The Perfect Front Yard Landscaping

Well, I guess this is Front Yard Week here at Addicted 2 Decorating. 🙂 I know some of you are thinking, “What about the dining room?!” Trust me, I’m working on it. 🙂 And I’ll show you my progress as soon as I have something exciting to share (Monday at the latest, but maybe even tomorrow).

In the meantime, after reading your comments throughout the day yesterday, I’ve been getting so unbelievably excited to tackle some projects in my front yard!! I mean, it took every ounce of self-control for me not to drop everything I was working on in the dining room and head to Lowe’s to pick up this mailbox post and install it yesterday. (That’s definitely the one I’m getting. It has great reviews, looks nice, and is priced right.) Every ounce of self-control, I tell you! And throughout the day, I’d take breaks from working in the dining room and tell Matt, “I’m gonna be out in the front yard for a while.” The first time I did that, he said, “Okay. What are you doing out there?” I said, “Dreaming.” 🙂

I really can’t stop thinking all of the ideas I talked about yesterday, and the ideas y’all had in your comments. My brain is full…and excited!

I’ll be the first to admit that house exteriors and landscaping really aren’t my strength. I don’t have the vision for house exteriors like some people have, and I know absolutely nothing about landscaping and plants. I remember when I was working with interior decorating clients, several of them would tell me things like, “I know what I like when I see it, but I have no idea how to make my room look like that.” When it comes to exteriors, that’s exactly how I feel. In fact, I’m almost certain that at some point, before I really lay down some big bucks for my front yard, I’m probably going to have to hire a landscape designer to at least draw out an overall plan for me that I can then implement myself as funds allow.

But in the meantime, I can’t stop looking and searching. I know what I like when I see it, and I know I want a very good mix of grass (not too much!), hardscaping, planter beds with mulch, flower pots, etc. I like a good mix of textures and layers. This is definitely my favorite that I’ve found so far…

I love the meandering look of that sidewalk, and how it splits off to go to the house, and then off to the left to the driveway. It takes up a lot of area in that yard, but because it’s paver stones and not solid concrete, it has such a charming look, without looking harsh. I also like the layered planter beds, although box hedges are probably not something I’d want in mine.

This overall look is way too contemporary for me, but I do really like the rock bed that has the huge planter in it.

That’s the type of layering of different textures that I definitely want in my yard.

Another thing I’d love to have is a seating area. I do enjoy sitting out in my front yard (generally on the front porch, but a bench would be much more comfortable) to chat with people when they come over and the weather is nice.

So I really like the idea of carving out an area where I can have some hardscaping for a bench and maybe some potted plants around.

Rather than a gravel area for seating, this is probably more my style, although the wall is a bit grand for my front yard.

So when I do get to the point of actually landscaping my front yard, this is the direction I’m headed. I have a feeling that the landscape designer I work with will have his or her hands quite full with me. Like I said, I know what I like, and what I don’t like, I just don’t know how to put it all together. I like a manicured look, but not TOO manicured that it looks harsh and uninviting. I like a little whimsy, but I don’t like too much whimsy. I like varying heights and raised planting beds, but I’m very picky about the colors of stones used to make those raised beds. I like color, but not too much. I love flowers, but I don’t like things like rose bushes.

See what I mean? 🙂 This will be a really big learning curve for me. But thankfully I have plenty of time to dream and plan. In the meantime, I have plenty of quick, easy, low-cost projects I can tackle.

Oh, and by the way, if y’all happen to come across any more pictures that show a good blend of hardscaping, planting beds, varying heights, varying textures, manicured but not too stuffy, with some grass but not too much, please feel free to leave links in the comments! I’d love more inspiration. I’ve searched and searched on Houzz and Pinterest, and while I see lots of beautiful yards, I’m having a very hard time finding good examples of front yards that have a good mix of all of the things I’ve mentioned that I want.



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  1. I mean this sincerely. Your wishes don’t seem too much to ask. I am sure a good landscaper will have plenty of ideas to show you.

    1. This is “on track” because it pertains to her house. Kristi is not a contractor with a deadline. She is a DIYer with many home projects. I can certainly relate.

