Landscaping your front yard

There are so many things to consider when landscaping your front yard. Your taste plays an important role in the overall design, of course, but there are many other aspects to consider.

Be sure to follow the rules and regulations that apply in your city or municipality. Otherwise, the experience could turn into a really frustrating adventure.

Before you bring your front yard landscaping ideas to life, be sure to consider these :

  • A permit may be required before you start landscaping your front yard. If you are planning something simple, you may simply ask your neighbors or check the city’s website. But if you are planning a large project, call the urban planning office and ask about all the conditions and regulations.
  • In some cities, the part of your yard that touches the sidewalk or curb belongs to the city. In other cases, it may belong to you, but the city may still have rights on it. If there are trees there, they probably belong to the city and you can be charged a steep fine for cutting them, or even for pruning them. When a tree that belongs to the city is sick and needs to be removed, it must be reported as such. In most cases, city employees will come and take it down. If the tree belongs to you, you most probably have to get a permit before you can cut it. Also note that it may be forbidden to plant certain types of trees.
  • There are usually strict regulations regarding fences and hedges in front of buildings. Any fence or hedge that blocks the view on a corner is almost always forbidden
  • Parking spaces and driveways are often severely regulated. Enlarging an existing driveway or creating a new one can be forbidden.

When in doubt about a given issue, check your city’s site or go to your city hall. Brochures outlining all the rules that apply when landscaping your front yard are often available. It would be just too bad to plant a tree and then have to remove it, or to pay to have your driveway redone only to have to pay again to have it put back the way it was.

Other important things to consider when landscaping your front yard

Enough about municipal rules and restrictions. Let’s now consider a few factors that may change the shape of your front yard landscaping ideas:

  • Trees that will grow very tall and that might reach electric cables. You may eventually be forced to cut off some branches and the whole tree may start to look bad.
  • Trees that will grow very big and block the sun completely. Unless if you do want to block the sun, of course. If that is so, maybe consider planting trees that lose their leaves in the winter, so as to get sun at least when the weather is cold.
  • Trees that have roots that can damage the foundations of your house. Be especially careful for those trees that you want to plant close to your house. By the way, it is rarely a good idea to plant a tree too close to a house.
  • Planting a large number of trees or bushes so close to one another that you will be forced to cut half of them down in a few years. Everybody understands that a new landscaping has to grow in order to look full.
  • Plants that are so aggressive that they will choke every other plant and will end up covering half your yard in a few years.
  • If you like your car always to be spotless and if you have a driveway in your front yard, maybe you should refrain from planting trees that will shoot branches above your car.

The overall design

As a general rule, when landscaping your front yard, you should maintain or enhance the general appearance and landscape of your neighborhood. Creating a landscape that is at odds with the general appearance of your neighborhood may not be a good idea. Now, a few words about design. The four words that should most influence your front yard landscaping ideas are unity, proportion, balance and variety.

  • Unity means that there should be a sort of binding theme to your landscaping. Different parts of your yard should not look like they are at odds. If you choose more of an English style, for instance, then rethink your front yard landscaping ideas around that style.
  • Proportion refers to how shapes and sizes blend together. This in no way means that all the shapes and sizes should be the same or similar, but it means that you should think and see things like an architect, assembling blocks of different shapes and sizes.
  • Balance means that you should try to balance the overall picture. Should the picture be bland? Should it be aggressive? That’s your choice, but you should try to see your landscaping as a picture or painting.
  • Variety doesn’t mean that you should have a bit of everything everywhere. It means that you should have enough different plants to create a complex, yet unified landscape. A landscape where everything seems the same is bland and won’t draw people’s attention. A landscape where there are too many different plants lacks unity and balance.

For more rules and tips, go to Landscaping stylesLandscaping design rules and Landscaping tips. And don’t forget to use your plan throughout the process. The better prepared you are, the better your landscaping will be.

Showcasing your property

Your number one goal, when landscaping your front yard, is to make your property look its best. Even great-looking houses look much better when well showcased. And properties that don’t look so good benefit even more from a good-looking landscaping. Passersby and possible buyers consider the whole picture when they look at a property. An average-looking house with a bland of shabby landscaping will score very low with most people, while the same house with a good landscaping scores much higher. For interesting front yard landscaping ideas, you may look for a good home staging book that includes a solid section on exterior home staging. Real estate agents like to say that the three most important factors when evaluating a property are location, location and location. Taking care of your front yard will make your location look better, and if your neighbors pick up the ball and spruce up their own landscaping, then who knows what may happen to your neighborhood?

Typically, the center of attention of a front yard landscaping should be the house itself, and everything should be used to draw attention to its strong points and to distract attention from its weak points. But in the end, your own landscaping design should show your house the way that you want it to be seen. People who are very outgoing or want to show their wealth will tend to make their house very visible, sometimes overdoing it with the accent lighting. People who are more private or who are nature lovers will tend to prefer a front yard landscaping that hides the house almost completely.

Now let’s consider the big picture as you are starting to think about landscaping your yard.

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The right plants in the right locations with the right conditions