Garden Bloggers Design Workshop – Front Yards Revisited

– Posted in: Garden Design


There are so many design-related topics to choose from, I hadn’t planned on repeating any for a good long time. But we consistently get so many visitors seeking ideas for their front yard or front garden, it seemed worthwhile to revisit the subject. Our last front-yard workshop was over a year ago, after all, and we have many new readers and participants now. So, let’s see if we can help out all those folks who need some inspiring ideas to make the most of that often challenging site.

If you’re new to the GGW Garden Bloggers Design Workshop, here’s how it works: Write a post on anything related to front-yard gardening on your own blog and give us the link below, or simply leave a comment if you don’t want to do a separate post. If you’ve written about the topic in the past, those links are equally welcome; it’s not necessary to create a new post to participate.

  • Does your front yard need some serious help? Post pictures and ask for suggestions!
  • Or, is your front-yard space a work in progress? Show off what you’ve accomplished so far, and give us a preview of what’s to come.
  • If you’ve already said everything there is to say about your own front yard, then how about sharing photos of some other front-yard gardens that you find especially attractive?
  • It would be mean-spirited to suggest that you could instead take pictures of really horrible front yards and mock them, so you didn’t hear that idea from me. Instead, maybe choose someone’s front yard that needs serious help and give them (in a virtual way) the garden that you think they should have (with an unlimited budget, of course).
  • Do you live in an area where evergreen cubes, globes, and cones are the traditional choice for foundation plantings? How about sharing ideas for other design and planting options to help folks who are looking for more interesting alternatives?
  • Call them curb strips, parking strips, or hell strips: by any name, these narrow plots between the sidewalk and street can be a real pain to maintain. With some creativity, though, they can be transformed into beautiful spaces that complement the front yards that they belong to. If you’d share pictures of what you’ve done to spruce up your own curb strip, or if you can take pictures of other streetside plantings that you think are really attractive, you’d be doing a serious public service!
  • Do you dread setting foot out of your front door, let alone the idea of actually gardening in your front yard, because of a busy street or nosy neighbors? This might be a good excuse for you to contemplate ways of creating privacy so you can enjoy full use of your potential gardening space.

I’ll gather all of the links into one summary post for easy reference. It’ll go up on June 29th, so if you could get your links in by the 27th, that would be great.

If you’re interested in checking out previous Garden Bloggers Design Workshops, you can find them here:

foundation-border-salvia-lir-beet-bb-parsley-tomatoes-july-19-07Paths and Walkways
Fences and Walls
Arbors and Pergolas
Color in the Garden
Container Plantings
Front-Yard Gardens
Stone in the Garden
Decks, Porches, and Patios
Garden Whimsy
Trellises and Screens
Water in the Garden
Sheds and Outbuildings
Incorporating Edibles
Kids in the Garden
Labeling and Record-Keeping
Pets in the Garden
Wildlife in the Garden
Water-Wise Gardening
Made for the Shade

Don’t forget that you’re all welcome to go back and add links to these older posts at any time.

Nancy J. Ondra
Nan gardens on 4 acres in Bucks County, Pennsylvania. In the firm belief that every garden ought to have a pretentious-sounding (or at least pretentious-looking) name, she refers to her home grounds as "Hayefield." There, she experiments with a wide variety of plants and planting styles, from cottage gardens and color-based borders to managed meadows, naturalistic plantings, and veggies--all under the watchful eyes of her two pet alpacas, Daniel and Duncan.
Nancy J. Ondra

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24 comments… add one

Leave a Comment

Sylvia (England) June 3, 2009, 5:48 am

Nan, this was a great subject last time, so I look forward to seeing more ideas. I think front gardens (yards) are becoming more of a concern: as in the US you seem to be getting rid of your large lawns which require so much water and in the UK we are concerned with paved over gardens which cause a flood problem! My problem is just keeping the dogs off!

