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Symmetry for Front Entry
How to "Lead the Viewer's Eye" Using Entryway Plantings
In landscaping for front door entrances, you are trying to achieve several objectives. For instance, you want to:
- Match the entryway planting to your house style and wider surroundings
- Create a welcoming environment (unless your goal is privacy)
- Lead the viewer's eye from the street to the door
In these pictures of landscaping showing front door entrances, I will provide examples of entryway plantings showing how each of these objectives can be met. Commentary accompanies each of the pictures.
This design draws the viewer's eye to the front door entrance by framing it with Grecian urns planted with dwarf Alberta spruces.
The front door entrance pictured above is not located very far from the street, which reduces the need (as well as the potential) for landscaping. But that hasn't stopped the owners from making their entryway more welcoming and interesting. The use of planted Grecian urns in a symmetrical arrangement as shown in the picture above is popular in landscaping for entryways. Symmetry is especially important to formal landscape design. Such a design is certainly in keeping with the house style, as indicated by the impressive classical columns. Note also the brick pathway leading from the fence to the front door entry; visually, it picks up the brickwork in the house across the street, suggesting that this landscape is right at home in its neighborhood.Continue to 2 of 13 below.
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Symmetry With Shrubs
This picture shows a textbook example of symmetry in a landscape design.
Unlike the house in the prior picture, this one sets back enough from the street to invite more extensive landscaping. And the owners have taken their yard up on the invitation. The granite-slab pathway leading up to the front door entrance is lined with boxwood shrubs, drawing the viewer's eye to the entryway. Boxwood shrubs are very popular in such formal landscape designs. Symmetry is once again achieved at the entryway itself, using container-grown plants, and is perpetuated even in the uniformity of the foundation plantings. I'll provide further examples of the use of symmetry for front entries later in the photo gallery.Continue to 3 of 13 below.
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Cottage Style Front Entrance
From the austere formal style of the prior pictures, we move to an example of the cottage style.
Those who approach this yard are virtually invited to set foot on the flagstone pathway and beckoned toward the door. Its welcoming aura is the result of an old-fashioned, homey front entrance design right out of the pages of "The Adventures of Tom Sawyer." The vine-covered picket fence exudes the kind of warmth for which the cottage style of landscape design is famous.Continue to 4 of 13 below.
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Fencing does not have to be all about security (keeping out intruders) or privacy (blocking the view of the neighbors into your yard). The fencing pictured here has a more creative task: to lead the viewer's eye to the entryway.
In this picture, the miniature decorative fences lead the viewer's eye nicely to the front door entrance. As in the prior picture, the picket style is used for these decorative fences. A common element of cottage-style landscape design, picket fences have a charm about them rarely matched by other fence types. In conjunction with the colorful snapdragon flowers, these parallel decorative fences soften the harshness of the pavement pathway.Continue to 5 of 13 below.
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Cobblestone Path Front Entrance
The silvery foliage of dusty miller plants is used in this example to soften a cobblestone path.
The cobblestone path here is visually more interesting than the pavement pathway in the prior picture. But even for such an attractive pathway, the "rough edges" can stand to be softened up somehow. Otherwise, the cobblestone path would be perceived as too stark against the grass -- almost as if it had "imposed" itself on the lawn. But with the plantings of dusty miller and begonias, it seems to blend in better. Any plantings would have been better than nothing. But in this case, the dusty miller seems to work especially well. Its silvery foliage picks up the color of the cobblestone path, thereby further softening its edges.Continue to 6 of 13 below.
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Landscape Steps at Front Entry
When one must ascend a slope to approach your front door entrance, landscaping steps are usually the answer.
In the examples of landscaping for front door entrances that we've considered so far, the ground between the street and the entryway has been level. In such cases, pursuing the objectives of leading the viewer's eye to the entryway and making the route to the house entrance inviting are not pressing matters. Rather, they are aesthetic considerations -- however admirable. The bottom line is that visitors to your house will eventually find the front door entrance, regardless of the landscaping.
