THE ULTIMATE GUIDE TO FRONT YARD LANDSCAPING:
18 Ideas and maintenance tips to increase your curb appeal with landscaping
Where your backyard landscaping contributes to your personal oasis, your front yard landscaping is a little different. As a somewhat public space, the right front yard landscaping has the potential to increase your curb appeal, help you stand out from neighbors, and even increase your property value. We are proud to offer the following landscaping guide as a way of presenting ideas to beautify your front yard landscape and enhance your curb appeal.
1. Know Your Soil Types
The soil around your property will greatly influence the health and choice of your plants. Colorado’s front range is comprised largely of heavy clay soil and is fairly alkaline. Knowing what types of decorative plants, grasses, and trees will work best with your soil is imperative for the life and longevity of your front yard landscape. An easy way to test your soil type is to run it through your fingers it. Clay soils will easily clump together and hold its shape. Silty soils will clump but crumble when pressure is released and sandy soils will break apart and feel gritty. Test the pH of your soil requires a slightly more scientific approach. Most garden centers have soil pH testing kits to help you discover this.
For more information on soil types and what plants work best, check out this resource from Thompson & Morgan
2. Prepping your Soil
It is important when considering your soil type to educate yourself on what exact soil comprises your front yard. There are a few ways to measure the soil and although some require tools- such as measuring your soil pH- one of the basic methods for measuring soil is to consider its composition. Your composition can be distinguished by feel such as how coarse or fine the soil feels.You will also want to be on the lookout for the level of moisture being held within your soil. Clay soils hold moisture while sandy soils are poor at holding in water. Amending your soil with a good soil prep will help insure healthy plants. Adding organic matter to your soil will help bring it to a more neutral state and allow for slower release of nutrients. Talk with your landscaper or local garden center to identify the best type of soil prep for your yard.
- Test your soil type by running it through your fingers
- Know your soil composition and pH level
- Purchase a pH testing kit from your local garden center
- Add appropriate organic matter to prep for planting
- Choose your plant types accordingly
3. Use Grasses to Cover Large Areas
Despite what some may think, Colorado’s western climate allows for a nice addition of green to your front yard without dramatically increasing your water bill. Your entire lawn does not need to be grass, but we are not quite southwest enough as Arizona to only have rocks and xeriscaping. Kentucky Blue Grass, Fescues, and Rye Grass all perform well in Colorado’s climate. These grasses are great options since they require low maintenance after they are established.
4. Don’t Let your Grass Get Out of Control
A well cared for lawn is critical to showing off your front yard. Fertilizing, watering, aeration, mowing and weed control are all important steps in maintaining a beautiful lawn. Purchasing a professional lawn care program that will and aerate, fertilize, and perform weed control on your lawn in the spring and fall takes a lot of the work off your plate. A lawn care provider uses professional equipment, granular slow-release fertilizers, and weed control systems to help you keep your grass looking its best, all you have to do is water and mow.
- Use grasses to cover large areas
- Blue Grass, Fescues, and Rye Grass work well in semi-arid climates
- Fertilizing, watering, aeration, mowing and weed control are all necessary for proper lawn care
- Hiring a professional lawn care service will save you time and ensure a healthy lawn
5. Watering and Mowing the Right Way
Water a few times a week at cooler times of the day to avoid evaporation and don’t cut your grass too short. Cutting grass too short causes stress on your lawn and allows for faster evaporation. Keep grass at least 3” high throughout the spring and summer by raising the blade height on your mower.
Water is important for the health and longevity of your plants. However, many of us in the west are subject to year round water restrictions. Therefore, watering early in the morning is best. Running through the entire watering cycle multiple times for shorter durations allows for deeper soil penetration and less runoff. Having a professionally installed irrigation system will help with efficiency and save you time.
- Water a few times a week
- Keep grass at least 3” high
- Watering early in the morning is best
6. Add a quality Irrigation System
Having an efficient and well maintained irrigation system is your first step to maintaining a healthy yard without being wasteful . As mentioned earlier, watering in the early morning is best to avoid evaporation and allow moisture to penetrate deep into the soil. A quality system will help you automate the watering process without having to get up well before the sun rises. Furthermore, automatic irrigation systems are more efficient than hand watering and can cut down on water waste from by up to 50% . When properly installed and maintained, an automatic watering system provides better distribution of water, concentrated on only areas that need it. This leads to better grass and plant growth and keep your yard looking healthy all year long.
