Like many things in our lives, the front yard is often overlooked and under prioritized. Finding the time and money for improvements can feel overwhelming. Don’t let the size of your to-do list stop you from getting started. There are many things you can do right now that are quick, affordable, and effective.
Pick a project that can be finished over the weekend or even in a few hours. These smaller jobs will start to add up and can do wonders for the overall look of your landscaping. Here are a few suggestions to get you started.
WORK WITH WHAT YOU HAVE
Invest some time and money to breathe new life into your existing landscape.
Trim your trees and bushes. A landscaper or arborist can help you get a handle on any unruly overgrowth that’s too much for you to handle. Maintenance is so much easier if you invest in the right tools and learn the proper techniques yourself. A freshly shorn hedge can make your entire yard look clean and fresh.
Cleaning up the debris that’s managed to find its way into your garden beds or yard will help keep the focus on the plants and not the garbage. Layer fresh mulch where needed, pull weeds and fill in any gaps with new plants or flowers. Tidy up any edging and repair any bordering being used to define the area.
Pressure wash concrete, reseal your driveway and paint your fence. When things start to look run down, they can quickly become the focal point of your yard, especially when set against something shiny and new.
Devote a portion of your space and budget to trees, shrubs, and ground covers. These permanent investments increase in value and size and relatively low maintenance.
Trees should be top priorities when designing your front yard. They can frame the view of your home and help create symmetry and continuity throughout your design. They can establish boundaries and mark areas in the vastness of your yard.
It used to be that backyards were for play and front yards were for beauty. Now, homeowners are starting to see how impractical and outdated that design rule is. Why would you put all that time and money into something you hardly use?
Make the ground more level and safe for running around and playing. A grassy front yard is great for a game of tag or touch football.
Build a level spot for a bistro set. Having usable space in both your front and back yards means you can enjoy time outside at different times of the day. It’s also a great opportunity to give your neighbors a wave and maybe meet someone new. Unless you want to avoid that — then a privacy wall is all you need.
Put a fire pit in the corner or around a circular patio of pavers. This can double as a morning coffee nook, too.
If you have beautiful mature trees in your front yard, consider hanging a hammock or swing for a little summertime nostalgia. Build wooden benches around the base of trees for a more structural seating option.
Does your family play basketball or hockey in your driveway? Why not expand on the sports theme with benches for spectators or for resting between games? Filling any chips or roots in the cement will make games more fun and demonstrates attention to detail.
LEAD THE WAY
Make it easy for guests to know where to enter your yard and how to get to your front door with a pathway. Mark the start of the pathway with a gate, archway, pillars, flower pots or bushes. With options in materials ranging from wood to stone or metal, matching the style of your home and your budget is easy.
When laying out the path for your walkway, look for natural access patterns that already exist. Chances are children, pets or guests already take a shortcut to your front door. Watch where they are going and use that as a guide.
While it’s tempting to put in a winding path with curves and jogs, it’s much more practical and cost-efficient to stick with the shortest and straightest route. Steps and curves should only be used if necessary. You can add visual appeal by playing with scale and material. Making your walkway wider than the standard 36 inches will make it look more intentional. 42 to 54 inches will allow two people to walk side by side. If you find that you need more curves in your walkway because of the slope of your yard, make them extra wide.
Whether you are starting from scratch with your pathway or already have one, you can take them to the next level with flowers, greenery, mulch, fences, walls, or hedges. When lining your walkway, keep in mind room for movement. Walls, fences, and hedges should be less than two feet high to allow people to move their arms and carry packages easily. Creating a buffer zone of about 2 feet between the walk and the taller elements will allow you to add dimension to your design and give more room for movement. This is the perfect place for contrasting rock, mulch, flowers, or ornamental grasses.
There are many, many options to choose from when picking material for your walkway. Brick pavers, slate, tile, exposed aggregate, concrete blocks … the list goes on and on. That may feel overwhelming at first, but the good news is that it means there’s something for every budget. Just remember, if your walkway is leading people into your home, you’ll want to avoid building the path out of looser materials like woodchips and small gravel because it will inevitably end up in your entryway.
MAKE AN ENTRANCE
If the focal point of the front of your home is the front door, then it makes sense to put some thought into dressing it up.
Ensure it’s well lit and that doorbells are obvious and at an appropriate height. If possible, aim to make your porch large enough for two people to stand while the door swings open.
If the current circumstance is less than appealing, upgrading the physical structure can be done without breaking the bank. Contractors can help you decide whether you should add to what you have or start from scratch. You might be surprised to see what enhancements are possible, it could be anything from newly built front steps to adding a gabled porch roof.
