Front Porch

A friend in Austin often mentions how a porch or patio on a north side creates a design challenge. She’s right.

People using such spaces must be shaded from the late day summer sun during about the hottest parts of the day. The plants we select for that exposure must take brutally hot summer sun late in the day, plus cool season shade and possibly wet soils at times.

Here are some inviting porches, no matter their placement, to ponder what makes them or how they could be –

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Heather’s front porch in San Antonio faces SE…afternoon shade, but as her desert willows grow in, other times should be in morning shade

Pam Penick’s front porch sort-of facing E N…perfect for one, in the afternoon shade…
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…out of the boiling grip of Austin’s Death Star
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The Duff’s front porch facing SE, on their Sisterdale TX weekend home…towards pure bliss…please pass some more brisket, Tex…
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A famous Texas front porch under the paragon of trees, a Live Oak…good all day
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A token front porch in new housing, where we see what’s really important – the landscape outdoor living a view of concrete, or cars parked on that concrete…

That recent development was about the same distance from the center of Austin as my old house was from the center of Albuquerque. But such a different place I would come home to, for the same price…that lawn and very few plants is association landscaping, so it has to remain and residents pay $150+/month HOA dues to maintain it! With that and deceptive, 2 year old price signs out front, it was easy to resist drinking their kool-aid!

I wonder what one could do to make it right, given after paying for that?

Better land use new development should model something like this, in the Hyde Park area of Austin.

A nice planting to look out on, from that generous front porch facing E…afternoon or morning with those trees…
How classic, small town…storefronts and a long porch in Llano TX…
…no wonder a guy I met last Thanksgiving over dinner, recommended I move to Llano, for affordable work and living spaces when this is a sample of it!

I think there is much to this art of creating curb appeal, and part of that is how you enter, not to mention linger.

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11 Replies to “Front Porch”

  1. Its nice to know i’m not the only one missing the good old porch in today’s architecture. Our housing development here in CA does the same thing… token porches and i can’t help but wonder why bother? Some people would say that is whats missing from todays society… front porches where people would sit and visit in the evenings getting to know our neighbors…..

    I must say both in TX (where we moved from) and CA we only have had token porches…….. but my heart longs for a BIG front porch with enough room for some rocking chairs and maybe a swing and lots of big hanging ferns…..and a cool glass of iced tea in the afternoon or my morning coffee… maybe watching the birds at the birdfeeder…… Enjoyed seeing your pictures! Hugs! deb

    I see it in the older houses, and to me, it’s perfect for all the happenings like you say. Where I moved from, I added a large patio and had a contractor build 2 shade ramadas…but not large enough! The builder didn’t even bother with porches, since people in Albuquerque don’t even get using them for what you say, with some time of day most of the year for that!

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  2. Yes, what is the deal with builder’s and their token front porch. A lot of space & money for so little function.

    How dare you mention brisket? Not available in GA. Always have some when I go home to visit mom in TEXAS.

    10f this morning.

    Garden & Be Well, XO Tara

    Rarely is there a week one would not use their porch in El Paso, or even Abq. Even Austin, you just accept humidity and use it. Builders still too often ignore how their building and the land connecting is a valuable asset they can turn into more sales, with little to no additional cost over concrete, gravel, etc. Stay warm!

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  3. I love that Texas store front. We’re seeing more emphasis on front porches here, particularly on new and remodeled close-in residences. Of course, the older houses mostly have them already. Our former front porch was wonderful – high up off the street and generous enough for a porch swing and chairs. Our current mid-century porch is more of a big stoop, so we spend more time outdoors on the back porch, consequently. Our neighbors to the north eat dinner on their big front porch almost every evening in the summer!

    I look back, and I can feel that morning’s heat, on a small town porch, and all the thoughts that accompany! You prove that sometimes you can move the porch. Your neighbors sound interesting, dinner right out front – I may have been the only person in my old neighborhood who ate outside, esp. in front!

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  4. I agree with Shirley and don’t understand why builders tack on porches that are too shallow to actually use. I believe in knocking out railings on skinny porches and extending a patio into the landscape to visually enlarge such spaces.

    Thanks for including that nice shot of my porch (so much cleaner than the leaf-strewn, frost-blasted version I’m currently seeing every day). It actually faces mostly north though, not east.

    Your method is a very good one, and I’ve done it some. I thought it was E or at most NE on the map I had, but correction made!

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  5. Man I wish I were there right now. Beautiful pics, not only of the beautiful landscaping, but the western styled architecture they are enhancing. Right now it’s frigid and snowing here tonight. Well no, it’s now 12:34 am. Night

    I do like the various architecture in each, and the right plants used well with it make them, not break them. Stay warm!

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  6. Great porch photos. Our house didn’t have a porch so we built one. Detached from the house but close enough. One of my big peeves is a porch that looks like it should be useful but isn’t like that new construction. Why bother?

    Thanks, I remember your huge porch…2 stories? Exactly – I think many builders and even designers do token gestures, instead of mind-heart driven enhancements.

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  7. We are porch people. Our kids always joked, we just needed a bedroom, bathroom and a good covered porch. The porch on this house was the main selling point….although it might have been bettered oriented.

    We face SE, with a nice sized front porch. That makes the back porch/deck facing NW. With the trees, summer is not too bad. North winds do make it a bit cool, in winter.

    But, we’re out there most days. Fans in summer and a heater in winter help.

    Yep…porches are a good thing.

    I think not eating and enjoying drink outside, at least sometimes, is downright uncivilized…inside in AC or heat all the time, and without being with nice plantings, is so sad…or the sign one is in the wrong place! Why I moved!!

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  8. As usual you get me thinking….
    about trees! I have planted a few since you were here…but in the front, if I had it to do over, I think more shade trees. I like the sun, but I don’t think I made the responsible choice not shading the southern side of the house more (once the trees grow up). The picture of the post office looks so inviting and cooooool!

    Thanks for including my porch :)

    I still have a few pics from visiting your garden / house, to use during some other post ideas. The balance from shade to sun is tight…very few plants grow or flower as well in shade, so…

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  9. That’s one of the things I really wish was different about our house…I wish the porch was a little bigger…enough so we could actually SIT on it!

    True – though, that’s where making a small porch set into the landscape, complete with cover, can do the trick. Thought that does sacrifice a few plants!

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  10. Thanks for sharing these, D.

    Our front porch faces west but is shaded most of the year by large live oaks. I’m out there enjoying a repurposed church pew bench and/or rocking chair year round. Life/coffee/wine are all so much better out on the porch!

    Those trees must make all the difference. If food cooked outdoors tastes better, I think coffee and wine on a porch is that much better!

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