Front Yard Planting Design
Front Yard Last Summer
Front Yard Planting Design
I just bought a 1930's bungalow that I love, but the front yard has problems! I just can not figure out how to fix all of the issues into a cohesive plan. The porch across the front is charming but the entrance is not very inviting! Visitors are not quite sure how to get to the door. The driveway runs along the left side of the house to a parking area in the back.
There are a few steps (invisible from the street)that reach the porch from the driveway. On the right side of the porch there are steps (invisible from the street)that meet up with a completely straight concrete path that runs up the right side of the property. The neighbor has one of those non-driveways made of two paved lines running perpendicular to the street, with a grass strip running between the concrete. So, to the right edge of my lawn there is one concrete strip (my walkway), a grass strip then another concrete strip, grass strip and concrete strip for her non-driveway.
It is hard for visitors to make sense of all that concrete and grass. Since the driveways go alongside the houses for parking in back, it is not even clear which driveway is mine. So visitors have a hard time finding the driveway, the walkway and how to get up to the porch. To make matters worse, the row of hedges running in front of the porch railing visually blocks access to the porch and front door.
I thought about cutting the porch railing in the middle and putting steps down the front, but I don't really want to change the original character of the house. Maybe I could rip out and redo(or put pavers over?) the walkway on the right side. The concrete is ugly. I thought about using lights and plantings to make the side entrances to the porch more obvious. Maybe a nice stone walkway could go up the middle of the yard to a little area with pavers and pots in front of the porch, then have walkways that go from the sides of that around to the sides of the porch.
At any rate, that ugly hedge has to go, as does the poorly-planned holly bush by the pier on the left. Next to that is a Japanese magnolia that is in a weird place but I would hate to kill it. I have no real affection for the purple bush in front of the right pier. The tree in front is too close to the center of the yard, and branches out too low, blocking more of the view of the door. I'm not sure if I can prune the tree some to make it look right without killing it. It is some kind of flowering fruit tree. At least I need to put a planting bed around the tree full of
hostas and maybe some phlox.
I would prefer to have interesting planting beds to a lawn. I am going to make some raised planters for the porch to go under the windows and the sides of the door, to bring in some interest. The porch is quite deep so it disappears into shadows. I do not want to paint the front door because it is beautiful original wood. Do you have any ideas for walkways, planting beds and other projects that could help make sense of all this?
My husband and I will probably do almost all of the work ourselves. We have never done any landscaping before but we can probably figure it out with lots of books. I'm in zone 6a. I would really appreciate any advice!ANSWER
First, my apologies for taking so long to get back to you. I am a bit overwhelmed with Q&A.
As far as visitors not knowing which is your driveway, you might consider placing a large boulder near your driveway (on the left) with your house number on it. That would help. You could also mark your driveway entry with a planting bed on either side or something as simple and elegant as using a pair of ornamental trees on each side.
I would also place a simple planting bed along your neighbor's concrete "driveway". I would make it curved to break up all of the straight driveway lines. You could place it somewhere in the middle and use some tall shrubs with perennials in front, or just keep it simple with shrubs. Red Twig Dogwood, Weigela, Annabelle Hydrangea (takes the sun), Roses....yes, I like the roses. For easy ones see my page on Easy To Grow Roses
. This will help to border your property with something attractive.
I will assume that most people will come and park in your driveway. Once they do, a simple walkway (if there is room) leading to the porch steps will be practical. How much of an area do you have between the driveway and the steps?
As far as a front yard planting design goes, a nice idea would be to start a bed along your driveway about 10 feet or so from the porch. Have it curve out, then curve in, then slightly curve along the front of your porch leading to the other side. Here, you can place some low/medium sized evergreen shrubs with perennials in front. Some perennials that flower for a long time and are low maintenance are Sedum 'Autumn Joy', Nepeta 'Catmint', Lavender 'Hidcote', and Coneflower. For more great perennials, visit my page on Perennial Flowers
. Also, visit Evergreen Shrubs
In this bed, you could place a pretty sculpture, regular birdbath, or birdbath fountain. I would not create a walkway up your front lawn. You already have lines going up to the house.
I hope this was helpful with your front yard planting design.
"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!!!"