But it's quite a different matter when visitors must ascend a slope to approach your front door entrance. You have a practical, functional challenge with which to deal first and foremost. You must install landscaping that will provide access from the street to the front door entrance. Not only that, but it must be safe and must not encourage soil erosion on the slope. After functionality has been addressed, then you can consider "curb appeal" (aesthetics).
This challenge is usually met by installing landscaping steps, as in the picture above, although some homeowners might prefer a multi-level deck (with stairs connecting the levels). For curb appeal, brick pillars frame the approach to the stairs, and the pillars are topped with pineapple ornaments. The white metal railings tie in with those on the porch above.
All in all, I'd say the homeowners in this case turned a challenge into an opportunity. What could be viewed as a difficult slope to climb instead has become the canvas for an attractive entryway.Continue to 7 of 13 below.
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Brick Columns, Pineapple Decor
How you landscape for an entry sometimes depends on what kind of property you live on. This house has ample room and takes advantage, welcoming guests with grandeur and with pineapple decor, in the form of finials.
Finials are the small, ornamental, terminal features at the top of a gable, fence post, lamp, lamppost, stone wall, etc. Finials are optional, being non-structural elements: their job is aesthetic, giving a "finished" touch to a hardscape feature.
In the prior landscaping picture, brick columns adorned with pineapple decor rested at the foot of a flight of landscaping stairs. Here, we are back to level ground. The brick columns, which are larger on this property, are part of a wall. Indeed, the brick columns must be larger here, to match the scale of their surrounding and to hold their own with the impressive array of perennials planted all around them.
Pineapple decor has been used as a symbol of "welcome" since colonial America.Continue to 8 of 13 below.
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Hedge Opens as Gate Into Yard
Many plant-lovers like to keep "hardscape" structures (for example, fences and walls) to a minimum in their landscaping. Hedge plants can be a great substitute.
So far, where the division between the street and one's property has been marked by some sort of physical barrier, it has been in the form of fences and walls. But for those who disdain such "hardscape," you have an alternative that rests squarely in the plant kingdom: hedges. An example is provided in this picture. Visitors coming from the street must pass through an opening in the hedge to approach the front door entrance, utilizing a flagstone pathway.Continue to 9 of 13 below.
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Wheelchair Access Ramps
Front door entrances requiring wheelchair access ramps can still be attractive.
A long wheelchair access ramp isn't very pleasing for the eye to look at. But in this picture, the planting of geraniums in front of the ramp is so colorful that the eye tends to concentrate on the flowers, not the wooden structure.Continue to 10 of 13 below.
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Faux Entryway With Picket
Here a crushed stone path leads to a white picket fence gate. This faux landscaping "welcomes" viewers in, but the gate is yard art, not a true entrance.
In a previous picture, we already encountered an example of a white picket fence that was installed purely for aesthetics: it didn't function to keep anybody off the property in question. In the picture above, the white picket fence gate has, once again, solely an aesthetic purpose. An isolated structure at the far end of the yard, it does not welcome visitors towards a house entrance, yet it lends a welcoming charm to its landscape. Because white picket fences planted with flowers exude a homey feel, they can inject such warmth into a landscape even where they aren't functional. Such white picket fence gates are examples of "faux landscaping": they do one thing, but say another, if you will.Continue to 11 of 13 below.
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Full-Scale Symmetry at Entry
In this picture of front-entry landscaping, you'll notice an attention to detail that goes above and beyond the call of duty.
Not only is there a nice use of symmetry in this picture, but the homeowners also capped off this exquisite front-entry landscaping with a touch of TLC: the pink tulips in the door decoration pick up the pink tulips in the container gardens flanking the entryway.Continue to 12 of 13 below.
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Planting Urns on Porch
Some front entries don't just call for symmetry: they scream for it. Such is the case with this front entry, graced by an ornate wrought iron fence.
This formal-style house is complemented nicely by the symmetrically arranged planting urns on its porch.Continue to 13 of 13 below.
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Framing a Front Entry
A planting doesn't have to be located smack up against a front entry to have an impact on it..
This planting is located out on the lawn, several feet away from the front door. But from various points on the street, the two dwarf alberta spruce trees nicely frame the entryway.
If you are interested in landscaping around front entries, then you will also want to check out my tips on foundation plantings.