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  • Writer's pictureZach

Planting Front Yard Landscaping for Year-Round Color

The landscaping on the front of the house is a big investment and should be something you like. Not only does it add value and curb appeal, but it's what you see every day as you go in and out. When landscaping the front yard, I recommend planting a variety of perennials that will give you year-round color. Many houses looks colorful in the spring, but lose color in the summer through fall. Most of the time you can tell what season someone planted a plant bed because of the perennials selected. To truly have landscaping with have year-round color, you need to be thoughtful about the plants you select.

To prep the plant bed, you might remember that right after we moved in last fall I tore out the old boxwoods in our front plant beds and removed the landscape rock. While the maturity and size of the boxwoods was appealing, there were empty spots where plants had died and they wouldn't allow for us to get much else in there. I also moved the old plants that could be salvaged this spring and gave you tips on how to split large perennials like dallies and sedum. So once the bed was cleared out, I had a truly clean slate.

front yard landscaping
Before we moved in

I've learned that selecting plants for my neighborhood was going to be tricky. Over the winter I watched deer eat almost everything they could reach. I researched and took several walks around the neighborhood to see what was still standing in yards with older landscaping.

Foundational bushes or trees are the main plant you see in a landscaping bed. You have to really think about the average height and color throughout the year. After spending a day with my wife looking around at garden centers, we found the Spartan Juniper Tree. We wanted to plant one on each side of the window and one on the far side of the garage to anchor the landscaping on both sides. The Spartan Juniper will provide us with greenery year around. We found three of the same size and two smaller ones that we placed on the sides of the house. The information on this plant claims to be deer proof.

Spartan Juniper in landscaping bed
Zach planting a Spartan Juniper

With the Juniper, and all plants, after digging the hole, I mix in some of Earl May's planting mix with organic compost to the soil. This helps give new plants a better start with a healthier soil.

planting mix with compost
Mix this into your soil

In the center we placed a Blue Spruce Globe tree. This will also provide year around color and is deer resistant. When nothing else is growing in the cold winter the Blue Spruce trees color can’t be beat. They are expensive so I went for a smaller size to save money. Starting a landscaping bed with young plants can save you a lot of money, but you'll have to be patient. If you're not patient, go for the more mature and larger plants. They'll cost more but you will have more of an instant gratification feeling.

planting blue spruce globe bush in landscaping bed
Planting the Blue Spruce Globe

When planning and spacing out plants I like to either put plants in a group of odd numbers or have them randomly spread out. You need to think about their mature height and width in addition to color, texture, etc. The next perennial I used was Sedum. Sedum is green during the spring and most of the summer. But at the end of the summer, the plant heads turn red through the fall. Sedum can be placed up front in your bed or in the middle. I didn’t have to buy these, because I already had them in my yard. After splitting up a few larger plants, I spaced these out around the front. Having removed the previous plants and rock planting went really fast. The thing that was most difficult was planting around the fully-grown river birch tree.

sedum blooming in fall
Sedum from our old yard blooming in the fall

Next, from my research on what deer don’t like I found that they don’t like the taste and smell of salvia. Usually seen in purple, salvia now comes in several different varieties and colors. It comes up in the spring and if you cut them back, you’ll get more color later in the summer. At the garden center I found salvia in both pink and purple. I bought several of each and spaced them around towards the middle front. They will grow to about three feet tall.

purple salvia
Purple salvia

One of my favorite perennials is called the allium millennium. They form a compact, upright clump of glossy green. The thin leaves smell like garlic if cut. In July purple clusters of flowers form on stems right above the green leaves. These can be split, grown in groups, and are deer resistant because of the smell and taste. I had these in planters last summer so I planted them to carry them over the winter and they survived.

Allium Millennium blooming
Allium Millennium blooming at the old house

I had foundational green plants, and some middle-front shorter plants with summer and fall color, so I needed something medium height that would fill in the middle. I love knockout roses because if you deadhead them throughout the season, they will bloom and flower from June through October. Deadheading means to cut the bloomed flower off so that more new growth will grow and flower - I'll show you how to do this in another post. I purchased several knockout roses to give that hot pink color look to my plant bed. This is risky for me because deer will eat knockout roses. Several people I have helped landscape are scared to get knockout roses because of what they think of traditional roses. Knockouts are basically a bush that produces color for five months. You can leave them alone, but if you deadhead them, they will really flower for most of the summer.

blooming knockout roses
Blooming knockout roses from our old house

Lastly, I wanted some grasses towards the back of my landscaping to add texture. Karl Reed Forester is one of my favorites for having success in Iowa and just having a nice upright ornamental grass. They're so pretty in the fall. I found a variety of Karl Reed Forester called El Dorado. This has more yellow to the blades of grass, but is similar to Karl Reed Forester. I've planted both varieties and we'll see what ends up staying in the front and what the El Dorado ends up looking like.

Karl reed forrester grass
Karl Reed Forrester grass

Once finished, Kiersten didn’t like how the blue spruce globe tree stood out as the only plant with its blue color. We needed something that would connect to that tree and blend it all in together. After searching I found a type of low growing sedum called blue spruce sedum. I planted several of these around the front and it helped add more similar blue-toned color throughout. These blue spruce sedum will also get yellow flower heads that should tie in to the El Dorado Karl Reed Forester grasses. We may end up getting other spruces but this should satisfy for now.

Blue spruce sedum
Blue spruce sedum

I planted a variety of the same types of plants on the other side of the garage to match the main front bed.

I also finally took the landscaping rock out from the little plant bed around the mailbox post and planted a small little variety of sedum, El Rodeo grass and pink salvia.

The final step was putting down Cedar Mulch all around the new plants. If you're following along, you how much I hate landscaping rock and prefer cedar mulch - if you missed that, check out this blog for why I think you should use mulch. I also had some large rocks that were in various places throughout the landscaping beds that I spaced out to break up the plants with some natural interest elements. With these plantings I should have color throughout the summer and into fall. In late fall I’ll probably plant some spring bulbs to give us color in the early spring.

Newly planted front landscaping bed with 4-season color
Newly planted front landscaping bed with 4-season color
Newly planted front landscaping bed with 4-season color
Newly planted front landscaping bed with 4-season color

Newly planted front landscaping bed with 4-season color
Newly planted front landscaping bed with 4-season color

Newly planted front landscaping bed with 4-season color
Newly planted front landscaping bed with 4-season color

Once you finish planting, give everything a really good soak with the hose and keep watering these new plants throughout the summer. When it's really dry, I usually like to water twice a week.

Newly planted front landscaping bed with 4-season color
The whole front! Newly planted front landscaping bed with 4-season color

Need a lawn fix? Here's what we used:

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we're kiersten and zach

Follow along with us each week as we work to make the very 2000s home we bought during the middle of a pandemic more “us.” We’ll share everything from quick fixes to more permanent changes, along with projects you can do in your own home. Zach will also share all his lawn and garden advice as he starts over on the yard.


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