How to Plan a Front Garden

Pöllö, May 4, 2008

Whether you want to plan a lush, English countryside garden or a modern, xeriscape, Morrocan-inspired courtyard garden, you must first address several key structural and plant placement factors.

Use grid notebook paper to come up with scaled measurements, and sketch all of the fixed elements and measurements in the yard, including all hardscape, pathways, entrances, egresses, edging, fences and driveways. In planning your garden, consider seven main elements: foundation plantings, specimen trees, hedging, borders, edging, architectural features and lawn expanse or ground cover.

Select foundation plantings for around the base perimeter of your home. These plantings soften the hardscape, increase the sense of being enclosed by nature and bring more greenery up the visual plane. These can be single rows of shrubs or bushes, or deep-layered borders with taller plants in the back, against small, more decorative plants in the front.

Determine if you want to shade the garden from overhead with one or more specimen trees. If so, determine the size (at maturity) that your yard can accommodate, and the best placement for one or more tree.

Decide if you want side yard or street-side hedging or borders for privacy and visual screening. A front yard with an open front elevation can be open or enclosed on two sides, or enclosed on three sides with a narrow front entrance.

Decide if you want an expanse of lawn grass, ground cover or dense woodland plantings. Consider a low-maintenance xeriscaped, gravel or hardscape expanse.

Design an entrance to the front garden. Delineate the entrance portal with columns, a gate, arbor, mini courtyard with fountain, decorative mailbox on a column, columnar plantings or pots. Or, use a combination of these elements.