Whether your 1950s home is a ranch-style, split-level or contemporary, you can have lots of fun fitting the style of your garden to your house. Here are three ideas:
1. Your house's clean lines might benefit from a modern minimalist landscape, using clipped hedges and shaped non-flowering shrubs to accentuate the lawn, driveway and walkway. Try Boxwood (Buxus sp.), Yew (Taxus sp.) and Holly (Ilex sp.)
2. You could have lots of fun with a Hollywood-style theme, with tropical-looking plants in bright colors. To the hedges above, add Canna (use as an annual in your area or dig up and overwinter) and Torch lily (Kniphofia uvarea).
3. Go old-fashioned and plant things that were popular in the 50s, like Forsythia, Korean dogwood (Cornus kousa) and gladioli.
As to that slightly sloping front yard, on a small slope you can plant tightly-woven plants like Sedum. Sedum comes in lots of different cultivars--there are red ones, golden ones, green ones, even a blue-spruce form. They are low-growing and compact,and they will spread to cover a small slope with very litle effort or supplemental water. Before you plant, make sure that all grass and weeds have been eradicated, as they are very hard to pull up through the Sedum.