Making the most of the front garden

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Barbara and Paul Blackburn of Chard, Somerset, had to park two cars in their front garden, but they didn’t want it looking like a car park…

‘When we moved into our house, the front garden was covered in gravel and weeds – we couldn’t imagine how to fit two cars and flowerbeds into such a limited space, with a frontage of just 11x8m,’ says Barbara.

After a lot of thought, she and Paul came up with the idea of creating two rectangular beds of low-growing plants which they could park over. When the cars were not parked there, the couple would have an attractive front garden.

To make use of the space, one bed is set at an angle, with staggered edges, while the other is on the side entrance. Both can be driven over by a car so that the wheels straddle the beds. The couple drove their cars in and out to check that their idea worked, then they marked out borders to break up the space, providing somewhere for tall plants to shield the front door from the road.

‘Next, we checked the ground levels, creating inclines so that rainwater flows from the paving into the flowerbeds,’ says Barbara. ‘We got our block paving from a neighbour who was throwing it away – Paul laid it, so it cost us nothing.’

After the paving had been laid, they dug the compacted earth and rubble out from the beds, refilling it with compost. Then, after all the hard work, they planted the two beds with low-growing, easygoing plants that form mounds and need minimal maintenance, such as saxifrages, alchemillas, violas, sedums, achilleas, acaenas, cotton lavenders and prostrate junipers.

‘The plants were tiny and insignificant when they were first planted, but they soon grew and merged together to form a living leafy green mat with pretty flowers in season,’ says Barbara. ‘In the surrounding borders we planted tall flowering plants such as dahlias, penstemons, scabious, lobelias and mallows. It works beautifully.’