8 outdated front yard trends that need to go, plus expert advice on how to replace them

If any of these sound familiar it could be time for a front yard makeover to get things on-trend again and max up your curb appeal

front yard design with planting
(Image credit: Elena Elisseeva/Alamy Stock Photo)

It's time to take a fresh look at your front yard and take a view on what's working. Or, more to the point, what isn't working. It could be that your front yard needs a few tweaks, in which case this is an easy fix. Or perhaps there is something major that needs addressing and you're considering an overhaul of the design to leave behind a tired trend that no longer works.

Either way, you're probably looking for inspiration on how to make some changes to your front yard landscaping ideas. The good news is, whether your front yard is looking a little dated, is no longer to your taste, or simply not sustainable enough for the times we live in, getting back on track is easier than you think.

See if any of our expert suggestions on outdated front yard trends resonate - and if so find out how to fix them with alternative ideas that will make your space look so much better.

flagstones path in front yard

This front yard design just needs to relax a little

(Image credit: Peter Spiro/Getty Images)

8 front yard looks that have had their day

When it comes to making sure your front yard isn't looking tired, tap into the latest design advice and you will soon be saying goodbye to any outdated front yard trends and get things back to looking their very best.

'In my experience as a landscape designer, I've been able to observe the evolution of front yard trends over the years,' says Ward Dilmore, founder and head landscape designer at Petrus Landscaping, based in the Bay Area of San Francisco. 'What once was considered the pinnacle of front yard design is now often seen as outdated and environmentally unsustainable.'

Ward, together with our other landscaping experts, has plenty of ideas on what needs to go and how to update your front yard. Now find out about the best modern front yard landscaping ideas to help get your revamp underway.

Ward Dilmore
Ward Dilmore

Ward Dilmore is a landscape designer and founder of Petrus Landscape in the Bay Area of San Francisco. With an unconventional blend of horticulture expertise and international relations background, Ward brings innovation and sustainable creativity to his designs. His commitment to merging beauty with eco-conscious practices marks him as a dynamic artist in the industry, carving a path of bold, fresh perspectives in the world of landscaping.

1. Keeping the manicured lawn

front yard lawn

This patch of green takes a lot of maintenance

(Image credit: Thomas Baker / Alamy Stock Photo)

If you're looking at options to get rid of a high maintenance, water-guzzling lawn that's struggling because of drought or other environmental issues, try looking at types of lawn grass that will thrive in your local area. If that fails the reality is it's better to go with no-grass front yard ideas than 'faux lawn', and instead turn the area into planted beds with a gravel mulch. 

'One of the most notable shifts has been away from the traditional manicured lawn,' says Ward Dilmore. 'These grassy expanses, once synonymous with the American dream, are now viewed as impractical and ecologically harmful. Homeowners are increasingly replacing them with xeriscapes and native plant gardens, which not only conserve water but also provide vital habitats for local wildlife.'

Neglecting a front yard lawn is high up on our list of front yard landscaping mistakes too. If your lawn is failing, it might be tempting to opt for faux turf as a quick fix. But although it has become much more realistic looking, artificial grass is not a solution that lasts forever. Experts say good quality faux turf lasts for around 10 years, but after that you're back to square one, as well as contributing to the amount of synthetic grass going into landfills.

2. Favoring excessive areas of hardscaping

front yard design with block paving

This large expanse of driveway is more noticeable than the house

(Image credit: Marje/Getty Images)

'Another outdated trend that has fallen out of favor is excessive hardscaping,' says Ward Dilmore. 'The days of sprawling concrete driveways and pathways dominating the front yard are numbered. Instead, I've noticed a trend towards more balanced designs that incorporate greenery, reducing the urban heat island effect and enhancing curb appeal ideas. People are realizing that a touch of nature can significantly improve the overall aesthetics of their homes.'

Trends in front yard hardscaping are definitely evolving. One of the big changes we've noticed recently is the fading popularity of using a single type of paver for front yard landscaping, as seen in the design pictured.

'When it comes to front yard paving ideas the trend now is for mixing materials like stone, brick, and concrete to add texture and visual interest to front yard designs,' says landscaping expert Brian Clayton, co-founder of GreenPal. 'Using just one type of paver can look dull and uninspiring. Instead, you can create visual interest by using different paver materials to define spaces. Plus you can incorporate gravel landscaping or grass strips between pavers to add texture and a more natural feel to the space.'

