By Jill Morgan
Front garden wall ideas can ooze style and with just a little effort and imagination they will actually add a whole different dimension to your outside space. Whether they are tall or short, single skinned or built as a retaining wall there are plenty of stylish materials, plants and ideas to choose from.
From stone filled gabions, raised planters made from weathered driftwood to smooth and contemporary cedar panels, it’s possible to devise a solution that’s just right for your plot.
You can’t get away from it, walls have to be practical, especially if they form part of your front garden ideas and are bordering a busy sidewalk or public area. Make sure any existing or new designs are stable, durable and don’t encroach beyond your property’s boundary otherwise your neighbors or local planning department could legally require you to demolish your efforts. If you live somewhere like a conservation area too, it’s also worth checking out any restrictions on design, construction materials or techniques before pressing ahead with any work.
Security and privacy are also issues, worth considering. Do you want to see your property from the road or pavement, or would you prefer total privacy? These decisions may impact on the materials and design of any new wall constructed or how you rework your existing boundary. Keeping out prying eyes doesn’t mean you have to turn your property into a fortress though, as smart screening, a dense thorny hedge or border or tiered wall and fencing design can also work well.
Whatever your needs, we’ve rounded up our favorite front garden wall ideas to help transform your garden’s front boundary and to make them an outdoor feature to be proud of. From the most arresting planting combinations to the latest trellis and construction designs, there’s endless inspiration, no matter how big or small your project.
1. Try rhythmic planting for a classic feel
Want a smart but subtle divide between your home and passers-by? Well take inspiration from this elegant design. Not only does it look classy, it enhances the period property and creates a degree of garden privacy ideas too.
The secret to success lies in the rhythm of the planting and ornate, pristine railings. A row of five standard viburnum trees, clipped into spheres and underplanted with variegated pittosporum provides all year greenery and interest and is the perfect foil for the sentry style cast-iron railings. Painted black, the metalwork really stands out and unifies the simple planting.
2. Use trailing plants to soften the landscaping
If you want to soften the hard lines of your landscaping ideas for front of house, then adding plenty of planting is one of the easiest and most affordable ways to do this.
Including trailing plants on top of your front garden wall ideas can break up the mass of brick or stone, introducing color and scent to your space. Plus, passers-by will also get to the enjoy the visual impact too.
We love how this vibrant mass of petunias cascades over the top of the traditional stone wall, creating an intense burst of color in the warmer months. Another colorful option are aubretias, which will produce flowers that cover walls in the spring. If you want year round color, then go for evergreen options such as ivy or creeping Jenny.
3. Combine with steps to create a tiered garden
If you're struggling with sloping garden ideas in your front yard, this is the solution for you. Low-level walls teamed with steps will make your front garden far more user-friendly and help to create space for planting.
Here, the materials used for the garden walls are echoed in the garden steps ideas, with the rustic stone just visible beneath the more modern paving slabs used for the steps, giving this front yard scheme a more contemporary twist.
4. Make a statement with stone-filled gabions
A bold mix of natural and industrial materials give these front garden wall ideas their contemporary credentials. Galvanized wire gabions filled with red tinged Bayfield stone create a robust and textured wall, peppered with varying shades of red, plum and rust.
A galvanized steel gate complements the industrial vibe and breaks up the vast wall of stone. Cost effective and perfect as a standalone or retaining wall, gabions can be filled with a wide range of stone, cobbles, slate or, if you are feeling more adventurous, reclaimed bricks, terracotta piping, logs or glass bottles.
Want to keep down costs further if you're searching for cheap garden ideas? Fill the center of each basket with bricks, hardcore or broken paving and use your decorative material to clad the visible sides and top.
5. Reinstate period railings
Smart, sympathetic front garden wall ideas can increase your home’s curb appeal and add structure and interest to the exterior too. This is particularly important in period homes and, if you get the balance right, the results are immensely rewarding.
'For me, it is important to make sure the new front wall is in proportion to, and complements the design of, your house,' says Chris Martin from The London Front Garden Company. 'The Victorians had a great sense of proportion and the classic ‘½ and ½ wall and railings is a great place to start. This design is a direct copy of the period original, with a low brick wall – in bricks to match the house – a neat coping stone with cast-iron railings above.'
6. Add some sharp architectural detail
Looking to create a chic, tactile wall in a jiffy? Then this easy-stack walling is a must. The preformed rectangular blocks are hollow in the centre and can be piled high and infilled with concrete to create a stable boundary with a distinctive notched facing.
Team it with timber fencing for a truly contemporary feel and plenty of privacy. Alternatively build up to 1 meter and plant behind with a mix of tall, airy grasses such as bronze carex and miscanthus sinesis, wiry verbena bonariensis and hot and spicy heleniums for a softer, contemporary look. There's more advice on how to grow ornamental grasses in our guide.
