If there’s one place to let your personality shine, it’s your front yard. As it represents you before guests can even reach the door, you want to create a lasting outstanding impression. Perhaps your front yard needs a little more curb appeal, reinvention or transformation. Or you might be just looking for a bushy place to read your favorite books while sipping that hot tea. What’s the best way to add that greatest comfort and refuge, and a well-deserved charm than through landscaping?
Whether you want to enhance, reinvent or plan a landscape for your front yard, it is always wise to follow the basic principles of landscaping. The principle of landscape design serves as a guideline that includes the basic design elements and materials. We have used this to take the mystery out of landscaping design and to give you the following unique landscape ideas. The lists include the often-overlooked best practices yet effective in caring and nurturing residential landscapes. So, without further ado, here are the ‘9 Front Yard Landscaping Secrets You Should Know’.
Consider the Proportion: Think about losing some lawns.
You may be gazing on your carpet lawn for a while now and you knew, you need to do something with it. Your eyes need something to break in from the wide dimension of greens. Also, when money and high maintenance become an issue, time to consider eliminating at least a section of water-thirsty front lawns. Water conservation is becoming a trend toward reducing turf grass lawn, yet many landscapers are unsure on how to approach having a less lawn. Lush of carpet lawns have been an icon as aesthetic but is not the only option for a beautiful yard. Here are some useful lawn alternatives to include in your landscape composition.
Groundcovers and creeping plants can take up some of that lawn space. It creates an ideal condition coming through clusters of ferns and shade loving plants. Thymes are an example of gorgeous creeping plants that may look delicate but is tough and quite fragrant to walk upon. Some of those that also work well are moss, Asian jasmine, silver ponyfoot, purple heart and wooly stemodia. These shrubs are a good way to cover or patch some burnt-looking, unattractive lawns. It may take a while to spread creeping plants over a large area, but you can throw in some beautiful ground rocks to fill in the gaps and to prevent the weeds from taking over.
Constructing pavers and patio is an easy way to cover a large area of ground without too much upkeep. It can also repurpose that turf grass yard that once served a family of kids that no longer suits their adult needs. With a little bit of redesigning, you can create an adult outdoor living space tailored to your entertaining goals. If you are not into pavers, you can choose gravels, stones or bricks as ground floors.
If you still want to keep the green things growing but doesn’t have time to mow yard every week, meadows and ornamental grasses are your best bet. It still needs to be mowed but will be done seasonally. The enormous tall grass prairies blended with perennial wildflowers create that texture and visual interest than a manicured lawn ever will. What’s more, the sparse meadow makes a good play space for kids too.
Establishing an Order: Apply the 60-30-10 rule.
Since plants are often a feature of a landscape design, fostering an order through planting method is something you need to address. Follow the 60-30-10 rule. This is a timeless decorating rule that is mostly used in color but can also be used in this method.
Flower-bearing plants and perennials are eye-catching, they are often the first thing you may notice when you first step into a garden. Giving a dominant quantity of 60 percent (five to 10 species) to the strongest feature can balance out the look. Then you can give 30 percent (three to five types) to less prominent plant feature which is often the shrubs and vines. Trees may or may appear in landscapes, that’s why 10 percent (one or two types) is just enough.
If you think 10 flower species may appear too many for your space, you can plant them at different times or choose flowers that bloom in varying seasons. This is to avoid overcrowding that can cause perennials to bloom poorly and for you to still have something flowering in your garden through seasons. Spring and early summer-blooming perennials are usually divided in the fall. While plants that bloom in mid to late summer and fall should be divided in the spring before they fully grow.
Make the pattern flow throughout. Repeat the plant forms and textures to unify plantings. Lead visitors to the front door by creating an array of bold blooming perennials on the pathway.
It is well worth the time to map out what you plant and where to spruce it up to get a feel for how much space you will need with a consideration of the limitations.
Fewer species requires less maintenance and can hold together a well-kept landscape. It is tempting to think that this rule does not apply especially if you can’t just resist buying more plant species. But remember, the primary principles in landscaping include unity and balance, and disciplining oneself is necessary to get you there.
Applying Balance: Configurations can bring out the beauty in plants.
Scientifically speaking, brains can’t settle on pairs of objects. it will keep on looking for something that is even. The force of movement is the heart of visual interest in landscaping. Planting in a group of odd numbers will give an opportunity to create a more rhythmic and asymmetrical beauty as the eyes look for pairs. On the other hand, even numbers are symmetrically appealing. The brain instinctively tries to process pairs of objects to impose order on whatever it is taking, making the method of grouping plants in symmetry design come through stronger.
