Front-yard landscaping ideas that bump up your curb appeal can make a real difference in the selling price of your home (if you’re looking to sell) or the impression your home makes on visitors. After all, people typically see your front yard before they step inside your front door. And while you may take care to mow your grass and refrain from parking a rusty pickup truck in the middle, your landscaping may not exactly wow visitors as much as it could.
If you’re trying to sell your home, you’ll want to improve the curb appeal for potential buyers. But even if you have no plans to move, your yard can impress guests and passers-by. So what are you waiting for? Here are some gardening and landscaping ideas for the front yard to take care of now, before summer’s over.
Front yard landscaping ideas
Front yard landscaping is more than a patch of grass and a few plants. Landscaping also includes your driveway (have you considered a “green driveway” or one made of cobblestone or glass?), walkways, small trees, colorful flowers, perhaps a water feature.
You need a good design plan to fit all these landscaping ideas together in your front yard. That’s what professional landscape architects do for $75 to $150 an hour, but here’s a cheaper option: Many local garden centers provide consultations and simple front yard landscaping ideas for free or for a small additional cost if you buy plants from them—not a bad deal when you’re scraping around for front yard inspiration!
Pick the right plants to landscape the front yard
Landscaping for front yards (and backyards, too) starts with plants—shrubs, trees, grasses, and perennials, which add color, height, texture, movement, and color to your lawn. But picking the right plants requires more than a design eye; you must choose plants that will thrive in your yard.
Before you start digging into front yard ideas, you’ll need to conduct a soil test to understand the composition, pH, and nutrient quality of the dirt under your feet. For less than $25, you can send a soil sample to your state cooperative extension, which has labs that will tell you everything about the soil you have, to guide which plants you chose. Azaleas, a popular foundation plant, do best in slightly acidic soil (pH 5.5), while lilacs love a more alkaline soil (pH 7.5). Cosmos thrive in sandy soil, whereas Russian sage grows well in clay soil.
Also consider your USDA Plant Hardiness Zone when selecting the plants and trees that will grow best in your particular climate.
“There are beautiful new plants brought to market that may not be the best choice for your area,” says Chad Bostick, a Huntsville, AL, landscape architect and member of the American Society of Landscape Architects.
Stagger heights and depths of greenery
Soldiers look great in straight lines; plants, not so much. Plant beds serve to ease the eye up from the horizontal plane of the yard into the vertical-plane focal point of the house. To soften the view when you landscape the yard, avoid straight rows of plants, and vary their height and color.
“Plant taller species on the ends and shorter in the middle,” Bostick says. Boxwoods are great corner anchors for a lawn, and ornamental and low-growing grasses are graceful candidates for the yard’s midsection.
Bostick also warns homeowners to consider maturity, not their present height, when planting shrubs and trees in a flowerbed or front yard landscape.
“You don’t want to put in a shrub in front of a window that eventually grows to 7 feet tall,” he says.
Mix evergreen with deciduous trees
Deciduous trees, which lose their leaves annually, provide great color in spring, summer, and fall, while evergreens prevent your front lawn and backyard landscapes from looking dead in winter. Planting evergreens on the side of your house where prevailing winds occur can also provide a windscreen that helps lower energy bills in cold weather.
Light your front yard landscaping it right
This front lawn idea is perfect even for those who aren’t gardening gurus: Landscape lighting makes your house a stunner by night as well as by day. One popular landscape design idea for front yards is to use a mix of lights that point up and lights that point down to add visual interest, as well as texture and depth, to the yard and walkway. Bostick likes to hide lights with softening filters in trees, which spreads a natural, moonlight glow on the yard and house.
Water your plants the easy way
Protect your investment in your front yard (and backyard) landscape design by springing for an in-ground irrigation system, which will water your turf, plants, and trees. A sprinkler system typically costs about $1,000. Or, better yet, instead of planting water-hungry lawns in your front yard, install plants that require little or no extra water, called xeriscaping. They can save you up to 36 cents per square foot annually in water bills and landscape maintenance.
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