- Automated watering saves time and allows for watering to be done early in the morning
- Properly installed and maintained watering systems are less wasteful
- Properly watering plants and grasses allows for better growth.
7. Add Trees For Form and Function
Properly placed trees are a huge value add to your home’s aesthetic and can help with energy efficiency. If your front yard faces the south or west, plant shade trees, such as large evergreens, to keep your home cool. In the winter, these trees can also help trap heat in, creating better efficiency for heating your home. Great shade trees include maples, oaks, lindens, and locusts. Due to the predominate soil types in Colorado, there are quite a few tree options to consider for front yard landscaping. For shade, it is recommended to use a variety of maples such as Autumn Blaze or Red Maple. These maples are hardier trees and can survive western clay soils and drier climates. With these trees, each offers distinctive looks and hues. If you are considering a more ornamental tree with a little flair, consider the Chanticleer Pear, which is known for its great shape, rich fall color, and vibrant springtime flower display.
8. Properly Place Your Trees
Remember the purpose of trees is not just increasing the energy efficiency of your house, it is also about increasing the appeal of your property. Be careful in choosing the placement of your new trees. Blocking a unique structural feature of your home or planting a tree that will grow so large that it overwhelms your home can be obtrusive and uninviting. Additionally, do not plant trees too close to your home. As, the tree grows larger, roots and tree branches can become a hazard and cause damage to your home. And, always have your utility company come out to mark service lines before you dig.
- Strategically placing trees can help with the heating and cooling efficiency of your home.
- Maples work well in western climates where shade is needed
- Evergreens are a good choice for higher elevation zones where winters are colder.
- Place trees so that they don’t obstruct your home or grow too close to your foundation.
9. Consider Weather Conditions And Place Features Accordingly
Colorado can be windy and experience extended periods of drought. Depending on your location and what surrounds your property, decorative rock is a great alternative to mulch. Landscaping rock works well in areas susceptible to winds or in sloped areas. Local river rock or granite is perfect in complementing Colorado and western colors. Rocks and boulders can be a nice focal element drawing attention.
Many plant features also require certain environmental conditions for proper growth. For example, Japanese Maple should only grow in shade, and Tri-Color Beech needs a protected space. Certain perennials prefer shaded areas over direct sun exposure. Never neglect the needs of the trees, flowers, and shrubs you are planting and avoid making costly mistakes.
10. Use Perennials to Add Color
Seasonal colors will increase your front yard and curb appeal. Add selective splashes of color to the front-yard in the form of carefully selected flowers. Perennials are the perfect choice for increasing visual appeal and reduce time spent planting due to their various potentials to bloom in the spring, summer, and fall. In Colorado and other western states, a few perennials stand out before others. The Aster offers a nice array of color and blooms late in the season. Penstemons, Daisies, Daylilies, Primrose, Lavender and Rose are also a good choice.
There are lots of options for perennials. The real trick to selecting your flowers is to choose a variety of types that will bloom in all three seasons, adding color year round.
11. Use the Right Foundation Plants
Dogwoods, Currants, Ninebark, and Spireas are perfect foundation plants for Colorado and add great regional touches to your front yard landscape. These plants help anchor your landscape and provide a brilliant backdrop to seasonal flowers.
- Use a variety of perennials to add splashes of color to your landscape.
- Use foundation plants, neutral in color to help anchor your landscape and provide a backdrop to color.
12. Add Lighting to Create Ambiance
LED Landscape Lighting is the perfect way to illuminate your walkways, highlight features, and add safety at night. When well designed and properly installed, landscape lighting can increase the aesthetic value of your property by highlighting your home’s landscaping features during the evening and providing an air of safety at nighttime.
The are several considerable benefits to utilizing LED as a form of accent lighting. LED bulbs do have a longer lifetime than standard bulbs. When installed properly, you can run an LED bulb up for almost eight hours a day without needing to replace it for an estimated 20 years. This is a huge investment for your property. Although they are longer lasting, LED bulbs also require less energy than standard bulbs. LED bulbs are much more efficient at converting the energy they receive to light instead of heat. If moving from traditional bulbs to LEDs be aware of the upfront cost. LED bulbs do cost a bit more on the front end, but treat this like an investment since these bulbs will last much longer in the long-run and can begin lowering your lighting bill quickly.
Remember, your lighting should not be a Christmas display but a feature. Use lighting strategically to highlight your walkways, certain landscape features, and around the peripherals of your front yards while avoiding coming off as tacky or cliche.
