Front Gardens

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This weekend we:  my husband, Iliana and I, worked on the front path/extension to the current garden bed.  I say we because it really was a group effort.  It took ice cream bars, the little push radio flyer wagon for beginner walkers, tank tops and shorts, the stick from said ice cream bar, water, water, water, much digging and much communication of my idea to the “worker” or the “muscle”.  Below is a photo from the event…

As you can kind of see in the above before and after shots, the garden path was more or less kind of straight.  Actually, I would call it more like a bee line from the driveway to the steps/walkway that goes to the front door.  Needless to say, I did not like it.  After walking it many times it just didn’t feel right, this is how I figure out whether or not a path is working, or one of the ways I figure it out.  The other way I do this is by using a piece of rope and moving it many times until I have a path that visually looks inviting.  So, the combination of the rope marking the spot visually and walking the path, help me to realize whether I’ve got everything in the right spot.  Sometimes, even with these two tools, I still find that I’ve got it wrong.  My husband likes to say, we’ll figure something out and then I’ll change my mind.  Oh well I say, again I’m not the “muscle” but sometimes I am the muscle and I don’t always change my mind!  I reserve the right to do so though because I feel that any creative act takes you on a winding route to the final destination or result or whatever you want to call it.  I think it’s the learning along the way that really counts anyway.

I am happy with the new line to the path and how it takes one from the driveway to the front door.  It is so much more interesting and leaves a bit of surprise for a person as they walk along it.  I studied many a front yard/path to come to the current reconfiguration.  A few things I kept in mind…

1)  A front garden should extend out as far as the top or your house.  If you were to lay down the front of your house onto your yard, the garden or grass or what have you should extend out as far.  This is why many gardens have such small impact and just don’t look right.  Usually they extend about 2-3 yards from the front of the house and as a result are visually unappealing.

2)  The path ideally should be about 4 feet across if you want it to feel welcoming, feel like there’s plenty of room to walk it with something in hand, and so that plants can spill over the sides and there’s still room to walk comfortably.

3)  Take advantage of the best growing/light area.  I originally had the path running through an area that was really better used as part of the garden and as a result I had plants trying to grow under the tree (an area that gets much less water and sun).  Now the path itself runs under the tree (we did some pruning so that it’s easy to walk under) and the tree provides a bit of an arbor like feel.

4)  I wanted to create an informal hedge along the driveway.  It’s hard to tell now, but in the next few years the Mock Orange, Quince, and Boxwood will all create a kind of fence along the driveway.  I needed more room for all of these shrubs so extending the garden out enabled me to make a more bushy delineation between yard and asphalt.

5)  I’ve read and looked at many photos of front gardens, how the owners came to what they have and the design principles that were used.  I find this kind of reading so fascinating and I do much of it in the winter when I’m unable to do much gardening.

6)  Lastly I wanted the house to feel nestled into the yard.

I’m happy with the result.

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