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Luke Arthur Wells

5 Things People With Expensive-Looking Front Yards Have That You Can Achieve on Any Kind of Budget

A front yard with a large tree, turning circle and lavender planted.

Think about the best-looking house on your street... Is there something about how their front yard is presented that makes it feel a little more expensive? It's a hard quality to capture, especially if you don't necessarily have a huge budget to spend on landscaping.

But, as it turns out, there are some shortcuts that designers use to make front yards feel more elevated that are easy to recreate if you know where to put your focus. They're the individual elements that will take front yard landscaping to the next level.

You don't have to invest in them all, necessarily, but these elements will help you achieve a luxe look with your scheme, and boost your home's curb appeal, and value, in the process.

1. Lighting

(Image credit: Erik Holt. Design: Cos Design )

'There are many elements that all work together which elevate this project to another level,' says Steve Taylor, Managing Director of landscaping studio Cos Design. 'The stunning renovation of the original home is perfectly framed by carefully considered and well-balanced scale and proportions of all structural elements.'

It's a well-put-together scheme in every sense, but it may be the detail of the lighting that most elevates the space, especially after the sun goes down. 'The attention to detail throughout from the led lit step shadow lines through to accent lighting across the planting all combine to elevate this project to a very high-end finish,' Steve says.

It's a detailed and thorough lighting scheme, that extends beyond the path to accent lighting in the plant beds and feature tree lighting, too. It ensure the design really comes alive at nighttime, and just can't help but feel expensive.

2. Carefully planned planting

(Image credit: Stacy Zarin-Goldberg. Design: Richardson & Associates Landscape Architecture)

Expensive-looking front yards generally have the planting pitched just right. That is, you'll want a front yard that feels generously planted, but not overgrown. That lushness equates to an expensive look, and it can be tempting to want instant gratification, but the path to a luxe front yard is better played as a waiting game, especially on a budget.

'Plants should be spaced so that things will fill in nicely over a few years, and there are benefits to starting with smaller sized plants,' explains Joseph Richardson of Richardson & Associates Landscape Architecture. 'Small plants tend to establish more quickly than larger plants, and there is something fulfilling about seeing the garden evolve over time. And if something doesn't work, you can catch it on a smaller scale, too, rather than a larger scale when you've already invested a lot into it.'

Where you may want to invest is in a "feature" tree for a front yard. This will introduce height, and provide a focal point. Extra expensive-looking points for trees for a front yard that will bring seasonal interest, as a blossoming magnolia, or maple with fiery fall leaves, always capture the attention.

3. Introduce a water feature

(Image credit: Ella Kate. Design: Charter Oak Landscape)

The essence of an expensive-looking front yard is one that transcends the basics of landscaping. We asked Adam Sexton, senior associate at Richardson & Associates Landscape Architecture, what his one not-strictly-necessary design feature would be to bring elegance to a front yard.

'One design feature I'm particularly enjoying for beauty right now is the use of water features, like fountains or ponds,' he explains. 'They add a soothing ambiance, attract wildlife, and create a sense of tranquility that enhances the overall appeal of the outdoor space.'

In this front yard by Charter Oak Landscape Development, a simple trough design complements the gravel landscaping, and adds the movement, and sound, of water into this desert-like landscape.

4. Add outdoor seating

(Image credit: Joe Schmelzer. Design: Mercantile & Merchant / Ryan Perella)

There's a growing trend towards social seating in front yards, turnng them from places you simply walk-through, to ones where you spend time. Whether you've got a walled-in courtyard garden, or a front yard that's open onto the street, it's about adding a welcoming prospect to your curb appeal and the sense of an outdoor room. And we're not talking about your stereotypical lawn chairs.

It was this that Sam Donnelley, founder of property developers Mercantile & Merchant, wanted to achieve for this remodeled home in Los Angeles. 'This particular pocket of studio city is a very friendly neighborhood,' she says. 'Everyone knows each other and truly chats over the garden fence when walking the dog, and trust me there is a lot of dog walking! So why not have a little spot to relax and chat? I also think that unexpected seating areas are so fun. To me, one of the joys of Southern California living is the climate, and having any area in your yard that feels like and outdoor 'room' seems so inviting.'

5. Create a defined walkway

(Image credit: Fredrickson Landscape)

If there's one space you should pay attention to for a front yard that feels elevated, it's the pathway, according to landscape designer Ben Fredrickson. 'The walkway serves multiple purposes — it welcomes you and your guests, updates the overall look of your yard, and ensures a smooth flow throughout the space,' he tells us.

This elevates the experience of the front yard from just being for onlookers, to feeling better-considered when making your way to the front door. Consider how you frame the journey — in this front yard, which is Ben's own home, the pathway is punctuated with planting, as well as pathway lighting that accentuates it at night.

There are plenty of other things you'll find in an expensive front yard, which often rely on more luxurious landscaping materials. Think fences, hardscaping, perfectly maintained lawns, and more. However, these 5 additions aren't beyond the realms of any budget, so anyone can take these steps to elevate their space.

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