Boosting Curb Appeal

Combining water features, plant choi & hardscape

Designing the outside of your home - especially the front yard - should represent the flow and feel found inside. It is evidence to neighbors and passersby of your style - traditional, modern, zen, cottage, eclectic. Most importantly, your landscape is what first greets you upon return from work, school and errands. At first glance - as you turn onto your street or inch up your gravel driveway or swing open your gated entrance, the emotion should be distinct. Do you desire to be surrounded in relaxation or rejuvenation? Define your space accordingly.

Before you plant or build or buy, think things through. Study how the light hits your landscape - morning and afternoon. Walk the space, work up a primitive sketch and plan projects and budget.

Consider the central focus of your front landscape. A striking tree with twisted branches and winter interest? The modern architecture of a prized conifer encircled by a stacked-stone wall? Or the calming sound of a water feature teeming with an underwater world? Whatever your preference, begin with the structure of the landscape - paths, shrubs, trees, pond, fountain - and build from there. Good bones are the foundation for good design - and great curb appeal.

Give onlookers a visual guide. The garden becomes lost without an anchor. A series of visual points throughout a larger garden, broken down in smaller vignettes, should allow any first-time guest to meander without going adrift. While general design principles are worth considering, there is no hard and fast rule on what defines good curb appeal. This is your space. Own it.

Imagine the soothing sounds of a water feature, tucked in amongst a corner garden the front yard. Morning light peaks over the hedge, lighting the tips of the dew-drenched Japanese Maple, stretching its branches over a small pond. Textured blue-toned junipers hug the ground while Creeping Jenny dangles chartreuse runners into clear water. A pond becomes a full sensory experience - even passersby can hear the trickle of its waterfall. Add koi or goldfish for a more colorful experience.

Desire a water element but wish to keep it simple? Consider a pondless water feature. A brick path around a bubbling urn or a simple stone fountain serves as the perfect gathering place for an afternoon party or morning coffee. For nighttime drama, add uplighting for impact. Incorporate more than one water element and lead visitors to your front door.

Front yards are often forgotten, untapped potential. A sole tree or unruly hedge ruling over a swath of green grass may leave us wishing for more. A water feature - whether pond or fountain - provides instant, high-end curb appeal. Surround it with brick or stone and layer it with evergreens and perennials and it becomes magazine-worthy.