      1. I believe that Kristi said in the first paragraph that she is working on her dining room and will show the progress tomorrow or Monday. I have a feeling that if she posted daily right now only about what she is working on, it would start to get pretty boring. So while doing the tedious, boring work, she thinks about fun things she hopes to do in the future. And she shares that with us. She is very much on track.

  2. You may be wasting your time unless you specifically Google “Texas” landscapes. Or, landscape designs in your particular zone. Otherwise, you may get all these wonderful ideas and then find out that the survival rate for the plants you chose is nil. Just a suggestion.

  3. My best friend is a landscape designer and she tells me that she loves when potential clients have pictures to show her of their likes/dislikes. Her job is to combine those into the scope of the job site, budget and overall result the client wants. I highly recommend hiring a professional to at least come and talk to you and to do a drawing for you like you said. You can always do it in bits and pieces as time/money allow. Invest in a professional irrigation system as that is one of the most time consuming, back labor intensive, important components of yard installation. Drip irrigation is the way to go for planting beds and planters, especially in Texas!! Good luck and enjoy dreaming!

  4. I think you are heading in the right direction. Dreaming always comes first of course!!! But simple things like putting up a new mailbox, power washing (YES!) the house, and maybe a couple pretty concrete planters (that you will keep in your design) with flowers to enjoy this spring will make a huge difference while you wait for the big stuff. Also, I totally agree about getting a plan from a landscape designer and doing the work gradually yourself. Money WELL spent! I did that (in a rent house!) and my husband and I landscaped the front of the house ourselves. Loved it!!! They will tweek the plan to your satisfaction, and it won’t be that difficult because they have the expertise. Just like you have the vision and expertise on the interiors! Have fun planning!

  5. Hostas! Your first photo had hostas in there- they would work wonderfully in your yard, under your trees because they love shade! You could do two large circles of hostas around your trees with the paver path between them. It would be lovely! I love to garden & my dad does custom landscape designs, so I have a pretty good knowledge of plant variety.

    1. Yes!! Hostas under large shade trees look so nice. And they can grow to really fill out an area. How do they do in Texas? They do very well in New York and South Carolina. (my only experience with knowing someone taking care of them)

      1. Love Hostas, trouble is, where I live,so do the deer! I love the way they look so tropical and lush! Also they can take very cold temps.

  6. Kristi, we are currently going through the exact process you are contemplating! In fact, the landscapers are building a retaining well and steps in our side yard right now. Our front yard is flat but the side and back yards slope, a typical lot in the North Atlanta Metro area. It’s going to change elevations somewhere! I had collected photos for ages and but just couldn’t really come up with a plan I knew would work. I wanted less grass, something a little different but no so much as to be out of place in the subdivision we are in. In collecting the photos, I gathered photos, not just of entire landscapes that I liked, but also of specific features I wanted included. For instance, I knew how I wanted the beds to look, the “feel” I wanted it to have, a informal stone patio, etc. For instance, the patio will be flagstone, dry laid, with room between the stones for “steppable” ground covers. So I found photos that had that type of patio. I also knew of some plants I liked and some I definitely didn’t want. I wanted a few boulders used as an accent somewhere in one of the beds. The person I chose is a landscape architect pwhich is a bit more expensive than just a landscaper but it turned out to be well worth the extra cost due to his knowledge of what would and would not work, which plants worked best as well as his implementing my ideas as well as his own creativity. One of the best parts of using a pro is that he has everything in proportion to the size of the lot, house, etc. He produced the original plan, we made some changes, reviewed again, made final changes and and then we had a final plan that can be implemented in phases as we choose (actually, as the budget requires). We are past the age of being able to implement a lot of it ourselves, plus the side yard slopes downward enough that there was a high probability of slipping on damp or slick grass. These older bones break too easily to risk it so we needed a solution that added some steps and a retaining wall. That is where the knowledge of a landscape architect really makes a difference. I also wanted to find someone who would give me a plan that would not be over planted and crowded in four or five years. When we bought the house the landscaping had enough plants and trees fleor four houses. We have had to remove trees, shrubs, etc. due to crowding and unsuitability several times in the last seven years.
    In one of your photos it should the stone pavers used for sidewalks which is great because they will let the rainwater through to soak into the ground.
    Summary….do get a good plan you can do in phases. Interview several people because you will be amazed at how the prices and expertise vary. Oh, and be careful of those who agree with everything you say but provide little or know input. Also, they should be able to come out and give you an estimate for the plan. Then, once you have the plan, get multiple estimates for any work you are unable to do. We actually used the same company that did our plan because of their expertise and also their estimate was well within range of the others. After seeing their work, I am so glad we chose them. They are very experienced and also meticulous in their work. I am very pleased with how our project is coming and I just wish we were able to do more of the work so I could get more planting done now. I wish you luck. Its frustrating but fun and such a pleasure when you see it happening. And it’s much easier with a complete plan to use.

