Tag : front-yard-landscaping-ideas
Tag : front-yard-landscaping-ideas
Inside the house, we usually move efficiently and quickly between floors. Outside, people move up and down the landscape at a slower pace. Inclement weather brings safety concerns in the out of doors, so steps and staircases need to be built differently than their counterparts indoors.
The rule for landscape steps is to create longer treads (14 in. as opposed to the 11 in. to 12 in. indoors) and lower risers (5 in. to 6 in., as opposed to 7½ in. indoors) to accommodate these concerns. Professionals use the following formula: Riser plus tread equals 19 in.
top right • Brightly colored tile directs the eye to a riser along this concrete paver path.garden steps
bottom right• A short stairway between driveway and lawn is made of long narrow treads set on stacked-stone risers.
‘Baby Tears’(Soleirolia soleirolii ) grows in the grouted spaces between slates on this long garden staircase.
Landings give us a place to pause as we move up and down the different areas of our property. They are particularly important to break up a long run of stairs so that we may catch our breath and look ahead to the next landing. Make them deeper, wider, or another shape to set them apart from the path.
top right • These thick granite steps form both tread and riser, while retaining the gravel landings that occur periodically along this long outdoor staircase.
bottom right • This sandstone landing doubles as a terrace sized just for two.
below • A handrail and a landing provide security to anyone using these front steps, whatever the weather.
Landings at each slight turn in the path break up a long staircase on this steep terraced slope. Each bluestone step split along the top with a rougher rock face as the riser.
A bridge is a structure that allows passage across a barrier or a gap. Often built of wood or steel, many times it crosses a valley, ravine, or stream, linking one shore to the other. Like a tunnel, which burrows through an obstacle rather than over it, a bridge is a continuation of a path where it otherwise might not be able to go.
right • Stepping stones raised high above a “sea” of gravel act like a bridge across water. Japanese maple leaves remind us of the passing of the seasons.
above • These wide planks of wood are set in a staggered pattern, allowing passage across a sunken garden of birch trees underplanted with ferns.
above • A wooden bridge spans a babbling brook. The arcing handrails echo the pleasing curve underfoot.
right • A bridge extends over an elegant dry streambed, which also serves as a drain for runoff in this yard.
A gateway marks an opening in an enclosure and a threshold into the landscape. Designed thoughtfully,it can beckon to a stroller to enter the realm within.
Sometimes gates are designed to look continuous with their neighboring fence, built of the same materials and patterns in order to blend in with the surroundings. Piers, special columns, or a change in height, style, or color are all ways to turn a break in a wall or fence into the highlight of an enclosure.
Building a pergola or trellis overhead can also help distinguish an opening from its surroundings. Also when planted with a flowering vine that tendrils above, a gateway provides visitors with a delightful garden experience.
right • Handsome finialtopped wooden posts interrupt this continuous line of pointed pickets. Diagonal bracing keeps a gate’s frame square to the post so it’s easy to open.
A subtle but important detail is to place a large threshold stone under the gateway opening to indicate that this is a place to pause and appreciate the landscape ahead.
In addition when possible, locate any steps away from the gateway opening since stepping up or down while operating a gate can be tricky.
right • An inexpensive splitrail fence backed with welded wire fabric provides a clean enclosure for this horse paddock.
right • The handsome wooden gate marks the entry to a stone staircase. The retaining walls are made of rough stone that contrasts well with the smooth painted finish of the gate.
below • The patterning of this fence and gate provide the structure for growing hops vines (Humulus lupulus). The path material flows out below the gate, indicating where to enter.
Finally, Fences need many posts in order to support them and keep them standing (especially when on a curve, as in the example shown).
Why not have them do double duty and use one, or even many, of them as a birdhouse as well?
They are particularly important as handholds in periods of inclement weather and as we age. They can help lead a visitor physically and
visually into a landscape, or can seem to disappear to allow us to appreciate the view beyond.
Railings can complement adjacent gardens. When painted a similar color to the house body or trim, they extend its presence into the landscape. When stained a natural color, they tend to blend in more with their surroundings.
right • This wooden railing meets the building code while allowing a view of the landscape beyond.
This handsome painted handrail is angled so that one can easily slide a hand along it down the long flight of stairs. With stairs, steps, or other level changes, the design of the handrails should follow the slope at a consistent height from the ground or staircase. The vertical rhythm of the railing contrasts with the horizontal lines of the stone wall and stairs beyond. This creates a sense of cohesion between the different materials, without too much repetition.
below • These stainless steel railings seem to disappear into the landscape. Contemporary cable systems have changed the way we enjoy our decks.
