What’s going on in your front yard?


If your answer is along the lines of “It looks nice, but I never spend time there” or “I’m keeping my grass alive, and that’s about it,” then now may be a good time to rethink what you do with that semi-public, neighbor-forward space.


For several decades now, many people have been investing time and money in their back yards—as a place to play, eat, socialize, relax, garden, and more. Media and advertising encourage us to make our back yards an “oasis of serenity” or an outdoor extension of our kitchen or family rooms. By their very nature, back yards are somewhat hidden and lend themselves more to isolation—and it’s true that we all need that feeling of privacy sometimes.


But it’s your front yard that plays such an important part in the overall feel of your neighborhood. In addition to just being neat and welcoming (always good to strive for), it can also be so much more—and what you choose to do with it can be a great way to get to know more of your neighbors.


Here are three ways to begin imagining the possibilities of changes you can make to your front yard (some of these may depend on the season):


  1. Moving something from the back yard to the front—including activities like playing catch with your kids
  2. Moving something from the inside to the outside—including activities like reading or drawing
  3. Beginning something new in the front instead of the back


I take walks around my neighborhood as often as I can. I love seeing how people’s personalities, preferences, and interests show up in what they choose to “share” with the rest of us. Over the years, so many conversations, interactions, and inspirations have happened among neighbors because of front yard happenings like these:


  • Fairy gardens on and around short tree stumps (neighbors can add small objects for an ever-changing scene)
  • Comfortable porch chairs or bench and a small table (not just for decoration)
  • Bird feeders and bird baths
  • Flower gardens that require regular tending
  • Raised vegetable gardens (sometimes called “full-frontal gardening”)
  • Butterfly or bee gardens (beautiful in all seasons)
  • Play equipment (basketball hoop, playhouse, ring toss, etc.)
  • Tall, decorated tree stumps (often holiday related)
  • Signs (not political signs, but neutral or encouraging; my USMC and U.S. Army garden flags have started many great conversations)


What have you seen in your neighborhood front yards? What’s one thing you could do with your own yard that would encourage conversations or interactions, or inspire you to be out there more?


Even one small change or addition to your front yard can make a big difference to your neighbors! Sometimes the change simply attracts interest from people walking or riding by. Other changes might require you to be outside in the front more than in the past. Some of your front yard choices might inspire a neighbor to start up a conversation with you, whether it’s about your own activity in your yard, something you have in common, or something similar they’ve wanted to do themselves. Or maybe they’ll just want to cheer you on as you try new things and make your neighborhood a more interesting place!