It’s not uncommon for a homeowner to want to stand out as the best house on the block. And to do that, a beautiful and well-designed front yard is essential. Yet so many aspiring DIY-landscapers pour all of their effort into a backyard paradise tucked behind a fence, neglecting the most visible part of their property. But don’t worry, with a little help, you can turn any front yard into the envy of every neighbor. Below we’ve compiled a list of four changes you can make to the front of your house that can help you accomplish anything from sprucing things up a bit, to transforming your landscape completely. And be sure to check out our slideshow featuring even more ideas to get you outside and designing the kind of front yard your neighbors will envy.
Rock Solid – How to Landscape with Stone
There’s little that can match the natural appeal of stone as it accents green grass, tall trees, sprawling shrubs, and lush flowerbeds. The stark contrast that stone makes to every other element of a landscape creates a very pleasant visual variety. Consider the ways that you can incorporate stone into your front yard design. Adding a small stone retaining wall around your flowerbeds helps create clean lines and separation from your yard. It also can make your life easier when it comes time to remove weeds or lay down mulch. As a bonus, building up your flowerbeds behind stone can help conceal cinderblock foundations and instead draw the eye of the viewer to your landscaping (just watch out for your window wells!)
For those looking to really shake up the layout of their yards, you can build pathways using stylish flagstones, paving stones, and stepping stones. A little known secret is that many local rock quarries are willing to give landscaping stone away for free – you just need to show up with a big enough truck! The type of stone you ultimately choose can change the entire feel of your property. Are you looking for neat, orderly bricks that create straight paths with clean lines, or would you rather create a rough-hewn, asymmetrical pattern of natural rock not usually found in your area? The options are limitless, and many stone projects are fully DIY. But don’t be afraid to call in a professional to help make sure that pathway settles nice and evenly.
And the stone options don’t end there. Exploring your local garden center can help inspire you. From stone fountains to stone planters, let your imagination run wild!
Year after Year – Flowers to Brighten Up the Landscape
Now, this might sound really obvious, but have you tried adding flowers? While this advice may seem like the landscaping equivalent of “turn your printer off and back on,” so often the simplest answer is the best one. Flowers are cheap, costing less than almost anything else a person could do to enhance their landscaping. There are varieties of flower for every shade or sun situation, meaning your yard – no matter how unique – has a flower that will flourish. And even better, flowers can go basically anywhere within a landscape design and find a way to look good. It’s just what they do!
Consider adding a mulch bed around a tree then planting flowers in it or along the side of your home. Hanging baskets are sold with the flowers fully in bloom and ready to go at any gardening center. You can easily transplant them into metal hanging baskets with a fancy filigree. The splash of color and the artistic lines of your planters can quickly make even the barest porch look better. Big stone planters, or little ones made of terra cotta, can line any path or sidewalk and draw the eye away from plain surroundings.
Flowers aren’t only an economical option either. If you’ve got a little extra time and are looking to really stand out, why not create seasonal planters and rotate out annuals with each change in the weather? If you’ve got them in dirt and keep them looking healthy, there’s basically no way to go wrong with flowers.
Pondless Designs – DIY Outdoor Water Features
Water features are one of the more advanced options when it comes to sprucing up your front yard when you don’t have direct access to a body of water. A really common mistake homeowners make when they think of a front yard “water feature” is picturing a bird bath. While there’s nothing wrong with a nice decorative stand for birds to play in, there are plenty of other options available to you, from the inexpensive to the extravagant. But it’s going to take a little planning before you execute. The first two questions you have to answer are “where will I put it?” and “how much will I spend on it?”
The answer to “where” with water features has to be answered carefully, and before anything else. While it may seem tempting to just throw a pre-made fountain in the middle of your yard and call it a day, consider what it would do to your overall landscaping picture (also, consider how hard it would be to mow around it.) Beyond that, you need to consider how you’ll provide it with water. Do you pick a self-contained unit that requires no active water source, or will you install a complex system that ties into your own home’s water supply? And water aside, how will you power it if it has a pump? Without a good spot in mind, any water feature you attempt to install can be more of a problem than a solution.
Next is the matter of expense. Water features are not generally the least expensive option when it comes to livening up the front yard (or any part of the yard). Decide early on what your budget is. This will help limit your options in a useful way. If you’re only looking to spend a few hundred dollars, then it’s not likely that you’re going to be able to install a top-grade, multi-tier stone-and-statue waterfall system. But that doesn’t mean good options aren’t within your reach either!
You’re probably thinking, “That all sounds so complicated! Why on Earth would a person want to go through the complex process of installing a water feature in their yard?” The answer is fairly simple – almost nothing can act as a transformative, breathtaking centerpiece quite like a water feature. Whether it’s a relatively inexpensive fountain, or a fully realized waterfall system, water features cannot be beaten by other landscaping features without them being something truly special.
In all, water features take a bit more planning, but offer significant rewards. They add a literal splash of beauty, motion, and the calm that only the sound of running water can bring. Knowing the complexities that come along with them, consider having a professional consultation before diving into this option.
Low Voltage, Low Effort – Dynamic Landscape Lighting
It’s no revelation to say that people love lights. They draw the eye, illuminate space, and can even create a mood (which is, no pun, where the phrase “mood lighting” comes from.) But many homeowners make the mistake of forgetting to incorporate lighting into their front yard landscape design, relying on the bulb attached to the house next to their front door to illuminate all their hard work at night. This is nothing short of a blunder – but it’s an easy one to fix!
Lighting comes in all shapes and sizes. The simplest solution is to line your walkways with small lamps that illuminate your paths. Most modern versions don’t even need a dedicated power supply or lines to be run and concealed underneath them. They run off of solar cells and rechargeable batteries. This is a great solution for those who get a lot of direct sunlight. If you’re in the market for something slightly fancier, consider installing lampposts where your path meets the sidewalk, or where your driveway begins. And if you’re only in the market for a small upgrade, consider getting a fancy lamp to house that light next to the front door.
Looking to go all out? Some homeowners elect to install a floodlight to highlight beautiful portions of their yard. Got a trellis crawling with beautiful ivy that you’d like to be illuminated by more than just moonlight? Or a hundred year old tree that could stand out against the night, leaves shining as the evening breeze blows them back and forth? Lighting can make all the difference for a great landscape once the sun goes down. Don’t lose the beauty of all that hard work because nobody can see it in the dark!
Looking for more? Check out our slideshow below featuring more great front yard design ideas to help inspire the landscape artist within you.