3 Designer Tips for an Easy Front Yard Makeover
Making a significant change doesn't always need to be such a strenuous thing. Sometimes you can make an impact with a lighter and more affordable touch. You just need to see your yard with fresh eyes, use some garden design principles, and get new ideas.
Like on this front yard that I redesigned for a young family with children.
Their pathway to the main door was in good condition, and they wanted to keep it intact. However, the family felt that the front yard seemed a little bit plain. They wanted it to be welcoming and put a smile on their face when they arrive home. (Check the 'before' photo of the front yard in the published article at the end of this post.)
As a garden designer, I saw some obvious problems to tackle on their existing front yard:
- the front yard's elongated shape that continues past the front door
- the pathway that arrives along the side of the house to the front door and continues to the backyard
- the whole area looks very unbalanced with similar narrow rectangular strips side by side - lawn, pathway, and flowerbed beside the house wall.
- the need of lighting
Here are the design ideas that I used to renew the look of their front yard. You can do the same for yours using all of the ideas or choosing just the one you need.
Highlight Your Home's Main Entrance
It's essential to guide the eyes - and your visitor - easily to the front door.
To make this happen, I decided to break the long and narrow front yard into two separate areas - the front yard and the garden beyond. I wanted to frame the home's main entrance so that your eyes would stop around that area and do not slip to the back of the garden. That makes the main door more noticeable and welcoming.
I broke the long rectangular lawn area by placing a pink flowering cherry with some planting underneath beside the hedge close to the front door. The tree and curving planting area narrows the lawn area and guides the gaze to the home's entrance.
To slow the gaze down even more and add some mystery, I added a stepping stone path leading from the main door into the back garden. The line of stepping stones mirrors the curved planting area under the cherry tree. Hence, it adds another curved shape to the otherwise quite rectangular front yard.
A Bonus Tip: Add some planters for seasonal planting to frame the front door. You might even choose pots which color will be cheerful and pop out a little bit. Or choose plants to catch the eye.
Frame the Front Yard Pathway with Abundant Planting
To make the entrance even more exciting and welcoming, I added a new mixed border on the other side of the pathway leading to the front door. I chose flowering shrubs, perennials, and bulbous plants for the planting area.
Some new plants on the front yard:
The Sargent's cherry (Prunus sargentii) is decorative in all seasons. The tree blooms at the same time as the leaves start growing. Flowering lasts less than a week, but it's worth it. The autumn color is fiery red. Place the cherry in a sunny spot. Hardy to USDA zone (3b) 4.
The abundantly flowering 'Cambridge' Siberian iris (Iris sibirica) is erect and lower in height than the natural species. It has dark green foliage. It is best placed in a sunny planting area to flower in early summer.
The white spot (Pulmonaria saccharata) 'Mrs Moon' is a beautiful ground covering plant. It blooms for many weeks with color-changing blooms. Its dotted leaves effectively cover the ground well into the fall. It thrives best in half-shade - shade and flowers in late spring to early summer.
Lily-flowered tulips combine well with perennials. The dark purple color of the 'Burgundy' variety and the sturdy stem make it an exceptionally striking companion. You can plant the bulbs between perennials on a sunny border.
A Bonus Tip for the Low-maintenance: When you have a lawn and planting area side by side, it's convenient to separate them from each other with some edging. It makes mowing so much easier and prevents grass from growing among the plants.
Add Low-voltage Lighting Fixtures to the Front Yard
The existing front yard was pretty dark, and it needed some more light. Small bollard lighting fixtures were an excellent option, and they sit nicely among the plants on the new planting area leading to the front door. They give enough light and lead safely to the front door at dusk.
In addition to bollards, I added some indirect light by setting a spotlight to highlight the cherry. It gives a dramatic glow to the foliage and turns the tree into an eye-catcher that leads attention towards the entrance during the dark.
A Bonus Tip: It takes a lot of work and digging to add power cables and lighting fixtures to an existing yard. However, you can forget the digging if you use low voltage 12V lighting systems. There is no risk of electric shock, and you can install them by yourself.
There is a lot of possibilities and 12V lighting fixture models nowadays. Just hide the cords so that nobody will stumble on them.
There you have it! My go-to ways to renew your front yard and make it more welcoming whenever you or your guests arrive at your home. Now you know where to focus and what to add or tweak in your front yard!
PS. If you're wondering how to take your style into your garden, take my Garden Style Quiz. I have been using the quiz with my clients for years to help them to figure out their true garden style. You'll also get the style guide that gives you clarity and clear guidelines to follow. Be inspired, and don't forget to have fun!
The original article was published in Viherpiha garden magazine issue 6/2017
The article was part of a year-long monthly series I wrote about gardens and solved readers' various garden design problems.
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