Bryan Clayton
Bryan Clayton

Bryan is the CEO at GreenPal, and has over two decades in the landscaping business. He is passionate about creating outdoor spaces that merge beauty with functionality.

3. Choosing over formal landscaping design

front yard design

It's neat, it's tidy but it's also underwhelming. Imagine if the space was allowed to go a little wild and deconstructed

(Image credit: Marje/Getty Images)

'Formality in landscaping has also seen a decline,' says Ward Dilmore. 'The rigid, symmetrical layouts that were once in vogue are giving way to more natural and asymmetrical designs. Homeowners are now opting for landscapes that mimic the beauty of the wild, with meandering pathways, irregularly shaped flower beds, and a mix of native plants. This shift reflects a broader desire for landscapes that are not only visually appealing but also sustainable and low-maintenance.'

Formal landscaping often includes a simple, geometric design, a lawned area, and straight paths and walkways lined by sharply delineated borders and beds. Everything looks perfect but the downside is it takes a lot of time keeping it this way.

Instead cut yourself some slack if you recognise this as one of the outdated front yard trends in your own space and let the planting relax a little by opting for a more natural look, as Ward suggests, and working in some of the best front yard plants.

4. Planting too many ornamental grasses

pampas grass

Pampas grass may have had its moment

(Image credit: Hecos255/Getty Images)

'One trend that I think has outlived its welcome is the excessive use of ornamental grasses in front yards,' says Bryan Clayton. 'A decade ago, they were considered low-maintenance and chic. However, the overuse has made them somewhat passé, and they often end up looking unkempt or overrun if not properly maintained.'

Another problem is that they can actually make a yard look more cluttered than intended. Plus, the grasses can sometimes invade other spaces and become a nuisance. Find out when to cut back ornamental grasses if you are a fan and have them in your front yard, so you can at least keep them under control and stop them taking over the space and making it look messy.

Bryan recommends a shift toward native plants that are well-suited to your local climate. They not only look good but also support local ecology and typically require less care than non-native ornamental grasses. 'Native plants are a sustainable, attractive, and increasingly popular choice for modern landscaping. Homeowners can achieve a fresh, current look while also creating a yard that works in harmony with the local environment.'

5. Failing to update porch details

porch with hand rails

Wooden porch detailing can look old fashioned

(Image credit: Neal and Molly Jansen/Alamy Stock Photo)

The porch is generally the focal point of any front yard design and also sets the mood for the interior of the house, helping to create the all-important first impression. So it's the worst possible place to be showing off outdated front yard trends. Instead the porch should reflect our modern lifestyles with a welcoming and uncluttered aesthetic.

'Design trends such as statement oak railings and balusters that have been around a while now look clunky, old fashioned and very 80s,' says Docia Boylen, owner at home improvement specialists Handyman Connection of Golden, Colorado. 

Cluttered porches have had their day. Now there's a tilt towards acquiring fewer items that have both quality and personality, ensuring they stand the test of time. Quiet luxury, meanwhile, is the art of showing off timeless elegance in your front yard and porch through subtle minimalist touches. 'With the quiet luxury trend you can transform your outside space and remove those wooden handrails and balusters, for example, and replace them with either glass or a vertical metal wire railing so you can see the view,' says Docia. 'Quiet luxury elements can bring a very simple and striking update to the outside of your home.'

6. Staying loyal to tired color schemes

front yard with painted house

Paint is an easy way to refresh your front yard but just be sure to choose the right colors

(Image credit: Tetra Images LLC/Alamy Stock Photo)

Choosing the right combination of colors is important if you want to get rid of a look that now feels stale, and is rooted firmly in outdated front yard trends.

'Uniform color schemes, which had a moment in the spotlight for their simplicity, can now seem dated,' says Artem Kropovinsky, interior designer and founder at Arsight in New York City. 'Instead there's a new wave that embraces texture, intriguing patterns, and a splash of unexpected hues.'

Mix up your front yard color theme instead of going for a matchy matchy look. Color-wise take your pick from a palette of earthy, neutral colors in shades of sage green, soft yellow and dusky pink, and remember to incorporate some of the pattern that Artem referenced too.