Best wishes Sylvia (England)

Thanks, Sylvia. “Keeping the dogs off” is yet another front-garden challenge that someone might want to blog about. I’d like some ideas for that myself.

our friend Ben June 3, 2009, 6:40 am

Your border looks fantastic, Nan! Talk about an inspirational “foundation planting”! And of course, you DID have to say that part about the dreadful yards. I guess it’s time the Lawn Police took another stroll around the neighborhood…

Oh, the Lawn Police! Yes, well, but remember I’m not encouraging that. I do find it fun to imagine really nice gardens for homes that obviously need help. I’ve “created” what I think are some really nice landscapes for several places on my way to and from work. I’m not sure if the people who own those homes would appreciate my suggestions, though.

Helen/patientgardener June 3, 2009, 11:15 am

I missed the shade one so will try really hard to get a post in for this.

I do hope you can join us this month, Helen. Thanks!

TexasDeb June 3, 2009, 1:15 pm

I have been working on reclaiming our front areas from what was mostly a monoculture of St Augustine for several seasons now. A post dealing with the project specifically is here:

I had significant restraints – thin soil, steep hill, too much shade, deer stomping through, virtually no budget. It is all worth it long run though, and I am just to the point where neighborhood walkers are commenting how they enjoy the changing view. Between that, lower water bills, and no mowing chores, I am a full on convert.

What a great story, Deb. I’m so glad you joined us this month and shared the link. Keep up the good work!

Mr. McGregor's Daughter June 3, 2009, 2:54 pm

Perfect timing! I need a bit of help with a new bed I’m working on in place of the Green Mustache, which is finally gone.

Hey, I remember the Green Mustache from last time. It will be fun to see what suggestions you get for its replacement.

Loree June 3, 2009, 3:39 pm

Hello, great idea, front yards are difficult! I did a post back in April that detailed our front yard project in Portland, Oregon. We got rid of the lawn and put in plants and gravel mulch. Here is the link to that one:

Then I also did a follow up post with a few more pictures (cheater warning…this post includes some backyard pictures too):

Wonderful, Loree! Before-and-after posts are *so* helpful. Thanks for contributing the links. It’s good to have you join us this month.

Mr. McGregor's Daughter June 4, 2009, 11:27 am

Here’s a post with photos of a fabulous front garden.

Thanks, MMD. I look forward to checking it out.

James Golden June 4, 2009, 11:57 am

When we moved into our house, there was an ugly rough circle of gravel with a few scraggly plants at the entrance. I did a quick planting job and by the next year had a flourishing front garden that provides privacy and a focal point for the house entrance (though the garden actually hides the entry door). It’s at this link: .

What a difference, James! Thanks for sharing the link.

Gail June 4, 2009, 8:55 pm

Nan, Any chance you’ll be walking down my Nashville street! I would love to hear your ideas for my front yard makeover! I need to get my photos together…gail


Oh, I really don’t think you need my help, Gail. But I do look forward to seeing your pictures.

David June 5, 2009, 2:26 pm

What a coincidence, I wrote this post a couple of weeks ago about some small changes I made in my front yard prairie. I’ll update it soon with pictures of more things in bloom.

Actually, not so much of a coincidence, David: Seeing your post was one of the things that encouraged me to revisit this topic. I look forward to the update too.

Shirl June 7, 2009, 1:45 pm

Hi again Nan, great to see you returning to this one. I never took part the last time so I’ll come aboard this time.

I’ve just published what you could call Part 1 with a slight rant on views here in the UK 🙂 See . I’ll follow this up later in the month with my plantings both past and present – time to look out old photos!

Looking forward to browsing the previous postings and some new ones. Thanks for bringing this back 😀

Wonderful, Shirl – I’ll be over for a visit as soon as I can. Your posts are always a treat!

VW June 8, 2009, 3:35 pm

I just posted about my front yard design ideas at this link: I’m afraid all I have right now are ‘before’ or ‘in process’ photos. In about a decade, when the baby trees are bigger and the rest has filled in, I’ll have to do another post with all the after pictures 🙂 Thanks for great posting inspiration!

Thank *you* for joining us this month, VW. I’ll make a note to come back to this topic again in 2019!

