More to the point, what would you like it to say? Warm and welcoming / too busy to care / overwhelmed by life / trying hard / sweet and simple / minimalist / eclectic / modern / unimaginative / look at me world! / creative / lively and joyous / high maintenance / pretentious / well kept and groomed/ stiff and formal? Have you at one time or other given it much thought?
My town’s annual front garden contest has begun. I’m the judge. So at this time of year, I’m prone to pondering this matter. With all the investments one makes in a house and property, the front garden seems to get the short end of the deal. The focus tends to lie in creating an expanse of lawn. Never mind the overwhelming shade, uneven terrain or plainly boring rectangle and the sheer waste of time, energy and expense, the accepted belief that an emerald green lawn is de rigueur is held on to fervently. I cannot fathom why. A little lawn to complement the plantings is fine but even that need not be purely grass. Just as long as it provides a green relief.
Given the futility of such an endeavor and the abundant more suitable alternatives, why on earth would any body want to hold on to this golf-turf dream? Then, upon failing to achieve such status, the whole project is reduced to a stoic persistence in mowing and copious watering and fertilizing as though if done long enough one will triumph. On occasion, such failures are taken with the view that nothing will grow and the whole front garden thing is abandoned. We spend our time in the backyard anyway. So why bother with the front? is the prevailing attitude. So much attention is lavished in the back – patios, pool, flower beds and such. Thats like taking the trouble to wear silk and lace underwear only to then put on a dress made up of burlap.
Really? Do you not wash and wax your car periodically or any time it looks muddy? Why concern yourself with that when all you need it for is to get from one place to another? You do so because otherwise, it makes you look like a slob right? The same way you choose to wear clean, unwrinkled clothes. Stylish and pricey even. The well presented hairstyle, the immaculately made up face, the manicured nails are all testimonials to how much we care about ourselves and how much it matters how others see us.
So why not the front garden? Make it say something meaningful and honest. Curbside appeal is important. I’m not alluding to property values but to your own esteem. What appearance is presented by your property informs the viewer of who and what you are.
Stop making excuses and own that front garden. Too busy to tend flower beds? Then, keep it simple by planting interesting trees and shrubs suitable to the conditions present. Sun, shade, free- draining or clay soil, east facing or otherwise, even or sloped ground etc., Use hard-working ground covers like creeping myrtle or even pachysandra ( yes, pachysandra! It is better than a raggedy ‘lawn’). A four season tree like our own Amelanchier is wonderful. Large properties could have oaks, red maples and redbuds.
Ground too stony and unable to sustain plants? Gravel up the area and install large pots to fill with a myriad colorful annuals.
The point is, do something. Make that front garden say something good about you. All year round. Your neighbors and visitors are forming opinions … And if you live in my town, I’m wandering around looking and judging.
Review the photographs below and see for yourself how quickly you begin to form opinions: