Front gardens have recently hit the headlines. TV makeovers put them in the spotlight and now these once innocuous symbols of suburbia have become political hot potatoes. Many people are paving over them with non-porous materials, creating excessive run-off to drains, and subsequent ‘flooding’ problems are becoming a pressing debate, but apart from their use as a convenient car park, the big question for most front garden owners is what to do with them.
Choosing a use
Parking & surfacing
Up front appeal
KEY POINTS TO TAKE AWAY
- No structures of any kind are allowed in front gardens without planning permission. This also applies to porches and may affect larger ornaments or even pots and containers. Boundary walls over 1m in height also require permission. Contact your local authority before committing to any work. They will also often publish guidance on their websites.
- A typical parking space is 2.4m by 4.8m, but you’ll need extra space to allow access to and from the car. Driveways are typically 3m-3.5m wide. A second access point, to create an ‘in-out’ drive, will still require permission, even though you already have access to your property.
- Keep planting and paving themes simple in the front garden to ease maintenance and to reduce the ‘bling’ effect of a garden that shows off too much. Link materials and planting to your locality.
- Gravel is a readily available and is a low-cost permeable paving material. The base on which it is laid must also be permeable. To prevent excessive movement, pour the gravel into cellular mats. This material also strengthens and consolidates the surface – useful if you are planning to park a car on it.
- Where space and soil conditions allow, paved surfaces can be drained to a soakaway.