Is there anything better than summer days, grilling and spending time with family on the deck? For many of us, we work for the weekends and the joy of backyard living.
Backyard living is a wonderful thing. However, while many of us love to spend summer on our decks, I want to share something a little different.
Front yard living.
A New Neighborhood
At the end of 2013, we moved into a new construction home. When the brutal subzero winter ended, people emerged and we finally met our neighbors.
One of the greatest benefits about living in a new construction neighborhood is everyone is new – especially the first year. There are no cliques, and few or no long-term established friendships.
Everyone seems friendlier and more eager to meet their neighbors.
Since new houses come with dirt yards and gravel driveways, significant time is spent walking the neighborhood and in the front yard.
Few homes have decks right away. Then driveways go in and sod that can’t be walked on.
We quickly learned an important lesson; in a new construction neighborhood, the driveway is the only yard . Initially, front yard living happened out of necessity.
A New Deck
We spent the first three summers in front of our house. This is our fourth summer and this summer we built a deck.
This spring, when the deck materials were delivered, a neighbor commented in passing, “Now we’ll never see you guys anymore”. We laughed and told her she’d have to come check out the deck when it was done. However, her comment has stuck with me, because it holds a lot of truth.
With the excitement of having a new deck, we have been spending a lot of time in the back yard. Backyard living has some great benefits – convenience, privacy, more space, and in our case, a view.
But more time in back does mean less time spent in the front.
I love our deck, but there is a great case to be made for front-yard living and it has to do with relationships.
Simply put, front yard living creates opportunities to build relationships with neighbors.Simply put, front yard living creates opportunities to build relationships with neighbors. #frontyardpeople #frontyardliving #beintentional #thisgratefulmama Click To Tweet
A Case For Front Yard Living
Meet The Neighbors
As people pass by, on the way to the mail box or on a walk, simply being in the front yard creates an opportunity to greet and meet neighbors in a natural way.
Even the most reserved or shy people are usually open to a friendly wave and smile followed by an introduction. Some may move on quickly, but others will surprise you and stay to chat.
For us, many of these chance introductions have turned into hours of conversations and cherished friendships.
Get To Know Kids
This neighborhood is crawling with kids. They walk, bike and scooter by on a regular basis. Regular friendly waves and hellos or meeting them briefly when they walk by with their parents let them know we’re safe adults if they need something. We’ve helped with minor scrapes, calling parents, and bike chains.
Front yard living has also helped us build relationships with kids who play with our kids on a regular basis. It is amazing how long a child will stand and talk to us while all the other kids are playing – they tell us stories, about their weekend or school day, and what activities they’re involved in.
Relationships with neighborhood kids are important to us – these kids are precious family friends.
Opportunities For Fun
In the back yard, our kids are usually in the yard and adults are up on the deck. Separate. Don’t get me wrong, separate can be lovely, just not all the time.
When we’re in the front yard, the kids and grown-ups are in close-proximity.
Our kids are more likely to invite us to join their fun, or join us if we’re all in the yard. On the same level.
More spontaneous water fights, and games of catch, 4-square, and soccer happen in the front yard with our kids and whoever else joins in. A water table, a bubble machine, and sidewalk chalk are magnets for other kids and their imaginations.
Being in the front yard means we see neighbors coming, going and passing by. These brief interactions allow for regular, natural connections.
We have the privileged and chance to enter into real-life with our neighbors. As we encounter them, we learn what is on their minds and what is going on in their lives. Instead of talking once in a great while, we are able to listen and share the good, bad, sad, stressful, joyful and real happenings of daily life.
I am always grateful to learn these things from a face-to-face conversation than on Facebook, Instagram, or text.
Lend a hand
Front yard living means we get to see when others need help. It may be unloading or loading something heavy, watching a small child so they can run into the house for something quick, changing a tire, lending a tool or holding a ladder, or providing a missing ingredient.
The chance to help is an invaluable gift. Relationships are often forged in these types of experiences, especially when we mess them up together and end up laughing.
We are blessed to be able to step in and help when we can.
Get Out Front
While we are definitely enjoying our deck and the benefits of back yard living, front yard living still holds significant value.
Front yard living has allowed us to join our neighbors in real-life. We have been blessed as so many have stepped into the messiness of life with us through the conversations of front-yard living.
We plan to continue making time to be out front, experiencing and building community in our neighborhood.
The second is this: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no other commandment greater than these.”Mark 12:31 (ESV)
To love your neighbor as yourself, you have to first get to know them.To get to know your neighbors, you have to first get to know them. #loveyourneighbor #frontyardliving #thisgratefulmama Click To Tweet
Four Steps to Showing Love to Your Neighbor, Momma’s Living Room
Tips for Introverts Who Want to Love Their Neighbors, The Turquoise Table
100 Ways To Engage Your Neighborhood, How To Love Your Neighbors, Amy Lively