Flowerbeds offer color and interest in front yards, and they give houses curb appeal. They also present a home attractively to visitors. A combination of perennial, annual and bulb plants can provide the blooms, but careful planning is needed to avoid periods of nothing but bare soil. Select plants that produce their blooms in different seasons and that thrive in the existing growing conditions, such as sunny or shady spots and dry or moist soil. Check your community's rules, such as city codes and homeowner association regulations, before planning your flowerbeds.
A front yard's flowerbeds should reflect the architecture of the house. Flowerbeds in regular shapes such as rectangles or diamonds and filled with flowering plants arranged in neat patterns have a formal appearance that may suit houses with traditional or modern architecture. Softly curving flowerbeds spilling over with blooms in naturalistic groups of odd numbers are effective in front of old-fashioned cottages. Other garden styles to consider include Mediterranean, Asian and tropical.
Visit gardens open to the public to see how their styles match the accompanying houses' architecture and which flowering plants are used to help create those garden styles.
Front-yard flowerbeds should be in proportion to the size of the yard. Large flowerbeds can look out of place in small front yards. Beds or borders about 3 feet wide might be more appropriate. Flowerbeds for growing a range of perennial plants of different sizes should be 6 to 8 feet wide, and they look best in large front yards.
Grow tall flowering plants in the center of island beds -- those surrounded by lawn for example -- or toward the back of beds that border a house or other object. Place short plants at the flowerbeds' edges. Grow medium-height flowering plants between the short and tall plants, but avoid creating rigid divisions between plants of different sizes unless you want a formal look.
The direction a front yard faces can affect the success of its flowerbeds. Flowering varieties that thrive in partially shaded sites grow best in east- or west-facing front yards. East-facing beds catch the morning sunlight but are shady in the afternoons while west-facing beds receive hot afternoon sun exposure in warm climates. Plants that grow best in sunny spots often thrive in south-facing front yards, but only plants that tolerate full shade may survive in north-facing front yards.
Perennials, Annuals and Bulbs
Perennial, annual and bulb flowering plants offer advantages and disadvantages in front-yard flowerbeds. Perennials return year after year, but they usually bloom for brief periods and die back during winter. Annuals have long seasons of bloom, but they don't return the following year. Bulbs often die back, making way for other flowering plants and returning the next year, but they may flower for only a short time. Many varieties of perennials, annuals and bulbs are available.
Rozanne geranium(Geranium 'Gerwat') provides a long period of violet-blue blooms on clumps 1 to 1 /2 feet tall and 1 to 2 feet wide. Growing best in partially shaded or sunny spots and average soil, Rozanne is hardy in U.S. Department of Agriculture plant hardiness zones 5 through 8.
Lenten rose (Helleborus orientalis) provides cup-shaped, nodding, white, pink or rose-purple late-winter flowers and grows well in partially shaded or fully shaded spots and organically rich soil. Hardy in USDA zones 4 through 9, Lenten rose grows 1 to 1/2 feet tall and wide.
The 'Blue Horizon' cultivar of floss flower (Ageratum houstonianum 'Blue Horizon') bears clusters of fluffy, lavender or purple-blue flowers from spring through fall and grows 12 to 30 inches tall and 6 to 18 inches wide. A sun-lover, 'Blue Horizon' grows best in moist soil.
Garden balsam (Impatiens balsamina) grows well in sunny or partially shaded flowerbeds and moist soil, providing cup-shaped, white, pink, rose, red or purple blooms from late spring until the first frost. Garden balsam grows 6 to 30 inches tall and 6 to 18 inches wide.
The 'Striata' cultivar of canna (Canna 'Striata') offers an extended season of interest with its striped foliage as well as its orange, up to 3-inch-wide flowers, which appear from midsummer through fall. Growing 4 to 6 feet tall and 1 1/2 to 4 feet wide, 'Striata' is hardy in USDA zones 7 through 10 and grows best in sunny spots and moist soil.
'Tahiti' double daffodil(Narcissus 'Tahiti') features yellow and red-orange spring blooms on stems 12 to 18 inches tall. Hardy in USDA zones 4 through 8, 'Tahiti' grows 9 to 12 inches wide and does best in sunny or partially shaded beds and average soil.