Landscaping Ideas for Your Front Yard
There always seems to be a part of your yard you either can’t get grass to grow, keep green, keep from burning or do anything with. The grass along the cement like a sidewalk or driveway is hot and is always drier than the rest of the lawn. There are many ways to make the areas along your sidewalk and driveway look nice
Planning it out first
What you decide to plant is dependent on your area, how much rain or is it dry, what types of plants you can grow and how much work you want to do to maintain the area. You should order a catalog of plants and flowers. Burpee has a great catalog, it has pictures of all the plants and how big they get and what areas of the country they work best in. Then make a plan of what you would like in certain areas of your yard. When making your plan consider the direction the plants face, for example if they will be facing the hot south direction, consider types of plants that require less water to thrive. When planning always think ahead to the future, how big will that tiny tree or bush get, will it be in the way of the sidewalk, will it block my view getting out of the driveway.
Getting the area ready
First thing to do after you have drawn up your plans is to get the soil ready. This area might be hard and compacted. Soak it thoroughly and then have it rototilled, grass and all. The grass you rototill will help the soil also. Get some good compost to put into this area while rototilling.
For areas along streets, sidewalks and driveways that are always hot and hard, you can put in some plants that don’t need a lot of water. Xeriscape is the word for this.
People have a misconception that Xeriscape is about planting cactus and other desert plants that don’t need any water. Xeriscaping is about using plants that don’t need a lot of water and can handle long dry spells.
There are many plants to choose from for your area. Some Xeriscape books recommend Yucca and Lambs Ear, there are types of Yucca plants that have very sharp points to them and Lambs Ear spreads everywhere. This type of garden is all about saving water. If you decide to do this, you can arrange your plants into groups according to their water needs, the plants that require the least amount of water goes in the driest areas and so on. Remember runoff and downspouts are also forms of watering.
Wild grasses are some of the favorites in yards and can be very pretty in the garden. They seem to do well in all kinds of weather, full or partial sun, just make sure you know what planting zone you’re in. Wild grasses can get fairly large as well and can cover a nice area. You can also use some large river rocks to break up the area in between plants. Use mulch in here such as bark or many cities have free mulch from cut down trees.
What to do with slopes
A slope towards the street sidewalk can be a problem. Gets tiresome to mow, usually the water just runs off of it and doesn’t stay green. You could rototill this area and plant some low-lying ground cover perennials on the slope such as Phlox. Or you could put in a tie wall where the slope begins and a garden in the newly dug up area or make a tier type of garden area, one level higher then the one at street level. This would have several different tiers to it, in each one you would have different flowers and or small shrubs, plant the flowers so that there are some that bloom in the spring, summer and fall, that way there will be color and flowers throughout the growing season.
Phlox is beautiful and grows in many colors. Photo by Joe Shlabotnik/Flickr
Narrow areas of grass
Many yards have a narrow strip of grass between the front sidewalk and the street. This area is the hard area to maintain. Taking out the grass and putting in bark, lava rock or white rock is an idea with some drawbacks. It makes it hotter and the rocks eventually find their way onto your lawn. If you do use bark or rock to cover this area, you first need to put down a heavy plastic to keep weeds from growing in the rocks. Problem is, I have never seen that type of plastic last very long, and soon enough there are weeds growing through the plastic.
You could put in some bushes like the Spirea bush or a smaller version called the Little Princess Spirea, which are beautiful with white or pink flowers in the spring, in the fall the leaves turn a bright red. A row of lilacs can be pretty in this narrow area and there are many kinds and colors of Iris as well, mix the small Spirea in with the Iris’s and other flowers.
Another narrow area might be between your driveway and sidewalk. You can do all kinds of things there. You could plant a butterfly garden in that area, not only would the flowers be very pretty but would attract butterflies as well. You could mix in tomatoes in this area, pretty and functional.
The skinny area between your driveway and the neighbor’s property line can be dull. You can put a small fence there (Cedar Creek landscape border starter set). Home Depot has that product. You can put a rose trellis along the fence to grow roses or other climbing plants.
Photo by Lisa Vollrath/Flickr
- You could have one or more whisky barrels in some areas filled with flowers or strawberries.
- You can plant ornamental grass. For more about this, you can read How to Brighten Up Your Yard with Ornamental Grass.
- If you have a few steps on your sidewalk, a black wrought iron fence along the steps would enhance the yard and sidewalk.
- Solar lights along your sidewalk or yard to light up your plants can be nice.
- Take a walk or drive all through your neighborhood for the purpose of looking at everyone else’s homes. You will be amazed at all the different landscaping ideas you will get when you’re looking for them instead of just driving down the street to work.
Sam Montana © 11 January 2009
Helpful web articles and web sites
- How to grow a butterfly garden
- How to make your own compost
- Planting zone maps for every state
- List of ground cover perennials
Main article picture by Rasbak/wikimedia