Designing a Short Sidewalk For a Front Yard

Here's a question about designing a short front walkway and if adding a curve is advisable...and a few more things!


Hi Susan,
I'm the teacher who sent you the question but then I found the appropriate place to ask this question.
Thanks so much for looking at this. How can I help you in return? I'm a former English teacher (now a technology teacher) so if there's anything in those fields to help you, please ask. Or if there's a consulting fee, let me know.

We need help and have no idea what to do. My wife (also a teacher) finally went back to work after staying home for 8 years with our two boys. We sacrificed everything inside and outside the house so she could stay home, and now we're way behind. We need some curb appeal desperately, and would like to know how best to achieve this with the vinyl siding colonial with a small front yard. I am looking to replace the front porch posts and rails (do I go slightly bigger columns or go square); maybe change up the steps and replace railings; and do something with the horrible bushes and sidewalk.

Thank you thank you so much. Like me, you have switched careers to something you love. Good for you! Not to be strange, but some people really like knowing who they're dealing with so the 3rd pic is of the boys and me if you need a face. :-)
scot@gmail.com

ANSWER

Hi Scot,
I can't see the rest of the front yard out to the street, so I can't tell how much space you have to curve the walkway. It doesn't look like you can just add a curve as is. You would have to bring the area where it starts from the driveway out further towards the street, and again I am not sure of your space. If you did this, it also looks as if you would have to do some gate re-locating, so perhaps you do not want to get into all of that. If you do, bringing the walk further towards the street has to look right and function well.

Actually, I don't see anything wrong with the shape of the walk as it is. It looks as if it functions well and there is a nice wide area at the bottom of the steps. My suggestion would be to do the following:

1. Replace the walk with a much nicer paving material. This could be brick or bluestone. Those would be my first choices, but pavers could work and they are a little less expensive. Yet, it's a small area, so perhaps the cost difference isn't that great.

2. You need plants! You could bring the planting bed around the front of the walk, creating a nice curved, planted area. Plants can add color. You can use a combination of evergreen shrubs along your house foundation with perennials in front...the perennials will provide the color. Plants also provide textures and height variations.

3. Trees make a big difference too, even on a small property. Use a narrow or smaller type of trees such as a River Birch or Star Magnolia...or even a large shrub, such as a Lilac. These will provide height. If you can, use them at the house corners and perhaps the Lilac near the corner of the walkway at the steps in that bed I mentioned.

You could use Boxwood 'Green Velvet' against the foundation or you could use 'China Girl' Blue Holly.

You might be interested in the following pages on my site:
Evergreen Shrubs - also see my ebook Designing With Evergreen Shrubs

Perennial Flowers

Brick Walkways

Bluestone Walkway

Paver Walkway

How To Landscape


I like round posts. If you are going to change the railings and steps, make the railing "hunkier" so they become more outstanding and prominent.

Thanks so much for all of your offers but I am happy to try to give you some professional advice. If you ever decide you would like a simple design, you can let me know...my fees are reasonable.

Thanks for your kind words.

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"Susan,  what a pleasure it was to work with you.  You made me feel like I was your only client - responding late at night and always so quickly!  Your design is amazing and we only hope we can do justice to it when we plant.  You have such fantastic ideas and you are so open to suggestions and changes.  Loved working with you - now if you could only come to Canada and plant it!!!"
Helen, Ontario-Canada 

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