A front yard serves many important functions from a first impression to representing the personalities that live there. We all know the concept of “curb appeal” and want to present our homes in the best way possible toward the street and the world. Whether your goal is to boost resale value, personal enjoyment, provide a welcoming entryway to guests, or simply to impress those passing by, front yards can accomplish a lot for your home. While a long, grand allée of trees has its grandiose charm, here at Tilly, we know no yard is too small to make an impact. Here are some fun (and easy!) landscaping ideas to consider for a small front yard – with most being DIY friendly!
Add Planters on Your Front Porch
Planters are a great solution for a small front yard. They create small, contained designs that can be just as impactful as a bountiful garden. Choose planters that work with your home’s color scheme and style. For example, simple, repeating planters with one species work well with modern yards, an eclectic mix of colors and shapes can be exciting in a cottage garden. A pot filled with succulents may be the perfect option to provide texture in a Southwestern front yard, accompanied by small rocks and cacti!
Focus on Simplicity
It’s always safest to start simple for a front foundation garden design. Use evergreen shrubs to build the framework and fill in the flower beds with color and textures. Don’t go too crazy with a large selection of plants, which can be distracting and look messy. There are certain styles which embrace a wide variety of plants (think naturalistic, cottage or eclectic gardens), but if you aren’t a master gardener, simplicity is an easier look to achieve.
Plant in Layers to Cover the Foundation
Think about layering when placing plants in your front yard. Tall in the back, then mid height, and short in the front. It may seem obvious, but we find many people only do two of the three, leaving an empty void in the middle. A tall evergreen with a little perennial in front might look out of scale while a tall shrub with a medium one in front would look so much more finished with a little splash of ground cover in your garden beds below. For the best visual interest, remember this rule of three!
Landscape for Seasonality
There is a natural ebb and flow to all plants, with winter being the slowest growth season and spring producing the most flowers. If you want your garden to have color and visual interest beyond those springtime blossoms, you’ve got to plan ahead for how your plants will look in every season.
If season-long color is an appealing goal for you, try to select plants with different bloom times. If you really love lilacs, build out the flower beds to show them off and enjoy simple, structural greenery during the rest of the season. If you love vibrant fall foliage, opt for deciduous trees, but if you crave a little greenery in the depths of December, evergreens are a great option for you. Considering seasonality isn’t always intuitive, but it’s this step that can really make your small front yard landscape look professional.
Repetition is Your Friend
Don’t feel like you need to plant every cool plant from the nursery outside your front door. Choose a few varieties and use them in blocks or rhythms. This appears clean to the eye and has a sense of purpose. It’s easy to get overwhelmed at the nursery when shopping – but instead pick your 2-4 favorite plants and focus on those. Again, make sure they will mature into different heights so they aren’t competing for space.
Use Symmetry to Create a Classic, Timeless Look
If you are stuck when it comes to small front yard landscaping, a great place to start is to create symmetry. It’s hard to go wrong with a simple landscape design that’s mirrored on both sides of the front door. It also provides a nice base for your landscape that you can change up as you become more comfortable or get a better idea of what you want! Think a classic green hedge, roses, a pop of hydrangea.
Add an Accent Color
If you have relatively little horizontal space in your front yard, you can go vertical in design. This can be accomplished in a number of ways, including selecting a fun shade of paint! A beautiful pop of color on doors and shutters can add a splash of personality to a home. Check out our post on door colors for inspiration.
Low Maintenance Evergreen Border with a Pop of Color
Evergreens are your reliable friends! Arborvitae, chamaecyparis, boxwood, and taxus, among others are great for small front yard landscapes as they do double duty for year round green and privacy.
Evergreens give structure, frame your foundation, and provide a visual transition between the hard edges of a building and the soft landscape plants. evergreens can fill many roles in a front yard and can follow the lines of a front porch or border a driveway Add a great pop of color in your flower bed beneath or in a container for a finishing touch!
If your small front yard puts your house up close to the street – again use your home for design! Climbing vines are a beautiful addition that can be supported by trellises, fences, a wall, or your house itself to add curb appeal.
