Urgently seeking some smart front yard landscaping ideas? Then, look no further. Whatever the size, aspect, or shape of your plot, we’ve rounded up the freshest planting combos and sharpest hard landscaping options around. There are planting suggestions for different hardiness zones and the latest top green-fingered tips and trends from some of the leading landscape designers and industry experts, so you can realize your front yard’s true value and potential.
Not just a matter of sprucing up paths, porches, pots, and borders, planning the perfect front yard relies upon identifying how you want to use your space, assessing and taking into account any issues the site presents, and marrying it with how you want it to look. It isn’t the easiest of tasks, we know, but it’s definitely one that’s worth taking time over and enjoying hunting out new ideas for.
Front yard landscaping ideas that’ll make your home pop
Deciding on the best entryways, weighing up parking needs, and considering how important privacy screening is are all practical hard landscaping issues that need to be brought into the design early on, whether you are tackling the work yourself or calling in an expert. Finding the right plants for the right spot is also key, not just for shaping the overall look of your plot but in terms of how much time and attention your new-look front yard will need to keep it looking good. Add in other considerations such as exterior lighting, creating a cozy place to sit plus some statement window boxes and planters, there’s plenty to start dreaming about. So, check out these inspirational ideas and get planning today.
1. Unify entry walkways with planting
Fancy a front yard that looks smart year-round but still relaxed and inviting? Then take a low-maintenance front yard landscaping tip from this stunning design by Brinitzer and go for predominantly all-evergreen planting. With no hedging or fencing to divide it from the street, the view is uninterrupted leading straight up to the house, and its welcoming porch. ‘We worked with the client of this 1920’s property in Arlington Virginia, a close-in suburb of Washington, D.C. to develop a property-wide garden design that would enhance the newly renovated bungalow,” says designer Scott Brinitzer. “The garden directly in front of the house features a limestone walkway passing through a zoysia grass lawn. As the walk nears the sidewalk, it is bordered by gumdrops of Green Velvet boxwood and dwarf Japanese mondo grass. The simplicity of the front garden, a study in different greens and textures, provides the surrounding perennial with a clean and neat framework that helps the property look tidy no matter the season.’
2. Let your gate make a statement
More than just an entryway – the shape, size, and style of your garden gate can make a huge statement about your property and design choices. Whether it’s a romantic waist-high picket design or a more commanding Japanese arch, these entry points set the tone for visitors and allow your real estate to really stand out from the crowd. Choose a design to echo your home’s architecture and front yard.
This striking style of Japanese gate or mon traditionally marks the boundary between one world and another, the inner garden being a tranquil and serene space. Set within a dense hedge, the senses are heightened, and expectations are raised as to the type and size of the garden within, a very different experience to that presented by a more open, ornate wrought iron design or chic and contemporary timber arrangement.
3. Crisp lines and sculptural forms
A front yard that sits back within the real estate footprint to create an open courtyard is instantly inviting and deserves a landscape design that will withstand close scrutiny. With ground space limited, a direct pathway to the front door works best but be sure to plan in areas of planting and sensory features to maximize year-round interest and detailing. In this project by Arizona-based Creative Environments, the impact comes from the bold simplicity of the water feature and delicate planting. ‘Low plantings showcase the beautiful architecture of this home.
Creative Environments wanted to bring the water element to feel with an 18′ deep serenity area in the courtyard with a water feature for some sound. This is a zero-edge water feature that flows over on all sides.’ The intimate seating and multi-layered lighting make this space a place to relax and linger.
4. Plant a climate-proof hedge
Love the idea of growing a hedge around your front yard, then be sure to choose a plant variety that will thrive before investing both money and time. With weather conditions and climates growing ever more changeable, it’s crucial to find a hedging plant that will not only cope with the soil and aspect of your plot, and look good, but that will withstand a sudden dip in temperatures too. Oregon-based specialists in the Conifer Kingdom share these tips, ‘Cold-hardy plantings that will grow well in Texas are a great way to go. Under the most severe winter conditions, they may experience some damage but can survive and thrive again next year when things finally thaw out! The large cities of Abilene, Austin, San Antonio, Beaumont & Corpus Christi fall within USDA Hardiness Zones 6 – 10 respectively. You can check out the hedges which can withstand the cold of a northern climate but are also able to grow well from the top of Texas down to zone 8, and some even to zone 9. They are excellent alternatives to the strictly southern plantings.’
