Front-yard patios spark socializing on this block
ST. LOUIS PARK, Minn. — Want to make your neighborhood friendlier? Consider adding a front-yard patio … some pavers, a few plants, a couple of comfy chairs — and, voilà! — instant summer socializing.
That’s the way it seems to be working in one St. Louis Park neighborhood, Minikahda Vista, where front-yard patios have become contagious in recent years.
Beth and Gerry Gunderson added one in 2015, inspired by a neighbor’s new patio a block away. “We just loved it!” recalled Beth, whose enthusiasm for entertaining has earned the couple a nickname: the Fundersons. “I walked home and said, ‘Let’s do it here.’”
Last year, the Gundersons’ next-door neighbors, Bobbi and Mike Deeney, also added a front patio. “We used to have chairs on the grass,” said Bobbi, an avid gardener. “But it was hard to move them to mow. Now there’s less to mow — and more for me to plant.”
Just a few months later, Mary and Trent Steffy added their own front patio, inspired by the two across the street. “We needed to redo our front landscape anyway — it was overgrown,” said Mary. And as a teacher who relishes her summers off, she was eager to create another outdoor space to enjoy. “I try to spend as much time outside as possible — I literally bring my laundry out and fold it!”
Backyard patios — secluded and private — have long been the norm, but upfront patios are currently trending, according to Diana Grundeen, owner of Trio Landscaping, the Minneapolis firm that designed and installed both the Gundersons’ and Deeneys’ patios.
“We have been doing more front-yard projects. They’re more social,” she said.
That nostalgia for old-fashioned neighborliness also has fueled the revival of the front porch in recent years. “But not everybody’s architecture lends itself to a front porch,” Grundeen noted. (The Gundersons had talked about adding a front porch, Beth said, but were concerned it would make their living room too dark.)
The Deeneys, Gundersons and Steffys all had big backyard patios already. Their front-yard patios serve a different role. “It gives you options,” said Trent. The Steffys still grill in back, and hang out there when they’re in the mood for quiet relaxation. The front “is when we’re feeling more social.”
A front-yard patio creates an easy, natural way to mingle with neighbors, said Bobbi, who likes to spend time on hers at the end of the workday when people are coming home. “They walk down the street, sit on the wall, and we’ll chitchat.”