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.

An Eco-friendly Addition to Your Landscape Design

Rain gardens are eco-friendly landscape elements that take advantage of excess rainfall. You will often find them planted near depressions, sidewalks and porches. They are used not only as decorative elements, but also to direct water into the ground, reducing the buildup in other areas around your home. Rain gardens are also constructed to catch storm water runoff, protecting soil from destructive erosion and preventing polluted groundwater.

Rain gardens can be very effective at reducing polluted water especially in urban city areas where concrete is plenteous. City properties that experience excess storm water are at risk of sending polluted water into streams and into the groundwater. By planting a rain garden near your urban property, you can help to lessen the amount of water that is propelled into the storm drains and do your part to reduce the toxic load on our planet.

How does rain water become so polluted?

During the cycle of rain, from when it falls from the sky to when it arrives at the storm drain, it can pick up dirt and waste materials that pollute it. Areas that experience high amounts of rain would benefit from rain gardens. A rain garden will reduce the amount of polluted water that becomes storm water runoff while helping to conserve water as well.

Interested in adding a rain garden to your landscape design?

Your rain garden will most likely need the help of a professional. It can be taken on as a DIY project, but with the intricacies of installation, you run the risk of costly mistakes. However, if you want to tackle it yourself, follow these tips:

Craft a blueprint – Examine your property and notice how water flows and where it collects. Are there any hills or ditches? Slopes or mounds? Any variations in height could affect the flow of water. Choose your rain garden location after you have located the areas of your landscape where the most water flows.

Size and type – Determine the size of your rain garden and if needed, consult a professional. A professional will also test your drainage to help you decide what type of rain garden you will need.

Installation – The first step to installing a rain garden is to grab a shovel and start digging. This is not like any ordinary digging where flowers are planted. This installation requires knowledge of the bed, the right plants and the flow of water. Also, leveling is very important and should be done after digging is complete. Examine the slope of the area. If sloping is present, you may need to build a berm (earthen dam) into the side and edge of the rain garden. Use native plants and find out the properties of your soil and whether it needs additional organic matter.

Maintenance – The installation might be difficult, but maintenance is a breeze. Keep the rain garden full of mulch and remove weeds as needed. Give the plants plenty of water so over time they can build strong, deep roots that won’t require as much future maintenance unless you experience a drought.

Rain gardens are beautiful and help the environment at the same time. They are wildly popular and add creativity and life to any landscape.

 

10 Landscaping Tips of the Professionals

Do you wish you were a professional landscape designer? Many DIY landscapers struggle with landscape design and try to learn the ins and outs too fast. As a result, they make numerous mistakes and get overwhelmed by the stress of the entire process.

Landscape designers have many years of experience and practice and that isn’t something you can learn in three days. Regardless of your research (you should do some!), you could never amass the knowledge of a professional landscape designer. But, you can learn some of their tips and tricks to help you along the way.

Here are some tips from the pros that will help you make your landscape look more professional:

1. Add depth to the landscape by lining the outside of your property with taller trees. Smaller trees look better towards the front which creates more depth and an overall cohesive design. Taller trees also look nice framing the home.

2. Balance the planting. Don’t overpower the perimeter of your home with so many plants that it loses its style and beauty. Conversely, don’t leave it so sparse that you reveal too much of the home’s foundation.

3. Don’t plant foundation shrubs close together. They will mature over time and broaden their reach so give them ample space to grow.

4. Consider design lines when planting your shrub border. Don’t just plant them in any haphazard way. When the winter season arrives, you still want visual interest even though the plants may not be flowering. Use annuals, as well, to add interest to the winter landscape.

5. When planting shrubs under windows, consider lower-growing plants so maintenance is minimal. There is nothing worse than shrubs that grow past the window and block light from coming into the home. If you are willing to prune, don’t worry about it. But if you are a low maintenance person, go with the low-growing plants.

6. When choosing plants to be set together, match leaf size and texture. The leaves should be similar in appearance to create an overall aesthetic appeal.

7. Plan for the future. If you are thinking of having children, create a small area where kids can roam and play. The same principle applies to pets, especially dogs that need room to run.

8. Vegetable gardens need ample sunlight. During the planning stage, map out the vegetable garden area and work around it with the rest of your design.

9. Are there any items you want to hide? How about those ugly trash cans and power poles? Consider using trees, fences covered with vines, trellises and shrubs to cover unsightly areas and remove them from sight lines.

10. Beware of planting in areas where water runs down from the roof into the ground. Set plants away from your home’s foundation and anywhere excess water could cause a problem.

Remember, above all, not to overextend yourself. If you are a novice, start with plants that do not require much attention. As you become more experienced, you can alter whatever you want. Your landscape design will always be a creative work in progress.