Front garden ideas – 15 ways to create a welcoming first impression
Set the scene for your home with stylish front garden ideas that are both beautiful and practical
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The best front garden ideas combine planting and practicality to create an inviting entrance to your home, and set the scene for what lies beyond.
Your front garden is such an important part of your home's curb appeal. If it’s well maintained, it’s a lovely reflection of how much you care about your home and neighborhood.
Ideally, opt for low-maintenance garden ideas for the front of your home, abundant perennial planting, and simple and smart front yard landscaping ideas.
However, it’s always good to add a bit of instant wow factor, so consider making a statement with a focal-point feature such as climbing plants, a garden sculpture or water feature ideas.
Best front garden ideas
Whether you are looking for small front garden ideas, or ways to make the most of a larger plot, there are so many stylish ways to maximize your home's curb appeal.
We've rounded up the best front garden ideas to suit properties of all styles and eras, and to make a front yard look nice.
1. Plant colorful borders
'Color in your front garden ideas can bring areas to life – the different tones imbuing a range of emotions, from soothing to stimulating,' says gardening expert Leigh Clapp.
There are so many beautiful flower bed ideas that will enable you to create a planted oasis in your front garden.
Plant taller plants at the back of borders, medium height varieties in the middle, and smaller plants at the front – and consider the importance of garden color schemes.
'Variety, contrast and imagination are the keys to creating successful combinations,' adds Clapp.
'When planning your palettes, take into account the architectural style of your home and garden, as well as the colors used in the building materials of the house, paths, steps, walls and fences.'
2. Use topiary to create structure and interest
Add a structure to your front garden ideas with striking topiary forms.
'Topiary goes anywhere – it doesn’t matter if your garden’s formal, informal, contemporary or traditional, topiary will slot in effortlessly adding a tailored presence all year round,' says gardening expert Matt James.
'Use its sculptural form as the perfect focal point among frothy perennial plantings spilling with geraniums, penstemons and catmint. Alternatively, for a minimalist style statement try spacing topiary balls or lollipops equidistant apart like soldiers on parade.'
Topiary looks particularly architectural when planted in pots. Arrange these in informal groups or plant classic balls, cones and spirals in tall urns either side of the front door for an elegant look.
3. Set the scene with a front gate
A garden gate sets the scene for what lies beyond, so to create the right impression, choose a beautifully crafted design surrounded by lush planting.
As well as being important security features, garden gate ideas can also help to enhance privacy and help to define boundaries along with your garden fence ideas and garden wall ideas.
There is a wide choice of designs available that will work with homes of all architectural styles, so be led by the property's exterior.
The best materials for garden gates include oak – which is hardwearing and sustainable – as well as metalwork, which can be simple and modern, or ornamental.
Bear in mind that regular maintenance is needed to keep garden gates in good condition.
4. Add fragrance and beauty with climbing plants
The best climbing plants provide a feast for the senses. Not only are they abundant with beautiful flowers at eye level, but they give off the most intoxicating scent.
Roses, honeysuckle, jasmine, sweet peas and clematis are perfect for adding to your cottage garden ideas and will set the right note when welcoming guests to your front garden.
'Whether you are looking to cover a garden fence or frame your front door, you'll need to look at the best trellis ideas to ensure you can support these climbing beauties,' says Homes & Gardens' Editor in Chief, Lucy Searle.
'The good news is that there are climbing plants that will work for every position in the garden – whether full sun or in the shade. Many varieties are also highly attractive to pollinators, and so will help to turn your front garden into a wildlife haven.'
5. Watch the world go by on a garden bench
All too often, we don't take the time to really appreciate our front garden ideas, instead preferring the seclusion of a backyard.
However, a well-placed garden bench will allow you to get to know your neighborhood better, and immerse yourself in the local streetscene.
It doesn't have to be prominently on display – climbing plants and garden boundaries can help provide a sense of privacy.
There are so many stylish outdoor seating ideas to choose from that you could alternatively opt for a porch swing, armchairs, or an outdoor sofa.
Make sure you choose low-maintenance materials such as metal, teak, or all-weather rattan.
6. Add a pair of containers to your front garden
A quick way of switching things up is by experimenting with container gardening ideas, and introducing thoughtfully positioned planters.
Choose pots that work with your overall color scheme in terms of complementing the materials used in the hard landscaping and exterior paintwork. Group them together for maximum impact.
In the front porch idea shown above, a pair of bay trees in matching pots flanking the entrance offer a smart solution.
7. Choose a statement path
The path sets the tone for your front garden ideas and is key to the overall look, as it’s such a dominant feature.
It needs to be practical and hard-wearing, too. Classic retro-style tiles in a geometric pattern, as shown in the front walkway idea above, are a good choice, even in a classic setting.
‘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 Walls & Floors (opens in new tab).
