Before & After

Planting design for a front yard: moving on from the traditional planting-along-the-house-wall scenario


The easiest way to soften the appearance of a building is to add a strip of planting along the wall. However, unless the border is sufficiently wide to allow for 'layering' with at least two plants in between the wall and the edge of the strip, it is also one of the most difficult ways to make an interesting planting composition. If there is insufficient space to create a reasonably wide border, plants in a narrow planting area next to the house can be used in combination with plantings elsewhere to develop an overall planting composition for the space. Read on to discover how..... 



Not only is there limited space to develop a new garden, the existing vegetation is not effective in softening the building and creating a welcoming front yard. In fact, the front door is obscured by two conifers that dominate the outdoor scene.




An attractive and coherent planting scheme can be achieved by repeating similar plants, colours, textures, and/or shapes throughout the area.

This can be done for example by combining the light green 'balls' of Pittosporum tenuifolium 'Golfball' with the pale lavender-coloured flowers of Scabiosa columbaria (pincushion flower) and the grass-like leaves with dark purple flowers of Liriope muscari (lilyturf). These plants will all handle the sunny aspect of the areas near the side-walk as well as the shadier conditions close to the house. Daphne odora 'Alba' is added for winter flowers and fragrance in partially shaded positions next to the front door and against the house wall. The conifers are best removed, and possibly replaced by a small standard tree further away from the house.

The new planting areas and existing paths enclose an oval-shaped lawn. For relatively small areas such as this one, it is best to create one clearly defined shape, such as an oval, circle, square or rectangle. A free-form shape with several curves, is basically a series of large circles, none of which would be in proportion to the house.