Front Yard Fiasco

– Posted in: Garden Design

OK, I admit it. Our front yard is a wreck.  We’ve been in this house almost 14 years and I have yet to create a satisfying front yard garden. I have lots of excuses some are even good: Not even our guests use the front door; it’s a tricky spot–a long wooded slope leveling off to about 15-wide sliver of a shelf on the north side of the house; we live in the woods so we don’t have to adhere to any neighborhood code of aesthetics; yada, yada, yada.

But my real problem is a conceptual one. I just want too much. Methinks it should have year-round interest,  yet celebrate the passing seasons. I want it low maintenance, yet always attractive. I don’t want dead or dull spots in winter, but then err by putting in so many evergreens things get tedious. I’ve reworked the space over and over. Never in a hurry though-it took me three years just to build the stone walls and stone path that provide the main elements of structure (that’s not because they are so elaborate, but rather because all my energies went into our back garden, where things really happen and where we spend all our time). All that’s not to say it never looked good. Containers have helped a lot over the years, and the vignette up top pleased me greatly, but I’ve since plundered the false cypress for use elsewhere, which kind of sucked the life out of that particular combination, so…

More than any other spot, the front yard has been my garden armegeddon, the one place where the problem is always unsolved.

This season, I’m at it again. Reimagining the space. I’m yanking practically everything, even the grass, and going minimalist. Gravel for lawn, hemmed in by low stone walls. A bench, a few clusters of pots. Along the house wall, a long undulating hedge of varied boxwood cultivars, which I plan to prune into various cloud shapes, so the effect is of a massive green cloud boiling along the base of the house. I’ll toss a few bulbs here and there, and a few other shrubby things to shine in their respective seasons. The front is an ongoing struggle but, really, that’s one of the best things about gardens. No mistake is so serious it can’t be rectified. When worst comes to worst, it means only one thing: Time to do a little more gardening. And how bad can that be?

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Steve Silk

Steve Silk

Steve Silk

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