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A wide expanse of front lawn is as American as apple pie. But some homeowners view the front yard as a place to expand their horizons.
In the 1960's, when central air was the new big thing, home styles began to change. The front porch, where families used to gather to catch a cool breeze and talk with the neighbors, began to disappear. And with it went the reason to "hang out" in your front yard.

Today, three Kansas City homeowners have put out a perennial welcome mat in the form of a front garden that not only becomes a place to socialize, but also to rest and refresh. And it doesn't hurt, either, that front gardens definitely increase curb appeal.

In Prairie Village, Scot and Carrie Lane love their mid-century modern home "with a shoji screen look", as Carrie sees it. To bring out the Zen in their landscape, they called on Brian Whitfill of Kissinger & Associates "to create the area to look like it belonged there, without it looking like it was forced upon the front of the house." Whitfill says.

The flag-shaped garden, complete with a Japanese pagoda and a carp pond, becomes a kind of processional entry up to the carved wood antique Chinese doors, Whitfill uses lots of natural materials - pine needle mulch, river rock in random patterns, pebble aggregate in concrete - along with low-maintenance plants such as inkberry bush, blue Atlas cedar, Japanese maple, dwarf holly, cypress and bamboo in a giant pot as well as the existing crabapple and red bud trees. "We thought it was going to appear more Oriental themed, but it turned out more of a woodland garden that we love." says Scott