reThinking the front yard

Is your front yard lacking in potential?

There is so much potential in a well designed front yard. It is the place that welcomes you and your guests, it can reflect your decor and style, it is a usable piece of your property that frequently gets unnoticed.

Clients typically have an easy time creating a wishlist for their back yard. It has practical and functional purposes. Do you ever think of your front yard as being functional? Aside from the walkway and driveway are there other functions you would like to see your front yard having? Perhaps more usable space?

Social Space

First and foremost I like to think of the front yard as a social space. It is the semi-public space that links you with your neighborhood community. Creating a slightly wider, more welcoming walkways that bring people from the street – not the driveway – to the front door is an effective step in creating a welcoming environment. A simple seating area or courtyard space is the next layer in rethinking how our front yard space can be utilized. Frequently – and practically speaking – our back yard and front yard typically have different sun exposures. When one area might be uncomfortable to the elements, the other side of the house is typically more hospitable.

The project above had a classic 4′ wide walkway that lead straight from the door to the driveway. We intersected the space with the circular meeting point where the homeowner in now able to display a unique sculpture she found in Europe. The planting has a sense of whimsy and formality with traditional hedges, sculptural orb and square topiaries and Agaves. The door is sunken back, we constructed a pergola as a ‘welcoming’ piece to guide guests to their destination.

A classic courtyard is always an inviting space throughout many seasons. This home was remodeled to accentuate Spanish architectural features. We wanted to enhance this elements by creating a European style courtyard complete with tile mosaics and a soothing fountain.

Limiting Space

Out limiting factors can be great opportunities. Perhaps you have a property that offers little guest or street parking. Finding interesting and aesthetically pleasing solutions to these problems are exciting for me. The photo above is a project we completed in 2020 that had limited parking for a family who loved to entertain and will soon have young drivers. They were originally wanting to create a pull through driveway, but we came to agree one something much more unique and interesting with oversized concrete pavers with artificial turf in the voids.

Sustainable Space

Do you want to do something different and maybe a little more creative with your front yard? We have used lawn as a catchall for many years. Over the past 10 years this has increasingly been difficult. With lawn out of the equation, what else can you do? This couple removed ALL their lawn and driveway. To create a permeable surface we installed a decomposed granite driveway which allows rainwater to be recaptured in the water table. For the entry lawn? We created this modified labyrinth. What unique way to to say ‘welcome to our home.’  

In addition to finding water conserving solutions for front yard, you can also ask yourself “what am I using my water for?” If you desire to plant herb and vegetables, perhaps there are spots in your front yard to incorporate these pieces. There is always a possibility to create something unique and aesthetically pleasing.

R & R Space

This beautiful estate we went for drama and comfort with two sunken fire pit areas along their entry walkway. There is nothing quite as memorable, inviting, and usable as a well designed functional piece like this. Altering the material on the ground plane to decomposed granite not only softened the space to feel more casual, it also offers drainage solutions.

I would encourage people to view their front yard as their entry to their home.  Look at the statement it makes about the arrival to your home.  Think of the possibilities of it being another ‘room’ where you can not only welcome guests, think of it as a place where you can entertain, relax and make memories.