The following guidelines in selecting the ideal number of plants for various situations touchdown some of the conventional pearls of wisdom of landscaping principles, including having a sense of balance, proportion, and repetition. As you play with the numbers, just remember that if the design of your garden is not adding up the way you imagined, you can always grab a shovel and shift a few plants until the whole picture becomes your ideal setup.
One is the ultimate prime number best use to make a single plant the focal point. Unless you have a specimen, garden composed of one of everything, one plant will be conveyed as either a specimen or a unifier. If you want to feature a single plant, make sure its qualities are strong enough to stand on its own.
Two signals formality. There’s a reason why plants at the entrance to a walk or garden gate are in twos. A pair of plants tends to divide one’s eye and create that desired intent of focusing one’s view on the entrances rather than over passing it. You can try trees and shrubs in this setup, they are easy to use as pairs than perennials.
Group three in an equilateral triangle for charm. Three potted or raised plants in a row are fine but using the same configuration for bedding plants may appear cliché. Grouping them in triangle looks particularly good with a mound or vertical plants and will look more interesting with three different plant types.
Four works best when divided. You can put either four distinct specimen or same kind in each quadrant of a circle or square. Just avoid planting two and two, even on the sides because it will feel off kilter. Another way is to divide four into three-plus-one, positioning three on one side of a path and one on the other. This is effective with trees such as evergreens because of their strong weight.
Five in a row is aesthetically pleasing. Setting them in one row conveys simplicity yet classy. Another great configuration is to set up two parallel rows with three in one row and two in the other. This is perfect for rectangular beds as well as irregularly shaped beds.
Six is great for two sets of three. Having four plants balanced by two nor a line of six together doesn’t work because it will look unbalanced. But breaking them into two groups of three, in a staggered row or triangle works just fine.
Seven and more becomes a mass. With seven plants, you achieve enough mass to start making a strong visual statement. Just refrain from arranging it in three plus four because it will feel unbalanced and jarring.
Once you get as high as seven, you have some leeway to either plant in masses or plant the same plant in groups. At a certain threshold, roughly around a dozen depending on the type of plant, the eye can’t tell whether you have a mass of 12 or 13 plants. Once you reach a critical mass you don’t need to worry about counting anymore.
Stepping up the Natural Transition: Establish harmonious links among the areas of the landscape.
In the principles of landscaping, a natural transition takes place to ensure a smooth even look of gradual ascending or descending arrangement of different areas like walkways, planting area, patios and the steps. With close attention to small details such as shape, size, and texture, interlocking these areas sometimes require wonderful tricks of optical illusion, turning unappealing sites beautiful. Below are well-thought-out plans in carrying out the goal.
Plant big to small. Create a ‘step effect’ from large trees to medium trees to shrubs to bedding plants. Seeing bigger forms first, like that of trees gives a better sense of overall structure. Place them in the corners, it will frame up your yard and help soften the box-like structure. Don’t forget a small bed for annual and perennial colors, they will instantly add charms.
Design an illusion of distance. This can be accomplished by laying out different dimensions of the borders and the paths separating them. You can even make the end of the landscape appear to continue beyond the boundary. A good rule of thumb is to twice the height of the riser, providing that the pathways should equal to 26 inches. For example, if the riser is five inches, the pathways should be 16 inches. This rule can bring your landscape designing to that extra mile.
Start with heavy-textured plants from the back and work your way up to smaller finer-leaved plants. This natural transition brings out the element of texture to abruptly change your landscape design. It creates a nice line because heavier textured plants will frame and support fine-textured plants which could otherwise be lost if mixed in or planted behind the heavy looking plants.
Do it through pave ways. Lastly, you will need walkways so you can easily navigate through the different areas. Dramatic transitioning can take place if you incorporate naturally shaped pave ways to strengthen the casual nature of your landscape.
Applying Principles Governing Color: Use complementary colors to generate visual interest in different given occasions.
When you get right down to it, landscaping is really about color. A landscape full of colorful and interesting plant combination can generate attention and direct people towards a focal point. Meanwhile, uncoordinated and jarring colors can create havoc if you don’t know how to harmonize them complement. That is why it important to get a knowledge on the color basic, which is complementing colors.
