Front Yard Impressions
By Kay DiVerde
Planning the landscaping for your front yard is probably the most important planning you will do. This is what you first see when you arrive home each day, and it's often the only part of your house some people ever see. The landscaping in front creates the curb-side appeal you want and need to increase the value of your home. In order to get the best results, take the time to evaluate what you have, check out what's available, choose a color and shape scheme, and set your plan into motion.
The first step in your front yard landscaping plan is to evaluate what you already have. Whether you are starting from scratch with a brand-new home or are revamping an existing yard, draw a rough sketch of what you have. Try to include dimensions and list what is already included in the yard (trees, shrubs, plants, light fixtures, mailbox, walkways, etc.). Make note of anything that is unhealthy or not functioning properly.
Now that you know what you have, it's time to think about what you like. Take notes while driving around the neighborhood. If you pass a house that has small trees creating and arbor over the front door, or has a nice groundcover bordering the walkway, or you find a house with beautiful lilies surrounding the mailbox, add those "likes" to your list. Also, write down what you don't like. If your neighbor's walkway is too narrow or overgrown with plants, or their trees are so full they block view of the house, or you have to tiptoe around plants to get out of your car on the driveway, include that in your notes.
You know what you have, what you like and what you dislike. Now, it's time to think about what kind of impression you want your front yard to give. An inviting home has an entrance way that is clearly recognizable. A home nestled among established trees gives a comforting feeling and sense of permanence. A yard with unique landscaping features can reflect the uniqueness of its owners. Colorful flowers and shrubs relay a cheerful personality. Let your own personality flow out into your yard.
|"Why not make your life as easy
An important consideration when planning is the maintenance of the yard. If you have a large front yard and little time to care for it, you can reduce your mowing time by including large perennial flower gardens, and use ground covers and mulch to form islands around trees and shrubs. Choosing perennials instead of annuals will save you planting time each year. Mulch and ground covers will keep down the weeds. If your yard is an odd shape, consider "squaring" off your yard to ease mowing with flower gardens, lawn ornaments, ground cover borders, etc. Since you're doing the planning and need to do the maintenance, why not make your life as easy as possible?
Providing symmetry is how balance can be obtained in your yard. Most homes are not built perfectly symmetrical, but you can still create balance. If your driveway is on the left side of the house, plant a large, full tree in the middle of the right side in an island surrounded by mulch, ground cover or flowers. Plant the same ground cover bordering both sides of the driveway. Add two of the same type of shrubs to each side of the garage door. Even within a flower garden, provide balance by planting the same type of flowers and foliage equal distance from the edges. A balanced, framed view of the house can be obtained by planting taller trees on both sides of the house and one behind it (to be seen over the rooftop once it reaches maximum height). Balance is very pleasing to the eye and seems to make everything fit together.
When deciding what to plant in your yard, think of the future. When choosing trees, be sure to check out the maximum height they will reach. You don't want to plant a tree that is going to grow too high and block too much of your windows or will end up dwarfing the house. Also, but sure to plant trees and shrubs far enough away from the house, so they won't grow to cause a hazard rubbing against the house. Full flower gardens always look the nicest. While your trees, shrubs and perennials are growing and filling out, use annuals and ground cover to fill in the bare spots.
Flowers and foliage plants allow you to add an artistic touch to your yard. Consider colors when choosing flowers. Remember that groups of flowers and plants with the same color scheme and similar leaf shape blend together best. Several plants of the same kind and color can create more of an effect than too much of a variety. Think about using edible herb plants along your walkways and near the front entrance.
They require little extra work, except at harvest, and they can add a delicious welcoming scent! Be sure to check out the maximum height of plants. You will want the tallest plants in the back of the garden (or center for a circle- or oval-shaped garden). If you want plants that flower at different times of the year for extended color, try to stick to a similar color scheme and leaf shape. Before heading out to the nursery, consult a good gardening resource book and make a list of the plants that will fit into your plan by size, color and appearance.
Planning your front yard landscaping can be a big challenge. It sets the tone for your entire yard and creates a welcoming effect to everyone who enters your home (even you). Take stock in what you already have, consider what you like and dislike, check out what's available and determine what to plant where to create balance in your yard. The balance you achieve is going to bring you years of enjoyment-and lots of compliments from the neighbors!
Kay DiVerde is a freelance writer, horticultural researcher and consultant for Orchard's Edge. DiVerde also writes for a variety of newsletters and publications in the Midwest.