Fill It with Flowers
Planting colorful bloomers is a surefire way to make your yard feel more welcoming. Use bold, bright hues to create a big impact even if you don't have a lot of space.
Test Garden Tip: Check your municipality's rules for planting on the parking strip (that patch of ground between the street and the sidewalk). Some communities may have restrictions on how tall plants can be or how far away you should plant from a fire hydrant.
Leave Space to Entertain
Another great way to give your yard a more welcoming feel is to add a patio. Just like the front porches of days gone by, you can sit back and wave to neighbors while enjoying a cold glass of lemonade on a summer evening.
Test Garden Tip: Decorate your front yard patio with a skirt of flowers or a small hedge to help it seem more intimate and enclosed -- without making an unfriendly barrier.
Dress Up Your Walkway
Transform your front walk into a stylish statement by edging it in easy-care plants such as variegated hosta and boxwood. Conjure even more magic by putting a gentle curve in the path; it will offer your walkway with a soft, gentle look.
Test Garden Tip: Choose an interesting material to make the trip to your front door even more memorable. Bricks, flagstone, and pavers all lend more charm than traditional cement.
Beautify a Slope
Grassy slopes can be hard to maintain, so turn your front-yard hillside into a beautiful display and keep it easy to care for by covering the slope with your favorite plants. The plantings rising up to the house make a home appear grander.
Test Garden Tip: Mix groundcovers, grasses, evergreens, annuals, and perennials to create a planting that looks good all year.
Let Nature be Your Guide
Answer the call of the wild in your yard simply by following nature's lead. Select plants and other landscape materials native to your region. The birds and butterflies your front yard attracts will enchant you and your guests.
Test Garden Tip: Incorporate a birdbath or bird feeder in your yard to attract even more birds.
Plant a variety of evergreens to keep your yard looking classically beautiful through all the seasons. Choose from a wide range of evergreens, including groundcovers, dwarf shrubs, and large trees. Plus, their foliage offers a wealth of textures and colors.
Test Garden Tip: Be sure to select evergreens that mature at the size you want, so your yard won't end up an overgrown mess.
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Create a Buffer
Pack a small front yard with medium-size plants to help shield the home from street noise. Growing a variety of plants makes the yard look larger by giving your eye more textures, colors, and shapes to look at.
Test Garden Tip: Spend plenty of time looking out from your windows as you design. That way you will enjoy the view looking out as much as passersby enjoy looking into the garden.
A container garden provides a riot of color even if your front yard is primarily paved. A handful of large pots filled with bright or fragrant flowers transforms your front landscape into a work of art.
Test Garden Tip: Install a simple drip-irrigation system to make containers easier to maintain.
Break It Up
Many homeowners think of their front yard as one band of land between the sidewalk and the home. But make landscape magic by breaking it up with perpendicular plantings. A curved border, for example, adds a note of grace and elegance.
Test Garden Tip: If you have an unattractive driveway, use a border such as this to partially hide it from view.
Use Space Smartly
Small city properties aren't limited to foundation shrubs and postage-stamp lawns. The layered look shown here features a variety of sizes and shapes for an eye-catching landscape that won't be missed.
Test Garden Tip: Repeat an element to bring continuity to the design and keep the landscape from looking helter-skelter.
Emphasize the Entry
Lacking height or grand proportions, small ranch-style homes can sometimes get lost in the shuffle. Good landscaping gets them noticed. For example, use an ornamental arbor or fence to call attention to the house and mark the entrance.
Test Garden Tip: White structures stand out even more against colorful flowers and a nonwhite home.
Blend Nature and Art
Blend natural and artificial elements to give your yard an established, comfortable look. For example, place boulders near the path and use groundcovers such as pachysandra. Flowering shrubs, such as azalea, rhododendron, and pieris soften the look of the stone.
Test Garden Tip: Look for features from your home to guide your design. Small trees can echo pillars on a porch, for example. Or use a water feature based on the shape of one of your home's architectural elements.
Play Up the Drama
Select bold elements that call attention to themselves to help your landscape make a statement. For example, spiral-pruned junipers flanking the front walk create a sense of grandeur and formality.
Test Garden Tip: Be sure your house fits in with the drama you build in your landscape. The example shown here may have been overpowered if not for the bright blue front door.
Plant a Tapestry
Elements of your home sometimes provide clues about where to take the landscaping. In this case, the intricate brick-and-stone detailing calls for a similarly decorative landscape. The lines of the low boxwood hedge echo the architecture of the porch and lend an air of formality.
Test Garden Tip: Play off colors, as well. Try a garden that contains the same colors as your home -- or create contrast by going to the opposite side of the color wheel.
Create a Fork
Give guests an enticement to walk through your garden by splitting your path. That way, more sections of your landscape are accessible to inspection.
Test Garden Tip: Be sure to include some fragrant varieties to add to your landscape's sensory appeal.