Railings often are designed with a pattern or repeating rhythm that can be a strong element in the landscape. When surrounding a deck, many railings interrupt our view of the world beyond. However, new stainless steel or cable systems provide enclosure while seeming to disappear from view. Always check local building codes to learn the particular conditions height, opening size, and materials for which a railing can be installed.
right • A painted wooden handrail helps people navigate this angular walk down the stairs. A closet pole or dowel attached on the inside offers a handhold along the way and gives the clematis vine a little more room to grow.
A hedge planting is one way to build an enclosure without breaking the bank. It can be made of evergreen materials, like an arborvitae hedge; deciduous plants, like a lilac or privet hedge; or even a mixed planting that combines both.
Some hedging materials, like privet or boxwood, look best when sheared or hand-pruned regularly to maintain an appropriate size and breadth.
Other live screening looks good when left to grow to its natural height, such as lilac and rhododendron hedges.
right • Because it is so easy to prune, boxwood is a satisfying hedging material that can be trimmed into architectural or curving shapes. In this garden, it acts as a soft low wall that encloses more shrubs that billow above it.
Mixed hedges add variety in color and texture; imagine evergreens growing with climbing roses and a contrasting foliage shrub. Given the right growing conditions, and depending on the plant selection, most hedges will mature quickly.
right • Flowering hydrangea hedges encircle a small bluestone patio, creating a low enclosure, while a high privet hedge screens out neighbors.
above • This elegant bamboo hedge (Bambusa multiplex ‘Alphonse Karr’) grows to a neat 7-ft. height. Clumping bamboos, unlike running bamboos, will stay within their bounds.
This riverfront property in New York’s Thousand Islands had a complicated grade, and bedrock underneath the entire property limited the capacity to grow deep-rooted plants, frankly slope make problems.
Landscape architect Mariane Wheatley-Miller created a series of seven linked terraces leading from the house down to the water and boathouse.
Handbuilt walls and stair facings were made of local stone, and bluestone pavers were used for the patios and steps.
We choosing Plant material carefully for its hardiness, as well as its billowing and softening effect on the stone hardscape.
right • Climbing and clinging vines soften the stone walls throughout the property.
above • Wisteria vine shad This dining area under a large scale arbor.
A stately line of river birches (Betula nigra ‘Heritage’) mirrors the arbor’s supports.
above • softly curving retaining wall forms one of the terraces that turns this steep slope into usable living space.
An enclosure, like a wall, fence, screen, or hedge, designates and defines an outside area as special. Such boundaries have always played an important functional role in the landscape: to keep livestock in and intruders out. These days, an enclosure can also be used to mark property lines, close in a hazard like a swimming pool, and provide privacy. An enclosure also acts to extend the walls of the house out into the landscape. It’s strange but true: an enclosed space feels larger than a similar area lacking such definition. Perhaps it’s because a fenced yard seems like it’s marked out as special, with its clear edges and entrance gate.
Wooden, steel, or bamboo fences sit more lightly on the land and are less expensive to erect but don’t last as long as their masonry counterparts. Hedges are the least expensive means of enclosing a landscape. Evergreen or deciduous, tall or low, hedges can be effective living screens for a variety of settings. Gateways, as breaks in an enclosure, allow passage into the delineated realm. Railings are low post and rail structures designed to keep people from falling over an edge, especially on stairways or around high decks. The simplest kind of enclosure—edging—separates plants or garden beds from pathways or lawns in a useful and attractive way.
top right • An ornate wrought-iron gateway, in line with an elegant double staircase leading into the house, links lawn areas separated by stone walls and hedges.
right • Dry-laid stone walls are an ancient form of enclosure, built originally to use up excess material, delineate boundaries, and keep in livestock. These days, we enjoy them for their beauty and sense of history.
above • A wrought-iron handrail softened by a leafy vine embraces this outdoor living room.
right • This 7-ft.-high fence is made of a series of concrete-block piers and wire mesh panels that keep animals out, allow air circulation through, and provide views into the forest beyond.
Walls are powerful visual extensions of the architecture of your house into the landscape. They can be structural or ornamental and can serve different purposes in the landscape. These can provide backdrops to gardens, define the edge of the property, create a sense of privacy, or frame an opening for a driveway or path.
