Why do some of us stress about how our front yards look, yet allow our back gardens to morph into the often wild and bushy places that ultimately bring us the greatest comfort and refuge?
While a certain amount of decorum is necessary to maintain property values (and sanity), your front landscaping doesn’t have to be a facsimile of the next-door-neighbor’s lot, or a worrisome weekend chore.
If there’s one place to let your personality shine, it’s the space between the street and the front door. Maybe you’re the low-maintenance type who prefers a trim lawn, boxy hedges and a few petals peeking out beside a neat brick path. Or you’re that matchy-matchy maven whose mid-century ranch begs for a dose of kitsch (plastic flamingos and prickly cacti, anyone?). Whatever your personal style or time investment limitations, design your front yard fearlessly toward a vision that fits the same parameters you set for the design and upkeep of your home itself.
“In the words of fashion icon, Alexander McQueen, ‘There is no better designer than nature,’” says The Inglenook Décor owner Maureen Stevens,” who works with Austin, Texas homeowners to create a seamless look on both sides of the threshold. “That’s true not only in the fashion world, but especially inside and outside our living spaces. Landscape architecture can provide the perfect canvas, background and texture to inspire your whole home.”
Grass is Nice, But It’s OK to Think Twice
Bluegrass, fescue, and zoysia – Oh my! East Coast folks know all about wrestling with fickle blades amid both flood and drought conditions. But Westerners may have had the right idea all along. Who says a front yard must be green? From designer gravels to paver paradise and even edible landscaping, brown (or gray or yellow) might just be the new green.
What’s OK to place in the yard and what should remain hidden from view? Broken toilets or car parts notwithstanding, our favorite objects must no longer be banished to the back. Tasteful bird feeders, quirky furniture, even homemade sculptures can all be displayed with pride, after a little calculation.
Concrete driveway, natural trail, stepping stones – how do guests arrive at your home? Garden paths have long been a focal point of front landscape design, but they don’t always have to follow a straight line. Why not pass through an arbor, courtyard, or patio along the way?
“Set the scene for curb appeal or a beautiful yard detail with an arbor,” says D.I.Y. expert Meg Padgett of Revamp Homegoods. “Arbors are a great way to add an architectural element in a yard and can be used to showcase a pathway, create a transition from one place to another, cover a bench or gate, or frame a gorgeous view. I love adding color and a natural element by planting a climbing vine on the side and mounting hanging baskets on the front and back of the arbor.”
At the end of the day, nothing is more memorable than color. A palette of steel-gray stones and polite greens may bring an element of order to your yard, but chances are one feisty Knock Out rose, a Pop Art red zinnia (2012’s best-selling full-sun flower) or a voluptuous hydrangea (2012’s best-selling shrub) will always steal the show!