This is THE book that made me really start looking at my front yard in a different way. We had a nice, "neat," typical suburban front yard: shrubs and perennials around the foundation. And then Liz Primeau's Front Yard Gardens: Growing More Than Grass came into my life. And my front yard is almost unrecognizable in older photos because of it!
Review: "Front Yard Gardens"
If you are tired of maintaining huge swaths of lawn, or just want a bit more color and texture in your landscape, you would do well to take a look at Liz Primeau's Front Yard Gardens. The first thing you will notice are photos -- page after page after page of large, full-color photos that will have you saying "I WISH my yard looked like that!" Happily, this book takes you well beyond the dreaming phase, and helps you put those landscaping dreams into reality.
The book is divided into chapters that highlight a particular garden style. There are cottage gardens, small city gardens, opulent gardens, minimalist gardens, natural gardens....plenty of styles to ensure that something in the book fits with your tastes. Each chapter highlights several gardens of that style, including large color photos and the story of that garden and how it came about. After providing a few examples of each style, Primeau gets down to the "how-to" part of each chapter: how to create a garden. She provides tips for designing in a particular style, materials that suit each style, and appropriate accessories. She then includes an extensive list of plants that work well with each style of gardening. This gives you an excellent starting place to either renovate or start putting in a brand new front yard garden in exactly the style you like.
The beginning of the book is about why lawns are not the best use of space, and tells about Primeau's own transformation from typical suburban gardener to front yard gardening guru. She includes photos of her own process, as well as drawings and plant lists. It is nice to hear from someone who has undertaken a process like this first-hand. The best part of seeing Primeau's own process is the realization that gardens take time. We watch these landscaping shows on television and it looks like a garden comes together in a day or two. In reality, gardens take years to fully come together, and then they continue evolving. A front yard garden is no different. The good news is that even with a small budget, you can do a bit every year, and work toward that dream garden in your head.
Resources for Designing Your Own Garden
Quotes from "Front Yard Gardens"
"Although lawns had a presence in North America as the country entered the nineteenth century, they were still a privilege of the wealthy. Pioneers and farmers without the resources or the time for decorative gardening had to remain content with packed-dirt front yards, of they had any yard a all , swept daily to keep the dust down."
"...you really shouldn't worry. Nature is wonderful, and manages to weave plants together in a pleasing mass even if there isn't much of a planting plan (my own garden is a good example.) You just have to look at fields, meadows and plantings along rail lines to see how nature works her magic. Things fit."
I very highly recommend Liz Primeau's The Front Yard Garden: Growing More Than Grass to any gardener who looks at that swath of green in the front yard and envisions a more colorful, lively landscape. The photos, tips, and stories of real gardeners who have put together their own front yard gardens makes this an indispensable resource.