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Thaumas P. Ehr, Landscape Architect

Give your Home's Entry a Punch!

For much of Phoenix, home-entry design has focused on the automobile; the garage is now a homeowner's primary entryway. Only guests and UPS enter through the front door!

Your front-yard garden/entry is a the first and last thing your guests and realtor see.

In tough economic times, it's more important than ever to dress up our physical environments where we will spend more time; besides it will make you feel pretty good!

Distinctive front yards and entries will help you enjoy an often neglected space, increase property value and connect your property to your community.

Here are 7 landscape design elements to make a more memorable entry and front yard:

1. Start with a plan. This golden rule of landscape design. It forces you to really put some thought into your new space and to make sure each plant is located in a place where it will thrive but not outgrow its allotted space.

2. Build a resting place. It's important for any welcoming space to have place to pause before entering you home. Seating is optional, if you have a porch,by all means use it.

A resting spot doesn't have to be elaborate. Add a flat surface with pavers or stone near the front door to accommodate chairs or a bench. In this space, allow room for a couple of pots with flowers to add inviting scents and color.

3. Plant a shade tree. There's nothing welcoming about a full blast of Arizona's summer sun. Create sun protection in your front yard by adding shade en route to or near the front door.

When selecting a shade tree, make sure it's the proper scale and note its mature size. Then, decide if you want it to be evergreen or deciduous.

4. Create a walkway.A clear entrance path is memorable and safe. But you can get creative with one that meanders through the garden or takes visitors past specimen plantings.

You can also get creative with the path design and materials: flagstone paving, pavers, textured concrete and decomposed granite are few options.

5. Create visual interest with plant beds. Add depth to your front garden by making bold, arching swaths of plant-bed lines, rather than tight groupings close to the house. If you have grass, this is a great way to reduce the grass and create a lower-maintenance bed you can fill with desert-adapted vegetation.

6. Add accents. A few boulders and accent plants can create a multi-layered, multi-textured look. Plants in nature are usually nestled up to boulders. If you do the same in your garden, it works.

Always sink the boulder into the soil at least 20 percent, so it doesn't appear to have fallen from the sky.

Don't be afraid to borrow successful looks from other gardens you've noticed in your travels or from garden books you've read.

7. Consider a water feature. A simple water feature, such as a bubbling urn, can attract birds, insects and people. I would tuck the water feature into a place of discovery. This could be in a plant grouping, under a small tree or off to the side of an entry. A water feature can be a calming element, or hide noise or activate a space. Consider this before you place it. 

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