Have you just moved into a fixer-upper, or do you just want to show some love to your forever home? Or maybe you’re preparing to put your property on the market? Whatever your circumstances, giving your front garden a facelift is easier than you might think.
We all know that first impressions are important, and your home is no exception. The good news is that there are lots of ways you can improve your home’s curb appeal, even if you’re on a budget. Here are some tried-and-tested front garden ideas and pictures to inspire you.
Start with your front door
Your front door provides the first impression of how much care you invest in your home. Whether you’re trying to impress potential buyers or just want to make some improvements to your property, your front door will make a huge impact.
Begin with cleaning and polishing the hardware – door handles, letterboxes and house numbers get surprisingly grubby. Replacing them is even better, but not always necessary, especially if you’re looking for low-cost ways to improve your curb appeal.
Next, use a specialist cleaner to revive uPVC, or give wooden doors a new coat of paint. Picking a colour that contrasts with the rest of the exterior is a great way to add character and make your front door stand out.
Subtle finishing touches can make the entrance to your home look more impressive. Make sure you’ve got a crisp doormat, and try adding matching plant pots either side of your door.
This gorgeous doorway in Chingford demonstrates how much impact a clean lick of paint can have. The show-stopping red doors and gleaming silver-toned hardware really stand out – and the pots help visitors figure out which door they’ll be using!
Tidy your garden path
Once your front door is looking fresh, don’t let it down with a shabby garden path. Whenever you’re out moving the lawn, take a minute to sweep it, and keep the edging in check. As long as your path is in a generally good condition, making it look nice doesn’t have to cost a penny.
Keep an eye out for “desire paths” though – those are the tracks that gradually appear when people cut across the lawn. If you spot one forming, look for something obstructing the path, like an overgrown hedge. Alternatively, recognise that there’s a more natural place for your path to be, and make some time to move it.
Build a new path
Building a new garden path? Choose a material that mirrors your home exterior in colour, pattern or texture. Encaustic tiles look beautiful outside period properties, herringbone bricks are great paired with country cottages and pale York stone can lift red brick buildings.
The blue of this tiled doorstep in Stockport perfectly matches the tone of the door, and ties in with the blue-grey brick used for the garden path.
Gravel paths work well with most exteriors, are relatively cheap and easy as a DIY installation, and can eventually be replaced without much hassle. Plus, gravel acts as a security feature (as it’s impossible to walk across silently), and allows rain to permeate through, helping the environment.
The one drawback of a gravel path is that stones can end up spreading – check out our post on garden edging for attractive ways of keeping it in check. You will occasionally need to rake your gravel path to bring cleaner pieces to the top and break up clumps.
Grab a power-washer
A power-washer will make quick work of grubby bricks, driveways and windows. Rent one (or borrow one if you can) for an afternoon, and enjoy the satisfaction of blasting the dirt away.
A word of caution: power-washers can cause permanent damage to soft materials (like wood), historic buildings, intricate features and flaking paint. If in doubt, stick to a bucket of soap and water.
Paint the exterior
If a thorough scrub doesn’t bring you home’s exterior back to its former glory, it might be time to grab a ladder and paintbrush. A crisp coat of paint has a particularly big impact if you’re trying to sell your home, as it really gives potential buyers the impression that the building is clean, loved and in good condition.
Light the way
Outdoor lights are another practical, budget-friendly garden improvement. Installing front garden lights adds to the character of your home, and can be used to emphasise the features you want people to notice.
Choose a lighting design that’s in-keeping with the style of your garden, and decide if you want them solar-powered (good for ambience), or connected to an internal power supply (usually brighter, and better for security).
Opt for hardscaping
Lush lawns aren’t for everyone, and the upkeep of mowing and maintaining grass can be a chore. If this sounds familiar, consider replacing your grass with something more durable, like slate tiles or gravel.
Figure out whether you want to keep any hedges, shrubs or flower beds, and then dig up the rest. It’s not a quick job, but once it’s done you’ll find it much easier to keep your front garden looking neat. Top tip: lay landscape fabric beneath your garden gravel or slabs to prevent regrowth.
This small front garden shows how gravel can still look beautiful, and doesn’t mean you have to completely forget about plants.
Plant a no-mow lawn
Avoid the hassle of mowing a tiny strip of grass at the front of your house by laying artificial grass. You’ll occasionally need to hose it clean, but it needs very little maintenance and can look as good as the real thing, if not better!
Straighten out your gate
Giving your gate some attention is another quick and cheap way to improve your front garden. Tighten the hinges, clean the latch, sand down any rough spots and brighten it up with a quick paint job.
Try painting the gate a bold colour so that it stands out, or use leftovers from painting your front door. Repeating colours will visually bring your garden together without too much effort, like this front garden in Brockley, London.
