How To Landscape Your Front Yard

September 21, 2015 |

The front yard is one of the most important landscaping projects you’ll undertake on your property. Getting the front yard right is particularly important because it’s the part of the house that people most often see-and the part they see and walk through every time they enter. With that in mind, here are some landscaping and design tips for your front yard.

Keep the House Design in Mind

The first detail of planning your landscaping-and particularly the materials you will use for structures such as walkways-is to determine how your landscaping will harmonize with the exterior of your home.

This is important because it ensures a smooth transition from the outside of the home to the inside. For example, if your home is made from brick, consider creating walkways that are edged in brick, to pick up on the colors of the home and echo those colors on the ground. Then make the dominant color of the walkway match or closely echo the color of the roof.

Pay Attention to Walkways

The front yard is less a place to relax in than it is an area that welcomes people to your home. Paying particular attention to the shape and design driveways and walkways is important, because these aspects of the front yard will see constant use. Driveways and walkways should be broad enough to use comfortably-for example, people walking from the gate to your house should not brush against shrubbery or flowers, but should have enough room to move without being caught by plants.

Adding motion-sensor lighting to driveways and walkways helps make your front yard a safer place to move through at night-you can choose lighting that complements the exterior of your home, further enhancing the harmony between the exterior and the yard.

Choosing Trees and Shrubs

When choosing trees for the front yard, you must think in the long term-how tall are they going to be when fully mature? Will they block sun, or shed leaves on the driveway or walkway?

These are important considerations for any front yard plantings. The trees and shrubs you add will grow over the years, and you’ll need to consider how much space mature planting will take up when you first add the plants. Don’t forget that root systems will grow over time, too-larger trees have extensive root systems, and a tree in a poor location may disrupt walkways or even the foundations of your home.

In addition, remember that overhang from your roof may deprive some plants of sunlight, depending on their sun requirements and the season. Small bushes and shrubs should be places four to six feet away from the home to ensure they receive enough sunlight throughout the year.

Fragrant plants and trees are an excellent option for front yards, with attractive scents that welcome your visitors-fruit trees, herbs, and sweet-smelling shrubs such as lavender are good choices.

Consider the View

When designing front yard landscaping, consider the view you are creating both of the yard and of the home. For example, if your front yard is small, it’s best not to cram too many plants into the area. It’s important to ensure that the front of the home is in full view from both the inside of the home and from the outside, so that you can see out, and so that new visitors are not in any doubt as to the location of the entry point of the home.

Use plants and shrubs that emphasize the entry point of your home-for example, add a planter with colorful flowers on either side of the front door, or train a vine to grow over the exterior of the front porch. This makes your entry point more welcoming, emphasizes its location, and further eases the transition between the outdoors and the indoors.

Adding Color

Flowing plants can be added easily to provide a welcoming splash of color in the front yard. A good option that makes planning the front yard in the long term easier is to designate particular spots for short-term plantings.

This means that you first designate the spots for trees and shrubs that will be constant fixtures-that will grow and mature over the course of several years-and then plan to use the remaining space for annuals or biennial plants. For example, your short-term yard space could be the home of colorful bulbs in the spring, and then used for summer annuals after the spring bulbs have flowered and died out.

Alternatively, if you’d prefer a lower-maintenance front yard, use perennial shrubs and plants to add color, rather than annuals and biennials that have shorter life-spans and need replacing every one to two years.

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