7. Cover walls with scented climbers
Selecting the perfect plants for your front garden wall ideas is worth taking time over. It’s not just a matter of which plants capture your imagination, there are practicalities to consider too.
Which direction does the wall face; does it bask in the sun or sit in shade for most of the day? If planting direct into soil, note whether it is free draining or moist as this will all help decide which plants will thrive.
Garden designer Joanna Archer has transformed many plots and has this advice, 'As space can be limited, I try to include climbing plants and hedges to green up the vertical boundaries. Scented climbers such as jasmine or climbing roses are so welcoming and are perfect for entranceways.'
Our guide to the best climbing roses has plenty of inspiration for your space.
8. Use tiers to make room for planting
Simple structures are often best when dealing with tiered garden ideas, as this distinctly sleek design shows. 'A minimal material palette including rendered walls, slatted fencing, and tiled surfaces, accompanied by clipped hedges and evergreen planting creates a modern and clean design,' says Steven Kingsley of Concept Landscape Architects. 'Plus, it's practical as it can also be easier to maintain in the longer term.'
Crisp white walls create an uplifting feel that would suit our modern garden ideas, and set off the lush green planting beautifully.
9. Go for curved beds for interest and movement
Soften a stark exterior by introducing curving beds on multiple levels. Creating sinuous, weaving lines that meander across the front of the property, the space instantly feels more welcoming and engaging thanks to these clever front garden wall ideas.
This project uses chunky sections of larch to construct a series of raised garden bed ideas and a cosy and secluded seating area. The perfect solution for a narrow yet wide front plot, the smooth planed timbers have been painted grey, the pocket borders filled with topsoil and topped with shingle for a contemporary coastal feel. Ornamental grasses in various colors and sizes add movement and texture.
10. Add movement with soft, billowy planting
Bring a touch of elegance and softness to your front garden wall ideas, with raised beds of billowing plants in pale shades. This beautiful, raised brick border lends a cheery note to the driveway and looks good year-round.
An imaginative mix of evergreen grass, white flowering leucanthemum and valerian creates a relaxed and contemporary feel, perfect for brightening your shade garden ideas. Hardy and happy growing in poor soils, they also need very little care and attention.
11. Harmonize your wall and plant color
Painting brick or rendered walls are sure to make your front garden wall ideas stand out from the crowd, but a carefully thought through color palette will be the envy of others.
Look for a paint shade that echoes the plants that surround it for maximum impact. For example, team the bronze-pink flushed shoots of sorbaria or Sambucus nigra ‘Serenade’ with a deep pink wall color. Or try teaming the deep purple leaves of cotinus, berberis or pittosporum with purple-tinged shades.
Loose textured grasses in all shades of green will heighten the effect, and why not underplant with co-ordinating tulips and alliums for surprise seasonal highlights.
There's more inspiration on choosing the right tones for your outdoor space in our garden color schemes.
12. Clad brick walls for a sleek, contemporary look
Update boring brick walls with smooth porcelain cladding. Easy to install and to maintain, its sleek good looks will give your front garden wall ideas a smart, contemporary note. Available in a palette of light and dark grays, the matte, even ceramic surface works perfectly with airy meadow and wild-style planting or more architectural lush green foliage.
Chosen by designer Kate Gould for her Greenfingers Charity Garden at RHS Chelsea, this London Stone product was used to clad and top low garden walls and to complement the warm, light colored paving ideas.
'DesignClad is a porcelain cladding that is not only hard-wearing but is incredibly stylish,' says the team at London Stone. 'The sheets are supplied in large format, to create a seamless look and can be cut, engraved, and the edges can be chamfered or mitred when connecting pieces.'
13. Create two distinct displays
As valuable outside spaces, front gardens deserve to be reclaimed by their owners. But just because we want to make them more private these days, that doesn’t mean the front facing impression has to be dull.
'Front gardens are often overlooked spaces,' says garden designer Ruth Bridgeman of this garden redesign project. 'By changing original walls into raised beds with fences above, the outside is planted for the community and inside for the family. It dramatically increased their everyday space and is both welcoming and private.'
A mix of French and English lavender, Erigeron -also known as fleabane – and blue salvia top the raised border and blur the space between the garden fence ideas and wall, while a single stemmed Himalayan birch underplanted with festuca glauca ornamental grass fills the front corner.
14. Combine a planted wall with storage
Put your front garden wall ideas to good use by incorporating easy-to-access storage. This design makes use of every inch of space, illustrating how small front garden ideas can be both clever and stylish.
The design savvy team at Bikebox London created substantial storage units using structural steel, topped with ample planters, that double as a garden wall. Born out of their need to replace their collapsing garden wall in east London, Lawrence Friesen and Tracey Bendrien came up with a design that made good use of the limited space with room for planting too.
