When landscaping a corner lot, basic design principles of balance, line, proportion and rhythm still apply, but the canvas expands significantly. Most standard landscapes have a single public view, but corner lots open up formerly private side and backyard space. Successful corner lot landscaping makes the most of the lot's accessibility and visibility while pulling the expanded canvas together. Corner landscapes present challenges, but with forethought they're easily met.
Embracing the Horizon
When planning a corner lot design, open your thinking beyond the front entry. Curb appeal functions from every possible view. Take time to walk the sidewalks around your lot and view it from all the angles passersby enjoy. Look beyond your property to the homes and space behind, and consider them part of the view. A neighbor's tall hedge at the back of your lot becomes the backdrop for a shrub border that echoes the curves or lines of the intersection out front. Your front entry stays defined by plantings that guide from street to door, but beds that wrapped around a front corner and stopped now continue down the side. Instead of separate front and back designs, you now have one large front yard.
Managing the Corner
Human nature seeks out the most direct route from one point to another. On corner lots, that's often right across your front lawn. Low fences or hedges work in some situations, but ordinances restrict what can be used. As a guideline, work with the triangle formed from the corner 25 feet back along both streets. Anything higher than 2 to 2 1/2 feet in that area -- even graceful perennials -- potentially blocks an approaching driver's view. Don't view your corner separate from your landscape. Planting and design elements there must complement your lot as a whole. Low groundcovers backed by taller ornamental shrubs discourage shortcuts. Paver paths flanked with plantings allow foot traffic to cut through.
Planning outdoor areas for personal enjoyment and entertaining takes on added dimensions on a corner lot. Depending on how your home sits on the space, traditionally private back yards are openly viewed. Privacy fences close to the home or patio areas work to restrict your visibility from passing drivers. Define patio or deck areas with large container plantings of flowering plants or vertical evergreens that add privacy to the area without confinement. Add front yard design principles, such as using increasingly smaller plants, to direct eyes away from your private area toward another view, leaving you to enjoy your full lot.
Living on a corner lot means twice the foot traffic, cars, noise, headlights and street lamps. Landscape to limit and soften these intrusions on your lot. A tall hedge along the side street, continuing to your corner triangle and even wrapping toward your entry can help reclaim your lot if intrusions become too much. Broadleaf trees or needled evergreens help absorb sound and light to add to your privacy inside. Screens of staggered evergreens strategically placed can block headlights that would otherwise intrude in your home. Use repetition and rhythm of plant colors, textures, heights and lines within carefully placed plantings to keep balance while limiting exposure.
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