Front Yard Living… Does your front yard inspire a movement?

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Lots of transition in the country today has many people inspired to do more in their community. Did you know that you can have a similar effect by changing the way you USE your FRONTYARD? #frontyardliving

The front yard typically consists of a sidewalk, driveway, walkway to the front door, front landscape, front patio, porch or entry patio and the actual front door! There is a lot of space in the front yard that is not typically used.


Let’s think about our city streets for a minute. In the 1961 book by Jane Jacobs, “The Death and Life of Great American Cities” she writes about three main qualities city neighborhoods must have to be successful. ‘First, there must be a clear demarcation between what is public space and what is private space….Second, there must be eyes upon the street….Third, the sidewalk must have users on it fairly continuously.’

I’d like to speak to the second and third qualities great neighborhood streets must have. An eye on the street means literally having people using your neighborhood. This could be people biking down the street, walking their dogs on the sidewalks, and sitting on their porches looking back at the street. The more continuous use you have on the streets the more successful the neighborhood will become. Now in the book she defined that success as a reduction in crime, increase of business in urban areas, and vitality of the neighborhood. These still hold true almost 60 years later.

My take on this research both then and now is that well used neighborhood streets make for thriving communities with innumerable benefits. My goal is to teach you how to create well used streets in your neighborhood so you can experience these benefits. These results can be achieved by design.

Design can shine through in many ways, in a recent article I listed four different elements you could add to your front yard to encourage people to walk down your street.


Today I want you to rethink how you USE your front yard. The driveway often gets the most daily use as we walk from our car to our front door. We may also pull our car into the garage, in which case we probably do not go outside again until we leave the next morning. The use of your front yard will vary depending on your family size and routines. For example my family of 7 includes 2 parents, 3 kids, and 2 dogs. The kids need time to play and the dogs need to be walked. These provide us with opportunities to use our front yard, kids will throw the ball around and parents will use the yard as a transition from house to street so they can walk the dogs.

How do you use your front yard right now? Are there ways you could shift your use to get you outside more often?

Take a look at these two projects. One shows a home that we designed in a new front patio, the other is a home where we utilized the side yard as a play area for the kids. Both create spaces that if used regularly will change the behavior of a neighborhood and begin a movement of #frontyardliving.

At this home we have designed in a new front patio. These homeowners will be able to sit on their patio in the evening and watch the sunset. Subsequently this will lead to unplanned conversations with dog walkers, runners, and eventually happy hour drinks with their neighbors.

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This side yard belongs to homeowners who are not only new to the neighborhood but the state. They have an active young toddler son. As a landscape architect who believes deeply in the power of design to build community I pitched the couple on the idea of utilizing their side yard as a play area. It is visible from the kitchen which could allow the parents to cook dinner inside while watching their son playing outside. It’s also located next to a well-used sidewalk which would encourage interactions with their neighbors.

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Small strategic design decisions in your front yard can lead to long lasting friendships with neighbors.

Let’s build community by using our front yards again.   It’s time to bring back #frontyardliving

Are you starting to think about Spring? Details coming next week about our Countdown to Spring Event!




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