Friday, 18 December 2009

The front garden

Looking back through this blog I've noticed that it may look as if Frog End only has a back garden. In fact we have quite a large front garden. Not large compared with a house out of the city, but it is the largest front garden on our street and probably the largest I've seen in Exeter for a terraced house this size.

The reasons that I rarely blog about the front are twofold. Firstly the front has comparatively little wildlife, 95% of the houses on our street having drives or paved over front gardens. Birds can be seen passing overhead, but I can't recall seeing any actually in the front garden. Similarly I've not seen any reptiles or amphibians in the front. Insects are more frequent visitors and in the summer the front has more grasshoppers than the back garden (though I've no idea why). Secondly I have to admit that our front garden has never really been presentable enough to photograph - at least not since we started playing with it.

When we arrived the front garden was much like the back - very lumpy grass on a slope containing the odd tree stump and a single border round the edge filled with gravel and a couple of shrubs. Since then we have toyed with a number of ideas. At first I had my way and convinced Ian that it should all be flower borders (with no lawn at all). Next we decided that we had better have a drive in the hope that it would increase the value of the house and stop next door from parking in front of our house all the time. The drive seemed like a good idea as we had tonnes of gravel from the back garden to get rid of. We brought over half of that through to the front before deciding that we didn't really like it and the builder pointing out that without a solid base it would just sink with the car on top. Next we considered having someone in to put in a paved driveway, but looking at the prices and considering that we probably wouldn't bother driving the car on to the front we quickly rejected that idea. Now we are back to the original plan of flower borders and I have to say that I am relieved.

Over the last couple of years I have planted a third of the garden (the part that would not have been driveway) and began making a native hedge on the right hand side. Yesterday we finished the native hedge, added a beech hedge along the wall next to the pavement and some other native trees next to the wall on the left. Ian is currently in the middle of changing our water supply from lead to plastic piping. He has now finished digging a two-foot deep trench for the pipe from the street to the house and is starting to dig under the paving next to the house to the house wall. As soon as the new pipe is in I will have my fun, remake the path to the front gate and plant the rest of the garden.

August 2007 - just after we moved in to Frog End

April 2008

June 2008 - the real low point when the front was filled with all the junk we unearthed in the back garden before the skip arrived

9th December 2009 - Ian clearing away the gravel to prepare for the trench

18th December 2009

The new beech hedge:

Despite the big trench I still think our messy front garden looks nicer than next doors tidier, but rather blue, back garden:


holdingmoments said...

That's a good sized front garden; bigger than my back garden lol
A lot of work going into it, but I'm sure it'll be all worthwhile in the end. Quite a transformation already; and yea, does look better than next doors :)

Helen said...

Thanks Keith. It should indeed be worth it in the end.

Hopefully over time we'll be able to attract more wildlife (including birds) to the front and then we'll know we've been successful.

Randy Emmitt said...

The trench was quite the mess. Yet the new water line is a good plan and much healthier. Looking forward to the changes you make. What happened to the dragonflies and damselflies blog? I'm just itching to post some odes from my archives.

Helen said...

Hi Randy. I'm afraid that with dragonfly season having been over for several months (in the UK) I had got distracted by other things. I do, however, intend to start posting on the dragonflies and damselflies blog again very soon.

Scriptor Senex said...

The front 'lawn' in August 2007 looks deceptively flat. It's hard to tell from the photo that it was really uneven and you couldn't have got a lawn mower over it.