This typical suburban house in Herndon, VA had the “builder’s package” landscaping with a straight front walkway that led directly to the blacktop driveway. We landscaped the backyard five years prior, creating a secluded garden retreat centered on a beautiful pool.
Over the years, we had band-aided the front but it was now time to tackle it properly and completely. The homeowners’ level of confidence in us was high so we were given fairly free reign with the front yard design.
The front door was totally obscured by a big purple leaf plum planted by the builder years back, and it needed to be revived. So we created a plan to make the front door area feel friendly and accessible.
We began the new front yard design by building a larger brick landing to complement the brick on the house. A pair of bronze-colored urns flanks the front door. A sinuous brick walkway with periodic steps provides a connection to street parking. This curved, brick walkway leads though planting beds and intersects with a wide pathway of lawn leading to the steps that ascend to the newly created large plateau.
Steep areas were planted within the front yard design featuring evergreen Mondo grass and taller perennials that provide a sequence of summer blooms. The level plateau was shaped into a perfect ellipse that is bordered with an 18”-wide band of cobblestones. This could have been planted with turf, but we decided to be adventurous and create an “alpine lawn” consisting of Creeping Thymes and Bluestar Creeper and mulched in a fine 1/8” river rock. We also installed early spring blooming Snow Drops and Crocus. The lawn blooms in late spring and early summer, and light traffic releases the scent of the Creeping Thymes underfoot.
The garden space is enjoyed form the comfort of a teak bench nestled into the plantings in a sunny niche just outside the front door of this Herndon, VA home. Progression of bloom is evident with a series of spring bulbs and flowering shrubs planted in the evergreen groundcover, followed by a succession of long blooming summer perennials. Too much color could have made the front chaotic; a color scheme of purples, lavender, and white highlighted by dashes of pink make it perfect, leaving you focused on the planting design. The result is a garden that is cheerful and welcoming, but also calm and soothing.
The newly designed “service entrance” provides space for two cars to park comfortably within a level parking court that is beautifully detailed with concrete aggregate bordered by cobblestones. New garage doors and crisp new shutters complete the front yard design for this Herndon, VA landscape.
The Homeowner Association (HOA) had a field day with this project. It is a fairly restrictive governing force in a pretty standard housing development. No one had submitted a plan quite like this before! Their immediate reaction was to deny everything. It took multiple submissions and a face-to-face meeting before the front yard design was approved.
They needed guarantees that our grading would not impact neighboring drainage. Plantings by the street were altered to allay the fear of infringing lines of site for traffic on this quiet cul-de-sac in Herndon, VA. Even the brick walkway leading from the entryway to the road was in question, seeing that no one had ever done it before. We had to set the street-side landing on stone dust so that it could be taken up if needed for any kind of future utility work. We originally wanted to paint the garage doors black to help them recede and provide a more sophisticated look. But this was not an approved color so we had to retreat to a classic white.
Finally, the once sloped driveway had to be re-graded to create a level parking court outside the garage, creating a very tricky transition to the apron at the road. This was yet another issue for the HOA. A face-to-face appearance before the committee did much to allay their fears and help get the ultimate project approved. Admittedly we did not even mention the gravel-mulched “alpine lawn” we were creating in the front yard!
As we excavated the front yard, we found that this property must have been the dumping ground for the community. We uncovered large boulders. Chunks of concrete and gravely soil mix needed to be removed. Large quantities of amended soil had to be imported to fill the void and insure the same success we had in the rear yard.
The client really loves year-round flowers and a progression of bloom through the seasons, but really is not interested in working in the garden herself. The kind of floral display she wanted needed to be perfectly orchestrated. The plant selections had to balance the need for a continuing blooming garden with the reality that a crew will come out only for big cleanups in spring and fall and a few light touch-ups through the summer months.
Beyond these obstacles, the project had only the “typical” problems—a long, tough winter that stalled the work repeatedly and complaints when the bobcat and porta-pot were on site for “too long”. Deer seemed to magically arrive in the neighborhood that spring, and plantings had to be adjusted to compensate. But in the end, the project was everything our clients wanted and more—a beautiful front yard design with year-round flowers and an inviting and accessible brick walkway within this Herndon, VA landscape.
If you found inspiration in the photos above and are interested in reviving your own landscape, contact us. Botanical Decorators is an award-winning landscape designer serving homeowners in Maryland, Virginia, and Washington, DC, and we specialize in creating custom rear and front yard designs to match our clients’ wish lists. Whether you desire an inviting front yard design like the one above or have a unique idea of your own, we can help. Request your consultation to find out how!