I often wonder what people think about their front gardens. They are a valuable bit of real estate, but are often overlooked in the rush to get to the front door. Invariably they are just a place to put the dustbin or from which to collect the Amazon parcel.
Home owners value the front of their house for various reasons. Some will spend a lot of money paving over the frontage to make it easy to sweep and clean. I have seen some impressive marble tiling akin to an exotic palace courtyard but do feel this is out of keeping with a South London street. On a positive note, it is lovely to see residents bring their front paths back to Victorian glory with the traditional black and white tiles and metal railings.
Others look upon the front space as a very valuable place to park the car. This saves them money in paying annual parking charges but needs an application and payment for a pavement crossover. I can’t help thinking this is not what was originally envisaged when the house was built. The front of the property becomes sterile and unless paved in an ecological way causes water run-off and overflowing gullies.
As basements have become more ubiquitous for growing families, the front garden has been eaten into to accommodate the light-well. In some cases front gardens have a strengthened metal grill so you can have light to the basement and a car parked on top. The front garden is sacrificed for more space for busy families.
In my opinion the best front gardens are those that introduce a bit of greenery and nature to our city streets. Little lawns and flowerbeds need attention but not only are a real pleasure to the householder but also perk up the neighbourhood. When passers-by see gardeners tending pots, window boxes or hanging baskets, it is not unusual for them to stop and chat – so rare in the hustle-bustle of city life. I have had some very interesting discussions on varieties of carrots, the risk of frost, what sort of grow-bags to purchase and the best plants for shade/sun – all over my garden gate. Front gardens are a precious resource for us city dwellers. Let’s make the most of them to bring the local community together and green up our urban living.
Don’t forget to enter Balham in Bloom!
– Sarah McDermott