Problems with front door entries and front walkways result from a lack of sound functional design. This type of front yard landscape problem occurs commonly in developer built homes because builders understandably focus on maximizing the beauty and spaciousness of the house. The fine details of front yard landscaping including walkways, entry doors, and driveways may not get all the attention they deserve. The experience of getting into and out of the house can be perfunctory and uninspired for you or somewhat confusing for visitors.
Solving Functional Design Issues in Front Yard Walkways
The way to find a permanent solution for front yard issues is to work with a landscape architect. They can analyze the functionality of your current front entryway, then develop a design solution for hardscaping and landscaping that is unified in both beauty and functionality.
When landscape architects design front walkways and front entries, they incorporate visual and sensory cues that define the intended destination and create a feeling of intrigue that draws you towards it. Obviously, walkways are a means of getting from point A to point B. But the art of it is to enhance the pleasure of the journey.
In a previous blog article, we talked in detail about functional design issues and solutions for making your driveway design more functional. In this article, we are going to focus on the way walkways and front entry areas can make or break your experience of arriving home each day. We’ll discuss three different types of front walkway or front entry problems and the solutions landscape architects devised to address each of them.
The Elegance of a Straight Line: Short and Sweet
This first project features a home on a modest-sized lot in a mature neighborhood. The functionality problem here was somewhat subtle. It had more to do with visual logistics.
- The front entry area and porch were weak. It did not make a strong enough statement to draw the eye to the destination.
- Aside from being tired and worn out, the flagstone walkway was narrow. It failed to “claim its space” and decisively point you to your destination.
- The walkway also featured a curve that was visually confusing because there was no reason for it to curve. It didn’t make sense.
Since the distance from the front door to the curb was fairly short, it made sense to follow the straight shot from the curb to the front door. The landscape architect’s proposed design is appropriately straight-forward but it has been “sweetened’ in the following ways:
- The “landing pad” at the curb is widened to create an “open-armed” welcome for guests, giving them plenty of room to step out of the car onto a spacious firm surface
- The new walkway is straight, centered on the front entry porch, and widened slightly so it lines up with the edges of the door frame
- The new portico makes a bold statement that is hard to miss. Whereas the existing portico barely covered the doorway, the proposed portico spans the front door and sidelights on either side–repeating that “open-armed” feeling generated by the widened landing at the curb end of the walkway
Highlighting the Destination
Our second example project features a large home on a corner lot with an expansive front yard. The solid wood double front door to the home was sensational. Yet, this powerful feature was diminished by the massive brick facade behind it. That, and the low set of brick steps leading up to it, made the doorway fade into the background.
The entry area needed a strong definition to bring it forward and separate it from the vast ruddy expanse surrounding it.
By regrading the front yard and redesigning the driveway, the landscape architect was able to create a longer approach to the front entry and thus balance the composition. Essential elements of the new front entry design that contribute to the transformation are:
- The spectacular wooden door is now framed by an equally spectacular portico that directs the eye toward the doorway.
- The roof of the portico is curved as are the steps leading up to it, providing a welcome visual break from the monotony the brick facade
- There is an apron area bordered by stone retaining walls and six steps leading to the front door, giving just enough added distance to balance the composition.
Where the previous entry was one-dimensional, the new entry area has depth and layers of visual interest.
Revealing the Hidden Front Porch Entry
Our last example project features a traditional style home with outdated front yard landscaping. There was no clear path from the street to the front door. The existing front walk which followed the front wall of the house was hidden by foundation plantings.
The redesign of the front walkway brought it down to meet the driveway and opened up the porch entry with a set of wide steps. The landscape architect used a layering effect again to present the house and its front entry to better advantage. Beginning at the porch, the path to the front door steps gradually down three levels until finishing at the driveway level. The visual effect is open and the multiple elevation changes create a visual interest that leads the eye to the front door.
Lighting the Way After Dark
And let’s not forget landscape lighting. At the very least you will need your walkways lit by low to the ground downward aimed lights and lighting for the front entry porch. In addition, your architect might recommend placing some upward aimed lights to bring out the beautiful limb structure of a tree or other landscape feature that accents the way to the front door.
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