5. Reclaim your front yard for entertaining
More than just a route from A to B, your front yard deserves to be a place to spend time and socialize. Adding a paved seating area covered with a striking sunshade will not only create a sheltered and cozy place to while away the hours with friends and neighbors but make a stunning feature too. Choose from colonial timber slatted designs, possibly adorned with flowering climbers, or to make a more contemporary statement go for a decorative fretwork design in metal. There’s plenty of cool outdoor furniture to pick from.
This courtyard by Creative Environments features a fireplace, water feature, and a steel shade structure with water jetted panels added to the roof. The water installation, next to the front entrance, is a limestone feature that flows over on all sides to a beach pebble basin.
6. Choose front yard planting to accentuate your home’s facade
Step back and take time to look at your real estate. How does it appear? What materials and architectural features stand out? How can they be best complemented by plants? Simple observations and noting the color and texture of the main construction can be a huge help when deciding on a planting design. As a rule – as shown beautifully in this project by landscape specialists Creative Environments – the simpler and plainer the façade, the smaller the leaf size and more intricate the plant shapes can be. For more textured and varied materials – such as stone or timber shingles or shakes – stick to shrubs and trees with larger leaves. The design team explains, ‘Here low plantings showcase the architecture of the home with greenery and artificial turf. The design concept and installation are deliberately simplistic to bring out the home.’ Extra height and drama were added by planting some of the ficus columns in pottery urns.
7. Try a period approach to front yard planting
Designing a front yard for a historic property blessed with tons of decorative detailing can seem daunting. Where many owners may be tempted to opt for simple paving and bold, statement planting, to help balance out the character overload it can be more effective to adopt a historically sympathetic approach. Richard Schipul, landscape designer at Designing Eden LLC explains the thinking behind this enchanting front yard in Ridgefield, CT. ‘When I originally met with the owners of this property, they wanted to create a landscape that would honor the architecture of their beloved house. They had a lot of plant pictures saved from a recent trip and most were of gardens planted with brightly colored annuals. I explained what gardening would have been like in the Victorian era and that a lot of the plants in the pictures were used as bedding plants in gardens during that time. Keen to create a Victorian-styled landscape composed of only annuals, I had to dial back their excitement by explaining that a garden with only annuals was not sustainable, instead suggesting a longer-lasting mix of perennials, evergreens, and flowering shrubs. We would leave approx. 30% of the garden beds open for annuals that we would swap out twice a year, in the late spring and again in the fall.’
8. Choose sympathetic hard landscaping
Driveway pavers provide unique elegance and durability to any home, making them a great option for driveway design. Every home’s architecture should be reflected in the type of stone used for your paved driveway. Whether your home is contemporary, traditional, Mediterranean, or any other style, it’s important to pick driveway pavers that will blend seamlessly with its design.
Unlike cement driveways, which are limited in color options, using driveway pavers that have a variety of available hues allows homeowners to customize their driveway to complement its existing color scheme. This also allows for the creation of unique patterns and designs, which can add to the visual interest of your home. Whether you want a simple, uniform look or an intricate, eye-catching pattern, possibilities are endless with driveway paver designs.
9. Create a cozy approach to low-level walls
There’s never enough real estate to do ALL your outdoor living in the backyard. That’s why it’s helpful to reclaim your front yard space by creating a patio courtyard. One of the most important elements in a courtyard is to use enclosing walls to give it a feeling of cozy privacy, especially when located in the front of the home. Contrasting coping stones are ideal for adding a stylish flourish to low walls as well as doubling as casual seating. Discreet LED lighting installed below the lip, will showcase the wall further, especially if built from a contrasting material with a rugged texture and will also introduce an extra dimension to the space. If stone walls aren’t in your budget, try low hedging or lines of dense planting to define your space and add structure.
