Front yards are important. They are the first thing we see when we come home every day. The first thing guests see when they visit. Our neighbors also spend a lot of time looking at them. So, it makes sense that we want them to reflect back an image of who you are and what you value. However, I often get asked how to create a garden that supports wildlife but still looks intentional and cared for. My answer, is always that it’s easy. Supporting wildlife doesn’t mean that you have to have a meadow in your front yard. Although nature does seem like prefer a little mess and chaos, it’s not all or nothing situation. You can have a garden that impresses the neighbours and brings you joy when you come home, that is also habitat for pollinators and songbirds. Here are some design tips to make sure your garden looks intentional, welcoming and cared for, while still providing habitat for wildlife.

1. Go with a plan. Like all successful projects, a great garden, starts with a great plan. Whether you design it yourself or hire a professional, a garden plan will ensure that you get the most of your space. Take the time to think about how you use the space, the colours you like Look at other gardens and see what you love or don’t love. Creating a plan can also help you stay on track and not get distracted by plant sale deals. Down the road, a properly devised plan can save you money by ensuring that you do it right the first time and don’t overspend on plants that aren’t suited to the space.

2. Keep it low. Try to keep the bulk of your plants under a height of 5 feet.  Incorporating too many tall plants and shrubs can make your yard look uninviting.  This applies more so to smaller yards. The larger the yard, the more room there will be to create a gradual build of height.

3.The more the merrier. Group your plants together. They will create a larger impact that is more attractive to people as well as passing pollinators (win, win). The size of the groupings will depend on the size of the space and the plants. Groupings can also be replicated throughout the garden to create a continuous flow of colour.

4. Tidy borders. The edge or border of the gardens should be well-maintained. If you are planting right to the curb, using small mounding perennials helps create a soft line that welcomes your eye to the garden. I love sedges as border plants. Other crowd-pleasers are Lance-leaf coreopsis, Upland White Goldendord and Prairie Dropseed.

5. Modern love. Don’t be afraid to use modern or formal design elements. While hard lines and well-trimmed edges may not be what one imagines a wildlife garden, it isn’t against the rules. You can have formal and functional.


Upland White Goldenrod Lance leaf coreopsis 

For more tips on how to have an ecologically functional garden that still impresses the neighbours, check out our post on Mullet Gardening, business in the front, party at the back blog.