Planning Your Front-Yard Landscape

The front yard is the place most people fix first -- and for good reason. Often, it's what others see, and that the family sees most often.
How to Begin
Standard plantings for
a one-story house often
lack design. Here the
small shrubs make the house
look drab and out of place.

The builder's bit of lawn, two trees, and few foundation shrubs fall far short of the existing possibilities. Streetscaping is an excellent investment in both present enjoyment and future value. A pleasant view from the street gives a sense of individual pride and accomplishment. And it adds greatly to your property's value by setting the yard apart and making it beautiful.

The first thing to do when planning a new front yard is to recognize your bias. The satisfaction of returning home and that you see your front yard from inside the house can skew your feelings about how your yard looks to the public. For a more honest assessment, walk down the street, then turn back. Do the same from the other direction. Also, get in your car and approach your house slowly from each direction.

Shorter shrubs, a planter, and
better-placed trees frame the
facade, soften its lines, and
wed the house to the site.

Does your house blend with those nearby? Is it appealing? Distinctive? Does it sit well on the site or look out of place? Does it need stronger horizontal or vertical lines? Does it nestle among the trees? List all its virtues and shortcomings.

When you go to other houses, take note of the convenience of their entryways. Can you easily see where to turn into the drive? Is the drive wide enough for you to open your car door and get out without stepping on plants or grass? Can you easily tell which door to approach? Are walks and steps easily negotiated?

Take what you learn during these studies and carefully weigh your front yard's planting needs -- street trees, trees and shrub for framing and accent, flowers, lawn, and ground covers -- and its structural needs -- walks, steps, drive, stoop, edgings, and fences.

Continued on page 2:  Plants and Structures