When they came to us, the homeowners were sick and tired of their bland landscape on a corner city lot. The family wanted a place to gather in the sun and plant a garden, but also have a modicum of privacy from the busy road and elementary school across the street. Their original front entry was a long walkway from the cul-de-sac to a tiny deck that was never really used. The backyard would offer a little more privacy, but the location with the most sun was the front lawn. They wanted us to tear it all out and create something completely different, a place to really enjoy the outdoors. They also really loved and wanted to keep a beautiful mature Japanese maple near the front door.
One of the homeowners is a plant lover and wanted a place to grow annuals, bulbs, and unique plants, but the area is plagued by deer and rabbits. We discussed using fencing only, although because of city regulations the fence must have 100% transparency which would provide no privacy, but does help to keep out animals. We ultimately decided together to incorporate a berm and plantings on the outside of the fence to gain height and provide a more enclosed feeling to their front yard. The berm provides another buffer to keep deer from jumping the fence, while at the same time giving them a privacy screen.
Design elements incorporate a cedar deck with a pergola encompassing their existing mature Japanese Maple tree. This also provided a very convenient new front entry from the driveway!
A unique sliding gate was created at this entrance and a custom detail was added to the top rail for the garden fencing. A small bluestone patio extends out from the new deck to give a place for the family to gather in the summer, and a gravel pathway was created for the homeowner to garden along the western area connecting to the custom cedar gate. A metal trellis to support a flowering vine was then secured to the house to occupy the large stark section of the wall.
Also addressed in our plan was the issue of drainage, which was installed to channel rainwater from both downspouts underground to the outside edge of the berm. Perforated drain tile allows more of this water to be absorbed into the ground instead of creating additional runoff for city sewers. A small outcropping of rocks obscures the drainage pipe where it exits.
Privacy was achieved with year-round planting interest at a few levels. First, the front entry and patio garden plants intimately surround the family with soft textures and fun colors, such as the Karl Foerster Grass that lines the driveway
The berm, plantings, and fence provide another layer of privacy. Plantings of Korean Spice Viburnum, Black Hills Spruce, and Miscanthus among others soften the lines and obscure the view from the street at eye level. The fence in combination with the foliage deters deer from jumping into the garden, and the welded wire’s narrow openings are small enough to keep out the bunnies.
Trees and shrubs planted at the street corner provide a final privacy screening. Varying levels of foliage visually screen the property from passing pedestrians, vehicles, and school buses. The berms and plant matter both help deflect and absorb some of the sound and pollution created by traffic.
These homeowners were more than thrilled with the outcome of this project. They started with a seldom-used bleak corner lot containing a hodge-podge of plantings and an uninviting front entry. Our front yard privacy garden design and installation transformed their entire living space, increased their interaction with their environment, and ultimately improved the enjoyment of life in their home.