They say you are what you wear. This is also true of your house. Your front yard makes a strong first impression. Here are seven of our favorite landscaping ideas to dress up the place:
1. Flower Garden
My next-door neighbor in Mill Valley, California tore up the grass first thing when she moved into her house. The property is fenced, so it feels like a private world. The walk from the front gate to the stoop is only about 30 feet, but on the way you pass so much–a hydrangea grove, lemon trees, fragrant roses, Japanese maples, columbine, wisteria, herbs–that it can take days to get there if you stop to smell everything.
2. Gravel Garden
The first time LA-based landscape designer Naomi Sanders saw the grand 1920s house in Hancock Park, it felt hemmed in despite its generous front yard. A maze of formal parterres and fussy plantings (“a million different plants”) were to blame.
She designed new hardscape elements (including a concrete front path to match the material of the stoop) and reduced the plant palette to three colors (green, white, and red). “I was really interested in looking at the work of Mark Rothko for inspiration, for that limited use of color for effect,” Sanders said.
3. Secret Garden
What makes it welcoming? No fence. No gate. And the high boxwood hedges look fluffy rather than fierce (thanks to gentle pruning).
4. Elevated Garden
5. Prairie Garden
In central Illinois, garden designer Adam Woodruff created a painterly mini prairie when he tore out the turf in his own front yard and planted a low-maintenance mix of perennials, ornamental grasses, and shrubs.
6. Victory Garden
When London architect Sam Tisdall designed a replacement house to match the rest of a block’s Victorian era homes (which had been built for railway workers), he sited the clients’ vegetable garden in the small front yard to take advantage of available sunlight.
7. Vineyard Garden
“Our goal was to make this garden evocative of the surrounding landscape, which is just stunning,” said SF-based landscape architect Scott Lewis, who came up with a garden design for the one-acre property. “What we did was clear the clutter away to take advantage of those views.”
N.B.: This post is an update; it was first published July 2019.
For more of our favorite designs for front gardens, see Landscaping a Live-In Summer Camp and Garden Visit: My Driveway Oasis in Half Moon Bay, California.