10. Plan the perfect entryway
A beautiful front entry walk elicits an almost immediate emotional response – one you can enjoy using daily and welcoming guests into. To maximize usefulness and impact, the size of your entry walk matters. If you go too small, it’s more of a path while too wide means it may compete with your driveway. Ideally, you’ll want an entry walk that’s between six and eight feet wide so two people can walk side-by-side comfortably. Vertical elements such as pilasters or walls can enhance the entry walk look while better connecting it to your home’s architectural style. These can also be graceful tools to accommodate grade changes in your yard’s terrain.
11. Use broken lines to bring another dimension to your front yard
Placing a geometric garden landscaping design on an angle will instantly add energy and interest. Adding in broken low walls interspersed with planting, plus contrasting hard materials and the result is truly special. Principal at Ginkgo Leaf Studio, James M. Drzewiecki, explains, ‘This modern interpretation of a craftsman-styled home in Milwaukee was the inspiration for the eclectic and contemporary landscape design. Low garden walls which match the stone veneer on the home were incorporated for a sense of enclosure and added a bold architectural element to define the front yard from the street. At the end of the front walk, we added a bluestone foyer that matches the stone on the home’s front porch and creates a more welcoming entry point from the drive. The area to the left of the front walk acts as a rain garden for runoff from the home’s roof and provides a happy home for a group of river birch. A restrained palette of perennials and ornamental grasses combined with native shrub and tree species adds refinement and seclusion to the balance of the property.’
12. Vary your front yard paving
Front yard character doesn’t always have to come from planting alone, sometimes clever paving choices can make a striking focal point and bring an extra dimension to the space. Contrasting textures, colors, and scale of stone all add personality and are the perfect way to introduce abstract shapes and forms while still proving practical.
The Prairie architecture of this home led the owners to ask Gingko Leaf Studio for an updated landscape that combined an Asian garden feel with a Mid-Century aesthetic. James M. Drzewiecki, explains, ‘We designed a new front walk in a combination of concrete and bluestone. The square of irregular bluestone was placed on the axis with the front door while also sitting on the diagonal with the Prairie-style urn. A concrete patio was added off the front porch for informal seating. Bluestone steppers were placed along the edge of the driveway within slate chip mulch, to enhance accessibility along the driveway edge. A simplified palette of flowering perennials, grasses, and shrubs fill the planting beds surrounding the new walk and patio.’
13. Divide up your front yard with freestanding panels
Concerned with curbside privacy or just wanting to create more usable outside space then take a tip from landscape designer Matthew Giampietro and divide up your plot. ‘We incorporated free-standing wooden fence features that helped define and separate the front yard of this newly renovated home in South Florida into a series of outdoor rooms. Modern in style, these rich wooden fences are made from IPE, a Brazilian hardwood that is naturally resistant to rot, weather, and insects and is twice as dense as other hardwoods.’ Slatted in design, with narrow spacing between battens, they crucially let air and light flow through, promoting healthy plant growth as well as providing tantalizing glances of the space beyond.
14. Focus on planting rich warm hues
‘A lush tropical foliage garden design is a great contrast to a modern style architecture,’ says landscape designer Matthew Giampietro. ‘We were asked to create a modern tropical landscape design in the front yard of this newly renovated home in South Florida. There was an existing mature ficus tree that provided shade to a large part of the front yard and the new home renovation was a modern style, white in color. Our goal was to create a front yard garden that can also be used for outdoor seating as well as recreation for the children. We created a modern layout for the walkways leading to the front entrance and used lush tropical plantings to help define and enclose spaces in the front yard. Shade-loving plants were needed and, fortunately, there are many tropical varieties to choose from. Foliage plants come in a range of colors, shapes, and sizes while unique shade-loving flowers, like red ginger, the heliconia flower, or bromeliads offer a unique structure and a variety of colors.’
