If you are looking for front yard landscaping ideas for your home, knowing where to start can be a challenge. Every home has a unique structure, topographical elevations and grading, sun exposure, colours and neighbourhood elements. It can be an intimidating endeavour to renovate the front of your house. In this blog, we will give some helpful starting points to get you thinking and point you in the right direction.
We will cover:
- The existing architectural style of your home
- Site analysis – grading, elevations, soil type and sun exposure
- Choosing materials
- Planting Design
Building Off The Existing Architectural Style Of Your Home
What is the style of your home? Cape Cod, Victorian, Colonial? Being able to name the style of your home isn’t necessary, but identifying characteristics is essential to have an entrance that suits your existing home.
All too often, landscape contractors “over-design.” The entrance and the house should be a unit, not separates. If your house has a simple, flat front structure, the entry should be simple. In contrast, a home with peaks and angles allows for more character in the design.
Ultimately, the goal is to have your entrance blend in as if it were designed with the original house plan, not jump out as the only thing your eyes can see.
Site Analysis – Grading, Elevations, Soil Type and Sun Exposure
Once you have an idea of your architectural style, the next step is to evaluate your site.
The height between your driveway and front door will determine the number of steps needed. The length will determine the tread distance of each step. Having some basic calculations will give you an idea of what the options are for your front steps.
From there, looking at grading will determine if any retaining walls are needed. Retaining walls serve to not only be functional but also add interest to the entrance structure.
A final inventory of sun exposure and soil type will help determine the plants that will suit your location. A general “full sun, part sun, or full shade” assessment should suffice for sun exposure. Soil type assessments help us understand whether the soil is acidic or alkaline, hard clay, well-draining, or wet. If you have these general assessments noted, your local nursery can help you pick flowers, shrubs and trees that will do well in your location.
When chosen materials for your hard surfaces and walls, there are two main categories; natural stone and pre-cast products.
Pre-cast products such as interlock pavers are what you will typically see with patios, walkways, driveways and retaining walls. They are usually manufactured with concrete and moulded to mimic the look of tile or stone. The benefits of pre-cast products are the cost and the wide range of finishes readily available. However, the drawback of pre-cast products is they are less durable than natural stone. Higher-quality pre-cast concrete products will maintain their finishes for 10-20 years, while lower quality products begin to lose their colours within a few years.
Natural stone occurs naturally and is mined in quarries. It comes in various types (granite, sandstone, limestone etc.) and finishes (irregular flagstone, square cut flagstone, armour stone etc.). The benefit of natural stone is the durability and beauty you get from a natural product. Natural stone ages well as weather add more character to its surface.
A final product type that has recently hit the outdoor market is porcelain. We are all familiar with porcelain tiles in our kitchens and bathrooms. This great product is now manufactured for outdoor use. Although manufactured, porcelain has a higher density than most natural stone types. Its strength allows it to hold up outdoors and against the elements without breaking down or losing its colour. It has an extensive range of colours and finishes, such as a slip-resistant coat to make it ideal for walkways, patios, and pool decks.
Landscape Planting Design
Planting design can make or break the front of your home. With thousands of plants to choose from, this can be the most intimidating part of your design. Even professional designers can lack ability in this area.
Here are a few helpful tips to keep it simple following basic design principles:
Start with Structure
Every plant has a structure. Think of your garden bed as a body. It needs bones to hold everything together and stabilize the body. Small trees and shrubs add structure to the garden. They will ground and stabilize the airier flowering plants. When there is a transition in blooming plants, the structural plants hold everything together and keep the garden interesting.
Creating layers is part of creating the structure. Once focal points and stability are established with the structure, adding layers from the house’s foundation outward transitions and grounds the house to the lawn. Higher shrubs in the background hide the house’s concrete foundation, creating a backdrop to the flowering plants. Evergreens are an excellent foundation backdrop as they keep stability throughout the year and create a dark background for the flowering plants. After establishing the background, use flowering shrubs in the foreground, the mid-ground and perennials, and ground covers.
Organize the Blooms
While annuals have their place, they quickly lose their appeal with homeowners with the upgrade in perennial bed designs. Annuals will flower all summer long but require replacing every year as they can’t survive our Canadian winters. This cost adds up. Fortunately, you can create beautiful colours in your garden using flowering shrubs and perennials, which will come back every year.
Flowering shrubs and perennials will bloom from a few weeks to a few months, depending on the plant. Organize your plants in a way that will have blooms complement each other and overlap bloom times keeping full-year interest. Also, consider fall leaf colour for interest!
The final, and probably the most impactful thing on your front entrance, is your budget. How much you have to spend or want to spend on your entry will be the most significant determinant of the outcome. Construction always costs a considerable amount of money. With outdoor construction, machinery is needed, skilled craftsmen and women demand quality pay, and the process of building something to last in the outdoors is time-consuming. The type of products used, the amount of detail created, the size of plants installed all play into the cost.
Consider purchasing a new mid-sized car. One manufacturer’s car will cost $30K, while another can cost $100K. Both are mid-sized cars, but the quality is different, resulting in different prices. Don’t be afraid to communicate your budget with your designer or contractor. Clear communication helps build specifically to your price range. The “lowest bid” approach will usually land you with the lowest quality installation. With custom builds, quotes are generally not “apples to apples.”
About Ariss Landscape
At Ariss Landscape Inc. we provide exterior renovations of residential properties with expertise in interlocking and concrete driveways, excavations, and foundation wrap waterproofing.
Established in 2004, our team of professional landscape contractors also design and build other aspects of the landscape, with an eye for architecturally sound designs. During the winter season, we provide commercial snow removal services.