In the world of landscape design, there are often big differences in the way that a back yard is designed versus the front yard. The front yard is all about curb appeal, while the back yard can be a place for outdoor living, gardening, water features, and more.

In front and back yard landscaping, landscape designers want to define outdoor spaces, establishing areas that function independently but also fit into the holistic landscape picture.

Let’s look at some of the different goals and design ideas for each of these spaces.

Front Yard Landscaping: What Are the Goals?

As mentioned, the top goal for any front yard is curb appeal. The front is, of course, the first impression so many homeowners want to add some attractive plants, trees, and flowers that offer a cohesive look. The landscaping here should frame the home and offer a pleasing view.

The front yard may also be a place where you want to define borders. Instead of a fence, homeowners might choose to use landscaping instead to demonstrate where their property begins and their neighbor’s ends.

Another goal of front yard design may be privacy, which is a bit harder to do in the front than the back. Some homeowners will bring this up in their discussion with you about design. It’s your job to figure out how to add privacy while staying within the concept of the rest of the yard.

Front Yard Design Ideas

As a landscape designer, you’re dealing with more limitations in the front yard, and the house itself has to be accented by what you do, not overshadowed by it. There are several different areas to touch on in the front yard including arrival areas, porches, and areas that need a buffer from neighbors or the road.

Arrival Areas

These would be your driveway and front walkway. There are lots of ways to line a driveway, depending on how long it is. With longer driveways, you can layer plants along the way—leading up to the actual arrival at the home. Some long driveways may have flowers, shrubs, and trees along the way.

For shorter driveways, try some vibrant colors to catch the eye and elegantly frame the area. You could also use shrubs here, but you probably won’t have room for trees.

Next are walkways. You can add hardscaping accents here like pavers, rocks, and stones as an alternative to greenery. Walkways are a perfect area for lighting too so that visitors have a clear path in the evening.

Walkways can be lined with plants as well, but you should keep these simple and short so that the area isn’t prone to overgrowth.

Curb Appeal: How to Create a Grand First Impression

Enhance curb appeal with a statement by framing views of the home with sprawling trees and planted beds that are layered and tiered. You’ll want to establish a focal point in the landscape that then leads the eye to the house itself.

Every plant used to frame the home should complement the architecture, whether that be large white flowers for modern homes or a bounty of color for whimsical ones.

Privacy and Seclusion

Most homeowners want space between their home and the street or the neighbors. It can be tricky to create this buffer without it looking cluttered. Use a combination of low border beds and garden walls with taller plants to act as a screen.

Back Yards: Creating Tranquil Outside Living Spaces

The back yard is quite different than the front. It’s much more private and spacious, and you don’t have to contend with as many factors. There is really an opportunity to do just about anything in the back yard.

Some of the most popular and creative concepts include:

  • Unique water features—think beyond traditional fountains or ponds with modern accents and bright colors
  • Creating a room-like feel—the outside has now become an extension of the home, so there is often the desire for areas to feel like rooms. To do this, you can create borders with plants that designate certain areas
  • Flowing gardens—there is more room in the back yard to have larger, more enticing gardens. Use layering to create visual interest and play with color (or go neutral if your clients prefer a more contemporary look)
  • Borders—the back yard also has a need for borders, which can be created with fences, but it’s nice to add some small trees or larger plants as an accent to the fences to make the space look more natural

Front yard and back yard landscape designs are different, based on multiple aspects, so they should be designed differently. Incorporate some of these tips into your next design.

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