5 Tips for a Beautiful, Landscaped Front Yard from a BHG Award Winner

Kevin Anthony Prall shares his best tips for creating a gorgeous garden with some serious curb appeal.

When trying to create a beautiful landscape in your front yard that stands out from all the rest on your block, figuring out where to start can be tricky. Luckily, Kevin Anthony Prall, the 2019 winner of our inaugural America's Best Front Yard contest, has some tips to share for designing a showstopping display. All of them are easy enough to incorporate into your landscape.

The results speak for themselves: Prall's garden in New Kensington, Pennsylvania, literally stops traffic each year. Of course, finding your own style and favorite plants are key, but Prall's advice will help you blend everything together into a one-of-a-kind front yard.

Front yard with multiple plants with two people sitting
Kevin Anthony Prall (right) sits in front of his award-winning front yard. Brie Williams

1. Vary Colors and Textures

Many gardeners tend to focus on including flowers and bright colors in their gardens, but Prall says you can make a more significant impact if you use a variety. "Opposites on the color wheel make for a more intense show," Prall says, so try using combinations like yellow with purple or green next to red. And remember that texture is just as important as color. Prall recommends planting contrasting textures near each other. For example, you can plant ferns near something with big, bold leaves, like a palm.

2. Plant Close Together

The key to making your garden look lush is to fill your garden beds and plant close together. While this makes for a beautiful landscape in your front yard, it can also help you reduce maintenance. Prall says that his beds are so densely planted that it helps shade out weeds. While planting a lot in one garden could reduce time spent weeding, be careful not to go overboard. Too much in one bed, and it'll be hard for any plants to establish themselves. Make sure your plants have enough space to reach their full size without overlapping.

sumac bush growing in garden with plants around the base
As plants grow, they will create layers of colors and textures. Laurie Black

3. Consider Height When Planning Garden Beds

Keep tall plants in the back, especially when planting in your front yard, where passersby will see your garden beds from the street and sidewalk every day. Prall recommends planning for the future, not just the immediate seasons. Over time, your garden beds will change and look completely different in five years compared to when you planted them. "As plants grow, you're going to have layers happening," he says. Know how tall each plant will eventually grow, and plan accordingly.

4. Drainage Is Key, Especially Planting on a Slope

Part of the appeal of Prall's front yard is that it's planted on a slope, which helps showcase a greater variety of the plants in his yard. But if you've got a similar slope where you want to build your landscape, you may need to first focus on drainage. Most plants need well-drained soil to thrive, and slopes can make it hard for them to hang on to enough water. So if you're planting on a slope, Prall recommends piling up some soil just downhill from the plant, creating a border to help prevent run-off and give the plant a chance to establish roots.

Brick walkway in garden leading to large plant
Use containers for plants that aren't hardy in your area so you can move them indoors for the winter. Brie Williams

5. Mix in Unexpected Plants, But Be Prepared to Overwinter Them

Prall's front yard is in Hardiness Zone 6, where winter temperatures can fall below freezing. However, he's still managed to create a tropical paradise complete with palm trees. Of course, he has to go to great lengths to overwinter them (including wrapping them in layers of burlap, holiday lights, and Styrofoam), but he feels it's well worth the extra effort to give his beautiful, landscaped front yard an international flair.

Your process doesn't need to be that extreme, but if you're planting anything that's not hardy to your region, you'll have to take a few steps to overwinter the plants or be prepared to replant in spring.

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