Cul-de-sac yards present unique design challenges.

Landscaping Cul-de-sac Front Yards

by Marissa Baker

For cul-de-sac front yards, design plays an important role in making the most of yard space limited by a large paved turn-around. Certain landscape strategies can create the illusion of an extended yard and maximize the visual impact even of small-scale landscaping. Creating a balanced design that draws attention to the entryway will also increase curb appeal and add to the value of a home.

1. Mirroring the Street

Some urban designs include a circular landscaped area in the center of the cul-de-sac turn-around. If this is the case, mirroring some of the designs and plantings from the turn-around in the front yard can create the illusion of an extended landscape. For example, if the landscape area is planted with petunias (Petunia spp.) every year, include petunias or other flowers with the same color in the front yard design. The same thing can be done to mirror planters along the sidewalks or hanging baskets on streetlights.

2. Curb Appeal Design

In a 2008 article for the Residential Landscape Architecture newsletter for the American Society of Landscape Architects, landscape architect Jeff Mitchell notes that creating a distinctive landscape is key to having curb appeal. Mitchell advises selecting plants that provide year-round interest, adding a water feature and using fences, paths, and patios to tie the space together. Plants with year-round appeal include evergreens for winter color, spring-flowering bulbs and perennials with lasting interest. Autumn snakeroot (Actaea simplex, U.S. Department of Agriculture plant hardiness zones 4 through 8) is a summer-blooming shade plant that keeps its tall bloom stalks through fall. Purple moor grass (Molinia caerulea, USDA zones 5 through 9) bears 6- to 7-foot bloom stalks in the summer before turning yellow in the fall.

3. A Welcoming Yard

The front yard frames the entrance to a home and directs visitors to the door. Walkways should be 4 feet wide in order for two people to walk side by side. Creating a space near the door large enough for at least two or three people to stand comfortably is also advised. If space permits, consider adding a small seating area. To draw the eye toward a home entrance, plant smaller bushes and flowers near the door and path, and larger plants and trees closer to the sides of a house.

4. Balancing the Design

Balance is important in any landscape design, especially when working with a challenging yard. A balanced landscape can be achieved with symmetrical or asymmetrical designs. For a formal landscape and traditional house, plants can be placed symmetrically as mirror images of each other on either side of the entry. Asymmetrical designs rely on placing different plants and structures on either side of the home so that the visual weight is balanced, such as planting a tall tree on one side of the house and balancing it with a grouping of several bushes on the other side.

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