Front Yard Design Help (with pictures)

sarcareMarch 31, 2010

I moved into a small bungalow last June, and focused most of my gardening work on fixing up the back yard. Neither front nor back yard had much in the way of landscaping, just weeds, unhealthy grass, and some junk trees. Out front I took out the junk trees from the front yard and had the 6-7 tree stumps ground out, as well as having some mulch delivered. Now I'm ready to start designing the beds and putting them in.

The front yard is actually larger then my back yard, at about 40ft by 30ft. I'd like to extend the existing beds and remove some of the grass, particularly on the north side to add a new bed and hedge. This would have euonymus at the back, with mugo pines interspersed in a row before, with a smaller crabapple tree at one end and then perennials and roses through out the rest. The house faces east, so gets morning sun and early afternoon sun so I'm concerned about the foundation plantings and beds not getting as much light. I'd like to try some roses there and a contorted filbert as well, with other perennials. Here are some rough pictures of what I'm thinking, though I keep changing the plants and moving them around.

I've come up with a list of plants I want to use, but I'm concerned that there wont be enough sun and how to fit them all together. Maybe once I have the bed laid out it will be easier to visualize, but I thought I'd ask opinions on the plan to see how it is from a design perspective. Any suggestions for plants would also be appreciated!

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I think a nice walk out to the front sidewalk would do wonders. The plant mass in front of the front door doesn't seem to be very inviting, but a walkway to the door says come on in (except for sales-dudes and religious extremist!).

    Bookmark   March 31, 2010 at 1:51PM
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catkim(San Diego 10/24)

Ah, doncha love these drawing tools -- I thought those were Christmas lights on the front of the house. ; )

I think you are on the right track with the shape of the bed to the right of the house, just be sure to give the plants enough room to grow and fill in. (I can't comment on plant choice for Utah.) Do you use that gate much? If you do, the stepping stone path will feel narrow and inadequate; not a problem if it's only rarely used.

I often agree with rhodium's advice, but not regarding a new walk out to the front. A walkway directly from door to street will be a lot of trouble and expense with little benefit in return, in terms of reworking the porch and chopping up the already meager front garden space. But I do agree the plants shouldn't be so prominent in front of the door. Simplify the plantings along the front of the house and be sure to include something with year-round presence in strategic locations to tie your design together.

    Bookmark   March 31, 2010 at 3:03PM
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Thanks for the feedback, I think you both are right about too many plantings at the front porch. Plus it is the area with the poorest sunlight. I may use a smaller flowering shrub like bluebeard (false spirea) and a dwarf pine. I'd still like to find space for the contorted filbert, but maybe if I move it over in front of the window away from the entrance to the porch. I'm thinking I might add another small tree on the left side of the lawn to balance out the larger bed on the right, but I'm a little worried that it might shade the other beds. Thoughts?

    Bookmark   April 1, 2010 at 12:18AM
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karinl(BC Z8)

First, east is a wonderful exposure for growing a lot of things. I wouldn't worry about poor growing conditions too much; just your classic super sunlovers might not get enough sun to bloom. Even with a small tree in the garden I would not be concerned about finding nothing that will grow (if you can grow rhododendrons in your zone you're definitely home free). East is also an excellent exposure for containers as they get shade just when the sun gets too hot, and a few big containers can do wonders as hardscape.

Second, contorted filbert is eventually a BIG plant, and you can take my word for it, eventually arrives a lot quicker than you expect. I would not plant this near the house.

Finally (rant on, not really directed at you) why does everyone always have to base their front yard landscaping around foundation planting, or make it the sum total thereof? Your house is quite cute, the area urban enough that it does not need grounding, and while the foundation isn't pretty precisely, it would be quite as effectively concealed by something like island beds or perimeter beds at the public sidewalk, or for that matter quite smart if painted and gussied up with a little flagstone pad with containers. Out in the yard your shrubs can grow as large as they like and the deciduous ones will grow better getting more light and light from all directions.

Rant off.

I am not here to say you should do it my way nor that my taste constitutes good design, I'm just saying that you might be able to overcome some of your constraints and concerns if you permit your brain to release itself from planting at the foundation.


    Bookmark   April 1, 2010 at 4:23AM
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How much do you like gardening? Do you use your front yard except to walk to the front or back door via the driveway or walkway at the side? Is there foot traffic to your home or does everyone park in the driveway when they visit? Form follows function.

If this were my cute little home I'd fence the perimeter, eliminate most of the grass, and make beds with shrubs (coniferous and flowering), perennials, and annuals for color. Easy care paths and a small sitting area if you think you would use it. It could look very pretty from inside looking out as well as be an attractive view for passersby. It could also be fairly easy care once established depending on the plants.

Just my amateur eye but I think having a bed on one side of the yard only looks unbalanced.

    Bookmark   April 1, 2010 at 2:21PM
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Luckygal, I actually have contemplated the fence and getting rid of a lot of the grass. I even tried to figure out the cost of the fence, and it seems like it might be a little out of my budget at the moment. I'd actually really like a fence because then I could have my dogs in the front yard too which would make it more usable. Personally, I could see doing a pottager/cottage garden in front, but it seems daunting. This is my first house and my first garden. I've enjoyed working in it so far, but I worry that I could get in over my head and have it end up looking terrible.

I'm thinking that I might start with beds around the edges and then work up to a front yard with more beds, and eventually a fence.

I really like the sugestion about not worrying too much about foundation plantings, I've sort of wanted to not have too many plants too near the house for fear of water getting in the house, so that probably is a good idea as well.

    Bookmark   April 1, 2010 at 4:40PM
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