For years all the attention has been on the back yard—fire pits, decks, patios, water features and creative landscaping designed to create a private oasis for the homeowner and their guests. But lately, I’m seeing more development in the front beyond the perfunctory arrangement of bushes and double flower pots on the stoop. Chairs, small tables and a bona fide renaissance of open porches and patios are springing up all over my Minneapolis neighborhood. I can only assume that these homeowners, like my dogs who jump on the back of the couch to get a better view of the sidewalk, want to be where the action is….in the front.
Is it because people are busier, home less or have services for things like lawn mowing, gutter cleaning and snow removal and just aren’t spending time on the house that would have in the past put them in touch with neighbors? Is it because we need a respite from our electronics and want to have actual in-person contact? No matter—this is a trend that promotes community and that’s a good thing. Front yard spaces can provide just as much relaxation without all the isolation and have the added bonus of making it easy to connect with the neighbors, if you choose.
Swings, hammocks, tables and chairs, and even fireplaces and fire pits can be incorporated into porches and front yards, and work in harmony with gardens and landscaping. It’s not just a Minneapolis trend either, according to Meg Arnosti, an award-winning landscape architect with Southview Design. She says they’re also seeing a big increase in front yard patios beyond the city limits. “It seems to reflect a stronger sense of community, even in suburban neighborhoods. People want to sit and have a cup of coffee or a glass of wine and greet the neighbors or invite them over.”
From an aesthetic standpoint, front porches and seating areas soften the look of a house and make it just a little more appealing from the street. And by using the front yard, you double your usable outdoor space so when the hot sun is in the back, you can go to the front and vice versa. So you can double your outdoor time as well.
by Laurie Junker
Photos courtesy of Anchor Builders, Andrea Rugg, Natasha Tennessen, Southview Design, and Home Restoration Inc.