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Landscape Plan: Create a Friendly Front Entry

Think of a front entry garden as your personal way of greeting visitors. This part of your yard is a personal statement, and it can reflect you — your favorite plants, touches of outdoor decoration, a wreath on the door at the holidays. Of course, you also have to think of the mailman and others who use the entry for practical purposes — they should at least be able to find the front door. And speaking of the practical, you want something that’s not unreasonable to maintain and keep tidy. Remember that this is the one part of your yard that you use every day of the year.

The front entry plan here falls in the category of a warm, but dignified greeting — sort of a friendly hug. It has an orderly, straight-ahead approach by way of the rectangular walk and the broad concrete stoop and steps. Skimping on the size of the front porch always seems like an unfriendly gesture — no place to stand comfortably while you’re waiting. Fieldstone set into the walk lends a nice informal touch, but you can always substitute concrete, bricks, or gravel.

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Keep the following in mind when considering this plan for your front entry:

  • Curved planting beds alongside the walk soften the geometry of the front porch, house, and walk. Notice their asymmetry, which complements the offset door and adds interest to the design.

  • Plants are layered. Tall plants in back against the house, medium-sized ones are in the middle, and low plants are in the front border.

  • Plantings are low-maintenance. All except the capitata yew are dwarf or compact varieties, which will call for less maintenance. (The yew needs annual pruning, though.)

  • Flowers bloom throughout several seasons. Red-leafed plants, such as ‘Crimson Pygmy’ barberry repeat to provide color for a long season and to draw the eye across the whole planting. ‘Miss Kim’ lilac is repeated across the planting for the impact of its spring bloom. For additional color, use low perennials (up to a foot tall) throughout the season or add annuals for different color schemes every year. Choose shade-loving flowers if you plant close to the house where shade is deep.

  • Use the front porch to display a small tree in a container, such as red-leafed Japanese maple (to repeat the red of the barberries). For even more color, fill in around the base of the tree with blooming flowers.

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