Homeowners should consider the addition of landscape plants to the front yard as if they were completing a painting. Front yard landscapes accent roof peaks, courtyards, driveways and sidewalks and extend boundaries. Before digging a hole for any plant, you need a complete design that allows you to evaluate each plant for its potential contribution to the desired finished appearance. Your design decisions should follow landscape principles using line, form, texture, scale and color.
A decision that drives all landscape plant selection and placement is whether you prefer a formal landscape or an informal and more natural appearance. If you choose a formal design for your front yard landscape, you will work with existing lines from the house and hardscape features like the driveway and walkways.
A formal landscape emphasizes line and balance. For example, if you want the viewer’s eye to move toward your front door, you might place two columnar shaped trees, such as Italian Cypress, on either side of the entry and then add progressively shorter, matching shrubs in a line along each side of the front moving outward to the edges of the building. Center sidewalks in a formal landscape would use identical plants on either side along the pathway. Curves in the landscape design would be equal on either side of an architectural feature and the plants would be the same in each area. Prune shrubs and trees to maintain the desired clean look of a formal landscape.
Cottage style front yard landscapes, also called French Country or English Garden style, offer a profusion of blooming colors throughout the growing season. Curved landscape spaces can be filled with a variety of flowering perennials, shrubs and annual color spots. Select plants native or well adapted to your area. Place then in groups that have varied form and color that resembles nature. Wildflowers, irises, daisies, day lilies and hollyhocks are traditional cottage landscape plants. Finish the cottage landscape design with stone walkways or weathered brick paths. Vine-covered trellises and decorative birdhouses add nature-friendly focal points.