8. Refresh the front door
One of the most simple ways to lift your front garden ideas is by making over the door with a lick of paint.
Trends come and go but gray or black are great choices for urban homes, especially when off-set by crisp white paintwork and flanked by structural green planting.
‘We have seen a move towards darker colors used on front doors,’ says Helen Shaw of color trends specialist Benjamin Moore (opens in new tab).
‘Deep grays and off-blacks have become very popular for exterior woodwork. They make the property stand out in a subtle and stylish way.’
Other popular color choices include heritage greens and soft blues.
9. Plant according to your surroundings
Situated in Rancho Mirage, California, this front garden is a thing of architectural beauty. Designed to blend in with its surroundings, the carefully curated courtyard garden is a lesson in how to adapt to your surroundings.
The designers and architects at Stuart Silk Architects (opens in new tab) have ensured that the plants can not only survive but thrive next to the rugged, inhospitable Santa Rosa Mountains.
'The concept was to contrast the rocky terrain by keeping the materials bright and crisp while also complimenting the desert palette by maintaining warmth and human scale,' notes architect David Marchetti.
10. Learn how to incorporate planting in a front garden
Go for a neat and formal look with several clearly defined flower beds of varying sizes rather than one long or square one.
It’s easy to blend planting with the hard landscaping by leaving pockets of soil that you can fill in. Plant right up around the house to make use of every inch of available soil.
Think about how your house can be framed with planting and what can be quickly installed to soften or enhance the facade.
Climbers can be trained to grow up walls and fences with trellis or tensioned wires. Choose something with fragrant flower, such as star jasmine, to help perfume the approach to the entrance.
This smart front yard features a freshly manicured lawn and climbers that lead the eye up towards the house.
11. Keep it neat with a simple footpath
The best garden path ideas are attractive features in their own right, but also serve a practical purpose, providing a safe route and preventing worn patches from floor traffic in any grassed area.
A gravel path is a simple, cost-effective solution that has other advantages for your front garden. Not only is gravel low maintenance, but the crunching noise it makes underfoot can be a good burglar deterrent.
12. Opt for a modernist approach
Unsurprisingly, outdoor spaces are increasingly becoming extensions of our indoor spaces. So if your home is a modernist new-build, then you may want to incorporate this look into your front garden ideas as well.
Use flooring and materials to create a seamless transition from your home to your patio, terrace or garden. For extra style points, layer a garden over different heights and levels to create interest and intrigue.
13. Lay down hard landscaping
Opt for a relatively low-maintenance garden by laying down a selection of hard materials, from concrete to stone.
The modernist-inspired stone steps in this urban, small front garden create a bold, streamlined statement. Intersperse this scheme with a selection of seemingly random plants, chosen to add a touch of color.
14. Use symmetry to define your front garden
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. Break up the planting with sections of gravel to create variety rather than a repetitive stretch of hard landscaping.
15. Use lighting for security
Smart front porch lighting ideas can be used to illuminate steps and paths, as well as areas around the house to welcome guests and deter intruders.
Consider fitting LEDs on step risers, and light paths with small spots. Garden security lighting in entrances can be spotlights or lamps with a motion-sensor that turns on as people approach. Floodlights are really only suitable for large properties or long drives.
How do I make my front garden nice?
One of the easiest ways to improve the look of your home is to smarten up the front garden. It will create a welcoming entrance as well as adding to the value of your property, acting as a taste of your interior look. Choose a low-maintenance option that looks both modern and stylish.
How do you build a low maintenance front garden?
When it comes to front garden design, many of us are switching to a more integrated look.
High-maintenance flower beds bordering a square of grass are out, as are dull driveways. There is still a great demand for off-street parking in busy residential areas, but now the look is more integrated with softer landscaping and planting.
The latest trends see a combination of different types or material used together, such as brick work, pavers, chipping and gravel, interspersed with neat pockets of planting to add interest, color and texture.
What plants look good in a front garden?
Low-maintenance planting is a good choice as your front garden is on display all the time and needs to look neat.
Evergreen shrubs – such as skimmia, viburnum and camellia – will add year-round structure. If you like a more clipped look, try box, hebe or yew.
Clever small garden ideas, such as planting a small ornamental tree, like a flowering cherry or acer, will add a structural design element to your front garden without swamping the space.
Jennifer is the Digital Editor at Homes & Gardens. Having worked in the interiors industry for a number of years, spanning many publications, she now hones her digital prowess on the 'best interiors website' in the world. Multi-skilled, Jennifer has worked in PR and marketing, and the occasional dabble in the social media, commercial and e-commerce space. Over the years, she has written about every area of the home, from compiling design houses from some of the best interior designers in the world to sourcing celebrity homes, reviewing appliances and even the odd news story or two.
- Melanie GriffithsEditor of Period Living
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