13. Use The Right Mulch
Brown mulch will increase your curbside appeal and is a neutral color, blending well with most homes. For the more daring, you can find colored mulch as well, although it will take a little more upkeep as its brightness fades over time. The right mulch is not only a beautiful element, it also holds moisture and keeps weeds under control so your plants can grow to their greatest potential and beauty. At night, mulch helps your soil by trapping in the heat of the day and it protects the fragile roots of your plants which can be damaged by cold temperatures.
Organic mulches will decay and be broken down by organisms living in your soil which helps add the extra nutrients that your plants need, but you will have to occasionally replenish it to make the most of the benefits it provides. Inorganic mulches, like gravel, provide many of the same benefits without the need to ever clear them or replenish your stock. These are generally used around long-lived plants like trees and perennials, or as part of a xeriscape project. Whichever mulch you choose to go with, be sure to find out the level of maintenance that it will take and which fertilizers, if any, you should use with it.
14. Use Landscape Fabric and Edging
Laying mulch is a great way to add to the health of your plants and increase visual appeal. Mulch being blown all about your property or weeds and grass growing into your plant beds are not desired results. Barriers and edging will help maintain clean lines and prevent rapid weed growth. If laying mulch or rock, make sure to set up the right landscape fabric and edging beforehand to minimize the chances of this happening and make the regular maintenance of your yard a breeze.
When you install your fabric, be sure to bring the starting level of your lawn down and make it as flat as possible. This will help create defined edges to keep your mulch where it’s supposed to be. Cut out holes for each of your plants so they have space to send their roots down and spread out without the fear of the fabric hindering their growth. When it comes time to cover your fabric, you’ll want about three inches of mulch or other medium on top so your plants have enough nutrients being delivered and so you can be sure every piece of that fabric is hidden from sight.
15. Spruce up those old Driveways and Sidewalks
No one likes boring gray concrete! Every suburban home has it and it typically occupies up to a third of your front landscape. However, replacing your driveway and sidewalks with custom colored and stamped concrete can be very expensive. Consider adding brick pavers to your driveways for a less expensive customization.
If your drive or walkways are cracked and damaged, you may need to consider replacing them entirely. However, if they are structurally sound, you can add paver overlay or add a brick band for further customization. There are a lot of different styles and colors available to fit whatever aesthetic you’re trying to build which adds some color and character to an otherwise dull and boring section of your yard. Pavers are the perfect way to transform that one last eyesore into an exciting feature and help spice up the overall appearance of your house.
16. Add Retaining Walls and Hardscapes
Hardscapes bring structure and dimension to your yard, especially when your land isn’t a flat space. Adding retaining walls and feature walls will level out uneven areas, creating levels for your plants and other features to stand out. At the same time, your retaining wall can draw attention act as a focal element.
Even while adding functionality to your yard by leveling it out, the contour of a retaining wall highlights the natural shape of your land and adds a new aesthetic as nature and civilization merge together. The purpose isn’t to force your land to do what you want, it’s to cooperate with your land; the synergy between both sides is what makes this feature really work and helps create a balance between your vegetation and your house or other stonework.
17. Add Boulders and Rocks
Boulders make great accents to your front yard landscape. The right size and placement of boulders is unique and appealing, helping your home’s landscape blend with its natural surroundings. Use boulders in small groupings by themselves to stand out and draw attention.
Your boulders can come from a variety of places. Try to pick something local which will match the rest of your surroundings and also cut down on shipping expenses. Smooth, round rocks come from rivers and will look most natural by a stream, pond, or water feature, while jagged, angular rocks tend to be found further inland. Consider which kind of rock you want before picking them up, but because each rock is unique, you’ll have to wait until you get them back home before you decide on their final placement in your landscape.
- Add structure and dimension to your front yard with retaining walls and hard features
- Use boulders in small groupings
18. Top It All Off By Adding Water Features
Like the addition of boulders or stones, the right water feature added to your front yard is a beautiful addition to your home, making your property stand out from your neighbors. Water features can be as simple as a small fountain or as elaborate as a large fish pond. Small, bubbling water features, such as a drilled rock or free standing fountain, will add a warm and inviting element to your front yard.
The sound of running water is naturally soothing and can transform your yard into a personal paradise. Standing water is also beautiful and can even attract wildlife, although you’ll also want to add some sort of insect control for the summer whether it’s in the form of fish for your pond, frogs, or even decorative torches.
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