5 Secrets to a Beautiful Landscape from the 2019 Winner of America's Best Front Yard Contest
When you're trying to create a landscape 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 and all of them are easy enough to incorporate into your own landscape. The results speak for themselves: Prall's garden in New Kensington, Pennsylvania literally stops traffic each year. 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.
1. Vary Colors and Textures
A lot of gardeners tend to focus on including flowers and bright colors in their gardens, but Prall says you can make a bigger 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 opposite textures near each other too, such as 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 looks beautiful, it can also help you cut down on maintenance. Prall says that his beds are so densely planted that it helps shade out weeds. Planting a lot in one garden could end up reducing time spent weeding, but just 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 all have enough space to reach their full size without overlapping one another.
3. Consider Height When Planning Garden Beds
Especially if you’re planting in your front yard where passersby will see your garden beds from the street and sidewalk every day, remember to keep tall plants in the back. Prall also recommends planning for the future, not just the immediate seasons. Over time, your garden beds will change, and they’ll 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 you want to build your landscape on, 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. If you’re planting on a slope, Prall recommends piling up some soil just downhill from the plant, almost creating a mini-terrace to help prevent run-off and give the plant a chance to establish roots.
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 well below freezing, but 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 yard an exotic flair. Your process doesn’t need to be quite so 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.