"How to" guides
We are drafting a set of “how to” guides to make it easier for residents to enhance their property and contribute to the special character of the Lakes Estate.
The guides are based on the Conservation Area Character Appraisal and the experience of residents who have recently undertaken improvements. Please let us know if you have any tips to share – What worked well? Where did problems arise? Where did you find specialist materials?
Guide No 1. Front gardens
What is special?
- The pattern of front gardens throughout the estate, with decorative boundary walls and traditional planting contributing to an archetypal suburban townscape.
- The paving-over of front gardens for car parking, which is damaging to the character and appearance of the area.
- Loss of traditional boundaries and front garden planting, which exacerbates the visual impact of existing off-street parking.
Even the smallest space can be green and inviting, while providing room for parking. The RHS suggests:
- Keep paving to a minimum
- Use permeable paving materials
- Grow plants where you can't park
- Get creative. It is possible to park and garden (though note that permission is unlikely to be given for replacing existing front garden with parking)
- Provide a home for wildlife with your plants
- Keep dust and pollution in the street with a hedge
This RHS guide will show you how easy it can be to make a grey front garden green. It includes a list of low-maintenance plants and ways to accommodate both parking and plants. www.rhs.org.uk/science/pdf/climate-and-sustainability/urban-greening/gardening-matters-front-gardens-urban-greening
Although most of the houses are semi-detached, they are closely spaced and the overall impression is of continuous lines of building.
This is why hedges and planting on side boundaries help to keep a green vista along the roads.
The Edwardians chose privet hedging because it was tolerant of pollution and very easy to maintain. They were on to something there!
Double the green for half the space - adjoining householders would share the hedge so it only takes half its width from each garden.
Decorative tile paths from the front gate to front door were probably originally provided for all, but few have survived.
Yet more and more are being replaced to provide a striking pathway up to the front door and also into the hall.
Guidance on the permeable surfacing of front gardens published by Government (2008) describes the problem with paving front gardens, how to prevent the problems and how to design and construct permeable surfaces. Unfortunately you cannot assume all installers understand permeability. https://www.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/7728/pavingfrontgardens.pdfThe Council is unlikely to permit new hardstanding for parking; these ideas may help in renovating old areas.
Front garden walls are a distinctive feature of the estate, originally almost always constructed of irregularly sized brick rubble or 'wasters', a by-product of brick-making. The walls usually incorporated red and yellow bricks, with decorative and bonding courses in good bricks. Clinker is sometimes incorporated. The walls are generally topped with half-round blue coping bricks.
As the designs vary in each road, take a look at those nearby or at old photos for inspiration.
Would you like to share your Top Tips here?
A success story: A replacement garden path
A common problem across the conservation area is the wear and tear of our lovely front paths. We hear from a family who have just restored this defining feature.
Some ten years ago we had our black and white tiled hall floor renovated and asked for a quote for the same work to be done outside. The answer was that it was too damaged and would need replacing. During the next few years we approached two other renovation companies and got the same answer. So, in 2016, we decided to replace the path and, with our neighbours’ permission, to get rid of the unstable and very ugly wall between our properties and replace it with a hedge.
How to get it done
Having seen their work locally, we chose the Victorian Tile Company, who would also undertake the demolishing of the wall and the repair of the York stone step at the end of the path. Living in the Lakes Conservation Area meant we had to get planning permission for this, which proved to be somewhat more complicated than we expected. We had provided photographs rather than drawings of the new path and insufficient measurements for the proposed new hedge. However, once planning permission was received work swiftly began.
The first day was taken up with demolishing the wall and old path, the second with laying down the concrete base. In the high summer temperatures it was a race against time to get the base down before the concrete dried. The third day was the laying of the tiles. This was done with such skill and speed that many passers-by stopped to comment and take business cards from the tiler, Ricky Taylor. The York stone slabs at the road end of the path were lifted, trimmed and levelled and a piece was inserted between them to form a new step. The final day involved laying the rope-edged tiles either side of the path, and preparing the shared area between the houses where the wall had been. We had salvaged one row of rope-edged tiles from our old path as they had separated the path from the flower bed. Ricky was able to supply a second row of reclaimed tiles to line the other edge of the path, but we were one row short to line the now-exposed edge of our neighbours’ path. We drove to Nostalgia and New, the architectural reclamation yard in Crews Hill and found sufficient tiles of the same age and design to complete the job.
The end result
The hedge has mutated into a row of lavender as the earth between the houses proved to be shallower than expected. However, the bees seem pretty pleased with the choice. The bonus in all of this project was that we managed to salvage enough tiles from our old path to give to our neighbours to repair their (less damaged) path.
The path gives me enormous joy when I walk up it to the front door. I just wish I’d done it ten years ago.
All Photos reproduced from Lakes Estate Conservation Area Character Appraisal 2010 & 2015 courtesy of Drury McPherson Partnership.