Use a Single Tree to Create a Statement
It’s not just about bushes and shrubs, a few well placed shade trees in a front yard will lend significance and grandeur to your property for years to come. Whether you love evergreens for year round greenery, deciduous trees for vibrant fall leaves, or ornamental trees for seasonal blooms and color, significant trees help establish a neighborhood. Even if you need to start small and be patient, planting a beautiful tree will pay off in terms of your front yards’ beauty, providing shade and establishing a homey feel.
Window box planters are a great landscaping option to add some charm to the look of your abode and refresh the views outside your windows. You can change up the decor based on the season and have fun with it!
Have Fun with House Numbers
If you have a small front yard, you can get creative with outdoor home decor ideas, such as the way you present your house numbers! Do something unique that becomes a part of the style of your home – or maybe it’s even a cool modern focal point. There’s tons of inspiration online or walk your neighborhood for ideas.
Make it No-Mow
If you are looking for some low maintenance yard landscaping ideas, consider reducing your grass or adding artificial turf. No grass means you don’t have to store a lawn mower and it will save you hours mowing. Not only is artificial turf easy to maintain, it will look great year round.
Make a Statement with Your Walkway
Your front walkway (and driveway if in front!) plays a critical part of the beauty of your yard landscaping. If your front yard is smaller, a walkway is a great place to invest. Whether it makes a statement or simply tidy and neat, the walkway is truly a person’s first step onto your property. You don’t want loose stones or wobbly bricks!
Play Up the Perimeter
Add a fence or a small wall around a small front yard to add character to your property. There’s a reason ‘the white picket fence’ has such a nostalgic reputation! A fence surrounded by a beautifully maintained flower bed or bushes of roses with a classic entry gate is a great way to embrace and play up a front yard.
Landscape lighting is another way to beautifully highlight small front yard features and your architectural style. From lighting your home itself to adding soft, downward-facing moonlighting in the trees to simple pathway lighting along your front walkway, light fixtures elevate the look of your landscape and literally highlight what you want to showcase well after the sun goes down.
Low Maintenance Design
There are also many techniques you can use to keep your front landscaping as low maintenance as possible. Xeriscapingis a landscape design strategy for areas with limited water. Choosing native plants that are adapted to your climate will almost always require less care than temperamental imported tropicals. Lean in to ideas that work in your area – for example, if you’re in the Southwest a great low maintenance option may be using rocks for a rock garden with hardy plants, like succulents placed throughout.
If you’re looking to implement ideas on a budget, don’t underestimate the power of good maintenance on the design you have! Nothing ruins curb appeal like your exterior paint chipping off the side of your home. Simple upkeep tasks like painting and weeding make the difference in keeping your entry looking tidy and well-loved without needing to dip into your savings.
Plan for Spillover
We often reserve programming and recreation to the backyard of a home. But if your backyard is on the smaller side as well, it’s likely that some of this activity will spill over to the front. Utilize your front yard with smart landscaping and layout! Set up some seating out front to maximize your yard and get social with the neighbors. Maybe it’s a quaint bistro table and chairs, a cute bench or hang a swing from a tree! We’ve even had clients add a great fire pit to their front yard.
Outdoor Equipment Storage
Be sure you have adequate space for any kids’ toys, lawn games, or seating that may be used in the front yard. Also plan specific storage solutions for anything you wouldn’t want to sit out each day. This will help your lawn feel clutter free and keep your curb appeal. There are nice looking outdoor storage boxes available or utilize your side yard, basement, or a closet inside. You can learn more about how to dedicate space in your space with our post on landscape priorities!
Landscape Investment: Time & Money
Consider what you are ready for in terms of time and money spent upkeeping your garden. You might think that once your plants are in the ground, the hard part is done—but the reality is that all plants will need upkeep and some will need to be entirely replanted each year. Annual flowers and bulbs are beautiful, but unfortunately, they live up to their name and require refreshing every year. This can be good if you appreciate variety, but be sure you’re up to the yearly task before you plan your yard around annuals!