15 Garden Design Ideas that Boost Curb Appeal

Looking to boost your front yard’s curb appeal? Curb appeal is attainable through simple enhancements and inspired garden design. Create a landscape bursting with visual appeal for you and your neighbors to enjoy. Follow with garden designer Katherine Rowe for a guide on achieving that inviting front yard charm.

A beautiful garden features a narrow, winding grass pathway bordered by colorful plants of varying heights.

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Curb appeal – that initial sense we get when viewing a house from the street – is achievable through good garden design and simple enhancements. We all appreciate those neighbors whose front yards ooze with effortless charm and inviting style. While their gardens can be as unique as their personalities, the landscapes hold universal elements to evoke that easy appeal.

To get going, it helps to consider a couple of basic design guidelines like symmetry and proportion. Then, dive into color, planting arrangements, and simple practices to create an eye-catching front yard.

Well-designed residential landscapes make spaces more attractive and more functional, and, as an important bonus, they increase home value. The American Society of Landscape Architects notes an improved landscape can boost property value by 15 to 20%.

Whether you want to sell or not, charming landscape improvements bring lasting enjoyment to your front garden (for you and your neighbors!). Incorporate native plants and those well-suited to your environment for the best success.

Accomplish an inspiring boost in curb appeal by relying on tested design and garden practices. No matter your budget, a few simple steps can improve the look of your landscape from the street. It will be outstanding in no time.

Embrace Symmetry

A symmetrical garden includes rounded hedges along a pathway.
The symmetry in landscape design creates balance by organizing spaces.

Symmetry is one of the basic principles of landscape design that relates to how we experience a place. Symmetry refers to how our eyes process and organize the space. It’s the first impression of how the house relates to its surroundings. Symmetry is the effect that impacts our quick measure of how spaces work together.

Symmetry doesn’t mean everything has to be precisely mirrored – or it can, depending on the formality of your front yard and garden style. It may mean flanking the front door with structural evergreens, edging an entrance path, anchoring the house with foundation plants, or repeating plants in texture, form, or color throughout the garden.

Symmetry leads to a sense of balance in the landscape. Even asymmetrical elements can be balanced, like irregular planting beds that throw weight to different areas of the yard through large plants or groupings. Asymmetry is a valuable tool in creating residential curb appeal. The space is harmonious as long as the weight looks and feels balanced throughout the yard.

Let the house be your guide to incorporate symmetry and balance. You may opt for minimal, mostly symmetrical plantings if your home is contemporary with clean lines. Vary plantings in texture and form (an upright evergreen with a border of ornamental grasses and wispy lavender) but lean on the linear side to outline the home and walkways in a way that matches the home’s style.

A Georgian or Victorian style may call for structural foundational plantings like myrtles, hollies, and boxwood to anchor the house through repetition, incorporating beds of looser plantings full of hydrangea and hosta.

Use curved beds and lines when warranted. A curved garden bed in front of the house expands plantings to blend the foundation into the landscape. Reduce turf and use varying bed sizes on each side of the house to achieve that asymmetrical balance.

Let the House Guide Proportion

A single-story house sits against a vast front yard, inviting and spacious. At its heart, a majestic tree spreads its large, long branches, offering shade and a serene focal point to the landscape.
Proportionate landscapes enhance curb appeal by harmonizing plantings with the structure.

As with symmetry and balance, proportionate landscapes are a huge factor in curb appeal. The aesthetics go a long way when landscape plantings complement the structure they embellish. 

A skewed landscape, on the other hand, can diminish the look of a home. We see this when a larger home has small-scale foundation plantings or when a smaller home has huge hedges swallowing it whole. A wimpy landscape, or one too overpowering, means the proportion is off.

A proportionate garden feels harmonious and balanced. The front yard offers a transition between spaces, letting the home blend seamlessly into the landscape. Select plants that aren’t so large that they overshadow the structure (making it appear dwarfed) or so small that they don’t offer enough visual weight.

Emphasize the Entrance

A white house facade stands elegantly, framed by lush green bushes, offering a refreshing contrast. At the forefront, a vibrant blue main entrance catches the eye, accentuated by a charming wreath.
Highlighting the entrance to your home guides visitors with welcoming features.

By highlighting your entry, you guide the visitor (and the eye) in a clear direction to the home. It lets us know where to head next, welcoming and guiding the viewer.

