#CanYouDigIt: Front Yard Privacy, Quick Makeovers, and More (Episode 2)

Posted on February 4, 2020

Welcome to the second episode of #CanYouDigIt, Yardzen’s web series on Instagram! Our Design Director, Kevin Lenhart, an M.A. in Landscape Architecture from UC Berkeley, answers YOUR landscape design questions.

Watch episode 2 in our highlights, and send us your questions for next week’s segment!


Pictured here: A Yardzen staffer’s edible front yard. The yard is a great conversation starter and has become a wonderful way to create community in her neighborhood.

Pictured here: A Yardzen staffer’s edible front yard. The yard is a great conversation starter and has become a wonderful way to create community in her neighborhood.

Question: What do you suggest for privacy in the front yard if the city only allows a three-foot fence?

Oftentimes front yards are limited to a three-foot fence. That can be concerning to people who place a high-priority on privacy. What I would suggest is to consider your house as part of the broader fabric of your neighborhood. If you were to install a six-foot fence that no one can see over or plant an impenetrable fence, that’s sending a message of shutting out your neighbors. My take is that I would rather open my arms to my neighbors and have my yard project that sentiment. I recommend that you think of a three-foot fence as an opportunity to be woven into the fabric of your neighborhood.

With a low fence you can still create a sense of privacy. Part of that is by being smart about how you map out the space you plan to inhabit. So, say you have chairs on your front porch and you want to spend your time out there but you don’t want people to stare at you, you can put tall plants in the sight lines of where people pass or you can put eye-catching plants throughout your front yard to draw people’s attention elsewhere in the yard. That’s going to give you a sense of privacy without shutting out the neighborhood.

Question: What is a quick and inexpensive way to beautify your yard?

That question depends on what you mean by inexpensive. On the cheapest end of the spectrum, I would lean into taking care of what is already there. Maintenance: trimming up your yard—give it a haircut—and make sure to sweep. You can also source really cheap elements that provide a big bang. I love LED string lights—they add a lot of character to a space.

If you’re able to spend a little more you can augment existing planting areas that may not be as full as you like. To keep it inexpensive, look into deals on sourcing plants locally, either something on sale at your local nursery or even looking into a plant swap. Those are great ways to fill out your garden and make it seem more full and robust.

If you’re looking to define a space on a budget, consider budget-friendly mulch or gravel (read our guide to gravel). That’s not going to be a great permanent solution because it can get a little messy, but if you’re able to add proper edging, you can contain some of that mess. If you want a more permanent solution to a ground cover like gravel, that does require more preparation and expert installation.

Another thing to consider: what do you already have that you can repurpose? Makeovers are a great opportunity to get really creative and be sustainable by sourcing from your own home. Consider using pillows from your interior or moving around potted plants. (Read our blog post about styling.)


Here, the homeowners knew they wanted a long dining table to be a center piece of their backyard, so our designers made sure to include a large, even space for their table.

Here, the homeowners knew they wanted a long dining table to be a center piece of their backyard, so our designers made sure to include a large, even space for their table.

Question: What stage in the design process should I start thinking about furniture?

It really depends on your relationship to that furniture. If your heart is really set on getting one specific piece, like a big farmhouse table, then you should definitely consider that piece’s size and aesthetic when going through the design process.

When thinking about furniture during the design process, I think it’s most important to think about the function of that piece. Do you want to create a dining area or seating area? That is very important to explain to your designer.

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