Time changes all things. And one of those things is the front yard. You may remember a childhood home with a landscaped front yard, white picket fence and a full-length porch used for lots of visiting and people watching, a place to greet the neighbors and view activity in the neighborhood. But that was about all that happened there. Today, many homeowners are trying to reclaim that lost space by creating functional front yards. Here is what you need to know about this contemporary trend.
Considerations for Updating Your Front Yard
If your front yard has a lot of lawn and foliage that needs regular maintenance such as weeding, mowing and watering, you might be excited about the idea of letting all that go. Today, there is a focus on sustainability and eco-friendly landscaping that reduces the use of water and gas-powered outdoor tools that make a negative contribution to the environment.
But before you start tearing up the lawn and installing a hot tub and firepit, consider such things as privacy, noise, light and HOA restrictions. Functional front yards should be as cozy and appealing as the back yard, patio or deck but require a bit of forethought to make them work properly. A wall or fencing might be necessary to provide privacy in the front yard. You may also want to install a shade structure to keep streetlights from ruining the peacefulness of a dark night.
Consider, too, the curb appeal of your property. You do not want to create a closed-in, fortress-like environment that may have your neighbors worrying about their property values. Make sure the aesthetic makes sense and fits in with the rest of the neighborhood vibe.
Maximizing Your Property
So, what can you use to create functional front yards? A gazebo or pergola is a popular choice, as it lends definition to the space. Just as in the backyard, many homeowners want all the comforts associated with the space, such as a fire pit for warmth and food preparation, lots of deeply cushioned seating pieces and even outdoor dining sets. Eco-friendly ground cover is another way that homeowners can transform their front yards. Vegetable gardens, raised flower beds and kids’ play areas with seating for the adults are additional ideas for creating functional front yards. Garden pathways with subtle lighting that lead up to the front door are a great way to make the area cozy.
The idea is to utilize all your outdoor space and the front yard is typically just a showcase for the homeowner’s – or the gardener’s – landscaping skills. By bringing your outdoor living room right up front, it lends itself perfectly to socializing and entertaining. Neighbors can easily join the activities thereby building personal connections, or you can add enough privacy features to ensure that your family has its own exclusive space.
If you do not want to build a wall – or can’t add fencing per HOA requirements – consider using plantings to provide a screen between your yard and the neighbor’s space. Trees, hedges and bushes of varying heights create visual interest and can be combined with a retractable screen or outdoor curtains for a less opaque effect.
No matter what you most enjoy doing, functional front yards allow you to maximize the usage of all your property and can even increase your home’s value.