Front yards of sweeping lawns with open views have long been a defining character of our neighborhoods. But over the years, many have become less open and more recently, in response to persistent drought conditions, are being removed and replaced with other materials. While reducing water demand is laudable, however, not every replacement is appropriate for the climate or the historic neighborhood. In addition, as real estate values escalate, front lawns have become more valuable spaces. When not restricted, developers and homeowners have made the former semi-public space more private with tall hedges and wider driveways to provide more space for parking cars.
How can changes in our front yard landscape be managed and still honor the historic context of our neighborhood, while appropriately responding to changing climates and evolving needs of homeowners? As gardeners, neighbors and historians, members of the Hancock Park Garden Club attempted to answer this question with a new pamphlet entitled “Ten Considerations Toward Your Next Front Yard.”
The booklet is the result of work done by local architect and resident John Kaliski, along with Takako Tashima, landscape architect. They were commissioned by the garden club to look at the current changes and make suggestions about what residents should consider when they undertake changes to their current front yard landscape. The pamphlet also includes three sample designs by garden designer Judy Horton, illustrating suggestions for front yards of Mediterranean, English Tudor and American Colonial style homes.
“We thought that many homeowners might be wondering how they can adapt their front yards to the changing climate while still keeping in character with our wonderful historic neighborhood,” explained Jennifer Fain, President of the Hancock Park Garden Club.
“We asked John and Takako to look at the changes and help us provide suggestions that would encourage environmental sustainability and historic appropriateness. We are very excited to share their findings at a public discussion on Tuesday, November 14 at the Ebell of Los Angeles at 7 pm, and we invite everyone who is interested in their front yards to attend.”
“While each front yard and the interests and aspirations of each homeowner are unique, the principles described in this booklet seek to provide a beginning point to address these typical questions,” writes Kaliski in the introduction of the pamphlet. “The illustrated considerations provide principles for the design of front yard landscapes in non-hillside single-family neighborhoods in Los Angeles that are at once personal and contributory to the surrounding block, street, and neighborhood.”
“Ten Considerations Toward Your Next Front Yard seeks to start a discussion by affirmatively suggesting design principles that allow for both continuity of neighborhood landscape settings and parameters for respectful, even needed, change,” wrote Kaliski.
“The design considerations and guidelines that follow are best thought of as a beginning framework for the design of contemporary front yard landscape, either simple or complex, or easy or intensive to maintain, that allow for both individual expression and a contribution to the common city parkscape that so richly defines the essence of Los Angeles’ single-family communities.”
The Hancock Park Garden Club has also invited experts on native plants and horticulture to respond to the considerations suggested in the pamphlet. Kitty Connolly, Executive Director of the Theodore Payne Foundation, dedicated to the understanding, preservation and use of California native flora, will be joined by Carol Bornstein, Director of the Nature Gardens at the Natural History Museum of Los Angeles County and Takako Tajima, landscape architect and professor at the USC School of Architecture and co-author of the pamphlet.
John Kaliski, architect and urban designer who lives in Windsor Village (here he also serves on the Windsor Village/Country Club Heights/Wilshire Park HPOZ board), will present the pamphlet as a starting point for the discussion. Kaliski also teaches urban design at the UCLA Luskin School of Public Affairs.
The Hancock Park Garden Club invites all interested neighbors to attend!
Ten Considerations Toward Your Next Front Yard: A Presentation and Panel Discussion
Tuesday, November 14 at 7pm
Ebell of Los Angeles
743 South Lucerne Blvd
Los Angeles, CA 90005
RVSP is appreciated!