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Landscape Design for Small Yards Case Study: Townhouse Front Yard

Townhouse landscape design is tough, because you generally don’t have a lot of space to work with. This is especially true in a townhouse front yard, which is why you see the same thing at every townhouse: 3-5 evergreens against the front of the building, something for color that overgrows the space in two weeks (Knockout roses anyone?), and some sad, spotty liriope. Oh, and then some patchy grass trying to make a go of it under a leaning Norway maple.

It doesn’t have to be this way, and I love the challenge of working within the confines of a tight space. I was approached by a homeowner to do their townhouse front yard, and this was a bit of a bonus – they were an end unit. As soon as I showed up some problems were immediately apparent.


First, it’s not apparent in this photo, but the next door neighbor’s front door is closer to the driveway than theirs is, making it confusing for first-time visitors. Second, it’s pretty blah; there’s nothing to help guide you around the bend in the walk, and the plantings aren’t the best. Those are Manhattan Euonymus under those windows, a shrub that will do everything in its power to reach 12’x12′. Homebuilders love them because they look full quickly and are relatively cheap, and they don’t have to maintain them.

We executed this project in the fall and on a very tight budget, so I don’t have any photos to share of the finished product. However, here’s a drawing of what I would have liked to have done.

Colored Townhouse Landscape Plan

The new front walk would have made all the difference. The steps are 62″ wide, so I’d widen the walk to match that. A new crape myrtle near the corner helps “turn” visitors towards the front door, and we were actually able to reuse most of their existing plants. Strategic pockets for annuals give the homeowners the opportunity to have gorgeous seasonal color throughout the year. It was a fun little design and one I hope to see implemented.

Do you have a challenging small space of your own? Contact me, I’d love to make yours the nicest yard on the block.


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