An interesting form can give walls greater character. Straight walls are practical, direct, and efficient. Curved walls, with their softer flow, can be playful, meandering, or sensuous. Tall walls that you can’t see over or where a lot of soil is being retained can be intimidating.
A friendly height for a wall is one that allows a neighborly view between houses. Materials and finish details can make all the difference. Whether stucco or stone, mortared or dry stacked, round or square stone, natural or cut stone cap, stucco texture and color, there are countless details that you can use to give a wall your own personal touch.
top right • Concrete walls that are plastered or stuccoed can resemble traditional hand-molded adobe or mud walls. Vivid colors satisfy in this tropical setting.
bottom right • Irregular blocks of limestone are stacked to form a low planter wall. Use local stone wherever possible.
above • These walls retain a steep slope, creating terraced spaces for trees and large shrubs. Make sure to include weep holes behind the walls to allow water to drain through.
right • This wall is built of concrete faced with stone and capped with a contrasting material, in this case, bluestone. A slightly higher square pier provides a clear end to the wall, marks the top landing for the steps, and provides a base for the Arts and Crafts lantern that lights the way.
Many of us are lucky to live where natural stone is plentiful. Whether flat or rounded, granite, sandstone, or limestone, a stone wall made out of what’s local looks great because it is in keeping with the natural landscape. And there are many ways to build with stone. You can use round or flat fieldstones to face a wall or to create a built-up surface. Joints between stones can be fully mortared, partially mortared (hidden joints), or dry-laid (where no mortar is used at all). Make sure you employ an experienced mason to get the best results.
right • This arching picket fence sits directly on a concrete wall faced with a thin veneer of fieldstone.
above • This dry stone wall was built without mortar. At its end, a ruin-like window seems to erupt from a sea of plantings.
above • A steeply sloping hillside can be held back by building stone retaining walls. Properly engineered, they act as beautifully planted terraces that create more usable living space.
right • Wide stone walls curve between upper and lower lawn areas. Flat fieldstones are secured in place using a dark-tinted mortar instead of a cap.
A recent Boston-area JMMDS project aimed to turn a high retaining wall along a tight entry space into a lovely vertical garden. To do this, we proposed transforming one side of this shady driveway into a living wall.
A steel frame made of cells to hold soil was bolted into a 7-ft.-high, curving concrete retaining wall and then filled with a palette of predominantly native and shade-loving perennials.
Now this north-facing space functions as an outdoor entryway, a driveway turnaround or parking spot, a protected place to read a book, and also a living work of garden art that greets the homeowners whenever they come home.
above • Ferns (both Christmas and autumn), Solomon seal (Polygonatum commutatum), woodland strawberry (Fragaria vesca), bunchberry dogwood (Cornus canadensis), fringed bleeding heart (Dicentra eximia), and wintergreen (Gaultheria procumbens) grace this north-facing green wall.
For those who live in southern climes, the bright sun and warm weather offer opportunities to bring color into your open-air rooms.
Artfully designed tiled walls can act as vertical focal points with their planes of smooth, colorful finishes that catch the light and make for an easy-to-clean, moisture-proof surface. Tile can be laid out as a background that highlights a fountain or sculpture or as a focal point in itself.
Colorful tiles made of glass, ceramic, or natural stone are all available in a wide range of sizes and finishes. You can even design your own tile pattern, putting your personal stamp on your backyard.
top right • Large squares of blue tile are used to face an exterior planter wall filled with native plantings, enclosing an ipé deck.
right • Vivid colors stand out in bright light. Flanked by fig trees and agaves, the tile pattern on this wall acts like a hearth in a living room, creating a central focal point around which to place the furniture.
A seating wall is a masonry wall built at a height and depth to provide a place to sit. Retaining and freestanding walls alike can deliver a solid bench for sitting. Since stone can be hard to sit on and cold to the touch, seat walls can be made more comfortable by the addition of a wooden seat or cushions, or when painted in light colors or softened by cascading plants. Typical seat heights can be as low as 12 in. and as high as 30 in. (more of a leaning height), with the usual height being 18 in. or so from the ground.
above • A low concrete wall whose limestone cap doubles as a circular seat retains this island planting and breaks up the expanse of a large concrete driveway.
left • A skilled mason fashioned a built-in seat out of a retaining wall, complete with a side table for setting drinks or containers of plants.
below • An exedra—a semicircular bench—fits perfectly around a firepit that also functions as a coffee table. The thick pillows made of outdoor fabric bring the feeling of inside out. Notice the handsome bevel formed along the inside edge of the bench.
