The typical home landscape can be divided into major zones, each characterized by a specific function, purpose and one or more underlying design principles. Each of these areas requires its own unique strategy and approach for optimum functionality and value.
The focus of the modern landscape is almost universally the house. It is our prized possession, and pretty well the center of our lives. Since the basic purpose of a home landscape is to extend the functionality of the home into the yard, the house becomes the frame of reference for the rest of the landscape. The home dictates a basic separation of the yard into a public area and a private living space, and this is integrated into the landscape plan.
A good front landscape enhances the house with its simplicity and restraint
The public area is the part of your home and landscape that is generally seen by the passing public. It is the fundamental trademark of your home, the first impression made on visitors and passersby. In the same manner that your home frontage typically has the most attention to detail and expensive finishes, your front landscape is primarily designed to be seen and enjoyed by others. Here, adherence to proven styles and the basic principles is more important than your artistic liberties, although that is not to say that you cannot be creative and individual.
The modern public design features a functional but decorative front entrance that is warm and inviting to guests without being too busy. A foundation planting is used to shield the base of the home to some degree, but is generally not very high maintenance. Only a select few accents are used, maybe just one or two for the typically urban lot, but these should be the best specimens that you can fit into your landscape. Here, as a rule, restraint is in, wild abandon is out. Everything is placed with a purpose; if you can't identify a specific purpose for a particular element, it probably shouldn't be there. Most importantly, since your home is the primary interest for your visitors and guests, the public landscape should accentuate and emphasize the home, rather than competing with it.
The back yard is your private space to rest and play
In sharp contrast, the private area of your yard is yours to do with as you feel. It is typically located out of public view in the back part of your yard, and is often screened from intruding views, although this is not a requirement. Here, you are free to express yourself to the fullest, and it is here that you will find the detailed garden beds, vegetable gardens, as well as most of the utilities and storage areas. This is also your personal "human" space, where you do your entertaining, play with the kids, or partake in your favorite hobbies. This is the part of your landscape reserved for you, and the special friends you choose to invite into your world space.
Traffic-ways tie the various elements and "outdoor rooms" together in a harmonious yet functional way. The driveway leads the car into the garage or parking space. Paths and walkways guide people from one area to the next, leading them past points of interest, exposing particularly scenic views, and keeping people to designated areas and off the grass and out of flower beds. They are constructed of durable surfacing materials which create harmony with both the chosen landscape style and the home.