Front yard landscape design earned it's own separate section in this series for a reason. This is one area where you may have to exercise some restraint with your own ideas. The front yard is considered the “Public area” in reference to the concept of designing “Outdoor rooms”, so let's mention the value of curb appeal.
So what is “Curb appeal”? Simply put, it's an attractive, well designed and maintained yard as viewed from the street or sidewalk. This curb appeal can make your home sell faster, and for more money. A property with a well manicured front yard is a direct reflection of the pride and attention to detail an owner takes in their home. It is naturally assumed that this pride is carried through in every other part of the home and yard. This will entice people to take a closer look at the rest of the house and property.
I want to stress this once again because I see it far too often.
Don't bite off more than you can chew. Don't design a front yard that
you won't have the time or ability to maintain. Try to have a rough
estimate of how much time you will be spending on each maintenance
task, so you can make your design manageable. Simplicity is the key
in keeping things manageable and also in having an uncluttered or
Don't be disheartened, because there are other places where you can do a little more of what you want. The backyard is where you can let loose a little and you can focus on being you. After all, this is where you will probably spend the most time.
Now you know the importance of curb appeal and that the front yard is
that one area that everyone will see. I'm not a conformist and I'm
not saying you should be one, but the public area is just one of
those rooms where you should use this restraint. If you really want
to be different, remember that there could be a price to pay if you
ever try to sell your house.
I'd like to introduce you to one of the basic principles of design because it is most often seen in front yard landscape design. (Balance). In the context of landscaping, balance refers to the equality, or proportions of different elements as seen by one's view.
There are 3 main types of balance in landscaping. The first one most of us are familiar with already. Symmetrical balance would be the perfect balance on two sides. (Equality.) If your view was that of a garden bed on either side of the front door, they would have the same features mirror imaging each other in size, shape, height and colour.
The second one is asymmetrical balance. We've all seen it, but many of us are not quite as familiar with the term. The elements don't have to be a mirror image of one another, but the elements need only to have similar shape and size. (Proportion.)
The third type is called distal. This would be your near/far, or here/there balance. Distal balance is often overlooked and is greatly affected by off property features in your yard. A good example would be the view looking out over a backyard in relation to a mountain range in the background. It's the here/there where view plays the most important role when it comes to designing.
Each time the view changes, it affects the overall balance of the
design. Unlike something on paper, your design must be considered
from every angle you can view it from. This is actually what makes
designing a front yard for a corner lot even more challenging than a
typical front yard. There is an additional 90 degree view to account
for that will affect the balance of the elements.
Present and future view
Understanding balance and how the view changes is very helpful in having an appealing yard. Now you can design your yard while considering how it will look from every possible viewpoint, but how will it look in the future? What will be the matured height and size of the trees, shrubs, and other elements? The future view must also be considered.
Since you don't have the same access to tools as a designer, it's a good idea to visit some nurseries and garden centers to gather information on what you may be planting. You may also find it helpful to take a drive around older established areas to see how the trees and plants look when they are fully mature. This will be helpful information for you when it's time to design your front yard.
So curb appeal and balance are two important factors to keep in mind for a successful front yard landscape design. There are others of course and we'll cover a few more in the rest of this series. You can use the links at the bottom of this page for more free landscape design information.
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Part 1. DIY landscape design
Part 2. DIY landscape design themes
Part 3. Landscape design planning
Part 4. Landscaping outdoor rooms
Part 5. Front yard landscape design
Part 6. Principles of landscape design