous! They could be the best option for people who are very creative. But no matter what type of garden you want at home, the most important part of it is that you maintain its cleanliness and orderliness.

    1. Cleanliness and orderliness make a big difference in both houses and gardens, but don’t forget to leave a few piles of sticks or leaves tucked away so that beneficial insects can shelter. Allowing ivy and hedging to grow a little bit wild also helps wildlife – but it can still look good provided the rest of the garden is well cared for.

  2. Michael says:

    Some great ideas! Your garden is lovely. I’m just about to re-design my front garden and your roses have inspired me!

  3. Nice list of an attractive front gardens ideas! The front porch is the first thing people see when they approach your home. A quick makeover is really important for the perfect look.

  4. Linda Casper says:

    Some lovely ideas there. I always think it a generous gesture to have an attractive front garden which is seen more by passersby than the home owner.

    1. And it’s nice to have the opportunity to talk to neighbours, too, when looking after it. I see you have a blog, but the link didn’t work and went to a 404 error page – feel free to submit your comment again if you’d rather have the link working.

  5. Nic Wilson says:

    I’ve been blogging about front gardens this weekend too. So important for wildlife, the environment and health and happiness for people as well! I love that my front garden has colour throughout the year with dogwoods, daffodils, tulips and then summer flowers. It also hides lots of edibles too. :-)

    1. People really notice front gardens – people say things to us like ‘when I see your roses, I know I’m almost home.’ It rather worries me that if anything happens to the roses, the commuters who pass our gate will be up in arms…

  6. Sue says:

    Lovely ideas here, you do live in a nice village. We have nice front gardens in our little village too and it makes me smile seeing new p!ants popping up as the seasons change.

    1. Yes, front gardens are a real spirit-lifter, especially for a dog-walker.

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