- How To Landscape & Hardscape a Front Yard (…from our experience!!)
- How To Landscape & Hardscape a Front Yard (from our experience!!) | Make It and Love It
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Depending on climate, local planning regulations or size, a front yard may feature a lawn or grassed area, a driveway or footpath or both and gardens or a vegetable patch or potted plants. The history of the Australian front yard is said to have begun with a regulation enacted in New South Wales in mandating that new houses be built at least 14 feet from the street to ensure adequate space in front of each house for a garden.
By the early s, the front yard had become an accepted, "buffer between the private home and the public street". Australians adopted the American ideal of front yards without fences to create "park-like" streets and suburb -wide efforts were undertaken to remove fences and thereby encourage good neighbourly relationships and discourage anti-social behaviour and crime. Some even encouraged front yard beautification by running competitions with cash prizes.
During the construction of Australia's planned capital, Canberra , in the late s the Federal Capital Commission provided government subsidies to encourage new residents to regularly maintain their front yards. By the s, there was a clear delineation between front and back yards.
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The development and history of Canadian front yards generally followed early American trends but diverged in the early s. In the s and 30s, zoning laws were introduced for growing cities like Ottawa and Vancouver.
How To Landscape & Hardscape a Front Yard (…from our experience!!)
The regulations stipulated minimum front yard "depth" for new houses and ensured home builders shunned the " tenement house evil" of New York City and London. In many parts of Canada, lower average temperatures and a more pronounced want for privacy led to the increased popularity of tall trees at the side borders of housing blocks, framing the house and front yard. These provided wind breaks in winter and shade in the summer. In the post-war era, suburban Canada gained its own distinctive architectural styles and this extended to front yards and gardens.
How To Landscape & Hardscape a Front Yard (from our experience!!) | Make It and Love It
To match that trend, front yards of such houses were often paved to match the entrances of modern city buildings; "no elite home of the s was complete without a front yard of interlocking brick". As in other cultures, Canadian front yards became areas of socialisation between the public street and the private home; a space for street parties , family barbecues and neighbourly conversation.
The earliest form of front garden was the open courtyard popular with Spanish and Italian nobility. Enclosed courtyards were surpassed in popularity by the large manicured gardens of French , German and Dutch palaces and stately homes.
These traditions were carried by the Europeans to the Americas where courtyards remained popular among Spanish settlers in Florida while productive cottage gardens became commonplace among Dutch settlers and English pilgrims in Massachusetts. As suburbs developed around major European cities, the attitude to privacy , and by extension to front gardens, was decidedly different from that of the British. As one Dutch commentator highlighted in the s : .
The Dutch language has no word that expresses the English concept of 'privacy': the right to be alone. It is not without reason that the English language has such a word and ours has not. It is a difference rooted in national character, and it can also be recognised in other places. We have low fences around almost every garden and yard, for example, but the English like high walls and hedges around their gardens, lest passers-by can look inside.
In older cities and townships with houses built several centuries earlier front gardens are far less common, with front doors providing residents with access direct to the street. In British English , the space in question is referred to as a front garden. Urban housing in the United Kingdom originally had no separation between the house front and the street.
The introduction of the byelaw terraced house , a type of dwelling built to comply with the Public Health Act , raised the standards of accommodation. The provision of a front garden in new houses became common practice during the second half of the 19th century as part of the Domestic Revival style within Victorian architecture : "to provide for the majority of new, even fairly modest, houses, a small front garden or paved forecourt, and a garden or yard at the back".
Early in the 20th century, housing developments influenced by the garden city movement , initiated by Ebenezer Howard in , featured detached houses with undivided "communal grass areas" in front of them.
However, outside these developments the dominant form of new housing in the United Kingdom until after World War II, especially in London, was the semi-detached , which superseded the previous dominant terraced house and where a garden was part of the ideal.
During the Great Depression , local authorities encouraged families to grow produce in their own front gardens, thereby increasing community food supplies. It is literally we checked with a thermometer many degrees cooler in our little "forest" than it is in the sun.
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Our lawn-less landscape feels so full of life, and I love walking the paths. Our yard is definitely and unfortunately still an anomaly in the neighborhood. Of course, there's a difference between style and substance. We could have used the same plants in a more conventional design and it would have similar ecological value, but we like the more natural look. And, conversely, some "English" or "cottage" gardens have a natural landscaping style, but unfortunately use non-native plants. This is our only lawn.
Use square-foot gardening techniques to create a beautiful urban garden
It's a good opportunity to humanize it with some chairs, which we enjoy sitting in on hot summer days. The redbud tree Cercis canadensis at the right is at the end of its useful life, and we hope to replace it with perhaps a hawthorn. This is the path from the front lawn—the only lawn we have. It meets up with the path leading to the driveway. Fortunately, good garden design discourages the use of only one plant species, so there is no inherent conflict between creating a beautiful garden and establishing a functioning, sustainable garden ecosystem.
This brings me back to my theme of using native plants, because alien species in our gardens are often so nutritionally unavailable to the other members of the garden community we seek to establish, they might as well not be there at all. If you have 15 species of plants in your garden, and 13 of them are aliens that are toxic to insect herbivores, you have, in effect, a garden based on only two plant species.
Too simple. A purely ornamental garden is like a beautiful, sleek automobile with no engine. It may be nice to look at, but the only direction it will go without help is downhill. We will be perpetually required to tow these gardens up the hill with fertilizers, watering hoses and weeding forks.
The balance of nature is … a complex, precise, and highly integrated system of relationships between living things which cannot safely be ignored any more than the law of gravity can be defied with impunity by a man perched on the edge of a cliff.
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Think of the tree as the Earth's breathing apparatus, an organ that helps regulate the planet's atmosphere by exhaling fresh oxygen and inhaling the carbon that animals, decay, and civilization spew into it.