An editorial post by Alicia Kellogg, Community Conservation Technician
Maybe you read last week’s editorial about lawns stifling creativity and you’ve started to second guess the big rectangle of grass in your front yard, but you’re hesitant to get rid of your lawn altogether. After all, you’ve got kids, or pets, or both, and it’s a great space to play!
I’ve got good news for you: you can keep your lawn and be creative with it at the same time.
For some ideas on how to use your lawn in a creative and artful way, let’s get fancy and take some tips from landscape design.
Idea 1: Make Your Lawn Proportional
In landscape design, your lawn is what is known as negative space. In other words, it is the “blank” area outside of the positive space that is your plant beds, trees, or other ornamentals.
When your lawn takes up the majority of your yard, it can look out of proportion with the rest of your property because the negative space looks so dominant over the positive space. Consider shrinking the area of your lawn to be in proportion with the planted, positive spaces that are much more interesting to look at. (Photo 1)
Even though there are planted beds in this yard, the massive negative space of the lawn dwarfs the house and plants. The lawn is not proportional with the other elements on the property.
This lawn is still pretty big, but it is not excessively bigger than the house or the planted elements around it. Rather, it frames for the planted beds and creates contrast that highlights the landscaped areas. (Photo 2)
Idea 2: Use Lawn to Emphasize Focal Points
Photo 3 Credit: Homedit Interior Design and Architecture
Photo 4 Credit: Kathy Oberg, Fairy Yardmother Landscape Design
If you know that your lawn is negative space, then you can use it to emphasize things your yard that are particularly attractive. For instance, you can highlight showy plants, sculptures, patios, or even your house.
This property has a number of large, mature evergreens in its front yard. The lawn is used strategically here to frame the beds surrounding the trees, emphasizing the trees over the grass. (Photo 3)
There are other plants in this yard, but the lawn doesn’t do anything to help emphasize them or draw your attention towards them. The lawn still manages to look dominant in this yard over the other plants because it has not been shaped deliberately. (Photo 4)
Idea 3: Create Rhythm With Your Lawn
This landscape design principle is a little harder to explain, but you’ll notice in the above examples that the attractive landscapes all have a sense of “flow” to them - your eyes are drawn from one element to the next in smooth, natural transitions.
Rhythm is created by using bold, curving lines (like the lines created when lawn meets planting beds!) to delineate one space from the next. Good rhythm will create a sense of movement and draw you into the landscape.
This is an example of a landscape that lacks rhythm. There is no visual flow when you look at this yard. The lawn and landscape areas are virtually indistinguishable so your eye has no lines to follow as your look at this yard. (Photo 5)
Little islands of landscaped areas are framed by bold curves of grass in this yard, creating a natural rhythm and flow as your eyes look at this landscape. The shape of the lawn flows horizontally through the yard, drawing your eyes across the landscape. (Photo 6)
Don’t let yourself feel pressured to go big or go home - you can take steps to reduce your lawn while still exercising your creativity. By adding proportionality, emphasis, and rhythm to your lawn, you can turn your front yard into a work of art!