Emphasizing the front door is an easy way to pack a punch of curb appeal. Whatever is going on around it, the front door (or steps or porch) quickly unifies its surroundings. Use colorful or structural plantings as focal points for an inviting entrance, or employ ornamental containers to draw the eye and punctuate the space. 

Mark the entrance from a main sidewalk or driveway with flanked plantings, a gate, containers, or a planted arbor – whatever best reflects the home’s style – to ease the transition between street, yard, and home. After all, the entrance is the hallmark of an inviting front yard.

Accent with Color

Pale pink flowers bloom vividly, adorning the lush green plants that line a pathway adjacent to a building. Their delicate petals catch the sunlight, adding a soft, picturesque charm to the surroundings, inviting peaceful strolls amidst nature's beauty.
Use color strategically to elevate the colors featured in your home design.

Incorporating color is one of the most fun ways to boost your garden’s curb appeal dramatically. It’s also one of the most impactful tools for creating the garden’s aesthetic and unifying the landscape.

Color is one of the first things our eyes process. For curb appeal, this means choosing colors that complement the house to create cohesion and harmony between the home and garden. Color comes from blooming plants as well as garden elements like containers and furnishings,

Decide which accent colors (or accent flowers) appeal to you, and choose what flows with the color scheme of your home. Accents can also include contrasts, with colors that burst against your home as the backdrop. A yard full of graceful white blooms against an evergreen backdrop or a vibrant pop of reds and yellows to give striking contrast in a cottage garden is just as fitting, depending on your house and garden style.

Keep the color palette simple and repeat it throughout the yard, in sweeps or patches, for impact. This repetition unifies the yard, even if the garden is big or divided by a driveway, path, specimen tree, etc.

Feature Multi-Season Appeal

A garden adorned with shrubs and petite conifer trees, evoking a tranquil atmosphere. In the background, a charming wooden house emerges, its details softened by a gentle blur, adding to the idyllic allure of the scene.
Landscapes with curb appeal require plants and features that remain attractive across all seasons.

A landscape with curb appeal relies on plants that shine throughout the seasons. When one plant is out of flower or dormant, another takes the spotlight with unique foliage, fruits, or blooms. 

A deciduous tree with showstopping fall color and interesting bark in the winter, a dormant ornamental grass with attractive plumes that persist throughout the cool season, or structural evergreens that anchor the garden year-round – these are valuable in maintaining a landscape with all-season appeal.

Planning for all seasons relates to garden elements and features like sculptures, fountains, and furnishings. Trees and shrubs give structure at any time of year through their form, even if leaves have dropped. All of these may be focal points in the year-round garden. In attractive yards, there’s always something going on, even if it’s subtle.

Layer the Landscape

A blue house stands gracefully, boasting a picturesque front yard. Lush greenery blankets the landscape, illuminated by the warm embrace of sunlight, creating a tranquil oasis that invites peaceful contemplation and rejuvenation.
Layering landscape plantings with trees and shrubs provides multi-season appeal.

In keeping with multi-season appeal, layer landscape plantings to add variation and interest to the look of the front yard. Layering involves incorporating plants with different heights and forms with the garden layers of trees, shrubs, and groundcovers (including perennials and annuals).

Whether starting with a blank slate or working on your existing landscape, a good rule of thumb is to consider larger specimens first. Trees and large shrubs are the bones of the garden and impact the plants growing around them (altering light conditions and requiring room to grow). 

Plant trees first, or work with your existing trees as a priority in your landscape enhancements, as they are the most sizeable and lasting landscape contributors. They also yield the most structure and visual weight in the yard (and are the most difficult to move in the future).

The scale of your house and yard will determine whether to go with a single tree specimen, a grouping of understory trees like dogwoods, or an allée to line your drive. Your selection goes back to the home’s guiding proportions. Opt for mid-sized, multi-trunk specimens like crape myrtle, chaste tree, sweet bay magnolia, or serviceberry to anchor foundation plantings for scaled variation near the house.

Incorporate larger specimens to balance the home and embellish with lower-growing shrubs, perennials, annuals, and groundcovers. Add evergreen plants to each layer to ensure a stable landscape look all year.

Rely on Perennials

A lush arrangement of blooming plants with delicate pink flowers graces the outdoor space, creating a serene atmosphere. The botanical display near the porch evokes a sense of natural beauty and tranquility.
Ornamental grasses offer unique texture and seasonal interest in modern landscapes.

In addition to trees and shrubs, perennials are workhorses for enhancing visual appeal in the garden year after year. Their reliable performance makes the initial investment go a long way. Divide them over time to bulk up the display, to use in other garden areas, and in container arrangements.