'The neighbors soon noticed and so the adventure of Bikebox Works began,' says Tracey. 'With a brick wall currently costing £3.5k (as a prospective client told us last week) and offering no benefit to the homeowner who’s short on space, it’s not really viable. Bricks also have a very high carbon footprint, unlike steel, which is mainly recycled and recyclable.'
Love the idea of adding planting on top of your garden buildings? Our guide to green roofs has all the expert advice you need to get started.
15. Give garden walls a dash of coastal style
Whether you live by the sea or just fancy bringing some coastal style back home, a driftwood planter is a fun and practical way to set your patch apart. 'This front garden in coastal Hove [on the south coast of England] is a prize sunspot, but overlooked from the street,' explains garden designer Anita Sullivan.
'The bespoke planter made by Ben Fearnside adds height to the wall while drawing the eye to the foreground and away from the seating behind.' Teamed with airy planting, the driftwood has silvered with age and the beautifully smooth surface and irregular shapes add plenty of character and charm to these rustic garden ideas.
16. Don’t be afraid to mix materials
Combining different screening techniques is a great way to personalize the approach to your front garden wall ideas and create a view that looks good from inside as well.
Here, a few simple materials have been cleverly repeated. 'This small garden wall was rendered and painted a blue grey,' says designer John Ward from Aoba Home Landscapes. 'The dark color contrasts nicely with the planting and horizontal cedar which was added to match the bi-fold gates and provides a uniform feel to the whole space.' Three pleached photinia ‘Red Robin’ provide a smart finishing touch, adding dramatic color and valuable privacy.
You'll find more ways to add interest to your garden gate ideas in our feature.
How can I build a small garden wall?
- Start by deciding on the dimensions of your front garden wall ideas and calculate how many bricks you need. Any brick wall needs a firm and level base, once this is in place you can lay your first course of bricks.
- Lay a bed of mortar on the foundation and place the first brick. Add a small amount of mortar to the end of the second brick and place next to the first, butting up the ends. Continue until the first layer is complete. Check the bricks are level and straight by using a spirit level.
- If you're using the same size bricks for the entire wall, you will need to split the next brick in half, to start the next course and create a strong staggered bond. Use a club hammer, bolster chisel and safety goggles for this job. Score a line on the back of the brick and strike the chisel firmly.
- Lay a small bed of mortar on top of the laid bricks and add the second row. Check the levels as you go and repeat the process until the wall reaches your desired height.
- To finish, fill in any gaps in the mortar and smooth the joins with a small piece of hose pipe.
What can I plant by a front garden wall?
Wondering exactly which plants will thrive happily near your front garden wall ideas? Garden designer Ruth Bridgeman shares her tips and some of her favorites.
'Front garden wall ideas are such interesting places to plant as each creates an entirely new scene,' she says. 'The look of the wall may be something to show off or contrast with the planting, or you may wish to use planting to hide a less pretty structure. Masonry walls often suck up moisture, as well as creating their very own "rain shadow" which makes for dry ground. Look for varieties that manage these conditions happily.'
- Choose fruit trees for a sunny spot If you’re lucky enough to have a full height, pretty south- or west-facing sheltered wall, train some of your favorite fruit. The wall will keep it warm, and you can try out espalier patterns with apples, pears, or a fan shaped fig. Ficus carica ‘Brown Turkey’ is very reliable and easy to source.
- Plant easy going lavender With so many different varieties you’ll easily find a lavender the right size for your front garden wall ideas. Plant a few different ones so they flower at different times and try underplanting them with small spring bulbs for an early splash of color – the bees will thank you too! Our guide on how to grow lavender has lots more tips.
- Go for shade-loving ferns A shady north wall is perfect for ferns, whether it’s a damp or dry. Reliable and often evergreen they provide good texture and architectural shapes even in the darkest space. My favorite fern combo has to be the coppery pink Japanese shield fern (Dryopteris erythrosora ‘Brilliance’), the black stemmed ‘Holly fern’ (Cyrtomium fortunei) and the glossy lime of ‘Hart’s tongue’ (Asplenium scolopendrium)
- Try a climbing hydrangea for a tall, shady spot For a 6ft wall in the shade go for a climbing hydrangea (Hydrangea anomala subsp. petiolaris). It does take time to get going but will grow to cover the space with pretty foliage and flowers. This is a great plant, unusual in its preference to flower in the shade. Head over to our guide on how to grow hydrangeas for more advice.
- Start from the top down! The other option is not to plant at the foot of the wall at all but start at the top (or wherever you like). In a sunny spot, bush cherry tomatoes, such as ‘Tumbling Tom’ grow well. For a more sophisticated look that doesn’t need much water, try combining several varieties of sedums including some trailing ‘String of beads’ (Senecio rowleyanus).
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