Idly flipping through some back issues I have kicking around the house, I ran across an intriguing front-yard garden design in the Fall 09 issue. The design was for a bungalow that featured a stone finish and bay window similar to what we have in the front of our house. They proposed a pretty trellis screen against the wall under the window and a paved "courtyard" area with stone bench surrounded by shrubby things of varying textures and colours.
I'm not sure there would be a lot of point to a sitting area in the front yard - much nicer, quieter, and more private in the back - but it would certainly make more sense to pave over that insanely dry area right in front of the house than to try to grow stuff in it. In any case, I do quite like the idea of an all-shrub planting in this area, since that would occupy lots of space and look schnazzy while being helpfully low-maintenance.
Possible candidate for replacing the perpetually-stressed-out-looking tree: Sutherland Gold cutleaf elder.
Would be a nice contrast with the monster yew. Maybe too yellow, though? There's a nice dark purple version too; that might do a nice job of repeating the purple-leaf sandcherry note.
These both get to be a little more than 6' tall, which sounds about right; the rest of the space at the back could go to some hydrangeas of insanity, and possibly a ninebark on the other side (again with the purple). Then in front of all that I can put all the random stuff I wouldn't have room for otherwise - barberry, a rose or two, possibly some less ratty variety of juniper (more blue stars or some of that spreading stuff, maybe). As an added bonus, this would get rid of an additional few feet of "lawn"; I could also yank the currently invisible daylilies and the