The vibrant flowers and foliage of perennials add color and contrast to the front yard. Perennials also enrich the garden with essential ecosystem benefits for butterflies, bees, birds, and other wildlife through nectar and seed production, as host plants, and as shelter. Your garden will not only be beautiful; it will be buzzing with curb appeal!

Don’t overlook ornamental grasses, which add texture and movement to the landscape. Instead of cutting back grasses in the fall, keep them intact through the winter to enjoy their unique forms, plumes, and seed heads as seasonal interest. Grasses make great front yard additions for modern landscapes and perennial borders.

Embellish With Annuals

In a lush garden, pink flowers bloom gracefully, capturing attention with their delicate petals. Behind them, a feathery plant sways gently in the breeze, adding a touch of ethereal charm to the verdant landscape.
Annual plants provide bursts of color and seasonal garden flair.

Annuals are the instant way to punch up curb appeal with loads of color. While trees, shrubs, and perennials hold down the fort, annual plantings bring the fluff. And there’s nothing wrong with pretty, colorful fluff.

In all seasons, annual plants allow us to add flourish to garden beds and containers. They allow us to change the garden’s look through colorful drifts, formal patterns, or pops of contrast. When little else is blooming, annuals give the flowering cheer we crave in winter or the dead heat of summer.

Annuals are the optional icing on the cake when it comes to curb appeal. Employ them to enhance a season’s theme or color palette.

Add Versatility With Containers

A teal front door stands out against the white-bricked facade of the house, inviting guests with its unique charm. Two green plants flank the entrance, nestled against the white brick wall.
Utilize mobile containers to enhance front yard aesthetics with seasonal plant arrangements.

Containers are mobile architectural elements that enliven the front yard. Use potted arrangements to feature plants for color, fragrance, and form – all adding seasonal interest to the beholder. Showcase trees, shrubs, and perennials, and move them around at will to vary your aesthetic, or play with planting designs to keep them exciting.

Consider container placement,  creating either a single focal point or a clustered grouping of varying sizes. Hanging baskets, too, introduce a vertical element.

Place containers where the plants can be seen and enjoyed, emphasizing entrances like the front door or garden gate, walkways, or seating areas.

Window boxes, available in a wide variety of styles, are another way to tie the house to the garden. Use annuals along with anchoring evergreens and perennials to vary the seasonal displays. Window boxes hung along a fence allow it to blend better with the yard.

Containers are valuable, too, in times when the garden is quiet, like winter. Use them for specialty interest.

Incorporate Hardscapes

A home garden features thoughtfully arranged stone stairs and flower beds. Sunlight bathes the lush plants, casting a warm glow and inviting moments of tranquility in this idyllic outdoor space.
Enhance landscape appeal by maintaining well-kept paths and hardscaped areas.

Paths and hardscaped areas like patios define movement through the landscape and increase visual appeal. If sidewalks and driveways are cracked or weathered, replacing, repairing, or pressure-washing instantly boosts curb appeal.

Hardscapes include pavers, step stones, walls, steps, and other built features that bring order, structure, and definition to the landscape. They emphasize how to move through a space, where to gather, and where to direct the eye.

Incorporate hardscape materials that complement your home. Repeat elements to keep the palette clear and consistent, saving detailed pavers for intimate spaces. Drawing from local materials like native stone is a natural, site-specific way to unite the house and garden. 

Consider decomposed granite between pavers or on its own. It makes an excellent permeable material for walkways and driveways without a permanent hardscape build.

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Light up the Garden

Lush green plants border the pathway, adding a natural touch to the surroundings. Solar lights discreetly reside among the foliage, casting a gentle glow that guides the way in the evening.
Elevate the atmosphere of your garden by strategically positioning lighting.

Bring light into the garden for a charming evening landscape and a way to showcase garden features when the sun goes down. Lighting can be subtle and strategic, ensuring safe and inviting paths and entrances.

Consider installing path lighting that leads to the front door. Ensure steps are well-lit. Place uplights to highlight plant specimens and to give the area a soft, all-around glow.

Solar lighting options abound; they are easily installed and moveable. You’ll want the lighting component to blend with the surrounding landscape so that it “disappears” in the daytime. If your home is suited to torch or flame lanterns flanking the front door or signaling the entrance to the walkway, these are elegant ways to bring stability and style to the front garden.

