Kerb Appeal

Look along your street. Which gardens stand out? And, do they stand out for the right or the wrong reasons?  ‘Kerb Appeal’ is the art of making your garden look as attractive as possible to create a framework in which to set off your house.

Unfortunately, many people don’t realise the potential of their front gardens.  It is so important to saleability of your property as this is the first impression you are giving to a potential buyer.  If the front garden is full of broken concrete and an old fridge, it’s not very welcoming to a potential buyer and they are unlikely to want to see what the inside looks like.

Whether we like it or not the condition of our front garden sends out messages to all our neighbours which are difficult to ignore. Of course as with any home renovations time and budget restraints are usually the key factors. However, if you are confident about what you are doing and with a bit of research, it is simple to make a small space look attractive, be easy to maintain and doesn’t have to cost the earth.

The differing styles, designs and conditions of our front gardens most certainly reflect elements of our personality. The street on which I live has a very diverse array – from formal black-painted Victorian metal railings to hedges of sweetly-scented Rosemary and even an old French gent’s urinal which has been converted into a water feature and communal bird-bath. So what messages are you sending out to your neighbours?

Walking around the local area there are many streets with well maintained front gardens and it is evident that there is a sense of friendly rivalry and competition between neighbours. Not only does it make them look more attractive but it also instils a sense of pride within the local community. Those with attractive front gardens tend to be the most desirable streets to live in, so the benefits are positive on many counts.

There are a number of considerations to be taken into account when planning your front garden. It should be practical as well as beautiful.  We all need to store our rubbish and recycling bins, but they don’t have to stand out like beacons and off-street parking doesn’t have to look like a municipal concrete car park. Plants can be used to soften the overall scheme, define spaces, create focal points and entrances. If space is limited, try containers or window boxes. A few carefully well chosen plants can make all the difference to the finished garden. In London many front gardens tend to be very small. The key rule here is to keep it simple. Try to use materials which will compliment the look and style of your house.

By contrast there are many people who deliberately disregard the style of their house and opt for something which contrasts and makes a statement all of its own. This may be because the façade of their house is architecturally un-interesting. This is a great idea but needs to be well executed otherwise the house and garden can fight for pole position.

If you use your front garden for off-street parking and you need a hard standing area try to think of other ways that you can be more ecological, such as a gravel driveway or adding a water butt to collect rain water from your garage roof or encouraging wildlife through the plants you are using in your front garden. A simple container with lavender for instance is a start! If your garden is large enough, plant a tree. The benefits to the environment are well documented. Think about planting a hedge rather than building a wall or fence.

When considering the plants it would be a mistake to plant all deciduous shrubs. They will look fantastic in the spring and summer but your front garden will be empty during autumn and winter. It is important to get as much evergreen structure as possible and then add seasonal colour through winter and spring flowering bulbs and perennials for summer and autumn. Also the planting will denote the style of your garden. Tightly clipped shrubs, hedges and topiary give a much more formal feel than plants which have been left to grow more naturally. Topiary such as balls, pyramids and spirals, is also very popular for front gardens because just one or two plants can transform a front garden.