Some landscaping ideas, such as flower beds, may be better suited for the front yard than the back. Adding an outdoor kitchen is more of a backyard landscaping idea. So how do you decide which features are better for the front yard vs. the backyard when it comes to landscaping ideas?
Think of the two sides of landscaping as a bit like a mullet: Formal in the front and a party in the back.
Front Yard Landscaping Ideas
The front yard is the first impression. It’s the first thing that passersby or visitors see when they look at your house. Here are a few landscaping ideas for your front lawn that can make that lasting impact.
Something so simple can actually be very appealing and pleasing to the eye. Pathways are great for practical reasons, such as guiding people through the lawn and making a safer, more direct path for postal service workers and wheelbarrows.
Walkways are great for aesthetic reasons, too. You can pick which pavers or natural stones you want that match your style and design ideas. To add to that, you can personally direct where the walkway takes people — potentially showing off more aspects of your yard in the process.
Take advantage of your outdoor space by adding planting beds. Think about flower beds, garden beds, or tree beds. Get creative with your design ideas and add some greenery and color to brighten your lawn.
If you want to go with that pop of color, try adding some blooming annuals and perennials in a flower bed. Or maybe you prefer herbs over flowers, in which case go for more of a garden design with your planting beds.
No room for large beds of flowers or gardens? Try planting pots on the front porch or front stoop instead.
Add a Tree
A tree can be the standout focal point of any front yard. It’s simple yet adds to your home’s curb appeal. You can plant a large deciduous tree to grow for generations, or you could plant a fruit tree and reap the benefits.
Trees also allow you to be creative with your design. A tree in your front yard is the first thing that people will see. Keeping it healthy and well pruned can heighten someone’s first impression and add to your experience as the homeowner.
Mulch is a cheap, low-maintenance way to spruce up your landscaping. It’s a simple way to add shape and a clean look to your flower gardens while also providing health benefits to your soil. Not to mention the weed control that keeps you from pulling weeds every week.
You can find mulch in many different varieties (organic and inorganic) with different colors and textures that help to accentuate your garden design.
Rather not be bothered with the maintenance of a flower bed, but still want the greenery? Try replacing annual flowers with evergreen shrubs. The evergreen you choose should depend on location and personal preference. Your choices include narrowleaf or broadleaf, flowering or non-flowering, columnar or wide, and everything in between.
- Boxwood shrubs are a must if you want to give your landscape design that classy look.
- Mountain laurel is a beautiful spring flowering shrub that adds color to an otherwise green lawn.
- Azaleas are related to rhododendrons. These are another great choice if you’re looking to add more color but don’t want to rake more leaves in the fall. (Note: Azaleas come in deciduous and evergreen varieties, so check the plant tag before you buy.)
- Winter heath works great as a dense ground cover or shrub option with wonderful winter colors. The form and flower color depend on the species.
When yards have slopes or hills that make it harder to landscape, retaining walls are exactly what you need. Retaining walls are an excellent way to control erosion and can help add some style to that hilly landscape. Not to mention the practicality of retaining walls when it comes to boosting a home’s curb appeal.
Whether you add succulents, ground cover, annuals, or perennials, a retaining wall is a good landscape design option for sloped or erosion-prone areas.
Light up the new landscape with some outdoor lighting. There are many available options of lighting that you can implement to make your house shine.
Try out a variety of solar lights, string lights, and porch lights to see which works best to showcase your home’s exterior.
Bird baths, fountains, waterfalls, and ponds are all eye-catching front yard features that can add that missing piece to your landscape. Water features can grant serenity to your yard, or elegance depending on what your design idea looks like.
Add a detailed fountain with some boxwoods for the classy, elegant look. Or if you want to attract more wildlife, consider adding a bird bath or a small pond.
Backyard Landscaping Ideas
Want to upgrade your backyard, but don’t know where to start? Patios are a perfect thing to add when you’re just getting started. With a patio, you can add lounge chairs, a dining table, or some potted plants to spruce up your backyard space.
When it comes to materials and prices, you have options:
- The average cost to have a patio professionally installed is $3,994.
- That price decreases slightly for concrete patios, which cost on average $2,532.
