Outdoor Front Garden Ideas

How to make your front entrance look more expensive than it is

Clever hacks to maximise your home's kerb appeal.
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If you’re looking for front garden ideas that will increase the street appeal of your home from the street and make it look more expensive, take a leaf out of the latest book from Matthew Cantwell of Secret Gardens.

In the pages of Matt’s book Secret Gardens, named after his award-winning landscape design company by the same name, he shares some of his projects and reveals how these gardens came to life. The results are a stunning coffee table book filled with magnificent images taken by Nicolas Watt of breathtakingly modern landscape design, together with a rich source of practical landscaping ideas.

Read on to hear Matt’s top tips on making the front of your home look more expensive with clever planting and landscape design.

Exterior of a modern new build home in Brisbane
The home exterior of this modern new-build in Brisbane is flanked by greenery. (Photography: Mindi Cooke | Styling: Rachel Honner)

Make it lush

Create a lush entrance like the side of this residence, planted with a mass of Alpinia nutans that climbs the entire length of the imposing staircase connecting to street level.  

“The foliage comes alive with the wind,” says Matt. “A subtle reward that was further enhanced by a neighbouring willow myrtle, delicately draping overhead.”

How to make your front entrance expensive | Home Beautiful Magazine Australia
A lush side garden filled with Alpipnia nutans. (Photography by Nicholas Watt from Secret Gardens by Matthew Cantwell, New Holland Publishers)

Matt’s best gardening hack to make the front entrance look expensive on a budget is greenery. “Planting that sets you apart in the street – a well selected and well positioned tree, partly concealing the house and creating intrigue,” he suggests.

One trick of the trade, says Matt is to balance hard surfaces with the softness of planting and/or areas of lawn.

Formal style garden with topiary hedges
The stately exterior and formal front garden of this Wahroonga home offers a hint of the grandeur within. (Photography: Pablo Viega | Styling: Stephanie Powell)

Money-saving ideas for a beautiful garden

“When designing a garden, it is important to consider neighbouring vegetation and the opportunity it can offer to borrow from the scenery,” says Matt. Sometimes, it’s worth buying cheap plants on Ebay.

“When I am looking for something that is hard to find I will occasionally look there.” But you have to be lucky. “It’s rarely the case that you find the quality of stock that we expect from usual wholesale suppliers,” say Matt.

How to make your garden look expensive | Home Beautiful Magazine Australia
You may save money buying plants on Facebook Marketplace or eBay, but the quality may not be up to scratch, says Matt. (Photography by Nicholas Watt from Secret Gardens by Matthew Cantwell, New Holland Publishers)

Favourite trending plant? 

“Cactus,” he says. “Olives continue to be one of our favourite trees. They are a hardy species, they look at home in a coastal setting and they provide a very modern appeal yet work equally as well in a more traditional-style garden. I think it is their unique foliage colour. It seems to work so well in the Australian landscape.”

Potted succulents
Cacti and succulents are among Matt’s favourite plants. (Photography: Eve Wilson)

Shop the look


Secret Gardens by Matthew Cantwell, Booktopia


Get inspired by Matthew’s years of experience as seen in his stunning book, showcasing 24 of his favourite landscaping projects.


Gerani terracotta plant pot, Temple & Webster


Filled with an ornamental tree or overflowing with structural succulents, make a statement anywhere outdoors with this oversized textural planter.


Odyssey medium rustic pot in White, Adairs


Available in four other shapes and sizes, group three or more of these striking pots together to bring a corner of your garden or verandah to life.


Avalon external porcelain tile in Charcoal 600x600mm, The Blue Space


Streamline surfaces by tiling unsightly steps and edges with hardwearing porcelain tiles in a neutral tone.

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