Curb Appeal

Creating an inviting entryway and front yard

The front yard and entryway to your home are the first impression you give to visitors. It’s the first thing you see when you come home from a long day. Why not make this part of your home a fabulous reflection of your personality and design aesthetic?

Model home with very traditional but Florida-Friendly landscape meaning a palm tree and some tropical foliage plants along with some nice shrubs
This Florida-Friendly front yard in Sarasota was designed for a project by UF/IFAS professor Gail Hansen.
Photo courtesy of Dr. Hansen

Some people like to blend in with the neighbors, while others like to stand out. Designing your garden is about what makes you happy, so follow your bliss. Your landscape can be anything you dream of, but there are a few guiding tips to help make sure that you have a lovely and welcoming look to the front of your home.

Right Plant, Right Place

A garden bed with different plants with foliage or flowers that are blue, silver, and almost purple with a sign reading Silver, Black, Blue Garden
This “Silver, Black, Blue Garden” shows how very different plants can still come together with a unifying color scheme.

No matter what your style, low-maintenance and hardy plants are a perfect start. Putting the right plant in the right place is crucial when creating a good looking, Florida-Friendly landscape. For the front entry you want low-growing and compact plants that will typically retain their form, without sprawling or growing over horizontal surfaces. A clean growth habit allows pruning to be kept to a minimum and ensures walkways are safer for visitors and delivery people. A landscape design that provides a direct view of the front door increases visual appeal and helps with orientation.

Be sure to keep the size of plants proportional to the house and spaces in the yard. You want to focus on making your home inviting, and that’s difficult if it’s dwarfed or hidden by vegetation.

Access is key to a beautiful and functional landscape, so incorporate gravel, pavers, and mulched areas to provide pathways and clearly define garden beds. Access is also important for workers to get to utility meters in your landscape.

For a unified and cohesive look, you can repeat plant materials throughout the landscape, with just enough variety for interest. Or you can add interest by varying plant sizes and heights, choosing a variety of coarse, medium, and fine textures, or by using plants with distinct shapes.

entryway to home as seen from its shady plant-filled water garden
For a truly dramatic effect, how about a water garden in the front yard? With koi fish, of course.

Get Creative

Color is another element that can be used to provide cohesion. Use a palette that features either warm or cool colors for “hue harmony.”

Group and arrange plants in overlapping masses based on size, form, color, and growing requirements. Evergreens are great for anchoring your planting areas and providing consistent form and color year-round. Dramatically different plants can be used as focal points to attract attention, like the springtime show-stopper, Taiwan cherry, or for tropical flair, an ornamental banana tree.

The front yard can also be a fun place to show off your specialty gardens like butterflyrain, or even tidy vegetable beds. Keep in mind that you’ll want to mix perennials and annuals, so you always have something of interest when it isn’t veggie season.

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A very naturalized front yard, mostly pine trees and palmettos as seen from the driveway entrance
The owners of this Florida-Friendly Yard in Manatee County eschew flower beds for a natural landscape of pine trees and palmettos. ©UF/IFAS.