Transforming and Tailoring Unused Front Yards

Front yards for most houses are leftover, almost unclaimed space. This is due to the lack of distinction between the public areas of the street and sidewalk and privately owned front lawn. Part of green building is to repurpose spaces. This can be applied to front yards which are a space connected to your home. One way to make your front yard more usable is to transform it into a forecourt or front garden that clearly defines the space as a semiprivate area separate from the street. Not only will this add functionality and interest, it will also encourage social and community connection in your neighborhood. So, how can you turn your front yard into a forecourt? It all begins with a low wall which acts as a boundary between private and public spaces. Because it sets the tone for the rest of the forecourt, this wall and its material should complement the style of your home. It can be made of brick, stone, wood, wrought iron, etc. and should be kept at only a few feet so as to still allow transparency and visibility between the interior of the court, your home, and the public street. This low wall can have multiple openings or a single opening, depending on your preference and how the space is going to be used. You can emphasize the entrance to your home by aligning your forecourt entrance with it, or you can create a more informal approach by doing the opposite.

Paths and landscaping within the forecourt can be structured and ordered or more meandering and whimsical. Whatever approach you choose, it should again compliment and coincide with the style of your home, as it is an extension of your home. Balance hardscaping and landscaping, being careful that neither dominate the space. Landscaping can be purely ornamental or can incorporate vegetable plants or fruit trees. Try to select plants that are adaptable to the Brazos area as far as watering needs. If this isn’t the case for some plantings, collect and store rainwater to use during dry spells. Create a small seating area, be it a table and chairs or just a bench, which designates a place for you to enjoy and be a part of the space. This would be a great place to read the morning news, or chat to neighbors as they walk by. You can create semi covered areas with arbors or pergolas. But remember not to add anything too large that will compete with the appearance of your home.

There may be some restrictions in your neighborhood about what you can do in your front yard. So be sure to investigate this before taking action and creating a forecourt. For images of forecourt ideas for different styles of homes, refer to this article in Fine Homebuilding. Hopefully, this will inspire you to reclaim your front yard and make it into a usable, beautiful space.