Naturalized Front Yards with Style
The primary element of curb appeal is your front landscaping. Usually, you will find traditional trees and flower beds next to the house and manicured lawn leading to the door. Not all front yards need to be identical. There are several effective elements you can add to benefit wildlife and still make your neighbors happy.
Edges and Paths
The basic idea is to leave the area natural but not unkempt. One of the best ways is to create edges and pathways with open areas for plants and wildlife. This will give turf or paved areas for the humans to enjoy the area but still preserve your intent. Select your plants with care and don’t neglect weeding. If you keep the “wild” area maintained, you have a greater chance of having a front lawn that still looks landscaped while fulfilling your dream of a mini-ecosystem.
Those seedlings will grow. Before you dig in the dirt, make a sketch of where you want things. Look at the information that comes with the plant or seeds to see overall dimensions, especially width. You do not want a messy bed. Mix woody and herbaceous plantings for interest.
Keeping crisp edges in the front also shows that you are maintaining your property. Grouping colors also indicates intent. Put taller items in the center or back like larger shrubs, trees, or native grasses. This also benefits the wildlife because different animals seek different shelters, allowing for diversity in animal life as well as plants. The variance in height also will give the idea of landscaping instead of unplanned chaos. Be sure the plants are in perspective of the size of the house and the dimensions of the surroundings.
You can achieve many of the same effects by using raised beds. You can build them with a variety of materials including natural rock. It still provides the natural feel of the plants but within the natural flow of the land. Add some seating like a bench or chairs, even a small paved area as a nook that you can go to enjoy the results of your labor.
Add a water feature. In addition to giving the area a design element, it will serve to help the wildlife. Most people forget to include water for the pollinators they are hoping to attract. Just a nice birdbath will do the trick if you are on a budget. You can also place nesting boxes, bird houses, and feeders.
Include at least one linear element like a fence, trimmed hedges, or stone wall. It will direct the eye across the entire area and help finish the picture.
Don’t obscure the main attraction, your home. Periodically thinning the vegetation keeps your house in full view and the yard will seem cared for and not abandoned. It is nice to mask the house foundation. Make sure the plants don’t cover any doors or windows. You want to enjoy the view and to have easy access and egress for your family and friends. Also, plantings too large and too close to the door means providing nice hiding places for burglars or vandals.