Although I live on a rural, 17-acre farm today, I grew up with a tiny front yard. Everyone I knew had a small front yard. Most lots were about 80 x 40 feet, or 60 by 90, or some variation thereabouts. That doesn’t leave much space for a front yard.
Yet many people took the time and trouble to design beautiful little gardens. My favorite memories of walking to high school include the gardens along the route. One elderly man cultivated climbing roses along a post and rail fence. Each June, I’d linger by the fence, smelling the heavenly perfume of his white roses. Along Beech Street, many of the homes were shaded by stately trees including the lovely copper beech tree as well as oaks, sycamores and maples. Under their spreading canopies, homeowners planted a profusion of impatiens, a great shade-loving plant for Long Island gardens.
Just because you have a small front yard doesn’t mean you can’t garden. I’ve put together five small front yard landscaping ideas with pictures to give you some ideas to make your front yard beautiful this year. These five small front yard landscaping pictures can inspire you to create beauty no matter where you live.
Five Small Front Yard Landscaping Pictures and Ideas
This charming small front yard uses a design principle called the rule of thirds to add harmony to the landscape. Although the plantings and ornaments aren’t symmetrical on either side of the grass path, they are balanced and harmonious. The homeowners used three rows of plants in front of the porch to vary the height, color and foliage textures. The back row on the left includes shrubs in the last two rows along with a statue and either a bird feeder or lamp (I can’t tell which from the picture). On the right, pink flowering shrubs balance the height found on the left. A row of red begonias on both sides create visual harmony.
- Use three rows instead of one row marching along in front of your house to add depth and interest.
- Treat foliage colors as a neutral and choose one accent color. Here, it’s red and shades of red, which blend nicely with the home and garden.
- Begonias are a traditional Victorian plant, and the home’s architectural style hints at a Victorian past. They’ve chosen plants in keeping with the theme and age of the house.
Here we see a very different architectural style, and different accent ideas for a small front yard landscaping idea. But the two general design principles of symmetry and the rule of thirds are in play in this traditional style home. The stark, severe Colonial facade leaves little room for landscaping other than the traditional brick pathway, green lawn, and rock-edged border in front of typical boxwoods. The homeowners, however, used planters and containers to create three varying heights of plantings as part of their landscape design. The planters are of a traditional design but feature brightly hued flowers that contrast with the stern, traditional colors of the home.
- When you don’t have much room to plant shrubs or flowers, try containers. Make sure the container style harmonizes with your architectural style. Containers should be large enough to accommodate plants and include drainage holes.
- A traditional architecture like this cries out for symmetrical garden design. The shrubs are equal on either side, as are the planters.
- Color is used for whimsy and energy, with both red and magenta used as accent colors.
Our third small front yard landscaping idea would work well in a city garden. The homeowner obviously loves variety, and included a climbing vine, a hydrangea, hosta, and various annuals and perennials in the postage-stamp sized garden in front of the porch. The soothing green hues is very cooling on a hot summer’s day. The color scheme is simple; white red, and purple for the hosta and I assume for the climbing clematis vine, too.
- Take your plants UP when space is limited – think trellises and climbing plants. Just be sure to research the various types of vines before planting one near your home. Some can be destructive as they climb, loosening roof shingles and so on.
- An informal cottage style garden works great with a small home on a small piece of property. Cottage style gardens use traditional flowers, and include a loose mixture of pleasing old-fashioned plants.
- Use a single annual to tie together a jumble of perennials. Here, red impatiens tie together the medley of flowers in the garden.
Another small garden idea using large, mass plantings to achieve the desired effect. I’m not sure why the homeowner put mums against the foundation (I find those three yellow mums jarring). I love the mix of vinca, pachysandra and boxwood. All three plants are beautiful, retain their color yearlong, and provide low-maintenance landscaping for busy families.
- Ground covers provide low-maintenance and easy care landscape choices. If you hate tending your flowers and don’t want to bother with mulch, consider using vinca or another ground cover to take up space and suppress weeds.
- Keep hedges trimmed so they don’t obscure the view. You want to see who is coming up the front work.
- Hedges near the front serve another purpose in urban environments – sound suppression. If your neighborhood is noisy, a boxwood hedge like this one can actually keep the noise level down by acting as a sound barrier.
Lastly, I included two photos to help you envision what you can do in your small front yard garden. I love window boxes, pots and containers for small yards. Window boxes offer many opportunities to plant flowers, but you can also grow some small fruit, such as strawberries and herbs in them, too. Mix up the varieties as in the top photo, or plant multiple colors of the same flower, like in the bottom photo. You can even switch out your flowers if you get tired of them!
- Pots, containers and window boxes offer homeowners with small front gardens a great opportunity to add more flowers and color to their yards.
- Containers can be grouped or layered to replace shrubs or in-ground plants.
- Choose containers that harmonize with your style.
And of course…don’t forget to water them. Containers and window boxes need plenty of water!
I hope you’ve enjoyed these ideas for small front garden landscapes. One of my most heartfelt desires is for all of my readers to plant a beautiful garden. Gardens are peaceful, restful, relaxing and joyful spaces. They really do heal body and soul. A small home and yard doesn’t mean you have to do without a garden. Even the smallest urban yard can welcome a pot of petunias or a window box of impatiens. It all depends on how you look at things….
Jeanne Grunert is a certified Virginia Master Gardener and the author of several gardening books. Her garden articles, photographs, and interviews have been featured in The Herb Companion, Virginia Gardener, and Cultivate, the magazine of the National Farm Bureau. She is the founder of The Christian Herbalists group and a popular local lecturer on culinary herbs and herbs for health, raised bed gardening, and horticulture therapy.