Before & After

Design for a front yard with an existing path


To create an attractive outdoor space it is not always necessary to remove all existing vegetation and other elements. It may be easier to start with a clean slate since you have more options, but often it is more cost effective to work with what you have and possibly change existing features or the way they relate to the rest of the space to make them more practical or aesthetically pleasing.




The brief for this site is to create an attractive front garden with flowering shrubs, spring flowers, a small lawn, and maybe some conifers. The concrete path to the front door needs to remain as is, but additional hard surface materials could be considered. There is an internal-access garage to the left of the house.




Existing narrow paths that are somewhat out of proportion with, and not linked to, the surrounding space, can be made wider by adding bricks or pavers on either side, with or without gravel, pebbles or scoria in between. Even a line of bricks in the lawn with grass in between the path and the bricks is effective in visually increasing the width of the path. 

In this case there is sufficient space near the front door to further widen the access route and create a courtyard-like entrance to the house. Again this could be achieved with a rectangular shape of grass framed by bricks in the lawn, or, like in my drawing, the shape can be filled in with hard surface material such as gravel. A similar, but smaller shape is repeated at the entry to the site. Large pavers in gravel or pebbles connect the driveway with the entrance to the house.

Two small deciduous trees, such as weeping cherries, on either side of the path add a touch of formality. Along part of the boundary a hedge of Escallonia, Corokia, or Griselinia defines the space and separates the garden from the adjacent public space. Along the front year-round interest and colour is provided by low-growing flowering shrubs such as flower carpet roses, lavenders and Coleonema pulchrum (breath of heaven), and by ground-covers like Scabiosa caucasica (pincushion flower), Bergenia cordifolia, Liriope muscari (lilyturf) and Ajuga reptans (bugleweed). Daffodils line the front of the house and can be interplanted with summer-flowering perennials or groundcovers such as Lobelia erinus for a splash of colour at other times of the year. A few groups of evergreen plants with relatively strong shapes like small flaxes, clipped conifers, or grasses provide structure.