In years past Americans made good use of the front of their houses. Porches were common on the face of many homes, and on those porches were chairs or swings for sitting and enjoying the view of the landscape and street beyond. Somehow we got away from practice and front yards became sterile stretches of lawn and a foundation planting that contained a lineup of the usual suspects. Such spaces were not conducive to hanging out and enjoying the view, so the rockers and recliners disappeared. As you think about the garden spaces and outdoor rooms you’d like to create in the coming seasons, however, I suggest that you not overlook the front of the house.
On some properties the front is either sunnier or shadier, depending on the time of day. For example, my front yard gets a good amount of sun most of the day, so it’s a great place to have a flower garden, while the porch provides a shady place to sit and enjoy that view. What a shame to waste that combination of sun and shade with a lawn and a lack of seating!
For many it’s the cold season, which is a perfect time to evaluate the spaces you have, and perhaps make plans for using the front of your house to create an outdoor living space.
Here are some tips for designing an outdoor room for the front of your house:
Work with the conditions you have in that area. In other words, if it’s shady don’t try and put in a flower garden using plants that prefer full sun.
Create several places to sit. If you don’t have a front porch, think about making a small patio area. When planning such a space be sure to leave enough room for the furniture you want to put in place.
Summer-flowering perennials and annuals are great for homes that are mostly used in the warm months, but if you live in this home all year be sure to include plants that look good in the cold seasons as well. Plan on some evergreens and even a small tree or large shrubs if there is enough space.
In general it’s smart to keep the style of the front garden in keeping with the style of your house. An Asian theme might not be the best choice for a Cape Cod cottage, for example. There are usually ways to use the plants you love in a manner that compliments the architecture.