Bay windows are octagonal shaped and first became popular in architectural designs during Victorian times, according to the University of Vermont. Through landscaping, you can draw the eye’s attention to the main focal point, which is the window. Consider the remainder of the front yard’s landscape design when selecting plant types. Connect the front landscape together by continuing a similar theme in the bed surrounding the bay window.
There are various elements gardeners should consider when designing any new landscape. It's important to consider the environmental conditions. Assess the area’s light, moisture and soil conditions, as well as the temperature. This allows you to select suitable plants tolerant to the conditions. Select plants with similar needs. Consider the chosen plant’s mature height and spread.
Utilize plants with noninvasive root systems and those that will not interfere with the house. Plants with invasive root systems can damage the house’s foundation. Before planting, draw up a landscape design on paper. Consider creating a semicircular bed around the bay window, as it brings a balanced flow to the area. Note the bed’s size, shape and the placement of each plant. You then know how many plants and supplies are required.
To create a formal look to front yard around the bay window, install taller plants or smallish trees at the window’s outer two sides. Shorter shrubs with a controlled growth habit can fill the area between. To maintain balance, utilize two taller plants of the same species, or ones similar in canopy shape and height. Plants such as podocarpus (Podocarpus macrophylla), silver buttonwood (Conocarpus erectus) or bottle palms (Hyophorbe lagenicaulis) work well. Fill in the remaining portion of the bed with a row of small-growing shrubs. Shrubs such as boxwood (Buxus microphylla) and Indian hawthorn (Rhapiolepis indica) grow relatively slowly, with contained growth.
Adding a tall plant at the bay window’s center window helps that portion of the front yard become a focal point. When using a center accent, allow enough space between the window and the plant’s mature canopy. This keeps plant branches from brushing against the window’s glass. Small or miniature trees work well as center accent plants. Using flowering types adds extra color. Plants such as tropical hibiscus (Hibiscus rosa-sinensis) and camellia (Camellia japonica) are trainable as trees and blossom. Pigmy date palms (Phoenix roebelenii) grow slowly and add a tropical effect. Complete the area by using lower-growing shrubs that maintain the same height. Ixora (Ixora coccinea) and Japanese barberry (Berberis thunbergii “Crimson Pygmy”) are suitable choices.
Using a mixed garden design adds an informal effect to the front area around the bay window. Achieve balance through proper placement of the plants. Create a smooth flow by creating a tiered look. Place taller shrubs in the background, closest to the wall and shorter growing perennials in front. Use plants that maintain similar heights, but might have different textures or foliage colors to add interest. Taller plants such as croton (Codiaeum variegatum var. pietum) and Mexican heather (Cuphea hyssopifolia) are suitable. Shorter perennials such as lirope (Lirope muscari), impatiens (Impatiens wallerana) and lily-of-the-Nile (Agapanthus spp.) are suitable fillers.
- The University of Vermont: Bay
- University of Florida IFAS Extension: Landscape Design: Ten Important Things to Remember
- University of Florida IFAS Extension: Finding Inspiration for a Design Theme
- Floridata: Tree List
- Floridata: Phoenix Roebelenii
- Floridata: Shrub List
- Floridata: Perennial Plant List
- Floridata: Hyophorbe Lagenicaulis