There are some lovely front gardens in the Westcombe area and they give pleasure to passers-by, as well as to their owners.
There are many reasons why we should value them, the most obvious being that they greatly improve the appearance of the neighbourhood. And of course they increase the resale value of our homes through their kerb appeal.
But that’s by no means all! They help nature to do her work, and thrive; for example a front garden provides nectar for bees and butterflies thereby helping to reverse their decline. They also provide a habitat for birds, and the insects on which they feed.
Less obvious is the fact that they make the air we breathe safer because plants help capture pollutants. They also cool the air in hot weather – and help insulate homes in winter. And for householders who have experienced recent heavy downpours of rain, which seem to occur more frequently, a front garden can reduce the danger of flooding by soaking up rainwater. Unfortunately there is a continuous loss of front gardens as many are being paved over to provide hardstanding for cars.
No matter how small the front garden, with a little imagination it can be both practical and beautiful. Here are some tips to consider:
-Hedges are better for wildlife than fences or brick walls. They also filter dust from the street. Mixed hedges with flowers and berries are the best.
-Grow climbers up the front of the house and plant shrubs at the base.
-Fill up corners where cars cannot park
-Use all the spare space around the edges for planting shrubs and flowers.
-Plant a tree. There are many that are suitable even for very small spaces and many have flowers for pollinators and berries for birds.
-Keep hardstanding to a minimum – just two tracks can be sufficient.
-Leave pockets in gravel for plants
-Use containers and pots to beautify areas with no soil.
-Aim to have plants in bloom from early Spring to late Autumn.
Front gardens can support wildlife, whatever their size!
If you enjoyed Ann’s article and are thinking of re-designing your front garden, the RHS website has some good ideas for planning front gardens: