Barren front yard

Transforming a Barren Front Yard into a Welcoming Retreat


A front garden has many roles to play. It settles your home into its surroundings and contributes to the overall streetscape. It reveals something about you to passers-by and, if well-designed and thoughtfully planted, it makes visitors feel welcome. This barren front yard needed a transformation.

This luxuriant garden, designed by Mitchell Kushturian of Exotic Living, does all of this, and more. “The brief was to take the barren front yard of a newly-built project home and give it a sense of personality,” he explains. “The owners wanted an entrance to the home they could be proud of. A space that was relaxing, tranquil and inviting so neighbours would feel welcome to pop over for a chat.”

The home, located in a new housing estate, was a blank canvas, which opened up a raft of opportunities for Mitchell to create something special. The fact that the house was located opposite a bush reserve also presented a great opportunity to maximise the outlook from the house and create a space where the owners could sit and enjoy the view over a morning coffee.

Barren front yard

“My concept was to create a grand entrance that was inviting and replaced the barren front yard but also created a sense of privacy and enclosure from the front porch. I wanted the entrance to the house to be fun and exciting to walk through, giving the clients that wow factor they desired,” says Mitchell.

“A corridor of travertine stepping pads flanked by tropical plants leads to the front door and tunnels your vision so it is focused on the bushland view. Screening plants in the raised garden beds block out the peripheral views of other houses and the road, thereby enhancing the sense of privacy.”

The raised planter beds, clad in Noosa stone, place the tropical foliage at chest and head height so that walking through the corridor is an experience in its own right. Having raised garden beds with tall screening plants also creates a sense of grandeur and helps to soften the look of the imposing two-storey house.

Barren front yard

Planting a magnificent six-metre-high Phoenix canariensis (Canary island date palm) further softens the architecture and adds a sense of scale. “It was also a sentimental inclusion for one of the clients as it was her way of remembering her late father, Colin, who had grown many date palms at the family home,” says Mitchell.

The palm was so large it had to be craned into position, a task overseen by Joshua Kushturian and his construction team. Joshua and his team installed all the plants, including the Pratia penductula (white star creeper) used as carpet groundcover around the offset steppers and the Casuarina glauca ‘Cousin It’ (prostrate she-oak) used at one end on alternate steppers, its needle-like foliage forming tiny mounds of texture.

A water feature enhances the tranquil ambience and is embraced by tropical-style planting that repeats some of the plants employed in the raised garden beds, such as Alpinia zerumbet ‘Variegata’ (variegated shell ginger) and Philodendron ‘Xanadu’ (a compact philodendron).

This intriguing garden, which makes an indelible first impression, received a Silver Award in the Residential Construction $50,000 to $100,000 category of the 2022 TLA Landscape Excellence Awards.


For more information, 

Exotic Living