Landscaping IDEAS for Small Yards
A path to the front door is one element that no front yard can be without. There are two main options: a path that comes from the street, bisecting the yard, or one that comes from the driveway, taking a shorter route that goes parallel to the house. A path from the street is typically set at a right angle between the street and the house and gives a more formal, symmetrical look. A path from the driveway is an opportunity to use a curving, organic layout.
Any type of paving material may be used for the path, but for small front yards it should be under 3 feet wide, so it doesn’t visually dominate the space.
You may also want to add a path off the main path that leads into the side yard and backyard. This path should be smaller than the main path and made with another type of material to differentiate it as a secondary path-stepping stones are often used for this purpose.
Front Porch and Landing
Getting from the front path to the front porch usually means a few steps are required-make these about 50 percent wider than the path to soften the transition from one to the other. You may also wish to include a small landing at the transition between the two which is simply a flange on the end of the pathway.
If there is not an existing porch, it’s a good idea to incorporate a landing in front of the door that can serve as a small patio for placing pots and other objects.
Fences and Walls
These are optional in a small front yard, but they may be useful as a barrier between the street/sidewalk and the yard. If they are incorporated, keep them to 3 feet tall or less, so they are proportional. Leaving a thin strip for planting on the outside of a fence or wall, even just one foot wide, is a nice touch that softens the vertical form with foliage.
Think small when it comes to plants for a small front yard.
Large shade trees will feel out of place once they’re full size, but there are several small flowering trees for use as a focal point. If the pathway layout is asymmetrical, use one flowering tree placed off center on the far side of the yard from the driveway. If the path runs from the street to the house and splits the yard into two symmetrical halves, put a matching tree in the center of each half, or leave it open for a sunnier yard.
- Crepe myrtle – Small upright trees with colorful papery flowers in summer
Avoid using shrubs more than 4 feet tall in a small front yard. It’s also best to choose species that are compact and amenable to shearing, rather than shrubs that like to sprawl and spread.
- Dwarf boxwood – Classic formal hedge plants that can be sheared into any shape
The key here is to avoid the temptation to mix too many species together, which will make a small front yard look busy and unkempt. Focus on a single groundcover if you want to cover a large area with something other than grass. Small ornamental grasses are a great choice for use as a groundcover in small front yards because they have a very neat and tidy appearance through the seasons.
Stick with perennials that don’t spread voraciously and stay below three feet in height when they flower.