Landscaping a U-Shaped House-Any Ideas?

by Steve

Front Courtyard

Front Courtyard

Hi Nancy,

We have a south-facing, L-shaped home with a LOT of driveway (see attached photos). We are trying to soften some of the drive, but have heard we should not hide the entry to the house. Do you have any suggestions for landscaping?

The area beneath the three garage windows repeats itself in front of the larger detached garage. We added two bracken's brown beauty magnolias on each side, right where the drive curves off toward the garages out in the yard, and a hetzi juniper at the corner of each garage. We're thinking about doing some type of dark-colored leaves shrubs along the large area of drive (16+ feet!) between the magnolia and beginning of each garage (where the row of hollies in the photo once stood), but it would block the front door view. We love the tuscan, commercial/formal landscape(hence the hetzis added to our corners).

Any advise is appreciated!



Dear Steve,

You have a beautiful house that I know you want to frame as best you can with landscaping. I looked at the link you sent of examples of Tuscan landscaping you like and am sorry I can't share it here. One obstacle that you have to overcome is the way the driveway comes through your property and into the parking area in front of the house. In both cases, it is focusing on the garage not the front door. If you revisit the link you sent me, it has good examples of the driveway focusing on the front door. This may not have been possible for you, but that is one reason the driveway looks so big and your planting is hard to balance.

You are right in that you want to frame the front door, not hide it. Look at your house from the street and take in the view there which is what I am seeing in the photo that includes the detached garage. Along the edge of the parking area that curves to the driveway, use dwarf shrubs that will not grow up and block the view of the front door. Your planting bed needs to come all the way around the curve in order to soften the view of the detached garage. YOu can use taller shrubs in the curve where they won't block the front door. You have a large opening between the detached garage and house that can support a large evergreen tree. Frame both sides of the view of the house and detached garage with large evergreens to help blend it with the trees that backdrop it.
As far as the parking area, the only way to soften it is to incorporate planters or containers with evergreens. You can add color at the base of the evergreens for seasonal interest. It is very harsh looking now with the paving coming all the way to the house and the planters will help a lot. I have attached a photo of a European style house I did with a parking courtyard in front where planters were used to soften the appearance. They are going to need regular watering or be put on your irrigation system.
I hope this information helps! Thanks for contacting me.


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