Reimagine Turf

A quaint, blue wooden house stands proudly amidst sturdy stone columns, exuding charm and character. Its front yard bursts with vibrant greenery, boasting lush plants and trees that create a serene and inviting atmosphere.
Optimize lawn space by minimizing turf areas and integrating visually appealing groundcovers.

Turf plays a role in the landscape to visually emphasize a home and to allow room for play and space for pups. It also requires more maintenance (both chemical and equipment) and more water than other plantings.

Keep turf areas small, or consider converting your lawn into alternate groundcovers. Have a grassy slope? Add curb appeal by planting the slope with visually pleasing and soil-stabilizing plants.

Where you do have grass, use it to define the space. Grassy open areas give a pleasing break for the eye. Accent turf spaces with planting beds, avoiding the vast, overly uniform lawn.

Screen Not-So-Appealing Features

A backyard featuring towering conifer trees and shrubs, creating a serene atmosphere perfect for relaxation and contemplation. Beyond the fence, cozy neighbor houses nestle, offering a sense of community.
Planted screens are employed to cover unattractive features and boost privacy.

Creating a planted buffer or “screen” is a lovely way to disguise unwanted elements. These can be utilitarian, like heating and air units, utility boxes, or garbage can storage. They may include a neighbor’s driveway, fence line, or the underside of a porch. Things that take away from the overall visual appeal of a space benefit from a well-planted buffer.

Aside from hiding anything unsightly, planted screens add beauty and enhance privacy. Use them to define spaces and sculpt the view. While this article is about curb appeal – the view from the street – don’t forget about the view from the house. Create a buffer where you need it.

Planted screens can be as easy-going as a perennial border, a single shrub or shrub grouping, or as structural as an evergreen hedge. Repeat plants from other massed areas of the garden. The main thing is that the screen plants fit seamlessly into the rest of the landscape.

Evergreen hedges give structure and variation to the garden year-round and stand out in winter when the form is more exposed. Rely on staple, hardy evergreens like boxwood, holly, osmanthus, and yew to create defined borders.

Evergreen hedges can be single species for a uniform look, often pruned in the fall to make a tidy row. Mixed evergreen screens bring a looser feel to the garden, with varied textures and colors.

Consider Garden Accents

A quaint two-story house with a charming design, featuring warm lighting emanating from its windows. Surrounded by a neatly manicured small lawn, the house invites a sense of home and comfort with its welcoming glow.
Spruce up outdoor spaces with complementary furniture.

As with hardscapes and paths, garden accessories can enhance (or detract from) curb appeal. Sprucing up the front porch, minimizing clutter, and refreshing outdoor furnishings go a long way in creating an inviting front entrance.

Look for outdoor furniture to complement your home, bridging the indoor/outdoor transition. Create seating areas on the porch or garden room for charming gathering areas.

Update fixtures like lighting, front door hardware, and the mailbox for a refreshed look, matching the home or style of your garden elements.

Keep Up with Seasonal Maintenance

A yellow wheelbarrow filled with rich, dark soil, positioned alongside lush green plants adorned with delicate pink flowers. Adjacent to the wheelbarrow, a sturdy blue and yellow shovel leans, poised for use.
Maintaining curb appeal requires regular upkeep, including weeding and mulching.

When boosting curb appeal, consider your maintenance requirements. You probably love to garden and are familiar with regular maintenance. Or you may be looking to sell your property, where a low-maintenance landscape may appeal to prospective buyers.

Either way, keep up with basic seasonal maintenance tasks for a clean composition. Keep beds weed and debris-free and define bed edges. Use mulch to distinguish garden beds from the surrounding landscape and walkways – dark brown or black lets plants pop while blending in naturally.

Pruning is an essential garden task, usually accomplished in fall and late winter. Prune any dead branches, stems, or limbs off woody shrubs and trees to prepare the winter garden. Trim and shape shrubs to reduce size or regain form. Pruning promotes vigor and a cleaner look to the plant.

Keep an eye on furnishings and containers for refresh needs like cleaning, painting, or sealing.

Final Thoughts

Curb appeal is attainable! The main idea is to streamline the overall design, keep it simple with a concise theme, and have fun, whether your garden is heavily planted or minimally landscaped. Draw power from concise and limited palettes, repeating elements like color, form, and materials for the most significant visual impact.

Focus on the front yard and entrances like walkways and drives to create an inspiring street view. Consider the house style and proportion to guide decisions. A cottage garden is a lovely fit for a farmhouse, while minimal plantings with high structure and texture are perfect for contemporary homes. If the garden represents your aesthetic, you’ll love coming home.

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