Finding Sanctuary in the Front Yard


I wrote this for an online mag, but I may have missed the deadline. So I thought I’d share it with my readers instead.

I wrote about my front yard garden, as it’s been a topic much on my mind lately. I thought today was the perfect day to post this as this evening we will be receiving 2nd place in the Pride of PoCo garden awards. There is going to be a reception at city hall with awards to be handed out during the council meeting. I’m looking forward to meeting and talking with the other winners!

Plant talk, a chance to talk politics and hors d’oeuvre. Yes, it will be a good day!



Finding Sanctuary in the Front Yard

A different way of gardening.

With houses being designed with denser populations in mind, space is becoming a limited commodity. Houses are being built with minimal to no space to call a backyard. Leaving little room to enjoy the outdoors, let alone keep a garden. Yet in neighborhoods across North America people are shaking up the system, doing something rather revolutionary. They are planting gardens.

From boulevards to window boxes people are catching on. Utilizing a prime growing space right in their front yards. With everything from vegetable gardens to front yard retreats, homeowners are taking back their land, digging up their grass and thinking outside of the box.

Create a retreat right at your front door.

Turning up my street, home is always a sight for sore eyes. No matter what they day has brought, I know that here is a place where beauty, love and family co mingle. By investing myself into transforming my front yard, I have created not only a passion that helped turn the course of my life, but a place of constant wonder and imagination for my children, the neighborhood and the wildlife around us.

This year my front perennial garden was entered into and received second place in the Pride of Port Coquitlam Garden Awards. This city run contest judges the curb appeal of front yard gardens. It was amazing to see the variations in style and plantings. What other’s are doing to keep their entries so warm and inviting. My city has rightly seen the benefits from encouraging homeowners and residents to help beautify their communities through creative use of plantings. The visual impact of these gardens does wonderful things for the spirit of a neighborhood, and community pride.

Although at its prime through the summer months, my garden also has seasonal interest. Creating food and shelter for the bugs, birds and local wildlife. A necessary part of a healthy community.

Getting started.

Our front yard renovations were born out of necessity. Once wild and overgrown, I removed the weeds and rid the yard of the invasive blackberry bush, to find a blank canvass in need of attention. Looking back, this was a turning point. We could have dug out the old cedar stump and gone the traditional suburban lawn route. Instead without knowing quite why, I started planting and planning a perennial garden. In that order.

Over the last 5 years the garden has really come together. It has undergone a remarkable transformation. At one point or another, we have dug up almost every inch of the earth around us. One of the biggest challenges was the numerous utility covers dotting the grass. Fallout from a large scale drainage project. By landscaping a strip of river rock between my driveway and grass, I was able to hide a problem and turn the solution into a feature. Now potted creations help transition the space and the kids decorate with stones. Building inukshuks in the rocks.

Doing the work yourself can save a tremendous amount of money. Its hard work, but the rewards are worth it. Think of your garden as a home gym, just waiting to school you in the art of nature. Still experience is an asset. Don’t be afraid to ask for help, or hire an expert. When we renovated the front yard we may have done all of the sweat work ourselves, but we also made sure to bring in the professionals when needed. In our case, a plumber assisted us through the project. When city connections are involved, it’s best to make sure they get done right!

Get it down on paper!

So how to begin? The best way to start planning your garden is to write a list of all of the things you want from the space. Will this just be a pass through to the front door, or are you looking for a place to entertain? Maybe your vision has something cozier. A lounger tucked into the foliage for a quiet spot to read and enjoy a good book! A play area for the kids?

Make sure while dreaming to keep grounded in reality. There are always things in your yard you can’t change. This doesn’t have to be a negative, rather an opportunity for creative solutions. Are there utilities to hide? Put up a trellis and allow a climber to create the visual pop that will hide them away. Loud busy road? How about adding a water feature to screen the noise? Find the flaws and look for way to turn them into a feature. Plant a yard appropriate tree to screen pollutants, or block the sightline of an ugly garbage can.

Once you have a clear idea of what you want from your garden start drawing it out. You don’t need much artistic talent here. Some blank paper a ruler and a pencil with a good eraser and your gold.

Make your dreams a reality.

Garden planning can become overwhelming if you spend too much time looking at the big picture. Gardens come together piece by piece. Splitting the yard up into smaller projects under your original design scheme is a good way to keep motivated while not being a drain on the pocketbook. Over time the projects will come together, until one day you will see your vision!

However keep in mind that gardening is a continuing adventure. Allow for changes to your master plan as you and your garden grow together. Plants come in and out of fashion. You never know what’s just around that corner!


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12 comments on “Finding Sanctuary in the Front Yard

  1. Elephant's Eye on said:

    One day, your children will remember, building inukshuks in mama's garden ;>) I came from Marguerite at Canoe Corner. Anne of Green Gables territory. And I am Diana of Elephant's Eye

  2. Congratulations on your award! Your article is fantastic too – very informative and some great ideas!

  3. Rebecca @ In The Garden on said:

    Wonderful post/article. Many congratulations on your terrific award. I think if I lived in PoCo, you might find me lounging in your gorgeous space. 🙂

  4. Great advice in your article Laura.

  5. danger garden on said:

    Hopefully you didn't miss the deadline after all, as I am sure many would enjoy reading your article. And congrats on the award!

  6. Good job on the article.Your garden is a delight. Your kids really are learning a lot about community, gardens, people and hard work.

  7. That Bloomin' Garden on said:

    Good advice. I love your garden. I will bet the neighbours love it too.

  8. Congrats on your award and a very informative article! I just love how orderly and creative your front yard is, and the way you've integrated rock and stone into the landscape.

  9. @Diana hi! Thanks for stopping by! I was a big rock collector as a kid, ahem…also as an adult too. So it was a great way for me to not only hide some ugly utilities, but have an excuse to continue my rock collecting!@Heather thank you. I didn't want to get to much into how to plan a garden, as taste is such a personal thing. So instead I wrote on how to approach the project. I think this can be one of the most intimidating parts about starting a garden.@Rebecca you could stop by anytime lady. 😉 Seriously, if your ever in town, shoot me a line!@Kellee thanks! As a new-ish gardener myself I think I have a lot to share! Hopefully my article is helpful, informative, or at least good for a chuckle :)@Danger Garden I did miss it. Saw the online copy, and I wasn't included. Technical difficulties kept me from being able to send it out the night before. Oh well, live and learn. Maybe they'll publish it next month!@Lori whether they like it or not! 🙂 🙂 I think we are opening up a lot of doors and opportunities for our kids. My daughter was telling me yesterday that she was going to be taller than Mayor Moore (he is REALLY tall) one day. She is a really tall girl, so I don't doubt it. The part that impressed me was that she remembered his name. She is very interested in the city workings and often tags along after her father while he's working on civic projects.@That Bloomin Garden I get a lot of compliments from the neighbor's, and a lot of people who walk by, even though we are not a through street!

  10. @Linda thanks! I really like the rocks. They look fantastic in the rain too! They add a whole other depth to the garden!

  11. Stevie from on said:

    Great article, Laura. Which magazine was it for? It's too bad you missed it but I enjoyed reading about your graden anyway – so thanks for posting!

  12. Your article has inspired me to spend more time working on my front garden. I spend most of my time in my back garden but I like the idea of encouraging more front gardening so the gardens aren't hidden away and everyone can enjoy them.

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