Getting a grip on the Color Wheel. You don’t need deep to be an expert on color analogy. You just need to know which color complements which, which is the purpose of understanding the basics of the color wheel.
The three primary colors: blue, red and yellow can be mixed in different ways to produce the secondary colors: green, orange and violet. Conventional color wisdom has it that colors that lie opposite to one another, as it is on the color wheel, are especially pleasing together. So, what does this mean for you as a landscape designer? It means that the combinations of the complementary colors are especially dynamic in laying out, for example, varying plants in different hues. The same goes with landscape accessories such as choosing the color furniture that best suits your landscape, etc., the list could go on.
Now that you have the knowledge on the basics, time to apply it. Using colors in landscape requires a lot of considerations. You need a deep understanding of how colors affect the different relationship of the elements that make a landscape and how to successfully use it in each occasion. Below are examples.
Using Foliage Color. ‘Green’ may be the first color that comes to mind when thinking about foliage. But there are other plants with leaves that have multiple colors. Variegated leaves, for instance, have stripes of different colors. Others have patches or blotches including white, cream, yellow and green, pink, purple and green, orange, red, and, copper and green. Use the different shades and tones to your advantage in laying colors to your landscape.
Using Colors with Season. Changes in the season have a great impact on color in the landscape, like how the Spring coloration is quite different from that of Fall. Use these seasonal changes as an opportunity to create additional interest and richness in the landscape. For example, a monochromatic scheme of whites and pinks is visible in Spring. This is the best time to create a bed of colorful perennials to add some ‘oomph’ in the vicinity. In laying out plants next to each other, however, it is important to harmonize other plants color. Complementing colors is the key to this affair.
Using Colors with Light. Bright lights at daytime tend to magnify white and warm colors and wash out dark pastels. As sun and shade patterns change throughout the day, the impact in colors needs to be evaluated. If you like to invite guests often to hang out in your front yard after dark, for instance, be sure include a healthy dose of white flowers and silver-white foliage. These light colors get to be more visible at night. To appreciate these plants more, you will need a subtle lighting. For other features, you can include a white fence or pale-colored fence. A little pond or self-contained water feature can take on a whole new life after dark.
Using Color to Affect the Spatial Quality of the Landscape. Colors and space have a great impact on each other and thus making colors a thing that is needed to be addressed more when dealing with space. Colors tend to recede in a landscape or seem farther. This is an important factor to consider when choosing plants to put in an outdoor space. Like for instance, to increase the apparent length of your flower borders or beds, place a majority of warm and hot-colored plants nearest to the house. From there, concentrate cool colors. The gradual change in color can make space appear larger than it really is. The same method can be applied to your patio, deck and other walkways areas.
- Bonus Tip: In building a color scheme for your landscape, it is important to identify the neutral colors first. Neutrals can almost go with any colors. White, black, gray, silver and shades of brown are common neutral in any setting. Green can also function as neutral. These hues will tend to tone down the other colors in a bed and can be used as a unifier between plants that might otherwise clash.
Applying Structural Principle: Follow the regulating line.
Look at your proposed landscape space. What architectural components are visible? It could be that fence, doorway, porch or the corner of your yard. Now imagine an invisible line connecting these elements. These imaginary lines that often rationalize the placement of your landscape features are referred to as the regulating lines.
Regulating lines are design concept in architecture designed to give harmony and order to that element of architecture. It was introduced in landscaping to create a natural guide for the layout of your garden, including where raised beds or walkway patio might go. There are four main ways to describe these lines, namely curved, straight, horizontal and vertical. None is more important than the others, however, each has a different impact on landscape features.
Curved. This type of line creates an informal, natural, relaxed character that is associated with asymmetrical balance. It moves the eye at a slower place and adds mystery to the space by creating a hidden view.
Straight. Evoking a sense of order and crispness, this formal line leads one eye towards a feature. An example of this is straight diagonal lines with an intentional direction.
Vertical. This line creates a sense of stability. Vertical lines move the eye up out in a garden, making space feel larger. Vertical lines in the landscape include tall, narrow plant material such as trees, or tall structures such as an arbor of the birdhouse on a pole.
Horizontal. This line leads the eye along the ground plane and can also perceive a space. Depending on how you use it, it can either divide or tie up space together.
As you plan and layout your landscape, it is important to take note of how these lines affect your designing project. Remember strong lines can draw one’s eye into the main focal point or landscape whereas using the wrong lines in an element can deviate your design from the desired goal.
