Plants for a front-yard garden

Written by erin maurer
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Plants for a front-yard garden
Low shrubs and tall trees create balance in this front yard garden space. (Jupiterimages/BananaStock/Getty Images)

For some homeowners, the idea of filling the front yard with traditional grass is less than appealing. As an alternative to traditional front yard landscaping, consider planting ornamental plants, trees, shrubs and flowers in the front space, to create a textural, colourful garden. Many plants, especially those native to the climate, make an ideal front garden space. Arrange landscape plants in a way that forms a pathway from the curb to the front door, to encourage visitors to the colourful space.


Trees help establish the front garden's feel and help homeowner's reflect the personality of the home. Trees can bring both a formal and an informal feeling to the garden space, according to the University of Missouri. Evergreens, dogwoods, and other small, sculptural ornamental trees often create a more formal feeling in the yard space. Contact the local agricultural extension office to determine which sculptural ornamentals and small evergreen trees are best suited for the local climate. For a less formal, more relaxed yard space, larger, deciduous trees are often ideal such as oak, maple and birch trees. Select trees that invite climbing, making the yard a haven for adventurous children. It is also important to consider the flowering nature of the trees, according to the Northscaping website. Some trees prized for their colour include ornamental plums, pears, redbuds and tree lilacs. Trees with colourful bark and variegated foliage help create a sense of whimsy and creativity in the front garden space.


Shrubs are another ideal way to bring colour, texture and accents to a home's front garden. Scale is an important consideration when planting the front garden space, suggests the Northscaping website. Shrubs come in many sizes, from low-growing to tall and wide. Select smaller shrubs to frame the front of a home or to line walkways. For sculptural interest, choose evergreen varieties that respond will to shaping and frequent pruning. Clipped hedges of boxwoods, English yew, privet and holly create a formal space in the garden. Other, flowering shrubs can bring colour to the yard throughout the year. Evergreen and deciduous azaleas bloom throughout the spring; some varieties feature a second blooming season during the autumn. Shrubs like the red-twig dogwood feature colourful bark, adding a splash of colour to a typically barren winter garden. Choose shrubs that are well suited to the climate and consider the amount of pruning necessary to determine which varieties work best with the desired amount of yard work.

Ground Covers and Ornamental Grasses

In addition to the large statements made by trees and shrubs, many homeowners choose to create large beds filled with ornamental grasses, spreading ground cover plants and wildflowers. Ground cover plants typically work well in a front-garden space where grass does not grow well, such as those with rocky soil or located on a hillside. Before planting ground cover plants, contact the local agricultural extension office; in some areas, specific, quickly spreading ground covers are considered invasive and should not be planted. Some ground covers feature variegated foliage or spring blossoms, bringing colour to the yard space. Ground covers also grow well in areas where grasses often die, like the desert climates of the Southwestern United States. Some ideal ground covers for these hot, dry climates include lantana, verbena and rosemary, according to the National Gardening Association. Like ground covers, ornamental grasses are an ideal alternative to traditional lawn grass. Ornamental grasses are especially common growing in the wild, along shorelines and river banks. These native grasses may be better suited to the soil and climate of shore communities. Some common wetland grasses include sedge, pampas and Miscanthus. These tall growing plants create drama, adding lots of texture to a garden space.

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