Front Door Show And Tell
In The Garden – By Stephen and Kristin Pategas
The front entrance to your home and the arrival sequence tells a story to every passerby and guest. Curious what they are seeing and thinking? Step out to the street – imagine you are arriving at your home for the first time and with your eyes and senses on full alert, walk to the front door during daylight and at night.
During the journey ask yourself these questions:
- Is the front door area visible, clean, and welcoming?
- Does the landscaping lead the eye to the front door?
- Do guests ever arrive at the wrong door?
- Is the walk safe to travel upon?
- Do plants and overhanging branches crowd the walkway?
- Is the doorbell visible and functioning?
- Does the landscape read the same at night?
- Do naked bulbs create glare (night blindness) and reduce their effectiveness?
Begin the welcome at the street with landscaping that flows to the curb at one or two points. This is where you start to lead the eye through the landscape. Repeat plants in masses but be aware of differing sun and shade conditions that may affect plant growth.
Punctuate the journey to the front door with color, fragrant blooms, and visual interest. Accents (aka focal points) may include specimen plants, a water feature, container(s), a bench, or a trellis or ornament on a wall. Create a welcoming sense of scale at the front door. Place a small tree or palm such as a ligustrum, yaupon holly, crape myrtle, or pindo palm near the entrance to use its canopy like a lacy enclosing overhang.
Guests, who most likely are gawking at the beautiful garden, need to safely arrive at the door. Proper design, construction, and maintenance of the walkways are critical so follow these tips:
- Use a straight-on or 90-degree approach to the front door
- Include a small gathering space along the walk for greetings and those sometimes-lengthy goodbyes
- Allow a minimum four-foot-wide walkway for two people to walk side by side
- For pavement, select non-slip materials that have a visual relationship to the house. Clay brick walls? Then use brick for the walk. Stucco? Concrete pavers are a great choice.
- Avoid steps if possible, but steps are better than a steep slope. Cluster level changes together and make them well defined and consistent. Minimum step riser heights of four inches and a maximum of six inches are desirable. Deep treads allow safe placement of the foot. A convenient formula we use is: 2 x riser height + tread height = 27. Hence a six-inch riser requires a 15-inch tread.
- Keep the surfaces well-lit and free of weeds, mildew, and debris
With the voyage almost complete and the front door at hand, provide a payoff – a door painted a contrasting or complementary color and a tailored container overflowing with blooms, colorful foliage, or textured foliage. A good story is a journey and the stroll to your front door should be a journey that tells a tale about you.
Hortus Oasis (FL0001090) in Winter Park is a boutique garden design company specializing in residential, commercial, and specialty gardens. Stephen is a registered landscape architect and Kristin is a certified landscape designer. Contact them at 407-622-4886/ firstname.lastname@example.org and visit www.houzz.com/pro/hortusoasis/__public.
Credit: All photography by Stephen G. Pategas/Hortus Oasis unless otherwise noted. Landscape and hardscape design by Hortus Oasis.