15. Use a plant palette that complements your home
Fancy a front yard design that sits in perfect harmony with your home? Well take a close look at the colors used on the front façade and repeat them carefully within your planting and hard landscaping. The result is a truly cohesive and peaceful look that will be the envy of all who pass by. This approach was expertly undertaken by landscape designer Stephanie D Poole. ‘The design was based on drought-tolerant plants, but also colors that complement each other and pick up on the colors of the house. Blue-greens (senecio, Elijah blue fescue, canyon prince, dymondia), butter yellows (yarrow, lantana, lady banksia climbing rose, bougainvillea), and vibrant oranges (kangaroo paw, red hot poker, aloe striata, aloe arborescent, African tulip tree) are punctuated with dark browns phormium Jack Spratt, aeonium, Japanese maple tree) and brought together with calming greens (foxtail agave, deer grass, moor grass, feather grass, and palm trees). The movement in the grasses scale, textures, and colors were deliberate.’ The planting is gently contained by a natural sandstone low wall which also provides a place for neighbors to sit and chat while out on their dog walks.
16. Let your plants do the talking
Long for a plant-filled front yard that looks good, all year round then follows Susan Fischer’s advice and go for a careful balance of small shrubs and perennials. ‘We kept a smattering of evergreens for winter, but added perennials with colorful foliage, to ensure color all year, even when nothing is in bloom.’ Repeating the same plants on both sides of the central entry walk results in a beautifully harmonious approach while opting for a looser, natural shape that’ require less maintenance.’
What should I plant in front of my house?
Low maintenance plants that make an impact, year-round, are definitely the way to go when planning a front yard planting scheme. Shrubs and perennials tend to need minimal care, and watering once established and put on a reliable show for little effort. Selecting varieties that thrive in your climate zone is key, but bear in mind that your home’s specific location can also play a part, with air and ground temperatures of low-lying homes regularly dropping below the average for the zone, while those homes perched on top of a hill can be several above. Good all-rounders to consider include:
- Stonecrop – Perfect dome-shaped plant that needs little love. Growing 10-12 inches high it’s covered with tiny pink blooms in late summer, adored by pollinators. Hardy in zones 3-9.
- Globe Arborvitae – A low-growing, sphere-shaped evergreen that’s pretty tough and perfect for lining pathways or planted at the front of borders. Hardy in zones 3-7.
- Catmint – A true sun lover that bursts into frothy clouds of blue in late Spring. Happy in poor soil, simply cut back the first flush of flowers for a second show. Height varies from 12 to 20 inches depending on the variety. Zones 3-8.
- Panicle Hydrangea – A great contender for growing up against walls or on the corners of significant borders, these shrubs love well-drained soil in part or full sun. With pompoms of lacy pastel-colored blooms, they suit both formal and loose planting styles. Zones 3-8.
- Red Bottlebrush – This small-leafed evergreen grows to heights of 2 to 3 feet and is smothered in dazzling red flowers in later summer and fall. Drought and salt air tolerant, it will thrive in zones 8-10.
How do I design my front yard?
Want to up your home’s curb appeal, these simple front yard landscaping ideas are just the ticket.
- Frame your doorway with a pair of statement planters. Colorful annuals will add a dash of seasonal color while a stately pair of small standard trees – try Ornamental Crabapple or Sweet Bay – will add year-round style.
- Edging borders with pavers, pebbles, or treating turf to a good, sharp cut with a yard edger will work wonders for smartening up the look of your front yard.
- Short on space, make the most of it with a babbling water feature for extra sensory charm and movement.
- Lighting always adds an extra dimension to planting. Experiment with simple low voltage LED spots, up-lighters, and path lights for varying effects of outdoor lighting.
- Add year-round structure and interest with reliable evergreens such as Boxwood, Azaleas, Euonymus, Yew, and Daphne.