Just as you are saying farewell to your guests, everyone is putting on their coats and walking out the door, you say: “Bill forgot your gloves…oh, and Sally, remind Jim to watch the roads tonight; it’s slippery out.”
Then, another couple pauses to thank you for that wonderful meal you and your wife had put together. Out of the corner of your eye you watch the whispers and giggles of your daughter and Jim’s son sitting rather close on the stone wall that defines the main landing in front of your home. Laura and Sally are sitting on the stone bench exchanging the recipe for that broccoli salad and Bill and Jim stand patiently beside the flower filled urns like guardsmen waiting for their Queens to finish the last goodbyes with the royal wave. You stand in the middle of your courtyard to watch the guests leave your driveway; you turn, pause to look at your home, smile and walk through the main front door and close it behind to conclude the night.
You probably don’t spend too much time in your front yard so you might be tempted to think that the landscaping is not as important as your back yard. But that would be a mistake. When I meet clients for the first time to discuss their front yard ideas and listen to their wishes, I see if they are open to the idea of a courtyard setting.
“I love the concept of courtyards and if I had it my way, I would design every home with a courtyard.”
Landscape Design For Your Front Entrance
The front entrance to your home is often where a visitor to makes a first impression of your entire home. Landscape design for your front entrance should complement the exterior features of your home through the use of flowers, shrubs and greenery leading from the walkway to the front door.
“Every time I look at the front of a home, I look at the style of architecture to determine what is going to be a good fit.”
Consider your front door as the focal point for this project. You can either work with the natural symmetry of your front entry or choose an asymmetrical design. Different balance choices still have one concept in common – your design should lead the viewer’s eye to your front door.
Courtyards: A Warm and Welcoming Feeling
“It is a warm and welcoming feeling that can be created. It duals as the welcome foyer to the home and focuses attention to the front door. It can be a meeting place to greet and welcome your guests and it can be the last moments of conversation as an evening comes to an end.”
If a home that seems high out of the ground you can use some of the excavated fill during construction of your driveway or walkway to heighten the land from the curb to the landings create interesting elevations and create the illusion that the home does not sit so high. Also a series of landings in front, it would seem like the house was standing lower to the ground. Landings connect the large span of the driveway to the front door; a place to pause and look at the welcoming bench and flower-filled urns.
Your walkway provides a natural avenue to the front door, and so complementing this feature improves the entire landscape. Instead of simply creating a garden that lines the walkway, consider creating wide gardens on each side of the walk that extend slightly down the sidewalk. Choose plantings based on height, with the tallest in the back of the garden, gradually lessening the plant height when moving closer to the walkway. This planting design draws the eye to the front entryway of the home.
The walkway should eventually come to a main area of the “courtyard,” typically an area that is 25 percent to 30 percent the size of the front space visually from the garage corner closest to the front door to the outside corner of the house. It can be outlined with a stone “kneewall,” which is a wall 24 to 36 inches high and complements the stone or finish on the house. For those who have a modest budget the neatly trimmed line of boxwood hedge can create this look.
Incorporate large boulders or rocks into your landscape to soften the look of many plants. Consider different textures of leaves to create even more interest in the entryway garden. Don’t add a wild array of flowers in this area, since that will draw the viewer’s eye to the flowers instead of the front door.
It is also advised by real estate agents that investing a in front yard landscaping that creates the look and feel of a warm and inviting entrance may also increase the appeal of your house to potential buyers if you are thinking of selling.
“Imagine having a morning coffee while watching the kids at play or a glass of wine after dinner with your neighbor, watching the kids expend their last ounces of energy in a final game of road hockey before they are exhausted and ready for bed.”
Not only will a beautifully designed courtyard in the front of your house give a good impression to people who are visiting, it will complete the look your castle deserves.