Front yard design strategies
Emphasize the ground plane
To make the house size and lot size appear more equal in scale, I emphasized ground plane, with a goal of making it as compelling to look at as the house. divided the front yard into four equal areas: A turf, B perennials, C ground covers, D driveway (see illustration, below). The perennial garden in the center of the yard focuses the eye downward and helps make the house sit better on the lot. The sweep of ground cover offsets the proportions of the driveway. I chose pachysandra (Pachysandra terminalis, USDA Hardiness Zones 4–8) because it is sturdy, reliable, and evergreen, which meant it could do its part in holding up the landscape design throughout the year. The proportions of the perennial garden and the turf balance each other.
Use strong vertical lines to enhance scale
Squiggly bed lines (a rarely recommended landscape design tool) would make the landscaping look frivolous and inconsequential in comparison to its site. Mature parkway trees already gave the house an overhead canopy. I created strong vertical lines on the ground plane by planting eight narrowly columnar European hornbeam trees (Carpinus betulus ‘Fastigiata’, Zones 4–8) in a row of five on the north side of the lot and three on the south side. These emphatic vertical lines help visually anchor the tall house to the ground.
Extend the garden and lawn to the curb
With no neighboring views to steal, I extended the garden and lawn into the 12-foot-wide parkway between the sidewalk and the street, providing more continuity between the landscaping and the street. When your view of a lot includes street, parkway grass, sidewalk, and lawn, your eye treats the property as a whole. On the house’s north side, I matched my ground-plane planting (in this case, lawn) to the parkway. We have sweeping ground-cover beds on the south side, so I planted the nearby parkway with ground cover. I also installed a naturally rusting corten-steel retention wall between the turf and perennial bed, and extended the wall to the sidewalk at one end and the street at the other. These strategies enhance the sense of view, making the site seem bigger than it is and balancing the proportions of the house.