better homes & gardens

The first duty of a front garden is to give you a pleasant trip to your house. Nothing is more annoying than to have to negotiate an obstacle course of wet grass, overhanging foliage and awkwardly designed steps. Surprizingly some front doors are even hidden!

Consider the maintenance when selecting your style of garden - being on show all the time low maintenance is better.

So build your design around generous, well-lit paths, preferably not leading right under windows. Inlcude the route from the car or garage and focus the direction on the front door.

At the door itself allow for a space to adequately cater to a small group gathering to say hello and goodbye. An extra square meter of paving or so will give a generous feel.

Note: With very small front gardens it is important to look at the detail of the house which is so close. Keeping the planting simple is the most effective.

The amount of privacy you'll need is a matter for you. Most of us are less happy to expose the front of the house than was the fashion say in our grandparent's days.

Even where front fences are not allowed, judicious planting of trees and shrubs, even hedges will take away any wide-open feeling. Add panels of groundcover if you don't want vast acres of lawn to mow. Without a fence, often it is the driveway that defines boundaries. Joining together with a neighbour and planting complementary greenery will give the appearance of greater space and harmony to the street.

Not many of us can squeeze in off street parking especially for guests . Driveways can be constructed of a good quality paving not just concrete. Parked at 90degrees to the kerb, a car needs a mimimum space of 5.2m x 2.5m (5.5m wide is better); parked parallel to the kerb requires 6.5m x 2.5m. A circular driveway needs to be at least a minimum of 8.5m in radius with a road 3.5m wide, 6m if you want to drive past a parked car.

In Australia, the kerb, verge, footpath, nature strip, call it whatever if it is front of your house it is usually your responsibility.


  • The strip of land is the property of the council and you may need permission for a fancy garden treatment.
  • You have no real control over dogs and children so plants need to be tough.
  • Consider the safety of the public - avoid prickly roses, yuccas and trailing groundcovers.

Source:Landscaping your Garden (Murdoch Books)