Carina has been typing on the internets before there was a www in front of everything. This is why she’s cranky and wants to know when you’ll get off her lawn. She resides in a hopelessly outdated home in the Mountain West with a mathematician and three children hell-bent on destruction. Her laundry is not done, but her Twitter is totally up to date. Carina does not have a Tumblr, because get serious.

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New Front Yard: Where to Start

I am not a gardener. I lived in a condo for ten years in large part to avoid gardening. However, the older I get, the more the idea of a beautiful yard and garden start to grow on me. I also don’t want my neighbors to hate me for having the worst yard in the hood.

Moving into our house almost three years ago, the most notable thing about the front yard was that it was boring. It was green on top of green with a swath of lawn and a few half-hearted yellow day lilies. In order to sell the house, the previous owners had pulled out a few large shrubs and left their roots and giant blank spots in the landscaping. There were some strangely placed trees, generic shrubs, and to our surprise, at least a few tulips and daffodils–long forgotten gifts planted by the lady of the house years before.

My Sad Front Yard

The first summer we lived in the house we could barely do more than mow the lawn, especially since we had just moved into the place. The second summer we were in the house, I weeded the blank spots where the shrubs were pulled out, but we didn’t have the funds to do much else. The third summer I was a million months pregnant and then I had a newborn–nothing was getting done that year. This year is when I start a plan to create the kind of new front yard I’ve always wanted.

I started by looking through magazines and websites to find the types of gardens that caught my eye. I did some soul-searching and knew that since I live in Utah, I needed drought-tolerant plants. The amount of resources I’d need for a formal, lush, English garden just isn’t responsible nor feasible–I don’t want to fight my climate, I want a yard to work with, not against. No sense forcing my yard to be something it can’t at the expense of huge maintenance and high water usage. I think our native landscape has a lot to offer, so I want native plants if at all possible. My personal taste runs to the mid-century and modern look, if I could incorporate that into the landscaping of my front yard, I think I’d really like the look. My house has a specific architectural style, a yard that enhanced the look of the house instead of hiding it seemed like a good idea. I love bright colors from fashion to design and decor, why not my garden? And, finally, I want a yard that doesn’t look like anyone else’s.

My New Front Yard Checklist:

  • Drought-tolerant plants
  • Native plants
  • Works with my climate
  • Low maintenance
  • Modern look
  • Enhances architecture of the home
  • Bright colors and unusual textures
  • Unique garden, like nothing you’ve seen before


Will you follow along with me as I re-landscape my front yard and start this gardening journey? As a novice gardener, even a scared gardener, I could use your advice. I’ll share what I learn, what works and what doesn’t. I hope we go from almost the worst garden in our neighborhood, to a true showpiece garden.


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Comments (17)

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  5. Lori 04/30/2012 at 11:01 pm

    In regards to no light in your entry, I had the same issue with no windows up front. My husband and I went to the home show last fall and saw solar tubes. The are like a sky light. We had one installed for about 600. I love them! Costco sells them as well but my husband wasn’t comfortable with the installation

  6. vanessa 04/23/2012 at 8:54 pm

    This sounds like the most miserable thing to me, to plan this or do any of it. But I am excited to see the pictures. Also, it already has been 3 years?!

  7. Jared Garrett 04/23/2012 at 9:54 am

    Some thoughts:
    Salvia is a dramatic, brightly colored, and very drought-resistant flower. If you deadhead them after first blooming, you get a nice second round.

    Daisies are very nice and love bright sun. Irises seem to do okay with partial shade.

    Strawberries make for cool ground cover that is also edible.

  8. Rachael Herrscher 04/23/2012 at 9:06 am

    I’m also feeling like a Blue Atlas Cedar mixed in with your trees. They are awesome!

  9. Rachael Herrscher 04/23/2012 at 9:02 am

    Dude. I want beds up your walkway (like unto this pin from my garden board: )

    Also, no knocking your front door, but honestly, getting a new front door changed the exterior of my house and in turn my yard exponentially.

    • Carina 04/23/2012 at 9:10 am

      Please, knock the front door (ha) because I hate it. The door is totally WRONG for the style of the house and since it’s solid, there’s no light in my entry way. The biggest problem I have is I can’t find a double door that I like. I hate them all–no, seriously, I’ve been searching for a new door for three years that is in my price range and that I don’t hate. Quest fail.

      Find me an awesome front door, please!

      • Rachael Herrscher 04/23/2012 at 9:24 am

        Dude. Ditch the double door, go with a wider single door with two panes of deeded glass on the side. You need MY front door! Time to come to my house . . .

      • Rachael Herrscher 04/23/2012 at 9:28 am

        Also, I know you want a Modern garden but your house kind of feels Englishy . . . like an English garden — yay or nay?

        • Carina 04/23/2012 at 10:07 am

          With that mansard roof? Ha, no. My house is Frenchy. And it’s the wrong color for a mansard as well. Grr.

          • Rachael Herrscher 04/23/2012 at 10:32 am

            Maybe the word I want is Manory. Would you say your house looks like a manor? 😉

      • Carol-Lyn Jardine 05/04/2012 at 11:15 am

        You need a custom front door! I know a guy who does them for not a ton more than buying a stock door from Home Depot. He helped me figure out my dream door that is hopefully coming to my house in September. Let me know if you want contact info … Can’t wait to see the yard in full bloom!

  10. Erica Fehrman 04/23/2012 at 8:19 am

    I”d like to suggest conical boxwoods flanking the front door (if their water requirements work). They would look nice with the house year-round and with Christmas lights come holiday time! Are you going to paint a bright front door?

    • Erin Oltmanns 04/23/2012 at 9:19 am

      AGREED. Boxwood is awesome.