Craft March 12, 2020
Favourite Front Yard Designs Ideas.
Plant a minimalist garden
This Palo Alto, CA front yard was designed be a point of interest for anyone passing by. Landscape designer Chris Jacobson kept mostly to a green palette to create tranquility and year-round good looks. Clumping Berkeley sedge dots the yard, while spiraled Aloe polyphylla and asparagus ferns line the drive. Japanese maples and dogwoods provide softness, shade, and color. Jacobson placed an arbor supported by concrete columns seven feet from the house, creating a courtyard. The planting beds, mulched with tumbled glass in shades of blue and green and buff-colored decomposed granite, add texture while keeping the palette serene.
Go super structural
Southern California’s rare rains provide the only water that Chris and Margaret Sullivan’s front yard gets. Yet its barrel and columnar cactus, Mexican blue fan palms, and Yucca rostrata all thrive. Arranged among boulders in randomly spaced groups like pieces of art, the plants grow in a decomposed granite–cactus mix blend, top-dressed with 3/8-inch Palm Springs Gold gravel. “This garden is 100 times less work than a lawn,” says Chris, who hoses off the barrel cactus in summer only if they’re dusty, and uses long-handled tweezers to extract weeds. “Rabbits eat neighboring gardens, but they’ve shown no interest in ours.”
Plant a living tapestry
Plants may be a new medium for interior designer Diane Lam, but she has years of experience with combining textures and colors. So when she and her husband, David Omori, decided to replace the grass and ivy in their front yard, her love of texture and color guided the design.
Working with landscape designer Darren Shirai and landscape architect Jeremy Taylor, Lam organized unthirsty groundcovers into bands that cross the yard like giant stripes on a rug. All told, the bands feature six kinds of succulents, three kinds of shrubs, and one kind of grass. “It’s a kaleidoscope of changing colors,” Lam says.
The plants get watered weekly using a drip-irrigation system and need little trimming. And Lam actually relishes the maintenance that comes with easy-to-propagate succulents. When one of the plants grows too big for a space, she pulls it out and restarts snippets elsewhere in the garden or pots it up to give as a gift.
Show off your favorite plants
When Marc Walters of Portland decided to buy a vacation home in sunny Palm Springs, he was looking for a respite from the Northwest’s winter gloom—and, perhaps, love. “I had been single for awhile,” says Walters, whose partner of 19 years had died four years prior. “I thought, Well, I guess I’ll try my luck in Palm Springs.”
In the pictured front yard, the sturdy trunks of California fan palm (Washingtonia filifera) anchor the space, designed by Marcello Villano. The landscape is studded with Agave ‘Sharkskin’, feathery Yucca rostrata, and golden barrel cactus. The tall Mexican fan palms, Washingtonia robusta, were preexisting on the property.
Create a movement filled meadow
Seen from the street, this ornamental grass-filled garden (designed and built by Rebecca Sams and Buell Steelman, Mosaic Gardens) catches light and moves with the wind. And if you’re lucky enough to be invited in, the approach to the front door is a full on urban hike.
From fluffy mounds to floppy giants: Rusty-hued Carex testacea softens the front path, while green kniphofia, plum Heuchera ‘Obsidian’, Libertia peregrinans ‘Bronze Sword’, and euphorbia surround the ‘Karl Foerster’ grass. Across the path, drifts of Picea sitchensis ‘Papoose’, variegated iris, and Phormium ‘Dusky Chief’ encircle a ginkgo tree.