“How To” in Houston: Design a Natural Welcome Mat

For far too long now home design has focused on the primary entryway into the home, which is the garage. This has resulted in widespread neglect for our front yards. If we were to view our physical environments as an opportunity to help us connect to our neighbors and communities, we may consider the following landscape design ideas that could turn our front yards into a natural welcome mat.

1. Begin with a plan before planting anything. This step ensures that your landscape is well thought out and that you choose locations for your plants in which they will thrive without outgrowing their space.

2. Create a rest area. Any welcoming space is going to feature a seating area that is inviting and relaxing. The spot doesn’t need to be elaborate. Simply add a flat surface with pavers or stone near the front door to accommodate seating.

3. Provide shade. The heat of the summer sun in Houston is not very welcoming, so be sure to provide sun protection in you front yard by adding shade near your front door. Your selection of a shade tree should account for proper scale and its size at maturity. Then decide on evergreen or deciduous.

4. A walkway that provides a clear entrance path is essential in good landscape design. Creativity need not be stifled in this area, however. For example, you may opt for a walkway that meanders through the garden taking visitors on a scenic tour. Another nice idea is a series of stone pads that can seem to float through a garden – this is less rigid than a common concrete walk that runs straight from the curb to the door.

5. Plant beds can create visual interest in your yard. Bold, arching swath of plant -bed lines add depth to your garden.

6. A water feature can be very attractive. A simple feature, such as a bubbling urn can not only attract birds, but neighbors too. Water features provide a calming effect; the sound of trickling water is relaxing and the sight of plants and flowers surrounding it can be beautiful.

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