Front Entrance Landscape Design for Your Home: Ideas, Tips and Techniques for Professional-looking Results

front entrance landscape designIs your home making a good first impression?

Whether you are do-it-yourselfer, a new home buyer, or have lived in your home for many years, it pays to look at the most important feature of your house with fresh eyes: the front entrance landscaping. You’ve heard about the importance of making a good first impression when meeting people for the first time. That phrase also applies to your home. Whether you are looking for a quick fix to help you sell your home, or you just want a fresh look, this is the place to start when you consider home improvement projects.

Why is the front entrance landscape design so important? Every home owner can benefit from improved landscaping in terms of curb appeal and pride of ownership. If enhanced enjoyment of your property is insufficient incentive, consider this fact: according to numerous studies by independent researchers, landscaping enhancements can raise your real estate's value by at least fifteen percent, and often times even more!

When it comes to front entrance landscape design, a house and its surrounding grounds should be harmonious with each other. Achieving this harmony is easy for a professional landscape architect or designer, but often a challenge for the beginner. Whether you hire a professional or do it yourself, here are some key landscape concepts to think about before you start to plan.

Basic Design Elements. Landscape design is the art of arranging or modifying the features of a landscape for aesthetic or practical purposes. There are some basic designing elements that underlie the discipline of landscape design.  These tried and true elements are the cornerstones of the world's picture-perfect front entrance landscape design.

The basic elements of landscape design are:

  • Color: proper application of color theory can influence the mood felt in a yard;
  • Form: the shape of a plant and the structure of its branching pattern;
  • Line: eye movement or flow can be governed by the arrangement of plants and their borders;
  • Scale: the size of one component relative to adjacent components.
  • Texture: how the surface of the object is perceived, relative to the objects around it.

These five elements must be considered in designing both the hardscape (walls, walkways, borders, steps, driveways) and softscape (lawns, planting beds, shrubs and trees) of your property.  Once you understand the basic elements, it’s time to consider the principles you'll apply to your front entrance landscape design.

Landscape Principles. Color, line, form, texture and scale are the basic elements used in combinations to adjust design principles. There are six principles of landscape design that can be applied to adjust the overall "feel" of the landscape:

  • Proportion: the sense that the size of the individual components (the trees, shrubs, plants) or groups of components in a landscape is consistent with the landscape as a whole.
  • Transition: the smooth flow of changes between components or component groups.
  • Unity: the sense that all the landscape plants complement each other and have been chosen with one over-arching theme in mind.
  • Rhythm: the patterned repetition of a motif.
  • Balance: consistency of visual attraction and applies to all five of the basic elements.
  • Focalization: forcing of the viewer’s perspective to a focal point.

A word of caution: don't overstress about the elements and principles. The principles of landscape design refer to nothing more mysterious than simply arranging the landscaping features in combinations that follow a well-reasoned plan. While this article is not an exhaustive examination, the above concepts should help you understand the basics of front entrance landscape design. Creating a memorable front entrance landscape design for your home is doable when you apply a logical approach that emphasizes proper planning of the design elements and use of landscape design principles.

Hints, Ideas, and Tips.
  • Vertical lines of many houses can be effectively softened by a small tree planted in conjunction with other plants at a corner. Tree shape is very important. A low-branched, rounded tree softens this line while a slender upright tree only accents the line.
  • A long low house (ranch style) can be made to appear taller in relation to its length by proper placement of plant materials. Larger trees planted as a background break the horizontal roof line. Smaller trees spaced a few feet from the ends or corners of the house would also help the house seem taller in relation to its length.
  • A tall slender house seems longer when few or no trees are placed in the background but medium-sized, rounded trees are positioned on either side of the house. Plants placed near these trees should be shorter and decrease in height the farther from the house they are positioned. This planting design effectively created a sloping line to replace the strong vertical line of the house. The house then appears longer in relation to its height.
  • Trees positioned for shade must be carefully located. Learn what area needs shade, and during what time of the day and what seasons the shade is needed. This information will determine where to plant the trees relative to sun angle, sun direction and areas to be shaded.
  • A moderate amount of open area in the front yard can create the feeling of a large expansive area that allows the observer's eye to move from the street to the planted areas. The planted areas can then direct the observer's eye to the appropriate place.
  • Plantings should focus attention to the entrance. This means there should be no doubt in the visitor's mind where to enter the house. If the house is approached commonly from more than one direction, the focalization of the entrance from these different perspectives must be considered. This focalization is achieved through repetition of plant masses. Transition of plant form, color and texture and the bed lines can help direct attention.
  • Focusing attention toward the entrance is not the same as accenting the entrance or access area. Plantings along both sides of a walk in the open lawn only draws attention to or accents the walk. These do not direct attention to the entrance, but actually distract the observer's attention from the entrance area to the walk itself.
  • There should be a feeling of comfort with limited exposure when a person is standing in the entrance area. Security and the need to focus the entrance may dictate the extent of exposure in this area. For a larger home, an extensive entrance garden may be appropriate. Be careful to keep this area in scale with the house and its surroundings.
  • Don't let a front yard slope interfere with a practical front entrance landscape design. A retaining wall system with terraces can create level planting areas filled with flowers. By locating the most heavily planted areas near the house, maintenance chores are made a bit easier. Combine a retaining wall with paver steps to create a natural looking staircase for visitors.
  • Make sure you consider the views from the inside looking out as well as the view on the site itself.
  • Provide shade where it will most benefit your home's energy conservation. Keep plantings simple with shrub masses, groundcovers and flowering trees used to serve real purposes.
  • Build walks and drives well and have them as direct and convenient as possible. Walks should be a minimum of 3 1/2 feet and preferably 4 feet wide. Provide a larger landing area at the entrance, if possible, since people tend to congregate there.
  • A few container plants, small flowering trees or specimen shrubs help to make the home's entrance a focal point. Other features which focalize the entrance include architectural accessories such as attractive light fixtures, street numbers and front doors.
  • Allow space for ultimate growth. Space shrubs in relation to buildings to allow for natural growth. Generally, no shrub should be placed closer than three feet from the building unless it is a groundcover or a plant which uses the wall for support.

Good landscaping requires an investment of time and money. Good landscape design can significantly improve your property's appearance by adding warmth, curb appeal and personality. Hopefully, this article has given you some ideas you can use for your next project. Please contact us if you would like us to help you turn these ideas into reality.


Home | About | Residential | Commercial | Gallery | Resources | Contact Site Map
© 2006-12 Gateway Property Maintenance and Landscape Design
50 Northwestern Drive Unit 6
Salem, NH 03079
(603) 898-6989