If you are establishing a new front yard or renovating an established yard, planning is essential. The front yard is the first thing people see, even before the house. Because of this, plan a front yard that will appeal to both you and others around you when possible. Have an understanding of the yard's shape and size, the type of vegetation you'll use and local regulations regarding the use and conformity of the yard.
Measure your front yard with measuring tape. Take measurements from the street to the house, along the edge of the house, and along the street itself. Your yard may look to be a regular shape, but it may have different measurements on any one side. These measurements will become the boundaries with which to work in. Create a size scale so you can keep further measurements within the same format.
Sketch the measurements of the yard on graph paper with the pencil. Include the placement of the walkways, driveway, and the location of the house front. Draw the porch in relation to the house if you have a porch. Include any hills, shallow areas, outcroppings or large rocks. Draw the areas where the trees, shrubs, bushes and flowerbeds are; include any bush or trees from neighbor yards that extend into your own front yard along the edges.
Design the layout and color scheme of the front yard to match the look of your house. Plan a more traditional front yard or floral garden for older homes and a modern look for new homes. Use smaller plants or bushes for small houses to avoid losing the house among the landscape.
Learn the zoning of your town or neighborhood association. Regulations may require that you have a certain amount of green space, or that certain vegetation cannot be used. Tell neighbors if you are planning a front yard that may vary from the remaining neighborhood layouts.
Add fixtures to your plan. These can include bird feeders and fountains, rock or wood landscaping, lighting, flagpoles, mailboxes, pavers or statues. Include if you want annuals, perennials or a mix, as well as where each will be.
Map out the front yard on paper before purchasing anything. Note any plantings that may need moving or dislodging. Try to work around established plants and trees to avoid potential extra cost and problems later. Make note of where the shade falls in the early morning, noon and late afternoon; this will determine where some plants or flowers are placed to ensure proper sunlight.