Many homes have a driveway that terminates in a paved forecourt area giving access to the front door and garages, and it may also be big enough for guest parking. All this is usually hard surfaced and needs to be practical, so it has the potential to be hot and vastly unattractive. However, with a little effort and bending of the expected scenario, you can create an evocative entrance space for your home.
Junction of walls and floor The meeting of horizontal and vertical planes is the perfect opportunity for some greenery – try to do this wherever you can. There’s really no excuse for not leaving at least a 250mm gap for the planting of creepers to green up those high walls, or a line of neat little grasses, succulents or miniature agapanthus. Try to make much wider planting spaces on the front façade of your house on either side of the front door or wherever you can see that cars will not need the space – the more greenery you can incorporate the better.
Trees and shade These give instant scale to a house and value to any property so plan to include at least one or two depending on the space available. They will also provide shade to ameliorate the heat glare effect of the hard surfacing of the forecourt, therefore think about whether your trees should be deciduous or evergreen and the effect the shade patterns may have. Also, consider trees that don’t have invasive root systems. If you have space consider a pergola with creepers for your parking area. It adds three-dimensional greening very quickly and can even be planted with granadillas or kiwi fruit.
Focal points A fountain or a piece of art will add something special. Either side of the front door or directly opposite the front door (on the far side and out of the way of cars) are often the best places. At the very least, invest in a pair of really good containers with special planting on either side of the front door.
Surfacing This needs to be practical but it really does not have to be ugly. Think about the colour of your house walls toning in with the colour of the surfacing – they shouldn’t clash with each other. Traditional driveway surfacing is brick, cobble or concrete aggregate – all available in many colours. If you choose brick, it could be laid in an interesting pattern such as herringbone or double basket weave. I am not a fan of contrasting trim around the edges but I do like to put a pattern into concrete aggregate forecourts otherwise they seem so incredibly industrial. If you go for cobble, consider a slightly different size or colour from the normal. Try to break up the continuous solid surface – perhaps part of the area can be loose gravel. Or maybe areas can be greened using a grass block – this works well for zones that are not parked on continually and the green is a great relief.
Screening Conceal practical but unattractive necessities like trailer parking spaces or dustbin storage with wooden screens or hedges. Having them in full view will spoil any lovely effect you have created.
Lighting Lastly, think about the lighting carefully – it’s an opportunity to create a great effect and can add security without being a harsh floodlight.
For a personal consultation with landscape doyenne Franchesca Watson visit franchescawatson.com.