When designed thoughtfully, your lawn can function as an open-air room that works as well for lounging and entertaining as it does for play. Grassy areas are a place where kids can kick a ball around, play tag, make a fort, or do somersaults. As with a glade in a forest, a lawn also serves to bring light and air into the property. Design your lawn as a “pool of space”– a continuous surface that is framed, like a swimming pool, by a clear edge. This will turn what seemed like leftover space into a handsome focal area of your landscape.
above • When crisply defined by a path, curb, or metal edging, a panel of lawn creates a geometric open space that provides a handsome frame for the house and a place to play in the front yard.
right • Grass underfoot can serve as a verdant terrace for garden furniture and al fresco dining.
above • A grass bocce court edged in boxwood serves both as playspace and verdant corridor terminated by a handsome Chippendale bench.
This grassy oval acts as a visual relief space in the midst of abundant plantings.
A swimming pool can be designed as a handsome horizontal focal point around which the surrounding spaces are organized. Most pools are formed from concrete shells topped by stone coping that acts as a frame for the water. If the pool is painted a dark color, like gray or black, the water reflects the sky; if painted turquoise to match the sky, then the two can seem to meld together as one. Both are attractive effects. These days, pools are usually formed using a concrete Gunite® method that allows different shapes and edgings to be created. Another important development in pool design is the automatic pool cover that works on a rectangular-shaped pool to keep children safe, intruders out, and evaporation to a minimum. Shallow wading pools and swim spas bring the right amount of water into small backyards.
Because chlorine by-products have been linked to higher incidences of asthma, miscarriages, and cancer, new greener methods of disinfecting pools are also changing the way people swim. Ozonators combined with in-floor cleaners keep water clean with a minimum of chemical treatment. Saltwater pools are also popular, designed to reduce micro-organisms to a safe level. Ultraviolet disinfection systems add a layer of protection by oxidizing organic contaminants.
Swim spas are small pools built for exercising against an artificially generated current. This pool is set into a freestanding limestone wall that supports a small raised terrace area.
right • With the press of a button, an automatic pool cover glides into action tion. Not only is increased safety a big benefit,but limiting evaporation also means water is conserved. Using less energy to run the circulation system and reducing overall maintenance are also pluses.
below • This swimming pool is designed to look like a natural pond. A hillside of shrubs and trees, with abundant plantings in poolside pockets, transforms this space into a verdant oasis.
For those living in northern climates, a hot tub is one of the best ways to relax in the out-of-doors, especially in the dead of winter. Others tout the therapeutic benefits from the spray jets that can be set to massage different parts of the body. With temperatures as high as 105°F, these small pools can be built of wood with staves (like a barrel), concrete Gunite, or one-piece stainless steel or acrylic and are powered by wood, gas, or electricity.
Solar hot water systems are also possible in certain climates. Whatever style hot tub you select, make sure to locate it close to an area in your house with a bath or changing room. While some people prefer to place it under cover of a roof or pergola, others like to use it as a nighttime retreat under the stars. When easily reached, a hot tub acts as a warm and comfortable “away room,” even in the most inclement weather.
The path to a spa should be easily maintained and shoveled. Putting hooks nearby for robes or towels is a small but important detail. It’s also a wonderful viewing position to look out on the rest of your landscape, so installing night lighting can enhance your hot tub experience.
top right • This in-ground spa, complete with automatic cover, incorporates hydrojets that ease back and neck pain. This mini-pool is also the focal point of a hedged garden room.
bottom right • Portable home spas are easily available and quickly installed onsite. Measuring about 71 ⁄2 ft. square, they can be eyesores in a landscape if not thoughtfully designed. This hot tub sits adjacent to the house on a throne-like deck and terrace.
There is a freedom that comes from showering in the out-of-doors. For those lucky enough to have a pool or pond on their property or a beach nearby, it’s helpful to have access to an outdoor area to clean or towel off before setting foot inside. A simple showerhead, some paving underfoot, a way to drain the water, and a screen or fence for privacy that allows air to circulate easily are just about all you need.
right • Placing an outdoor shower right under a porch ceiling and on an exterior wall is a great way to use leftover space while ensuring privacy, whatever the time of day.
botoom right • This charming spiral shower shields the body while allowing views out. And it looks like fun.
below • Air circulation is always important to consider when installing an outdoor shower. Slats break up one’s view while allowing cooling breezes within.
