Front yards are often neglected, even though they're more on show than our backyards. With care and consideration, the smallest space can become green and inviting, as well as accommodate off-street parking. A well-planned front yard can also help reduce street noise and pollution, give privacy, shade, support wildlife and have a positive effect on where we live. And passers-by will love looking at your perfect plot.
If finding the time to turn your front yard into a verdant paradise is a problem, it pays to keep things simple. Just one special feature, like a tree, or window box can add a welcome touch of drama. We've curated our favorite easy-to-copy, pretty front yard landscaping ideas that will add the most curb appeal and lift your spirits. Many of these beautiful garden ideas will even work to make a backyard look nice, too.
How do I make my front garden look nice?
Don't let a dismal front yard be the first view of your home you give visitors and passers-by. Your front yard will say a lot about you, show that you care about your home and your neighborhood. Ideally, front yards should be low-maintenance and the layout should be simple, smart and beautiful, so if you are pondering the age old question; 'how do I make a front yard look nice?' Let us count the ways..
1. Create shapes with topiary
Clipped evergreens can be used for a smart, contemporary look or as a contrast to a more naturalistic and romantic style of planting in a front yard.
Topiary is the ancient practice of shearing evergreen shrubs and trees to beautify your front yard walkway ideas. It encompasses the miniature box hedges that enclose flowers in elaborate parterres and the substantial yew hedging that forms mazes in the gardens of stately homes. But most famously, it is the individual plants that are tightly clipped to form peacocks, pyramids, chess pieces, and other fantastical or geometric shapes.
‘I love topiary because it looks good for 10 months of the year,’ says Charlotte Molesworth, creator and owner of the beautiful Balmoral Cottage topiary garden in Kent, England. ‘It acts as a backbone to all other planting. And if you use yew or box, it only needs cutting once a year.'
2. Add interest above with hanging baskets
Planting your own hanging baskets is one of the most enjoyable gardening tasks, as you get so much reward for such little effort, and it is a wonderful way to make a front yard look nice.
'When planting containers and hanging baskets, many gardeners follow the rule of ‘thriller, filler, spiller’,' says Melanie Griffiths, editor, Period Living. 'Start by choosing a statement ‘thriller’ plant, to act as a focal point. Good thriller plants for hanging baskets are pelargoniums, begonias, osteospermums, angelonia, nicotiana and heliotrope.'
'Complement this with ‘filler’ plants that will create a foil for your thrillers. Include some foliage such as purple-leaved heuchera, compact carex, silverleaved artemisia or purple sage. Good filler flowers are erigeron and nemesia.'
'Finally, choose ‘spiller’ plants that will trail over the sides. Ideal varieties are lobelia, bacopa, ivy, fuchsias, verbena and nasturtiums. To make a simple, elegant statement, don’t be afraid to fill the basket with a single variety.'
3. Create a sensory space
Filled with enticing sounds, scents and textures, sensory gardens are intimate outdoor spaces designed to delight our ears, noses and fingertips as well as our eyes. Sometimes stimulating, sometimes calming, these spaces offer tangible, visceral experiences that can evoke emotions and aid relaxation – and they are not just for backyards either.
Many sensory spaces are simply walks or paths with scented plants, such as herbs, between stepping stones; a winding route works well as it invites you to slow down and look around. If your front yard is spacious, a keyhole garden is another excellent sensory design, with a narrow entry opening into a larger space where you can rest. Whatever the design, include comfortable seating in the shade.
When it comes to color, it is generally believed that hot colors such as red and orange are stimulating, while greens and blues are calming, so aim to create different areas with this in mind.
4. Lay a gravel path
'Security is always a top priority for any homeowner,' advises John Evans, managing director at Stormclad. 'Unsurprisingly, gravel is not only pretty and low-maintenance, the often loud crunching noise it makes underfoot can be a good burglar deterrent. We recommend that you invest in a stone size that won’t easily stick in the soles of shows and get ‘walked’ into the house.'
Ideal for an informal front yard cottage garden, gravel looks softer than solid paving and comes in a range of colors. It’s also relatively inexpensive, easy to lay and allows rainwater to soak through, helping to prevent flooding.
5. Add height with trees
A small front yard should not be a deterrent to creating a beautiful or visual space. Every backyard and front yard looks better with a tree, and you don’t need loads of space to fit one in. There are many naturally striking trees for small gardens that will add a huge range of benefits to any space – from flowers and berries to spectacular color.
In a small front yard, it’s a good idea to look for a tree that offers at least two seasons of interest – spring flowers and fall color, for example. Many also have berries or fruit, striking bark or evergreen foliage. Where space is limited, a tree needs to work doubly hard to earn its place. If you plan to squeeze one in to a border, look for an upright, columnar-shaped tree that doesn’t take up too much ground space and won’t create a large canopy.
6. Set up a beautiful boundary
Fencing can also serve an important role in providing security and protection, as well as front yard privacy. It's often a more practical and cost-effective alternative to garden wall ideas, and requires minimal maintenance for a number of years.
Don't forgo color. Outdoor paint will not only make your front yard fence look good, it will give the timber added protection, too. There are plenty of colors to choose from when it comes to fence decoration, but wood generally looks better in more natural shades. Pale colors will lighten a dark garden, while darker colors allow the fence to fade into the background and make a great backdrop to planting.
7. Line a path with flower beds or containers
Just like when you're decorating a coffee table or bookshelf inside, creating an impactful flower bed display means ensuring that each element not only works together, but also gets a chance to shine. Choosing plants in different heights allows each flower to be seen, while also filling in vertical space.
If you are buying new containers then think about blending the colors with your home's brick or stonework, the local stone, or your garden color scheme. It helps tie everything together and gives a more established feel to the overall design.
8. Set a bench by the door
A charming bench on the front porch or next to the front door is the perfect place to sit and reflect, especially if it's in a spot that catches the sun or gives you a view of the sunset. It's also somewhere you can stop to remove your dirty shoes before setting foot indoors.
Here, a swing seat allows you to take in the verdant surrounding in quiet contemplation. When aiming to make a front door look nice, pick a palette of blue and white, reminiscent of coastal landscapes. Decorating with blue and white is timeless, and one of the most classic interior design combinations, perfect for creating a serene aesthetic.
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Jennifer is the Digital Editor at Homes & Gardens. Having worked in the interiors industry for a number of years, spanning many publications, she now hones her digital prowess on the 'best interiors website' in the world. Multi-skilled, Jennifer has worked in PR and marketing, and the occasional dabble in the social media, commercial and e-commerce space. Over the years, she has written about every area of the home, from compiling design houses from some of the best interior designers in the world to sourcing celebrity homes, reviewing appliances and even the odd news story or two.
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