Perfecting Your Front Yard Landscape

Do you care more about how you look from the front than from the back? Most people pay more attention to how people view them from the front. Women beautify their faces with makeup; men shave and dress to their liking and people generally want to make a good first impression when people look at them.

Your front yard is the “face” of your home. It gets the most visibility and represents the style and charm of the entire home. If the front yard is beautiful, one will expect the entire yard including the home to be equally as spectacular.

While the backyard landscape is important to beautifying a home, the front yard is equally if not more important because it is seen by every person who drives by, walks by or visits your house. The front yard is less functional and geared more towards the aesthetic because it is so visible. For this reason, it is wise to think about landscape design that matches the beauty of the home and takes it up a notch on the sophisticated scale.

Want to make a great front yard first impression? Here are some ways to do it:

Special Features

Depending on your personal style, choose special features to enhance the look of your home. Flower beds provide color, interest, and an overall welcoming feeling. Surround flower beds with decorative elements or borders, and build walls with pavers to keep the sections clean and manicured.

Walkways are another great choice to add interest and style to a front yard landscape. Use flagstone or pebbles to lead people from the front to the back yard or around the side of the house. Add a formal walkway leading to the front door and flowers to both sides to allow a visitor to feel like he/she is making a grand entrance.

Fences

Fences are a great way to add another level of security to your home while adding an aesthetically beautiful element. If you have pets or children, or you want to plant climbing foliage, the fence is a solid choice.

Lighting

Lighting puts the icing on the cake and elevates your front yard from normal to fabulous in seconds. It also promotes a secure house at night and wards off intruders.

Look closely at the natural light of the moon before you make your lighting selections. The moon emits a soft illumination and casts shadows in different areas. Try to imitate this glow with your lighting and avoid spotlighting anything too heavy even if it is a central feature. Study how the moon illuminates through trees and across flowers and bushes and continues that same light to unlit areas.

Brighter Illumination

Pay attention to certain areas that may necessitate brighter lighting. Focal points such as large oak trees and decorative elements will “pop” with stronger illumination. Walkways, paths and driveways will also need brighter lighting so visitors and household members can park and walk easily to the door without struggling to see.

As long as your front yard is safe, the sky’s the limit with what you can do. Remember to keep it clean, manicured and stylish. Avoid excess clutter and add the design elements that will make it stand out from the crowd.

Is Your Landscape Lighting Polluting Others?

When we think of pollution the first thought that comes to mind is highways, Los Angeles, airports, smog and major cities. Yet, outside of the air we breathe, pollution can come in many other forms.

Have you ever wondered if your landscape lighting was causing a safety hazard? Is the glare from your lighting hedging into your neighbor’s property?

Many homeowners are unaware of how their lights are affecting others. Improperly installed lighting fixtures can send unwanted beams into a neighbor’s yard or result in a safety hazard if glare spills over onto streets or in other places it shouldn’t be.

Below are the three categories of lighting pollution:

  • Sky Glow – Sky glow is light that is focused upwards toward the sky and wastes precious power since it is not illuminating any landscape surface. This type of lighting pollution does not contribute any safety features to the landscape such as lighting walkways or porches.
  • Glare – Glare is the byproduct of intense lighting. This pollution can create unsafe conditions for people walking on your property or for drivers if the glare is focused towards the road.
  • Light Trespass – Light trespass occurs when light intended to illuminate a particular area spills over into your neighbor’s property where it doesn’t belong.

If you intend on eliminating the lighting pollution around your home, it may be wise to hire a professional. Your landscape lighting should highlight specific areas without illuminating unwanted spaces. A trained contractor will understand the range of glare and how to maximize your power without creating unwanted safety hazards.

Electrical contractors understand how to position lights not only maximize power, but also to avoid any potentially hazardous conditions. A landscape lighting expert will map out your design paying attention to the focal points while pinpointing where the lights should focus. A professional will know how to offer you the design you desire without sacrificing safety and a distraction-free environment for your neighbors.

Here are a few solutions to lighting pollution:

  • Stick to specific areas – Landscape lighting should enhance, not completely illuminate your design. Too much light is overwhelming and the glare will contribute to pollution. Sometimes, the “less is more” approach works wonders.
  • Selective power – You do not need to light your landscape all hours of the night. You can turn off your lights in the late hours of the evening and turn them back on at dusk the next day. Reserve your lighting for activities that take place in your yard or for special times that necessitate it.
  • Low Voltage Lighting – Any reduction in wattage will do its job to reduce light pollution. Low voltage fixtures provide enough lighting to highlight your beautiful landscape and light your porch and walkways without wasting power on bright lighting.

Creating a safe and courteous environment with your landscape lighting design is a valiant and worthwhile effort. Do your part to reduce lighting pollution and create the landscape of your dreams without negatively affecting your lives or the lives of the people surrounding you.

The Basic Elements to Creating a Beautiful Landscape Garden

Gardens do not take up much space, yet they can add life and excitement to any yard.  A garden need not be museum-ready or qualify to accompany the Queen of England’s royal tea party to be enjoyed. A garden is an extension of a homeowner’s personality and a great backdrop fit for any yard.

Gardens keep us close to nature and lift our spirits. Whether a small, potted plant or a mélange of seasonal tulips, gardens bring a sense of calm and loveliness to any outdoor space.

Many homeowners and renters throw away the idea of a garden because of space and maintenance issues. If you love exotic plants and high-priced luxuries, go for it! But if you are living on a tight budget, you can still enjoy the ambience of a pleasing garden. Fortunately, you can find many low-maintenance plants that are inexpensive and require minimal care. And small spaces are the perfect backdrop for inexpensive window boxes, potted plants or self-contained raised garden beds.

Whether your yard is large, or a small plot fit for a family brunch, the basics of creating a garden remain the same. Consider these tips before you start so you can ensure the final product matches your thoughts, hopes and dreams.

Cohesion

Every element of your garden should complement each other. Consider the type of flower before adding new elements. Be careful not to mix two separate design styles like a Japanese water feature with a Victorian-inspired rose trellis. If you want to add several styles into one space, separate the areas to create boundaries so that each space receives it own measure of appreciation.

Color Choice

This is your chance to really make your personality shine! Use color to add an explosion of interest to your garden. Loud colors bring the eye forward while muted colors push the eye back. Use bright colors on features you want to stand out and darker colors on those you want to serve as a creative backdrop. Be careful not to overwhelm a more relaxed garden with too much color. Consider your overall theme first.

Scale and Proportion

If you have a small ledge, you wouldn’t add a bright spotlight to illuminate your small, potted plant. In the same manner, pay attention to the scale of your garden and avoid overpowering it with elements that are too large for the space. Consider the mature height of trees as well and unite the scale of each element so the overall appearance looks unified.

Walkways and Pathways

If you have a larger garden you may need to consider the paths leading to it and around it. Remove any obstructions to paths and make room for walkways so visitors can stroll through the garden without effort.

Any outdoor space can be injected with the life a garden brings. If you need more help coming up with ideas for your space, visit your local nursery and ask a knowledgeable salesperson for advice. Bring with you a sketch of your space as well as the general outdoor style you desire.