One of the key decisions when drawing up a garden design is how to approach the front yard landscaping. Behind the house, in the backyard, you can hide a million things that nobody sees, but the front yard is your home’s ‘public’ face as it were. So this begs the question – how do you want others to see it – and therefore you? Another consideration is value adding. Quality landscaping can 5% – 10% value to your property – and this can benefit you if want to borrow against accumulated equity or, more importantly, if you are putting the house or property up for sale. Good landscaping doesn’t have to cost an arm and a leg – even if the front yard is quite large. Trees can fill up large spaces when combined with lawns. They also can add a touch of serenity or elegance.
Inviting and Welcome
By their shape and foliage trees can also add be an extra architectural feature in their own right. This can also be true in small front gardens if you use trees like silver birches or Japanese maples or flowering cherries or almonds. Some simple beds of cottage flowers are easy to construct and inexpensive – and with all the color you can obtain from annuals like marigolds, foxgloves or petunias and the like – you add both a sense of welcome and enhance the front yard with beauty. The main aim is to create a sense of invitation and accessibility. As we don’t use the front for much else, it doesn’t have to cost a lot. A simple design usually works best.
DIY Front Yard Landscaping
Anyone can do their own front yard landscaping if they need to save the expense of professional landscape architects. If you do not know what to choose, simply look around at the better gardens in the street and neighborhood – to see what you like – and if they look healthy, then you know they will also work in your garden. Good gardeners love to talk about plants and garden owners will identify the names of the plants if you don’t know them. They will also pass on tips if you need them. You also can take a leaf from a plant or a digital picture, and your local nursery should be able to identify the plant from that.
Care And Maintenance
All plants prefer good well drained soil, mulching and occasional feeding with manure and other targeted feed from time to time. In the heat of summer keeping up the mulch will conserve water and keep your plants happy. Having said that, many plants will grow in soils and conditions that are not optimal. I have grown roses will in the tropics – with a constant fight against fungal diseases! But I deemed it worth it as I can’t live without roses! The better the growing conditions the better the plant will be of course. Soils can always be improved and mulching helps be more water wise in dry regions. Clays can be broken down with gypsum and sandy soils can be built up with regular mulch and manure. If you need information on how to plant (soil, mulch etc), the local nursery will always provide free advice. They will also tell you what plants are drought resistant, tough, not delicate and how fast they grow and what maintenance they need.
Quality comes from balance and careful placement of what plants you choose for your front area. Simplicity works well, as do more complex designs that incorporate a wide range of plantings and features like cottage garden beds, hedges, trees, bushes, arches, fountains and so on. Add to that a perception of order (in the sense of tidy, not necessarily formality). Finally, adding subtle landscape lighting can heighten the beauty of your garden and make your front yard landscaping an asset at night as well as in daylight.
Keep an eye open for “The Backyard: Trash-heap or Treasure?” (Landscaping For Beauty And The Environment – Part 4)… and later a dirty story (Soils ain’t dirt!)