How to reclaim a front garden

Look through most front windows and what we see is a car park. One in four front gardens is now significantly paved, and as this increases the risk of flooding, it often requires planning permission. So why not spend the £172 fee on a green oasis instead?

Even a small front garden has a corner where plants will grow, says Leigh Hunt, adviser for the Royal Horticultural Society. 

Try to squeeze in a small tree like Lobner’s magnolia or a fragrant evergreen shrub like skimmia or Mexican orange blossom. Run clematis alpina, hydrangea or ceanothus up fences and walls, or plant a hedge if there’s space.

If you can fit in a border, grow Rozanne geraniums, Michaelmas daisies, Japanese anemones and periwinkle, which survives even dry shade. If not, fill containers with petunias and tobacco plants in summer, swapping to winter pansies in autumn.

More ambitiously, go for low-key parking, with paved tracks and gravel plus reinforced grass for visitors’ cars. Then screen vehicles from sight behind a box or lavender hedge and enjoy!

If you are looking to hire a gardener read these top tips for avoiding cowboy gardeners.