Color is also important if want to find out how to make a small front yard look bigger, with light colors such as white, ivory, pale gray, and sage green reflecting higher amounts of light than dark colors, which tricks the eye into perceiving the space as bigger than it is.

7. Picking a driveway-centric design

modern driveway in US

This driveway steals the show by pushing the planting out to the perimeters, where it feels little more than an afterthought

(Image credit: PC Photography/Getty Images)

'Avoid designing your front yard with the driveway or parking area as the central focal point. Instead, prioritize an inviting pedestrian path that enhances the experience at human-scale, making it more welcoming and accessible,' says landscape architect Rituparna Simlai of Miami-based Studio Arth.

Taking the driveway off-centre is also an option. You can also minimise the impact of a driveway design by growing plants on either side that will sprawl over the edges of hardscaping and soften the boundaries. The central part of the driveway between paved wheel tracks is another good place for growing the best walkable ground cover plants, and will help to create a much more naturalistic look.

Another good idea to take focus away from a dominant driveway is mixing materials to break up sections of paving and create a more interesting look where it segues into the planting and overall design rather than acting as the main feature.

Rituparna Simlai Studio Arth
Rituparna Simlai

Rituparna Simlai is the founder of Studio Arth, an award-winning landscape architecture firm based in Coconut Grove, Miami. The studio’s philosophy is to ‘design with purpose’, fostering a sense of oneness with nature. With a masters degree in Landscape Architecture from Harvard University, Rituparna has over 15 years' experience in landscape and architecture have led her to work on award-winning international projects in New York, Miami, California, India, Singapore, and the Caribbean. She was also honored with the Exceptional Emerging Professional Award by the Florida chapter of the American Society of Landscape Architects (ASLA) in 2020.

8. Growing overly manicured shrubs

topiary in formal garden design

(Image credit: Blickwinkel/Alamy Stock Photo)

'Refrain from maintaining shrubs in excessively manicured and pruned shapes,' says Rituparna Simlai. 'Contemporary landscaping trends lean towards a more natural and organic garden design approach that respects the original shape and form of plants, contributing to a harmonious and balanced landscape.' 

Topiary and symmetrical planting is often a feature of overly manicured shrubs, and everything ends up looking very structured. A downside of this style of gardening is that keeping everything looking so organised can be hard work, especially as keeping boxwood and other evergreen shrubs looking smart means regular clipping. So as well as looking increasingly like one of the outdated front yard trends this makes big inroads on your downtime.

Instead lean into more low maintenance front yard ideas with naturalistic perennial planting and a move towards choosing native habitat-supporting, pollinator-loving varieties. 'We're noticing an increase in the popularity of native plants and wildflowers,' says Bryan Clayton. 'Plants like coneflowers, black-eyed Susans, and blue sage are becoming the go-to choices for many gardeners.' 

Are boxwoods still in style?

While popular up until recently the trend for smartly clipped boxwoods lining front yard paths and porches has slowly started to wane. One likely reason is the fact these shrubs need very regular maintenance and it can be hard work keeping them looking smart.

In addition to this, the current landscaping trend for loose and naturalistic planting is in direct opposition to the structured, geometric look that boxwoods offer. With the attention and care needed to keep boxwood shrubs in good shape, many of us simply think it's not worth the effort any more and is going the way of other outdated front yard trends. 

formal front garden with boxwood

The popularity of boxwood landscaping is on the wane

(Image credit: Annaick Guitteny/Future)

We have one final tip about lighting. Colored or white garden lighting in your front yard and porch is now also starting to feel outdated. 'Instead consider using warm yellow lighting rather than colored or white options as part of your front yard lighting ideas,' says Rituparna Simlai. 'Warm yellow lighting is favored for its ability to create a subtle and cozy ambiance in outdoor spaces, enhancing the overall appeal of your front yard.' 

Sarah Wilson
Content Editor

Lifestyle journalist Sarah Wilson has been writing about flowers, plants, and garden design and trends since 2015. Having already studied introductory garden and landscape design as well as a course in floristry she is currently adding to her list of qualifications with an RHS Level 2 course in the Principles of Plant Growth and Development. In addition to homesandgardens.com and livingetc.com she's written for gardeningetc.com, Modern Gardens and Country Homes & Interiors magazines.