While an outdoor room can be just about anywhere on your property, the most traditional is an attached porch. As a part of the house itself, a porch usually sits under an extension of the roof and is well protected from the elements. It abuts at least one wall of the house and is often built at the same floor level as inside, so it’s easy to transition in and out.
A porch can sit on the front, side, or back of the house, be narrow or wide, and be open or screened to keep out insects. This is the place where you can really live in the out-of-doors, where comfortable wicker or teak furniture with overstuffed pillows draws you out to a cool shady spot.
Unless protected by an awning or shade structure, a deck or patio sits out under the sky. Constructed of wood, steel, or recycled materials, a deck is an extension of the house that can be built on top of a roof, to the side of a building, or even on the ground as a low platform. A patio is usually a level piece of ground on which a paved surface sits. It can extend the inside of a house out into the landscape as a large area for seating or act like a floating island in the midst of plantings or lawn. Paving options are plentiful.
left • A roofed deck adds expansive living and dining space outside the walls of this house. Hinged panels of glass open wide to let in light and air, making for an easy passage between inside and out.
below • Floor-to-ceiling screened frames open up views from porch to garden, just like a Japanese screen.
Open-air rooms can also be constructed around swimming pools, hot tubs, and even outdoor showers anywhere water can be enjoyed. A hard surface underfoot usually helps to keep wet feet from tracking dirt or grass clippings everywhere. But sometimes you might prefer an outdoor room with a verdant soft carpet underfoot a well-clipped lawn or mossy glade offers a spot for picnicking or leisurely lounging on the grass. These days, sheds are used for tool and garden equipment storage, animal shelter, or even as a get-away space for work or for play. These mini-houses, when well designed, draw the eye and the foot, attracting children and the child in all of us to snuggle in for awhile.
A porch feels simultaneously like a part of the house and a part of the landscape: a place perched somewhere in between. You can entertain, dine, and even sleep out on a porch, feeling close to the elements while in a protected place.
Because most porches are not closed-in structures that are built to keep out all kinds of weather, materials need to be weather-resistant, thoughtfully detailed and built to last.
Since rain and snow can accumulate on its roof, a porch needs to adhere to appropriate moisture-proofing, flashing, and guttering standards to keep water where it belongs: outside the structure.
Rain chains and gutters can deposit water into rain gardens, but choosing local hardwoods like cedar or exotic woods like ipé and finishing them with a moisture-proof stain will help maintain the structure, no matter the weather event.
Caulking joints to keep water from getting inside any structure is imperative in an indoor/outdoor environment.
Similarly, you need to think about moisture issues as you choose your porch flooring. Mortared stone or brick works well outside, as does stained concrete. Wood finished with either a clear stain or a deck paint can hold up under rigorous weather conditions; with proper maintenance you’ll enjoy your porch for years to come.
right • This colorfully painted porch is a true open-air room: It’s built into the structure of the house with only some posts and a railing separating it from the garden level below.
right • Where to put the grill? Two steps bring you down to the outdoor kitchen where the griller can talk with guests while attending to the tasks at hand.
below • The girth of these columns and the maturity of the plantings create the that you’re inside a giant terrarium.
On a hot summer’s day, who wouldn’t love curling up with a good book and a cold beverage on an old settee in a screened porch with an overhead fan moving the air around, just right, protected from the elements and marauding insects as you look out onto your landscape through a shimmering screen.
It’s hard to imagine a more relaxing scenario. A well-designed screened porch can serve as protected outdoor dining, living, and play space, or even as a sleeping room.
With a solid roof overhead, either floor-to-ceiling screens or screens over well-caulked half-walls, and stone or wood flooring underfoot (important tip: make sure to screen the space between the floorboards to keep the mosquitoes out), a screened porch lets you live in the out-of-doors from late spring through early fall.
top right • People with screened porches often move in for the summer. Being so close to nature while the weather’s good is like camping, except with a full kitchen and other amenities close at hand.
bottom right • Supporting posts help to frame distant views, breaking the landscape into parts the way a delicate folding screen does. The stone floor is an extension of the patio outside the screens.
below • So many places to sit, so little time! Depending on the season, you can dine outside beneath the pergola or lounge inside the screened porch.