If you have good bones to work with, you might find that swapping out some of the components is all you need to give the illusion of a complete overhaul:
- A new front door can transform the look and feel of your entry.
- Add stone, wood, or more substantial beams.
- Repairing or replacing handrails can update even the oldest of front steps.
- Install a bench, or better yet, a porch swing if you have the room.
- Put up a trellis for privacy and greenery.
- Invest in quality planter pots. A matching set with different heights adds interest and color.
Start with one or do any combination. Once you see the difference it makes, you’ll be glad you did.
ADD A FEATURE
Create a focal point in your front landscaping. Much like the rooms inside your home, a highlighted feature draws attention and lends direction to the overall design.
Yard art is another popular option. Like water features, art can be found on many different scales, for many different price ranges, and to meet many different tastes.
Flowers as focal points can turn heads. For maximum results, combine color, plant form, and texture properties. Consult a landscaper well versed in color theory, or do some research on your own, to come with a color scheme that works with your overall plan. The size, look, and bloom time of the flowers should also be considered to maximize the effects throughout the seasons. If all else fails, keep your flower design choices simple. Several plants of similar look and color have more impact than one each of several different types.
MAKE IT PRIVATE
Many people avoid spending time in their front yard because they feel too exposed. Add a sense of privacy with one of these attractive additions.
Plant shrubs and hedges to create a privacy wall and bring more greenery to your yard. From hydrangea bushes to lilac bushes and all kinds of evergreens, there are many fast-growing and attractive options to choose from. Just make sure to look for varieties that work well in your hardiness zone to optimize growth and sustainability.
When done well, a front yard fence can improve your home’s curb appeal in addition to blocking prying eyes. They are a great option for any budget since the design can be kept very simple or be built up with intricate detail. Fencing material also caters to all budgets with options ranging from basic wood to vinyl and wrought iron to everything in between. Remember to check with your local planning department for zoning regulations.
Privacy panels can sometimes be more advantageous than a fence since you can vary the heights and placement selectively. Keep the panels cohesive in material, design, and color to avoid the varying positions and heights making things look haphazard.
A vine-covered trellis is a simple and quick solution to hide an unattractive view or block somebody’s view. You can pick up a basic trellis from any home and garden store or have one custom-built to suit your needs. Choose a hearty, fast-growing vine to grow up and across your trellis for almost instant privacy.
KEEP IT EDGY
Construct neat outlines in your yard by defining the edges of designated areas. If grass meets dirt in your garden, take the time to cut back any overgrown grass to create a sharp contrast. You could also add landscape edging, bricks, metal strips, or more permanent concrete curbs. Borders of flowers, small bushes, and ground cover also work to establish boundaries.
LIGHT IT UP
Many homeowners underestimate the power of lighting to dramatically improve both the functionality and look of their yard.
Lining your driveway with lights will make it easier to navigate in the twilight hours and dramatically improves curb appeal when it’s dark. Similarly, lining your walkway with lights makes it easy for people to find their way, improving visibility and increasing their safety. Path lights come in a range of sizes, materials, and complexities. Solar is the most popular choice since it lends itself to less maintenance and overall longevity. Solar puck lighting can be recessed into your driveway or pathway for a more permanent and long-lasting choice, while individual stake lights are more affordable and can be easily moved or replaced as needed.
Adding string lights to patios, fences, or trees as mood lighting will help you enjoy your yard into the evening. Take inspiration from your favorite patio restaurant to turn your own space into an entertainer’s dream.
If you have a show-stopping element, such as a tree, sculpture, or water feature, shining a spotlight will give it new life. Why let it disappear into the dark?
Replace or add exterior lights to highlight areas of your home. A well-lit front door makes it more visible from the street and keeps it safe for those coming and going. Just like the interior of your home, add different levels of lighting. Install pot-lights in your soffit and put matching wall lights on either side of your door and garage door. If you have a covered porch, add a flush mount light overhead to allow light to fill the space. Post lights are great options for signaling the entrance to a pathway or driveway, but also look wonderful nestled in with greenery near a doorway.
A beautifully lit yard isn’t just for outside, either. The evening view out your front window will become that much more picturesque with a little illumination.
Ready To Improve Your Front Yard Landscaping?
South Mountain Lawn & Landscape, Inc. is a full service landscaping company in the Knoxville, Maryland. We specialize in helping homeowners improve their existing front yard landscaping. Whether you’re looking to sell your home and need a quick boost in curb appeal or you’d just like to make some improvements because you want to we’ll be able to help!
If you’d like to schedule a consultation for your front yard landscaping please give us a call 301-834-4628 or fill out our online estimate request form and we’ll get right back to you.