    1. I live in North metro Atlanta (Marietta) and this is on my bucket list. Would you mind sharing the name of your landscape architect?

    2. Your experience seems almost the opposite of the norm to me with a landscape architect. I am a landscape designer and I frequently have to correct issues with plants that they have chosen. I did look into the programs available on the architect side and their training is more specifically aimed at engineering walls, hardscapes, structures, and commercial design. They spend minimal time on plants. Your person may have extended their education on their own, which I did as well. I picked up both a Master Gardener and Arborist Certification, and I attend multiple training seminars on all the different products available to use for hardscaping.

  7. This may repeat the advice of others, I haven’t been able to read all the comments, but if you have a botanical garden close enough to visit, you may really enjoy it and learn what trees and plants do well in your area with less maintenance, Matt may enjoy it too.

  8. I think it is a very good idea to do the projects you talked about yesterday – mailbox, pressure wash, paint trim, beefy columns, etc.) I truly believe when the outside looks better you will be even more anxious to get inside and create that beauty, as you do. The first projects I did at my house was get all the junk in the yard, garage and shed hauled away and hire a lawn service to take good care of keeping the outside nice. Now I just work on projects inside and it feels really good!!

  9. So very exciting. Your front yard is massive and has so much potential. You definitely have room to explore rock scapes and flower beds that will lend itself to the low maintenance and visual aesthetics. We have several large local nurseries that are fun to walk around in for inspiration but I always leave more overwhelmed than inspired and still have yet to do anything with our yard and it needs an overhaul. lol

    I personally always wanted a large enough property to have a sort of courtyard entrance with garden feature, detached garage and half circle drive that went in front of the house. Not like a carriage drive or anything fancy. lol Our old neighborhood had some older houses with this sort of courtyard feature- small scale- and not too formal which I liked. *sigh* Not yet- maybe when we retire. lol

  10. I didn’t have time to read all the comments …so someone may have already suggested this. You were concerned yesterday with the planter and if you would remember to water the plant….why not a pretty decorative cactus…forget the real name…I had one on my patio when I lived in Texas years ago and I was like you….forgot to water it but the amazing thing is they don’t like often…so might be an answer for you on that..I love what you do and they way you arrive at your decisions…with thought processes and human emotions.

  11. I agree that a good landscaper can be a huge help but they are expensive, even for consultation. That said, a cheaper way to obtain perennial plants is to ask your neighbors and friends for cuttings. They usually fill in fast and look happy and healthy after 6 months. There are a wide variety of dry weather host as that look great.

  12. you remind me of me…easily distracted and eager to roar ahead in another direction! It is hard to not get excited about your curb appeal. The people across the street from me have some kind of door problem. In October they sanded the paint off and then put masking tape all over one side of the glass. It is what I get to see every day I look out my front door which I let my puppies out frequently so that is a lot. People who have side garages rarely even see the front of their home if their drive comes before passing their home and it is easy to neglect.

    Anyway, love the new inspiration. I saw something like this about 10 years ago and my budget was small. My husband bought me a gorgeous aluminum but looks like iron garden bench and we purchased colorado blue stone and made a meandering walk way with spaces around each rock that went from the street to our home. The walk way that came with our home was from the drive. People love it. Delivery guys use it daily. But I was never able to get the thyme to grow in between the stones as you see in landscape magazines. In the summer the rocks get so hot that they kill everything around them.

    Great ideas!