Don’t forget the driveway
Front gardens with driveway parking is a luxury in the UK, so make the most of it if you have one! Begin with the basics, like cleaning your driveway, pulling out any weeds and tidying the borders. This front garden in Cheshire shows how a simple, unfussy exterior with a clean driveway and tidy flower beds can have plenty of curb appeal.
Next, look at how much paved space you have, versus how much you need. Could you move plant pots or storage containers to either create more room for another car, or to reclaim some driveway as space for something else?
Digging up an existing driveway is a big, expensive job (especially if it’s solid concrete or crazy paving). Using plants, paint or garden furniture to break up the space will be a much cheaper and easier alternative. You could also pay a contractor with a stone saw to cut into your concrete driveway to create flower beds or lawn space.
Steal inspiration from your neighbours
Most streets in the UK have their own “look” – whether it’s a cute village vibe, or modern, minimalist apartments. When it comes to fixing up your front garden, use inspiration from your neighbours to bring it up to scratch and look harmonious with the neighbourhood.
It might be tempting to try and out-do them, but if you’re trying to maximise your home’s sale value, remember that your buyers might not be so keen to stand out.
Keep plant borders evergreen
Evergreens are so easy to maintain – they don’t grow too quickly, won’t need watering once they’re established and just need an occasional trim. Keep them away from your windows so they don’t start infringing on your light, and you’ll find evergreens are a great way to keep your front garden green.
DIY a new driveway
Don’t have a driveway, but thinking of building one? In England, you’ll need planning permission if you intend on covering more than five square metres of your front garden with an impermeable membrane without a border or lawn for rainwater to drain into. Get around this by planning a smaller driveway, making sure there’s a natural run-off within your front garden, or by choosing a permeable surface that rain can soak through – like gravel, permeable concrete blocks or porous asphalt.
In Scotland, the same rules apply – but to any paving that’s between the street and your house (not just front gardens). In Wales, you must use permeable/porous materials, or ensure that water from an impermeable surface is directed to a porous area.
Far from a low-budget front-garden makeover, this renovation in Cheshire is still a great example of how striking a consistent colour palette can be. The dark gravel driveway works a treat.
Maximise storage solutions
Lots of people need their front garden to be functional before they can be decorative – but there are ways of achieving both. Whether you’re storing garden tools, bikes, bins or sports equipment, look for an attractive, secure storage solution to keep your stuff accessible and your garden tidy.
Give your garage a once-over
If you’re fortunate enough to have a garage, don’t forget to give it some attention when you’re updating your front garden. Just like the front door of your home, use a specialist cleaner on uPVC doors, or sand down and repaint wood.
Classic colours include red, slate gray or dark green. However, painting the garage door to match your gate and front door is the perfect way to harmonise the colour scheme of your garden, plus it saves on having leftover paint in several colours!
Keep it trimmed
A simple, well-maintained garden always looks better than an ambitious-but-unloved one. When you’re stretched for time, prioritise keeping the lawn low, clipping hedges back, and pulling up weeds as you spot them. The goal is to keep the front of your house looking bright, open and welcoming.
Don’t ditch plants completely
Plants and flowers are warm and welcoming, so even if you choose to have a low-maintenance garden, it’s worth keeping a few planters or window boxes. Use them to highlight the areas you want visitors to focus on – a pretty pathway, or a gleaming door step.
If you already know that you’re going to immediately neglect those plants, I hear you. Find some cute artificial shrubs and all you’ll have to do is occasionally hose them clean. These artificial bay trees show you how effective it looks!
Disguise your electrical box
Don’t let an ugly electrical box teal the limelight from the rest of your garden. Give it a clean, and paint it a colour in-keeping with your exterior to help it blend in. You might also want to hide it behind a potted plant, that can easily be moved when access is required.
This electrical box is on full display in this front garden in Somerset, but keeping it white helps it blend in with the walls. Compared to the bright turquoise of the door, the red of the brickwork and the yellow of the sandstone path.
Hide your bins
Wheelie bins are another garden feature that are practical, not pretty. Tucking them neatly out of sight should be relatively straightforward. Buy a narrow fence panel to hide them behind, or move them to a corner that’s not so visible from the street.
If you have the space and a little bit of budget, you might want to look at buying a bin store. Check out our post on ways to hide your garden bin for more ideas.
Try symmetrical styling
Humans are naturally drawn to patterns and symmetry so, if in doubt, plant matching flowers on either side of your path. Use the same principles for adding window boxes, plant pots, and outdoor lighting. Keeping it simple but symmetrical is a recipe for success.
Of course, all of these small jobs can add up to some expensive upgrades, so ultimately it’s up to you how much you want to spend, and how much time you have to DIY.
If you’re planning to sell, go for quick, high-impact changes like cleaning and repainting. The longer you plan to be in your home, the more time you have to consider bigger alterations like changing driveways and replacing lawns or surfaces.
The most important take-away is that there is a surprising amount you can change on a tight budget. Don’t let the outside of your home become forgotten! Let us know which of these front garden ideas you’re going to try first.