Front lawns are the outliers where I live. With a dense, mature tree canopy that provides cool shade in these dog days of early July, there’s not much hope of maintaining a lush green sward of turfgrass. Oh, there are maybe two houses on the street where the sun has managed to break through and, clearly, a diligent weed ‘n’ feed program is being maintained, but by far the majority of properties don’t even try. Expect shrubs, gigantic hostas, aggressive ground covers, and the few flowering perennials that will accept the shade and all-pervasive surface roots. I used to curse these limiting conditions, but I’ve long since made my peace with them.
It seems best to stick to the earlier tried-and-true varieties of many plants. My shrubs consist of Annabelle hydrangeas, h. quercifolia, some leucothoe, and a couple golden junipers. Perennials include athyrium ‘ghost’ which form a curving shrubbish line across the space, variegated polygonatum, brunnera, and lotsa, lotsa hosta. I am loving the miniature varieties; they can fill in but still maintain continuity.
Elsewhere on the block, I see interesting shrubs, massive stands of columbine and other shade perennials (always with the ginormous hosta), and maybe some annuals or a Japanese maple or two.
The thing that impresses me the most is that here’s an area where the usual front yard treatments—lawn, foundation shrubs, bright annuals for color—simply will not apply. And people are making the most of it.