Improving the front yard

Wednesday March 31 2021
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Add a garden structure and furniture to your front yard. PHOTO/Rachel Mabala

By Joan Salmon

Having a great front yard is very pivotal in the overall look of your house as this is the welcoming point. While some improvements can be done a few days, others take weeks as some can be done by the homeowner while others need professional input. Having that at the back of your mind will help as you embark on the various improvements that will give your front yard a better look.

Boundary wall

Most home have perimeter walls around their homes and Ambrose Kajubi of KC Architecture, shares that its appeal is important in making a home feel welcoming. It is thus important that its outlook be seen to. “Give the outer wall a fresh coat of paint and if it is not plastered, you may want to see to that first as the plaster also helps to preserve the bricks. You could also grow a creeping plant on the wall to give it a natural look. However, make it a point to prune it every two to three months to get rid of big stems that would become detrimental to the wall,” says Kajubi.

Landscaping the gate area is also crucial and that could include paving the entry to accommodate pavers or a concrete ground. “You can also grow some plants and flowers along the boundary wall. Adding a canopy to your gate will improve the aesthetics of this area as well,” he says.

The inner side of the wall does not have to be bare either as the creeping plant could extend inside. “You could however, add a coat of paint, say green so that it disappears behind hanging potted plants you would have put along the wall. Ensure that there are some flowers amongst these to add more colour to the wall,” Kajubi suggests.

Drive way and parking lot

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The entry way extends to the drive way and this needs to be paved. “You could do that with colourful pavers for more colour or clean the existing ones. Having a paved drive way also ensures that your greenery is not driven over thus preserving it,” Isaac Simiyu, a contractor, shares.

He adds that demarcating this drive way with lights and shrubs will add beauty to the yard. Solar lights are ideal as they do not affect your power bill.

Front door

The overall look of your front door is worth looking into as it sometimes works as a focal point of the front yard. Kajubi says sprucing up its look with a fresh coat of paint could be the start. “Changing the door type to either a newer one or a bigger one is another consideration worth its salt. Widening the doorway means opening up the house which will give the entrance a better appeal of less confinement, where you get to bring the outdoors indoors and vice versa,” says Kajubi. However, that usually means breaking thus the need to talk to your architect to ensure all is well.

Kajubi adds that the homeowner could also clean off dirty spots from the door handle to restore its immaculate look. “In cases where the handle is very small in comparison to the door size, an upgrade could also help the general outlook,” says Kajubi.

He adds that one could highlight the door way with big pots with plants or flowers, or sculptures

Front of the house

Besides the front door, the rest of the front side of the house ought to look appealing. That would mean giving the walls and ceiling on the front verandah (porch) a fresh coat of paint. Ensure that the colour choice is bright rather than dull so as to be inviting. The wall outside the verandah should undergo a complete makeover. If you have balustrades, it will also be crucial to repaint them to make them look as good as new,” Marylyn Namulindwa, a landscaper, shares.

Enhancing path to front door

Just in case the front yard was covered with grass, how about changing the area leading to the front door with a little more? “It could be adding shrub-like vegetation on either side on the stairs leading to to the staircase leading to the front verandah. You could also tweak the area to have curb stones rather than grass to reduce on the soil splashing on the verandah when it rains,” Namulindwa says. When improving your curb appeal, it will also be great to work with symmetry for the sole reason that it is pleasing to the eye. “For instance, two pots of bird of paradise flowers at the entry way, two miniature conifers side by side on the walk way to the house, and two sidelights on either side of the door. You could always change the flower options as well as the number to your liking,” says Namutindwa.

She adds that when implying paths within the yard, its functionality should be considered. “Inasmuch as you are creating a pathway to a pergola or mini-garden, if the yard is more of a child play area, taking the path by the boundary wall would be better than taking it through the play area,” she says.

Add seats to your verandah or porch

Not everyone that comes to your home will enter the house yet you cannot keep them standing. That is why Simiyu says it is important to add seats to your porch. “These could be rocking chairs that older people will greatly appreciate, not to mention children as they get to swing or a small table with a few seats. Whatever you fancy will help act as a bridge between the outside and inside.” Even for those within the home, he says a few seats on the porch means they can enjoy the outdoors in comfort.

Create an instant garden

No, it is not about digging up your grass for a garden because I know you wonder if the flowers will grow anyway. Sandra Gwokyalya draws our focus on a container garden as this will allow for various plants such as succulents and also ease containing errant ones which would be somewhat difficult in a garden. “With containers, it is also possible to arrange the plants and flowers in colour variations to create a warm feel for your front yard. The positioning of this garden is determined by your tastes and preferences but it would be better not to put it close to the wall to avoid dumpness and mould,” Gwokyalya  says. Containers to use could be of plastic, wooden, concrete or ceramic material.

Give your gardens a fresh look

If you already have garden beds, Gwokyalya says take out the weeds, get rid of aging plants, prune over grown plants, get rid of some plants to deal with overcrowding. “With this, the garden will look fresh and new. In case there are no surviving flowers, introduce colourful one for more colour. It will also be a great idea to add some stones to the boundaries of your garden for added beauty,” she advises.

Clean the roof

A dirty looking roof affects the front yard appeal. “Get the roof cleaned using a jet machine to remove soil and any dirt that has become part of the roof. In case of tiles, replacing of damaged tiles will also help in preventing any further damage to the roof. However, working with professionals will help you avoid any damage while delivering a good job,” Simiyu says. He adds that seeing to the gutters is part of the job as some are filled with soil and plants which is not good for the drainage system and negatively affects the structure of the house.

The ideas are endless and your pocket is a great deciding factor as well. You could also think about adding a focal point in the yard such as a desert garden, and adding seating in the yard, say a pergola.

Add outdoor lighting

Lightingought not to push your power bill through the roof. Get low voltage lighting or even solar lights placed in different positions of the compound to give you the desired effect. “These accent lights can be placed on trees, within the lawns, alongside the path way to illuminate the compound (front yard) but also better the security and safety of the place. That is because dark corners owing to the night cover are eliminated which gives no room for intruders to hide but also, in case of a snake, you will not get bitten because you did not see it in time,” Kajubi says.

These lights also make any functions at night plausible and more interesting rather than having to improvise for the night.

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