- For something more intricate such as a paver patio, the average cost is $4,537.
For those cozy summer nights, where good company and marshmallows are on the agenda, a fireplace is what you need. You can add this onto your patio, or set up some chairs around your designated fire pit for some campfire stories.
While you can have a fire pit in the front yard, the privacy that most backyards offer is better for the close-knit relationships formed around a fire pit.
Add some extra buzz and beauty to your backyard with a pollinator garden. This involves incorporating many native plants and flowers that are pollinator-friendly into your yard. The front yard is for keeping things neat, but the backyard can be a bustling hub for bees, butterflies, and hummingbirds.
Not sure where to start? Try planting some of these native plants that pollinators love:
- Black-eyed susans
You don’t need a green thumb to try your hand at gardening. Put in a greenhouse to keep your potted fruit trees, vegetables, and herbs growing strong in cooler weather.
Not only will a greenhouse give your backyard some substance, but growing your own food can be cheaper and healthier for you and the environment.
You’ve got the patio, and you’ve put in the fireplace. Now for a finishing touch, why not add a pergola? These outdoor structures are typically made of wood with rafters to create a space for outdoor relaxation. There are a lot of ways you can be creative with your pergola designs.
These are just a few pergola material options to choose from:
Pergolas are perfect if you feel that something is missing in your backyard. You can create your pergola to match your design idea and fit your outdoor space.
Sheds can be a great balance between practicality and creativity in your backyard. On one hand, sheds can be used to store yard equipment and lawn ornaments that you don’t have room for.
You can also fully incorporate your shed to match the aesthetic of your lawn in any way you want, like making it a she-shed or a he-shed for that extra bit of privacy and comfort.
The average cost to build a shed is $3,634. This price varies depending on how big and intricate you want your shed to be.
If you love outdoor cooking and spending time with the family around a grill, an outdoor kitchen might be something to consider adding to your backyard landscape design.
The national average for an outdoor kitchen set-up ranges from $5,057 to $17,276. This is the average, but if you want to go all-out with the best appliances, you might be looking closer to $40,750.
It’s summertime, and the temperatures are rising. Time to think about putting in that pool you’ve been saving for. Pools are a backyard dream and a perfect addition that you can put behind a fence, away from your neighbor’s prying eyes. The cost of a pool varies greatly depending on what kind you want:
- In-ground pool prices range from $32,408 to $60,873.
- Above-ground pools cost between $1,698 to $5,969.
- Semi-inground pool installation costs from $8,400 to $22,500.
- A fiberglass pool generally ranges from $24,333 to $70,000.
- General pool service costs around $1,432 every year.
Goals of Front Yard Landscaping
A well-groomed front yard welcomes neighbors, guests, and potential homebuyers when you’re looking to sell. Front yard landscaping is all about appearances. We’re talking about curb appeal.
You’re not like everyone else, so why should your home or front yard be? That’s one goal of landscaping, making your property beautiful and unique. Most people don’t have the privilege to see inside your home or the backyard, so the front should proclaim your individuality. If your front yard is neat and trimmed, people assume your home is just as well-kept.
Your front lawn should dazzle passersby. But you need more than grass to grab attention. Consider planting a cornucopia of flowers and trees. Decorate the path to your front door with landscaping rocks. The walkway itself can be part of the landscaping. Rather than something similar to the sidewalk, have some decorative brick or flagstone.
You may not hang out in the front yard, but your neighbors will enjoy the view, and you’ll appreciate what a pristine yard does for your property value.
Another reason to invest more in front yard vs. backyard landscaping is for your guests. Many people work to make their home an inviting space, both for themselves as well as loved ones, so why should the first thing they see be any different?
Many front yard landscaping ideas center around making it an inviting space, directing a visitor’s attention to walking through the front door.
Imagine a weaving path through lush garden beds, step beds with different ornamental grasses, and shrubs. A little stroll that offers your guests a sigh of tranquility before being welcomed into your home. It will lift your front yard from pretty to a work of art.
Easy maintenance is essential when trying to sell your home. Most homebuyers don’t want to spend hours taking care of a lawn or flowerbed. You can cut down on the number of chores by choosing native grasses, plants, and trees.
