Garden design: A guide to curb appeal

A guide to giving your yard curb appeal that expresses your personality.

Courtesy of Helen Yoest
This landscape was designed to have bright color visible from the curb. Flowers in pots, as well as on each side of the walkway make the approach to the house very welcoming.
Courtesy of Helen Yoest
The entrance to the home of famous Southern garden author Elizabeth Lawrence, now maintained by Wing Haven, has a more subdued appeal but a great deal of charm and a strong sense of place.

Each day, your front garden welcomes friends and family, as well as those passing by on foot and in vehicles.

It's not difficult to improve your home's curb appeal so it pleasantly welcomes visitors all year long. This is a desirable notion since, as the old adage goes, you don’t have a second chance to make a good first impression.

Display your personality starting at the edge of your property by creating a style that is uniquely yours.

As you walk up your drive, consider what others see. Is it an expression of who you are? Can your visitor clearly find the front door? Is it pleasing to the eye year-round? Does everything just seem to fit? With a fresh eye, evaluate what you have and see where this may lead you. [There are two photos above that illustrate what's possible. To see the second photo, click on the arrow at the right base of the first picture.]

Choose a theme

The style of your home will guide you in choosing a theme. Staying within this theme helps to pull everything together. Your home’s style gives you the place to start. Adding elements that speak to who you are is where you come in.

Just remember, for a look that all fits together, stay within your style choice. Sweet, flirty pedestal urns will look out of place in a garden of a contemporary-style home.

A ranch-style home is the most flexible in allowing you to tweak your style. But, whether accentuating a traditional, relaxed, or formal look, maintain the look throughout.

Your best investment

Your best investment of time and money is to focus on the entryway. A visitor should not be confused, so make the entrance clear and obvious. Ideally, the path is wide enough for 2 adults to walk side-by-side (that is, four to five feet wide) and made with a material that compliments your home’s style.

Adding color at the entrance provides the most impact and welcomes visitors. It also makes it easier for the homeowner to maintain. Color can be added to containers, garden beds, and with garden accents.


Container gardens at the home’s entrance work well with any home style. Experiment with the placement and arrangement of containers. A staggered, asymmetrical placement with a small grouping getting bigger as you the approach the house, leads the eye forward.

A pair of pots formally frames the front door. For a more relaxed style, add layers of planters beyond the front steps. Adding window boxes, arrangements on the front porch, and hanging baskets from the roof eaves can add impact to welcome your visitor.

Garden beds

Well maintained garden beds and borders will convey a relaxed feeling. Remember, the front garden is always on show. Keep beds weeded, pruned, and top-dressed with fresh mulch, with an edge that is clean and crisp.

Garden beds and plantings should be in scale with the home. A Southern Magnolia is excellentas an specimen tree for a two-story home, but would be overpowering next to a single-story ranch.

Garden accents

A well-placed garden bench at the front entrance welcomes your visitor. Garden art, boulders, sculpture, or a fountain can be added to create the perfect greeting to visitors.

Putting these ideas into action, you can begin today creating curb appeal that tells people something of your personality even before you open the door and say, “Welcome.”


Helen Yoest lives in North Carolina and writes about Gardening With Confidence. She's a garden writer, speaker, and garden coach. She's also a field editor for Better Homes and Gardens and Country Gardens magazines and serves on the board of advisors for the JC Raulston Arboretum. You can follow Helen on Twitter and Facebook. To read more by Helen here at Diggin' It, click here.

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