This front yard design is actually one of my first. The shape of the lot, existing features, and the fact that it is extremely shady gave me quite a challenge.
The lot is located at the end of a culdesac and is covered with magnificent trees. Hybrid Fescue even had to struggle in this front yard so shade was definitely an issue. Also, screening from the street and easy mailbox access were issues with the client.
Obviously what was here before wasn't working and the owner didn't want to deal with any lawn at all. So choosing the right plants was critical. And since the end of this culdesac reminded me of a deep forest, I duplicated that feel as best as I could. The majority of plantings consist of Hostas, Columbines, Caladiums, Ferns, Plumbago, and Nandina.
First we took care of the necessities by connecting the front door, back door, and street/mailbox access. You can read an article in our newsletter archives about designing around necessities.
We also removed all the dead and dying grass. Since there was so much space to cover and the client didn't care for any water features or outdoor rooms, I decided to use three different ground cover textures. Mulch, brick, and river rock. Texture is very important to bringing out the "feel" of certain combined objects. Such as the bark and shady plants we used to give this design a woodsy feel.
Even though this garden is extremely shady and weeds and grass struggle to grow, I still choose to use a professional quality landscape fabric under every groundcover. I think it's just smart.
The design is simple. It follows the shape of the lot and not the house. In odd shaped lots, sometimes it's helpful to look at the landscaping this way. Try every variation you can think of if you're having trouble. Get some design software if it might help. See also Japanese gardens for another odd shaped lot.
The brick walkway provides access to the mailbox, connects both ends of the home, and breaks up the landscape. This was the only request of the client that we had to design around. This worked quite well as I felt it was necessary as well.
As with most of the landscapes we design, this shady cul-de-sac front yard has an automated drip system installed. In this case we were able to alter the existing sprinkler system into a drip system.