Creating a Flow of Repetition: Pave curvy hardscapes for a curb appeal.
Sometimes, it just takes a snaked through pathways to boost up your landscape’s curb appeal. Curved paths work best because of their natural, casual appearance. Curved lines as previously mentioned, can create a hidden view. They beckon visitors to come on a journey to discover what lies around the bend.
There is a fine line here though. Too much curvy walkways can make visitors opt to take shortcuts, especially in larger front yards. Making guests comfortable is still of primary importance. To emphasize repetition, paved the same curved lines around the edges of decks and patios and other hardscapes. This will give this distinctive feature a variety of expression
It is important to make a consistency of floor foundation as using varieties will just make the landscape look cluttered and unplanned. Paved concrete on path and walkways is commonly used. The smooth even surface is comfortable to walk upon when compared to flagstones or gravels.
Applying Simplicity: Keep everything understated.
For beginners, simplicity is one of the best guidelines you can follow. Keeping things naturally flowing, to begin with, is a recipe for success. It can prevent you from committing common landscaping mistakes. You can do more later as you get hands on the basics.
Start with the main features. A landscape with features may still have a degree of naturalness but it will be less natural than an unaltered landscape or landscape without structures and with a lack of human influence. It is, therefore, necessary for these self-contained structures to look like it belongs in its natural surroundings. Take water features such as fountain or koi ponds as an example. Instead of using plastic mountings, you can use natural stone to build it up.
When it comes to planting, too many plants on a bed can appear messy and overcrowded, which is another reason to limit your plant species. Instead, focus on few types and use them sparingly across your landscape (apply the principle of repetition). Simplicity can also be applied in working with colors and decorating your landscape. It is necessarily required for everything to be pristine but keeping a decor to a minimum and within a specific theme can evoke that natural and simple yet inviting vibe.
Lastly: Plan for a year-round interest.
Leaves start to fall and flowers start to lose their bloom as the winter season approaches. And with the adverse weather condition from the outside, it’s hard to keep up with the maintenance. It is through these winter months when gardens are lifeless and quiet. But winter should never stop your landscape design from creating interests, especially that winter holidays are when visitors and relative mostly make visits. With proper care and nurturing, there are still several ornamentals and trees that can spruce up your winter landscaping. In addition, you still can add texture and color. You just need to step up your landscaping plan and below is how.
Focus on the bark. Trees like those of deciduous trees may lose their leaves in the winter but not their bark. Visually distinctive barks are beautiful and great for both texture and color. Many of these trees and some shrubs are smaller, which is not hard to find the spot in a winter landscape.
Winter heath lives up to its name. This shrub plant that bears tiny flower begins blooming in November and continues to bloom right through winter months and even on into spring. Though their flowers are tiny, they make up in numbers which are ideal to fit into your flower bed.
Include berries. Trees and shrubs mostly have it. Berries hold onto during fall and winter. Crabapples make a great addition to your landscape. A holly with berries is beautiful too.
Don’t forget evergreens. They come in colors — shades of yellow like that of Gold Thread False cypress, blues including dwarf blue spruce and all colors in between. They are popular in winter landscapes but make a good focal point all year-round.
Rely on your hardscape. Winter is the best time to consider remodeling or enhancing your hardscape. Get creative with your deck and patios. You can include a bench, a trellis, an arbor or even garden sculptures.
Adorn your summertime containers. Miniature dwarfs or evergreens can replace your regular ornamentals on window boxes, hanging basket or winter-hardy containers. This is a good way to keep decorations flowing.
Stick with four-season perennials. Ornamental grasses have beautiful low-creeping foliage. Very early bloomers like snowdrops and hellebores can tolerate some snow and frost and are commonly seen popping up on snowy days. You can arrange them in a bed to enjoy a host of color in winter.
Winter is also a great time to plan and stock up on the non-plant elements you’ll be needing for next season’s landscape. Take a tape measure, research plants and figure out seeds. It’s a good time to have a break in gardening and write down what didn’t work in the current year.
Above it all, landscaping lies in the eyes of its creator.
Having a basic understanding of the principles of landscape design helps you generate ideas and increase your creativity. But that doesn’t mean you should limit your ideas to these governing principles. Don’t be afraid to try things and explore. And it’s okay to make mistakes. Because at times, unique and outstanding landscape designs comes from the element of unexpected.