What’s happening there between the curb and your home’s front door? What happens – or doesn’t – in that area known in real estate circles as “curb appeal,” makes or breaks your home’s first impression.
The focal point of this area is the entryway to the home – the front door entrance and surrounding area. This is where your guests’ eyes will settle as they approach your front door.
If you are one of those brave souls who got past the unattractiveness of the exterior of the home and decided to purchase anyway, or if you’re planning on selling your home, let’s figure out some landscaping ideas to make your front door entrance warm and inviting.
Consider Your Overall Design Before Landscaping
When planning the landscaping for your front entry, there are three main considerations, according to Environmental Landscape Associates, a Pennsylvania design firm:
Important principles include ensuring that the design is in sync with and complements the architectural style of your home. In other words, don’t go for a cottage garden entryway on a house with modern architecture. Especially if you plan on putting the home on the market, curb appeal is far more important than your personal taste in landscaping.
The program is the part of the process wherein you’ll need to determine how you’ll utilize the space. Is the entryway merely for front-door access or will there be entertainment elements as well? Large porches can accommodate seating and dining areas that become part of the home’s curb appeal. Don’t forget any privacy concerns. If you need to screen the front windows from neighbors or passing traffic, the barrier will need to coordinate with the other elements.
The elements of the design include everything you’ll need to create it, such as hardscape elements (bricks, pavers, etc.) and plants – both in the ground and in containers. When trying to decide which plants to purchase, refer back to the principles and the program to ensure everything flows and your landscaping ideas are all tied together at the end of the project.
Landscaping Ideas for Formal Entryways
Formal entryways should exude symmetry. Think “organized.” Both sides of the entryway should mirror one another. This balanced approach lends a formal feel to the area.
Use patterned hardscapes, shaped hedges and elegant ground covers to create a formal entrance. Hedging ideas to consider include:
Frame the front door entrance by planting – either in the ground or in attractive containers – identical plants on either side.
Informal Entrance Ideas
You can get a lot more creative when creating informally landscaped entryways. Use natural stones on the walkway and set them in irregular patterns. Mix and match shrubs and perennial flowering plants. Line the walkway with interesting edging materials, such as a miniature white picket fence or colorful flowers.
If you’re aiming for a very relaxed feel, such as with a cottage entryway, use fragrant flowering plants such as roses, lilies, lavender and thyme.
Soften a concrete or other hard walkway surface by lining it with soft colored plants such as dusty millers combined with any of the red or pink-foliage landscape plants, such as begonias or multi-colored coleus.
Landscaping Ideas for Year-Round Appeal
Whether your landscaping at the front door entrance is formal or casual, ensure that it remains interesting all year. Combine deciduous and evergreen trees and shrubs so the entry isn’t completely bare when the leaves drop in the fall.
The experts with the University of Missouri Extension suggest landscaping with deciduous trees that bear flowers in the spring and summer, good foliage color in the fall and an interesting branch structure.
Consider a mixture of the following plants:
- Ornamental grasses
- Woody ornamentals, such as abelia and Japanese bayberry
- Perennials, such as sedum
Plant Placement Matters for Front Door Landscaping
The most common arrangement of plants, when the aim is to focus on the entryway, is to place large plants at both ends of the house and progressively smaller plants as you move toward the door. University of Missouri Extension agents also suggest using odd numbers of plants in groupings – such as three or five – when designing an informal entryway. When your goal is formal landscaping with symmetry and order, use even numbered groupings.
The path to your front door entrance, whether it heads straight to it or meanders a bit, requires landscaping to fit the home’s architecture and to provide year-round interest. After all, this area is your home’s welcoming “handshake,” according to the editors of Sunset Magazine. While you don’t want a bone-crusher, avoid offering your visitor the limp fish as well.