  13. I just wanted to let you know the good and bad of owning the mailbox you have chosen, as I have owned that exact one from lowes for ten years! When we first install it, I had flowers in the side container, which has a whole in the bottom for drainage, and from watering the flowers everyday, the water would go out the drainage hole and follow the arm it was extended from and on down the mailbox. And after awhile it left calcium deposits and, or, green like slim down the side of the mailbox, so I was constantly bringing cleaning supplies down my driveway to wipe down my mailbox! Eventually I painted it all black and took off the flower container. And last year I painted it all black and painted the mailbox with copper texture paint. Now after telling you all that, (lol) I will tell you I have had that mailbox hit a few times, and it held up!! And I have had a lot of compliments about the mailbox from, mail-lady, to kids, to neighbors! Just thought you might like to know.

  14. So glad you are going to purchase the mailbox post. As I said, mine has been in place for 25 years and still looks great. I forgot about this yesterday, and don’t laugh, but I met a woman a few years ago who was a master gardener. She has a perennial farm not too very far from me. She is also a member of the very prestigious Philadelphia Garden Club. Anyway, when I told her how bad I was about watering, especially things that are in containers, this is what she told me to do. Buy some baby diapers. The disposable kind. soak one in water. It will hold so much moisture you will be shocked. Opps, skipped a step. Before you wet it, poke holes in the plastic on the outside for drainage. Now, put it in the bottom of your container and add your soil and addatives and plants and even if you forget to water the diaper holds enough for a few days to keep the roots of the plants drinking. Another suggestion, since you are close to Baylor, they may have a school of Agriculture or something along those lines. Penn State here in Pa has one and they have third and fourth year students who have to do design plans as assignments. They will charge you for your time but they are really helpful. I had a friend who wanted his front yard to be like an English garden, but he didn’t want to deadhead or spend much time watering. The girl who did his drew up the plans and told him what plants to get and where to get them. Some of them he never heard of, but boy one year later his yard was gorgeous. Bees and butterflys everywhere. Blessings

  15. Please get advice before planting or creating beds around the base of your trees because they are old trees and their root system’s are used to a certain level of water and such and can be shocked. I have seen one huge beautiful oak after the new owners of the home put rocks around the base of it and changed the watering schedule completely up root and fall over in lanes of traffic.

  16. I think Waco is too hot and dry for hostas. I suggest a road trip to Austin to check out the Hill Country landscapes, or if you’re not into cacti and succulents go east of Austin to the pine wood area around Bastrop. For plant inspiration “The Great Outdoors” on South Congress and especially “Barton Springs Nursery” on Bee Cave Rd in Austin has some really unique and cool plants.

  17. I would suggest that you look in your neighborhood and other parts of town to find out what grows well in your area. It will give you a lot of information.

  18. Hi Kristi – I’m in northern Minnesota and I can’t tell you how happy it made me to see some of your great exterior ideas the last couple days! Spring is a long way off here, but it’s fun to dream

  19. Just a little suggestion about pavers. We had ours professionally installed about 14 years ago. We have 1 maple tree and one pine. My neighbors have 5 maples. All those tree roots have buckled our pavers making it hard not to trip while on patio. While I enjoy yardwork, it is a pain to kneel for hours, pulling up the errant pavers, chopping at tree roots with a hatchet, then releveling and replacing the paver. Never again!

    1. Good advice…I thought of the same thing…..freezing and thawing does the same thing. (At least up here in Indiana.)

  20. We’re in the Texas panhandle. Dry and windy but we can also get snow!! I moved from the upper midwest so it’s been a challenge to find something I’m accustomed to growing and I’m defiantly NOT a person with a green thumb. I love the idea of artificial grass with a mix of concrete, rocks, planters and low maintenance shrubs/flowers/whatever – anything difficult to kill but doesn’t look fake 🙂 🙂 🙂

  21. Hi Kristi,

    Gardening is a hobby of mine. I have subscribed to Fine Gardening magazine for years, and they have a great website where you can do a lot of research and get ideas specifically for the zone you live in.

    To find your zone, go to the link below, and type in your zip code. It will then tell you what zone you live in. Then you can choose plants that grow well in your hardiness zone. Some of the zip codes in Waco are listed as 8a or 8b hardiness zones.

    Also, have you considered using a ground cover as opposed to grass in certain areas of your landscape? You can choose a ground cover that will work in your zone and sun/shade situation–and you won’t have to mow! There are some “stepables” low-growing ground covers that you can walk on that may work for you (some are taller with tiny flowers). Ground covers also work well with the hardscaping you would like to have. (Then click on ground covers for many examples.)

    Have fun dreaming and planning!