Heirloom Gardener June 9, 2009, 12:12 am


I love this topic. Rather than focusing on the front border like last year, here is a post about a common suburban front yard eyesore: the overgrown evergreen shrub planted at the corner of the house. Here is the story of the Egg Garden which replaced our shrub.

-Heirloom Gardener

Perfect, HG! This is exactly the kind of post that many desperate gardeners will find inspiring.

Cameron(Defining Your Home Garden) June 9, 2009, 9:04 am

I have an unusual “front yard” situation consisting of 2 acres of land. I’ll try to put together a more complete picture of how I’ve dealt with it (and my HOA rules).


Oh my, that certainly *is* a large front yard – and you have a HOA to deal with as well? That must be quite the challenge. I look forward to seeing your post!

Janice June 12, 2009, 3:58 pm

Hi there,
It just so happens I am just finishing the second-last stage of my front yard lawn replacement! It has been six years so far and next year I should be finished – it has been a DIY process the whole way.
Love your blog,

Awesome, Janice – another excellent example of alternative options for a front yard. Thanks for sharing the link!

Town Mouse June 12, 2009, 9:16 pm

I keep hoping I’ll find time to take some pix of the front in beautiful morning light, but it’s been very cloudy, so here’s the post:
I actually did a series of 4 design posts earlier this year, but the summary should suffice for all but the most dedicated reader.

Isn’t it frustrating when the weather won’t cooperate with one’s blogging plans? I’m glad you were able to get some pictures anyway, TM.

Michelle D. June 12, 2009, 10:36 pm

Many of the front yards in my area of the country are on steep hillsides.
Linked below is photo of a steep front yard that I designed and installed 9 months ago that is drought and deer tolerant.
Lots of succulents, South African and Australian plants tolerant of poor soil .
This garden receives very little maintenance.

Wow, when you said steep, you meant steep! Thanks for sharing some inspiration from another region, Michelle.

Sue June 17, 2009, 12:42 am

I just finished up my post. I don’t know how to make a link, but here’s the address for the post:

I look forward to reading the others.

That works just fine, Sue. I look forward to visiting and seeing what you’ve been up to.

Heirloom Gardener June 20, 2009, 12:26 am


I thought I’d share some hard-earned lessons on a particular design challenge that I’ve faced, but is not usually addressed in gardening books or magazines: the downward sloping front yard garden.

-Heirloom Gardener

healingmagichands June 22, 2009, 4:51 pm

I am sharing the evolution of my front garden over the years. I have made a request for suggestions of what I can do instead of the juniper mustache that is there behind all the rest of the plantings. The junipers are dying; we have a nasty fungus around here that is slowly killing almost all members of the juniper family. I knew I didn’t really like those shrubs, but I just left them alone except for trimming back since they were healthy. Now they aren’t, and I’m looking for suggestions. As well as sharing the changes that have happened here.

VP June 23, 2009, 3:53 am

Hi – my post’s up:

You’re getting a rare view of my scruffy front garden amongst the photos I’ve used to illustrate the usual ‘design’ and problems houseowners on our modern housing estates are facing!

If I’ve got time this week I’m going to start my planned mini-series on the more unusual front gardens I’ve found on my travels around Britain. You won’t believe what some people have in there – it’ll reinforce your views on what an eccentric bunch we Brits are 😉

Mr. McGregor's Daughter June 26, 2009, 10:54 am

Here’s a post with changes made to my front garden and a slideshow of a well-designed corner front garden.

Cameron(Defining Your Home Garden) June 28, 2009, 8:54 am

Oh no– I think I’m a day late!

I wrote about my front gardens in:

Can You Have Too Many Flowers?


zoya August 31, 2009, 11:39 am


Can we have a design workshop about transforming the already existing not nice looking front yard? Most of the post are about removing the grass and creating a nice new space, but what to do if the grass was removed long time ago and the ameba lookin beds were put in ( no GGW around at the time!)? This is my dilemma and I have no idea how to approach it.



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