How to Design a Small Front Garden

Written by shelly mcrae | 13/05/2017
How to Design a Small Front Garden
This over-planted front garden hides the focal point, which is the front door. (Rather twee dormer bungalow with an attractive front garden image by hazel proudlove from

The front garden of your property is the first impression of your home. A small front garden presents an opportunity to develop a well-organised, low-maintenance garden that enhances the architecture of your home and provides additional usable outdoor space. Create a design that uses the entryway as a focal point, utilises the area for seating and adds colour to the landscape.

Draw a rough sketch of the front garden area of the house resembling a map. Note on the sketch the location of permanent fixtures such as a driveway or walkway leading to the front door.

Create a list of plants and trees indigenous to the region and that you want to include in your garden. In a small front garden, one small tree, such as a Japanese maple, a small groupings of shrubs, three planting beds and a small seating area would be sufficient.

Place the tree to the side of the house farthest from the entryway. For example, if the entryway is to the right side of the house, plant the tree close to the left corner. If the entryway is located in the middle, plant the tree to either side. Indicate on the sketch the location of the tree by drawing a large circle and marking it 'tree.'

Use shrubbery to create a visual balance with the tree. Place a small grouping of shrubbery along the front of the house on the opposite side from the tree leading to the front door. Draw a rectangle on the sketch indicating the positioning of the shrubs.

Create a "bridge" between the tree and the front door with a flower bed, an herb bed or a mix of the two. Select plants with an upward growing habit to create visual harmony along the front of the house. All the elements--the tree, plant bed, front door and shrubs--are all vertical elements, thereby emphasising the entryway. Indicate the position of the plant bed on the sketch.

Define the path leading to the doorway. Select one or two types of flowers or herbs to line the pathway. The flowers should be low-growing and reflect the same colour palette as the exterior of the house. Mark this bed on the map.

How to Design a Small Front Garden
A circular pattern of the plantings add motion to landscape design. (gemütlicher garten image by jbach from

Create a sense of movement in the "central" area of the small front garden. Place a bench just off centre of the area and add a large bed of herbs or flowers to the area. Create a path from the front door to the seating area. The path may be gravel or paving stones. Mark this area on the sketch.

Use another small group of shrubbery to visually define the garden border. This group should "line up" with the tree. Indicate this group on the sketch. Fill in the remaining spaces with turf.

Make several copies of the sketch and refine the overall design. Edit the plant list to avoid over planting of shrubs or plant beds. Implement the garden design when you are satisfied with the design.


Check with local utility companies for location of water and gas lines. Don't over plant as this will make the garden appear crowded.

Tips and warnings

  • Check with local utility companies for location of water and gas lines.
  • Don't over plant as this will make the garden appear crowded.

Things you need

  • Sketch paper
  • List of plants

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