Categories: Open Air-Rooms
Driveways and garages among the most utilitarian of landscape features are not necessarily the most attractive, but thoughtful design can make them downright beautiful as well as useful. If you are starting from scratch and can choose where to situate a driveway or garage, weigh the options very carefully you will live with these choices every day. Where possible, locating the garage close to the kitchen of your house makes it easy to move kids, groceries, and trash between buildings. If unattached, building a roofed connection between garage and house keeps the path between the two dry and safe, especially in winter. Consider the shape of your driveway a curved drive in front of the house can make the most of an underused front lawn, or straight shot down the side of the property can be tucked out of the way, with access to side and back doors.
If you don’t have the luxury of selecting the location of your driveway a nd garage, make the best of the existing plan by using plants to soften their appearance and make them part of the landscape. Add paths where needed to enhance access. The appearance of a garage can be altered with paint, different roofing material, or “jewelry” such as light fixtures, to better match your house and landscape. Driveways can be of varied materials. Look for waterpermeable options that reduce storm-water runoff; these can be among the most affordable paving options and include grass, gravel, stone, recycled plastic grid systems, permeable asphalt, pervious concrete, or good old-fashioned paving strips.
top right • Here, the clean flat roof and wide opening of the attached garage meld well with the attractive terrace-like paving of the driveway.
bottom right • A garage can double as a guest house or apartment under the eaves.
This one sits far enough from the mainhouse to enjoy privacy and views.
On this central Ottawa (Canada) property, the detached garage and unavoidably long driveway presented a design challenge. Designer John Szczepaniak solved the problem by integrating the garage into the garden with an attached arbor and seating area; thus, the garage takes on the appearance of a charming garden building rather than a purely utilitarian structure.
The interlocking pavers of the driveway were set in a pattern that highlights the entrances and walkway along the side of the house. A small footbridge was built to link the driveway with an existing deck and create a distinct entrance into the oasis-like back garden.
The paving pattern of the driveway and the railing of the footbridge mimic the design of a large window at the back of the house, marrying details of landscape and architecture.
below • The driveway elegantly mirrors architectural features of the house, with pavers laid in a pattern that marks entry zones. Also the artful plantings of grasses such as feather reed grass (Calamagrostis x acutiflora ‘Karl Foerster’) help to bring the driveway into the landscape.
below • An ornamental grass (Miscanthus sinensis ‘Autumn Light’)is repeated on each side of the garage, while low ground covers tickle the pavers. The arbor over the driveway allows a curtain to be drawn across it during parties, providing additional entertaining space in front of the garage.
below • The arbor attached to the side of the garage creates an intimate seating area perfect for viewing the garden and a water feature.
Like many once-common things whose modern-day replacements proved expensive or environmentally unsound, driveway paving strips are back in vogue.
Paving strips are bands of paving materials just wide enough for a car’s tires and can be made of recycled, poured, or dimensional concrete, thick stone pavers, cobblestones and brick, or gravel.
In addition, The strips surrounds can be planted in low, tough ground covers that can stand heavy foot traffic as people get in and out of vehicles. Best of all, these plantings act as pervious sponges so that water runoff doesn’t overwhelm storm drains in the street.
1. Pavers are interplanted with flowering moss (Sagina subulata) and periwinkle (Vinca minor) with its resilient darkgreen foliage and cornflower blue flowers. 2. Concrete paving stones and tidy grass planting strips complement this house’s neat lines. 3. Long slabs of poured concrete present a clean appearance when highlighted by mounding ground covers that surround stepping stones of recycled concrete. 4. Beachside communities use local crushed oyster shells as a sustainable path and driveway solution.
When you place a wall, fence, or hedge around your front yard, you turn it into something special.
An enclosed space along the sidewalk provides a protected place for sitting as well as an edge against which e. Such front yards present a useful alternative to traditional lawn-and-foundation planting fencingyou can plant your favorite flowers. Your front yard becomes your front garden and shows off a bit of your personal style to the world. Surrounding the front of your property with low hedges or what they se helps keeps the world out and children in, while still allowing passersby to peek in and enjoy designs, especially where space is at a premium. Why not use the front of your house for living, entertaining, and play, just as you do in the backyard, and enjoy this valuable piece of real estate?
above • This front yard sits close to the street, yet the protection of a thick stucco wall creates an enclosed space for family dining and entertaining.
left • An attractive wooden fence turns a front yard on a busy urban street into a private garden, yet the open design along the top of the fence prevents it from appearing unfriendly. A wide planting strip outside the fence means the view is as enjoyable from the street as it is from within the garden.
