A wonderful garden, when first viewed, can be greatly enhanced by what the visitor first sees. An important matter when choosing the garden entrance is what the house looks like. Does it have a particular architectural style or character? If the house is formal, a structured entrance may be more appropriate. If the house is stone, probably the fence should be of the same material. A weatherboard house will probably be better complemented by a picket fence.
The placement of paths, driveways and the front gate can also be crucial. Importantly, do not make the gateway too mean in width. If it is complementary to the period of the house, a lych-gate might help define and embellish the gateway. A lych-gate is a structure, usually roofed, that stands above a gate. Sometimes a seat is built in.
Obviously the style of the lych-gate must be sympathetic to the garden, house and fence. Decide whether the structure stands effectively on its own, or would be improved by a climber such as an old fashioned rose. Climbers such as bougainvilleas are best avoided near a gate, as their thorns can be sharp and dangerous.
When planning the entrance another matter to consider is the placing of mail boxes and taps and where rubbish bins can be stored. If a tap must be on display consider investing in a brass fitting to cover the top, such as one in the shape of a bird or native animal. Hoses are also best stored hidden, or at least wound up neatly.
Consider the paving you use for paths and driveways. Again the material used should be chosen to complement the garden. Crushed quartz or gravel can be effective for a cottage garden; sandstone flagging may be more appropriate for a parterre style garden. If you choose a brick paver decide on the pattern that will work best with your house and garden. A stretcher bond is simple, herringbone more sophisticated.
The plants that decorate the entrance are obviously the most important part of all. It is crucial the plants be healthy. Not surprisingly, if plants are healthy the garden will seem more welcoming. If a plant is diseased or leggy, treat it or remove it!
Consider the importance of perfume at the entrance. Gardenias and roses are natural choices. Daphne, Osmanthus fragrans, and Luculia will all add another fragrant dimension to the visitor’s experience.
Consider plants that complement the garden style. For example, if the garden is cottagey, perhaps use heliotrope, lavender, pelargonium and salvias. Perhaps for a more formal look, a pair of standard Iceberg roses could define the front entrance. Around a contemporary home, you can use wispy grasses and bold colours to good effect.
Do not neglect lighting. Obviously your first consideration for night visitors is safety. Make sure steps and paths are well lit, but also use lighting to add drama and highlight plants or features of interest.
Ultimately, all you do in your garden should please you and make it your own personal piece of paradise. However, if you are successful in producing a welcoming entrance it is very likely to add to the value of your home. Remember the first impression of a visitor of prospective buyer will be guided by the entrance you have created.