Stylish Front Yards for Houses on Busy Streets

These seven front yard landscape designs offer ideas for maintaining seclusion, increasing security and decreasing noise, without sacrificing curb appeal or breaking municipal codes.
1. Enclosed Courtyard With a Fountain
If local building codes allow it, you can block the view of a busy street and gain a bonus outdoor room by enclosing the portion of the front yard just outside the front door. For this project in Austin, Texas, Tim Cuppett Architects used three-quarter-inch-thick panels of frosted glass to create a luminous screen that increases privacy without decreasing light. Another way to allow some light to pass through a fence is to choose a style that includes latticed panels or to leave small gaps between horizontally placed boards.
Note: Your municipality likely regulates how high a fence can be and how far back it must sit from the street. So check your local building codes before starting a project.
CourtyardTim Cuppett Architects
The courtyard is large enough for a small stone patio, low-water plantings and a recirculating fountain, effectively creating an open-air entryway room.
Design tip: Use a fountain to cover up the noise of traffic with the soothing sound of running water. If noise abatement is a priority, opt for a fountain design that has a “fall” that will create a splash, rather than a spill-over-a-container design that has a more subtle sound.
Berkeley Urban Patio Front Yard
2. Friendly-but-Private Patio
A front patio enclosed with lattice fencing is a useful solution for those looking for some privacy and security but who would also like to chat with their neighbors.
Designer Ian Moore used a concrete retaining wall in this Berkeley garden to bring the level of the sloped front yard up to the home’s foundation, creating room for a front gravel terrace slightly raised above sidewalk level.
Berkeley Urban Patio Front YardIan Moore Design
Widely spaced lattice fencing encloses the yard, creating separation from the outdoor seating area and the street while still keeping the yard friendly and more open. To complete the scene, Moore also included a subtle recirculating fountain, seen here on the lower left.
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Wine Country Escape
3. Leafy Screen
A combination of trees, tall shrubs and smaller hedge plants can be used in tandem to create a leafy barrier between the home and a busy street, or to selectively screen unwanted views. One of the advantages of using foliage to screen rather than fencing is that there are often fewer regulations on height and setback for “living fences” than constructed ones.
For this Northern California property, landscape architect Katharine Webster used a dense hedge of Carolina laurelcherry (Prunus caroliniana) to screen passing cars from view.
Wine Country EscapeKatharine Webster Inc.
Inside the hedges, the front yard includes a private gravel courtyard, complete with an olive tree and metal globe garden art. If total seclusion is a goal, choose a hedge plant with dense foliage growth, such as arborvitae (Thuja occidentalis), Carolina laurelcherry (Prunus caroliniana), shown here, or cherry laurel (Prunus laurocerasus).
Design tip: If you like the leafy green look of hedges but need more noise reduction or security than plants provide on their own, hide a noise barrier wall between two rows of hedges — if allowed by your local building codes. The combination of both a soft barrier (hedge) and a hard barrier (wall) is the most effective at absorbing sound.
East Dallas Minimalism
4. Rock Gabion
Formerly a purely utilitarian building style used for retaining slopes, gabion walls have increasingly been finding other uses in residential landscape design. Made from a combination of wire cages filled with chunks of rock, these often 2- to 3-foot-thick walls make one of the best sound barriers around. The uneven surfaces of the chunky rocks in the wire cage absorb more sound than a more traditional smooth rock wall does, as smooth walls simply cause noise to bounce back.
East Dallas MinimalismAquaTerra Outdoors
In this contemporary Dallas front yard by AquaTerra Outdoors, a substantial rock gabion wall separates the side yard — where the owners have a pool — from the street. The wall itself is 8 feet high, 23½ feet long and 2 feet thick, which is substantial enough to block the majority of traffic noise from the street and make the pool area feel quiet and private.
5. Movable Barrier
Tall potted plants in the right spot can help create a visual separation between a public space and a private one, helping an entrance feel more removed from a busy street. Plus, they can be a useful solution for renters or anyone who is unable to build a fence or more permanent barrier.

Design tip: Choose hardworking evergreen plants or large-scale ornamental grasses, rather than flowers, to act as a moveable privacy hedge. Taller containers and dense foliage can also help with some noise abatement.

Bouldin Bath Refresh6. Secure Fencing With Setback
If security and privacy are primary concerns, opting for a wall or fence with a lockable gate is your best bet. The wall’s height and material, and the distance it needs to be set back from the street, are often dictated by local municipal codes.

Even if your local building codes do not require the wall to be set back, it can increase your curb appeal to do so. Leave at least 1 foot, ideally 2 to 3 feet, between the fence and the road or sidewalk to allow planting space for hedges, perennials and vines to soften the wall and provide interest to passersby.

Bouldin Bath RefreshCG&S Design-Build
Design tip: Use a sidewalk-side planting strip as an opportunity to incorporate plants that help wildlife and pollinators. You may want evergreens for year-round foliage and to help with screening or noise abatement, but why not also include plants like flowering salvias — a hummingbird favorite — or easy-care catmint (Nepeta spp.), that attract bees, butterflies and other pollinators.
La Canada Residencebspk design inc.
7. Staggered Walls
Freestanding wall panels can reflect street noise and provide solid barriers for privacy while also leaving plenty of room for landscape plants. Depending on how you position your freestanding walls, you can also create a partially enclosed entryway courtyard.
La Canada Residencebspk design inc.
In this front yard, the designers at bspk design added a series of wall panels, painted the same color as the home’s exterior, to screen the large living room windows from the street. The walls not only create a visual boundary between public and private space, they also serve as backdrops for ferns, shrubs and potted plants in the interior courtyard.

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