This stucco cottage would be as at home in a fairy tale as it is in a southern California beachside community, thanks to its ivy-clad walls and cottage garden. Romantic touches such as the picket fence and matching old-fashioned streetlamp enhance the quaint effect.
The gently swooping fence is set well back from the sidewalk, creating a narrow front yard but ample space for ferns, hydrangeas, and potted plants placed where passersby can appreciate them. Though enclosed with a low picket fence, this front yard feels open to the world. Visitors can peek in and imagine the hidden life behind the home’s façade.
top right • A curving brick walkway and gate left welcomingly ajar beckon visitors toward the front door. Typical cottage garden plants of English ivy, zonal geraniums, ferns, and hydrangeas cover the landscape.
left • The white chairs with their nautical blue cushions invite us to inhabit them even if only in our minds.
Depending upon your property, a side yard can be a narrow sliver of space between buildings or an area wide enough to house a garage or even a terrace. In either case, a side yard can feel oddly separate from the rest of the property if its design doesn’t include details like plantings or hardscape features that are repeated in the front yard or backyard that integrate the side yard into the entire design.
What unites most side yards is their function as passageway between front yard and backyard. It is important to design a path that flows easily between spaces. Do you want a functional walkway that serves as the shortest distance between two often-visited points? Or would you like a meandering stepping-stone path that slows you down enough to notice a lovely plant, an attractive framed view, or an interesting focal point? Hemmed in by buildings as these spaces can be, light and air circulation are often at issue.
The use of open styles of fencing, where fencing is needed, can let in more light and create a greater sense of spaciousness. Many useful and utilitarian items can be housed in a side yard, such as a tool shed, compost bin, dog run, or grill, because this space is often just out of public view.
In planning your side yard, don’t forget the neighbors. If privacy is a concern, erect a high fence or tall plantings to block visual and physical access between yards. By adding a gate, you can maintain a friendly relationship between the properties. Similar to a front yard, a roomy side yard can also function the way a backyard does: for entertaining, dining, or relaxing. And if your kitchen door opens onto your side yard, it’s a wonderful place to locate a grill or pizza oven. Just make sure to include a buffet table and some comfortable chairs nearby, so the grillmeister of the family can socialize while serving up the meal.
above • A narrow slit looks wider with the addition of a hydrangea hedge and tendrils of ivy that curl over a path of regularly spaced double stepping stones.
left • A diagonal path meanders from driveway to firepit terrace, located on the side of this property. A handsome covered porch adds yet another sitting spot.
above • This side yard doubles as a front garden and informal entry porch. Friends and family enter this way.
right • A path of limestone pavers leads to a gate to the back forty. Shade plantings fill the beds and settle the house into this handsome side yard.
When we want to get outside, we usually gravitate to the backyard, where all manner of outdoor living can occur. Behind our house, protected from passersby or neighbor’s view, we feel the freedom to do and be whatever we want. The best backyards enjoy a comfortable relationship between inside and outside, visual screening from neighbors for privacy, and an interesting view or focal point, either on the property itself or beyond its bounds.
Whereas a front yard creates the first impression visitors will have of your home and should make you and your guests feel welcomed, the backyard exists to lure people outside. It should look inviting from indoors, and it could serve any number of functions (and often several at once). Your backyard might be a space for entertaining and family dining, recreation and children’s play, relaxing and enjoying quiet time, hobbies such as gardening or painting, and just spending time outdoors (for all household members human and otherwise).
Even the tiniest backyard, thoughtfully designed, can accommodate most if not all of these needs for gathering, for play, and for getting away.
Unless you’re lucky enough to have a large property with grand vistas, you probably will want to enclose your backyard with a fence, hedge, or wall high enough to keep prying eyes out and children (and dogs) in. At the same time, adding large windows and French doors to the back of your house encourages easy visual and physical access between inside and out.
top right • A colorful tree bench hugs the old apple tree climbed by generations of kids.
bottom right • Big comfortable chairs set into a sunken terrace bring the inside out in this cozy backyard garden with an expansive view.
Categories: Front yard landscaping ideas