Garden Photo of the Day

Living in the front yard

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Photo/Illustration: Michelle Gervais

Here is an example of something I wish I saw more often in my gardening travels–places to sit in the front yard! Lauren McVey Rush, another gardener I visited when in Chicago a couple of weeks ago, created this inviting seating area, not in her back yard, but in the front, where it greets her visitors with a relaxing place to put down their baggage and sit for a while. It’s a cool, shady spot, and the surrounding garden gives her front yard more depth and purpose than the average lawn and foundation planting.

Click to enlarge
Photo/Illustration: Michelle Gervais
Click to enlarge
Photo/Illustration: Michelle Gervais
Click to enlarge
Photo/Illustration: Michelle Gervais


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  1. Deanneart 09/16/2011

    Love this! I agree that front yard seating is welcoming and not seen that often. We are working on creating a shrub border across the front at the street and am hoping eventually to tuck in a bistro set somewhere in the front as well.

  2. tractor1 09/16/2011

    I think the concept is silly, low class, and rude, something the neighborhood busybodies would subscribe to. I moved from a crowded city to a rural area to get away from the "front stoop mentality"... so the rumor mongers can gossip about who associates with who... blech! Some people, have no decency.

  3. SurlyJo 09/16/2011

    Sounds like tractor1 needs to relax! Seems the negative attitude didn't start on the front stoop, but with you instead. Talk about silly, low class and rude!

  4. Vespasia 09/16/2011

    Lovely solution, we are planning something similar for our front, so this has given me much food for thought.

    There is nothing wrong with a "front stoop" although where I live many of these are lovely welcoming porches. These areas are what help to create a friendly and safe neighborhood, where people know and look out for each other. This is where we have chosen to live and we love it. We have a lively and active rate payers group that go out of their way to help and we have friends and neighbors of all ages and backgrounds from the new born to octogenarians, no negative attitudes here!

  5. user-7006885 09/16/2011

    This does make for a nice, relaxed-feeling entrance. But would work best on a quiet, leafy street. Would not be so pleasant on a busy street with lots of passing traffic, motorcycles, loud trucks etc. ----- unless, you enjoy that kind of hubbub.

  6. Plantfan 09/16/2011

    Anyone else think the Hallmark popup is annoying?

  7. greengrowler 09/16/2011

    Many years ago community was an intergral part of our daily lives. Neighbors helping neighbors, watching out for one another, socializing, and supporting each other in times of need. Sadly, we have moved so far past that; isolation in dense housing developments is common. It is a scientific fact that those with connections to others are healthier, happier, and live longer lives. Thankfully, there is a growing number of folks like Vespasia and Deannart that believe in human connection and strive to foster community.

    Tractor1, it sounds like living in the country, away from people, suits you - and the rest of us. Please be respectful and refrain from quashing others' views.

  8. addictions 09/16/2011

    tractor does not even get the concept, it is hidden from the street with large trees & shrubs, its a place for the homeowner and whom the owner chooses,
    has nothuing to do with neighborhood gossip, and it is not a front stoop.......
    Get a Grip

  9. michgardner 09/16/2011

    I live in Birmingham, Michigan, and the lots our homes sit on are not very large. Several of my neighbors have created a place in their front yard to sit and relax - with neighbors, visitors, whomever, and I think it is a wonderful idea! We just purchased a home here, after renting for 5 years when we 'lost' our house due to the economy in the metro Detroit area. I've been creating my outdoor space since the end of June and plan on having a place to relax and meet new neighbors as well as hang out with old friends. Sounds like tractor1 is the rude, low class busybody who moved out to the boonies to be alone. I have a feeling his urban neighbors were happy to see him go. Sad, really. I always like to think that all avid gardeners are kind souls.

  10. 77355 09/16/2011

    I love this shady hideaway for the homeowner and any guests. It's like having another room to relax in. Possibly one of their reasons is the same as ours:
    The front of our home is our ideal sitting area. It's oriented toward the south and the prevailing breeze. To sit in our backyard in late spring, summer and early fall would be stiflingly hot so we've created a comfy sitting area on the long front porch. It's still perfect in winter as the sun sits low to warm us and we're protected from North breezes while enjoying a weekend morning coffee.
    Beautifully done, Ms. Rush!

  11. Rebel702 09/16/2011

    What I like are the two wood and iron panels hanging on the front porch. Not sure I would have used them there but they are a great architectual piece.

    Take it easy on tractor. Not everyone will like something that is being shared. Great thing about opinions is that everyone has one. Great thing about USA is we get to express them. Even in the country neighbors drive by and stop to chat.

  12. JardinDelSol 09/16/2011

    It's hard to imagine a more inviting and lovely entrance! It is wonderful to have a friendly neighborhood - and "friendly" doesn't necessarily mean close friends per se, unless one chooses that. But building a sense of community by knowing your neighbors and having a wave-and-chat relationship is vital to not only a pleasant environment but also safety and mutual care and assistance when needed. After all, we are all in it together, and the quality of life increases greatly when neighbors are pleasant and caring toward one another. We live in a neighborhood where the majority of residents have completely different religious and political bents than we, but the sense of friendly community is strong despite any differences that might exist. The differences don't matter; the strong community feeling does. Porches and patios like this enhance the neighborliness that is so important in living successly in a happy community. Well done, Lauren!

  13. sheilaschultz 09/17/2011

    Oh Tractor1, go out and dig in the dirt for a few hours, it should make your sense of humor return! Actually, I'm really hoping that you were just having a bad day or pulling our legs. If not, go garden until at least tomorrow.

  14. soilgoil 09/17/2011

    I admire Lauren's leafy, welcoming, front-garden retreat, but I also want to defend tractor1, because I know all too well what he's talking about. I grew up in a densely-populated urban area. There was a "stoop" at the end of our block where about a dozen neighborhood women from the apartment house across the street would gather every afternoon. Whenever anyone walked by this "reviewing stand," as my Mom called it, conversation would cease, then accelerate when the person was out of earshot. The passer-by would then be verbally picked to pieces by these gossips, who apparently had nothing better to do. If these ladies had had the opportunity to lovingly tend gardens of their own, perhaps they would have been more kind.

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