Friendly front yard

Lessons in creating a garden with your neighbors

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Elements of a neighborly front yard

  • Easy, ample seating. Wide, high steps (with 1-foot risers) make Stacia Payne's garden a particularly popular gathering point. "You don't have to pull out chairs," says neighbor Judy Dugan. "You can just plop down."
  • Softened hardscape. Like a welcome mat, a combination of flagstone and groundcover jumps the sidewalk and visually connects the stairs with the curb. This barefoot patio gives more space for children to romp and adults to congregate, while the design draws the eye to those inviting steps.
  • Friendly groundcover. Dymondia margaretae was used between the flagstones, along the sidewalk, near the driveway, and along the curb. The groundcover was chosen because it's very tight and flat; people won't get tripped up in it, says designer June Scott. It's also soft enough to feel good under bare feet.
  • Approachable landscaping. Because Payne wanted to see her neighbors' yards and vice versa, Scott used mostly low-growing plants such as Lantana montevidensis 'White Lightnin'', dwarf kangaroo paw, 'Jack Spratt' New Zealand flax, Senecio mandraliscae, blue fescue, and pork and beans sedum. Slightly taller plants balance the composition near the existing pine tree. None of the plants are prickly or thorny.

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