Imagine having a beautiful landscape just outside your front door that needs little management.
Whether you’re designing and installing the landscape yourself or hiring a contractor, a low-maintenance front yard is a major point to ponder when choosing plants and their placement in your front yard.
Goals of Backyard Landscaping
The backyard is the main focus for most homeowners when it comes to landscaping. That’s where you and your family entertain, have cookouts, and relax. It’s where the kids and pets play, enjoying the fall breeze or summer sun. Your landscaping goals for the backyard are different from those for the front yard.
We may like our neighbors, but everyone needs a little alone time. Part of backyard landscaping is sharing that space with only those you invite. Many people immediately jump to fencing when they think of privacy, but there are many other landscaping options.
You could plant tall, bushy trees, install living walls or hedges, or use a trellis and weave vines through it. You could even place stepping beds that are high enough to use small shrubs for privacy. You’re not obligated to create a yard-wide privacy fence; perhaps there are just little areas of your yard (maybe a hot tub or patio) you’d rather be secluded.
Note: If you have a backyard pool, in-ground or above ground, fencing is a must! The rules vary from city to city, so it’s best to check building codes.
The front yard may be inviting, but it’s the backyard you’re inviting guests to — assuming the weather is in your favor. It only makes sense to spend more of your landscaping dollars on entertainment spaces.
Combining entertainment with privacy, you could have an outdoor living room surrounded by living walls. A pathway from the outdoor kitchen to a small pool. An outdoor kitchen could save you the trouble of having to run back inside during cookouts. An awning or pergola will provide shade and protection from the elements.
The options are endless with the backyard because that’s where you and your guests will spend time without worrying about the rest of the neighborhood.
Fewer people will see the backyard, but you still want the landscaping to be impressive. Native flowers and plants need little water or care and will last longer than tropical plants. They will also attract beneficial insects to your yard rather than troublesome pests.
Pro Tip: Plant marigolds and pest-repelling herbs. They’ll blend in with the landscape and keep the bugs away naturally.
Everyone needs a getaway and it would be rather difficult to find it in the front yard.
With backyard landscaping, you can create secluded spaces that are geared toward alone time. Perhaps a single sofa or bench for reading, maybe a little fountain with a meditation space. Think of it as an adult treehouse, but not in a tree or for children. It’s your little vacation spot.
Front yard vs. backyard landscaping ideas center around what’s most appropriate for the space. You wouldn’t cook in your bathroom or sleep in your kitchen, right? Well, you wouldn’t put an outdoor living room or a swimming pool in your front yard, nor would you design the center of your backyard around the back door.
FAQ About Landscaping for Front and Backyards
A landscape project can be done well, look good, and keep cash in your pocket when you landscape with the right materials:
Xeriscaping is one of a few garden ideas that help you save in more than one way. This type of landscaping prioritizes dry gardening and conserving water. Xeriscaping usually involves drought-tolerant perennials, rocks, and succulent plants that require less maintenance, water, and less of your money over time to maintain.
Plant trees to fill up space in your front yard and enjoy watching as they grow over the decades. Pick from deciduous trees, flowering trees, or maybe a fruit tree to be the centerpiece in your yard. Prices will depend on what you get, but after the first few years, your tree will be able to take care of itself without the help of your wallet.
Add mulch around your house and trees to give the look of a clean, yet taken-care-of yard. Mulch is one of the cheapest materials that you can use to landscape. Check to see if you can grab some free mulch to begin your landscaping project.
The abstract role of a front yard in urban American neighborhoods is to “meditate the space between the resident of the property and the visitor or neighbor. The collective practices create an image, and that image is what conveys the level of commitment to a place.”
When thinking about your backyard, think about the point of the yard behind your residential structure and before your property line. Some homes have limited space to work with, so it’s worth maximizing the area in the side yards and front yard.
Leave Landscaping to the Pros
See what makes sense for your space and for your lifestyle. And if your grand plan is too much for you to tackle yourself, call a landscaping service near you for advice or to make your front yard and backyard plans a reality.
Main Photo Credit: Susan Harris / Flickr / CC BY 2.0