Work with Nature
"Making lemonade out of lemons" is how the homeowner of this boulder-strewn front yard described their landscaping dilemma. Once they found out how expensive it would be to have the huge, native stones removed, they decided to capitalize on the situation by adding even more stones to create a spectacular, low-maintenance rock garden in their front yard.
Landscape idea: By removing their turf and planting drought-resistant alpine plants, they save money by not having to water the area.
The owners of this handsome Colonial style home had an artistic vision when they landscaped their front yard. Instead of the traditional lawn and foundation plantings, they chose to use a square pattern that would be repeated in their garden paths, beds, plantings, and outdoor art. It was a simple yet effective way to boost curb appeal and reflect the home’s lovely architecture.
Add a Private Space
Before you landscape your home, think about how you will use the space. For example, if you want a quiet spot to relax and wind down, rope off a garden corner to create a private retreat. Here, a small piece of ground in the backyard was transformed into a private sanctuary with a pair of tall white trellises surrounding a cozy flagstone patio. The height of the trellises makes the area look larger than it really is and they provide support for colorful vines, such as jasmine or clematis.
Choose Fences with Care
Always consider your fencing options carefully. Too often, homeowners spend a lot of time and energy on their landscape and the ruin everything by installing a chain link fence that’s more appropriate for a playground than a backyard. On this lot, the homeowners chose a pretty white picket fence and arbor to better reflect their personal cottage style. The fence also supports the flowering trusses of their favorite old-fashioned roses.
Wind the Walk
Avoid the straight and narrow when adding a walkway to your landscape. Paths should curve just enough to give visitors a sense of anticipation as they walk to your home. Make your walkways about four feet wide. This will allow two people to comfortably stroll side by side to their destination. And, flare your walk at either end to make it more inviting and visible. In this slightly sloping front yard, wide stone slabs encourage visitors to enjoy the flowerbeds as they approach the home.
Easy Landscape Design Ideas
Try one of these easy landscape ideas to make your yard come to life this season.
Long, narrow lots can be particularly challenging to landscape. But, landscapers mix paving materials that will visually break the space into a series of outdoor rooms. Here, for example, a ribbon of concrete was used to separate two distinct patios. The brick patios also were paved in a herringbone pattern that fools the eye into thinking the space is larger then it really is.
If your backyard is shaded by tall trees consider adding some snap to your landscape by adding bold color. This pretty patio, for example, sits on the north side of the house and is surrounded by mature trees. If the sun isn’t shining brightly, the whole area can look a bit dull. To brighten the view, the owners perked up the place with a little paint. Adirondack chairs were splashed with red, stools are bright yellow, and a table (barely visible in the foreground) sports a new coat of forest green.
Use Every Square Inch
Side yards often don't get the attention they deserve. Often left to become a muddy alley filled with garbage cans and garden tools, side yards have tons of untapped potential. Consider this handsome example. A once-ignored ribbon of ground was easily transformed into a meditative corner simply by adding two narrow flower borders separated by a winding river-stone path. It’s a good lesson in never letting any part of your landscape be ignored.
Have Some Fun
Every great landscape has something special tucked away to surprise and delight visitors. In this garden, it’s the stone mosaics the homeowner added at the base of the flagstone walkway. Polished black and white stones were set in concrete in a spectacular spiral pattern. You also could use shells, marbles, tile, or broken pottery to make a design of your own. Just don’t overdo it and turn your landscape into a grotto. In design, less is more.
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Highlight an Entry
Is your front door hidden from view? Do Girl Scouts get lost looking for your doorbell? If so, it’s time to give your entry a makeover. Here, a once forlorn front door was transformed with a bold white arbor, fantastic flowerbeds, and a wide flagstone path. Now there’s no confusion when visitors want to stop by and say hello -- or sell some cookies!
Spread Your Wings
Your landscaping doesn’t have to stop at your lot line. Increase your home’s curb appeal by planting the area between the sidewalk and street. Check with local regulations first, but most cities will be more than happy to allow you to brighten the neighborhood as long as the area doesn’t become overgrown and block the view. In this suburban neighborhood, the homeowners planted a narrow bed of nectar-rich perennials that attract a colorful array of butterflies.
Plan for All Seasons
Keep the seasons in mind when you plant your landscape. Having an attractive landscape throughout the year is appealing, especially if you live where summers are short. In this Chicago landscape, perennials and shrubs that provide summer and fall color were specifically selected. Plants include chrysanthemum, serviceberry, witch hazel, viburnum, and flowering kale.
Getting bills in the mail will be a lot more fun if you surround your mailbox with cheerful annual and perennial flowers. Create a small bed around the base of your mailbox post, and tuck in a few of your favorite flowers. Just remember not to block the mailbox so your mail carrier can have easy access. Here, a rural mailbox is crowned with a bower of mandevilla, pentas, and elephant ear.
Stay in Style
Let your home dictate your landscape style. For example, the owners of this small Craftsman cottage added walkway lighting and a low fence that complemented, rather than competed, with the architecture of their home. The fence also was painted to match the house, creating a sense of continuity in the landscape. Compact plantings also were chosen to remain in scale with the home.
Hide Your Drive
Easy access from your driveway to your home is important, but there’s no reason you have to see your drive from every inch of the house. Here, a low berm was built between the home’s entry and the driveway. Low shrubs and perennials were used to soften the view, providing a leafy respite between the concrete drive and front walkway.
Incorporate a Porch
If you're lucky enough to have a front porch, be sure to incorporate it into your overall landscape plan. Build flowerbeds around the base and add paving nearby to create additional outdoor living space. Here, an open front porch is visually connected to a bluestone patio by a narrow bed of perennial and annual flowers.
Edge a Pool
Swimming pools are a lot of fun, but too often they don’t blend in very well with the surrounding landscape. If you have a pool or are thinking of adding one, consider edging one or more sides of it with perennials and evergreen shrubs. Neither plant group will shed leaves in the pool and the water will reflect the nearby blooms. Here, two of the hard edges of a swimming pool were softened with narrow beds of easy-care perennials that don’t mind an occasional splash of chlorine.
Keep Mother Nature in mind when you design your landscape. Look for plants that are native to your region. They'll require less water and be more resistant to insect pests and diseases. Plus, they'll attract local birds and butterflies to your garden. In this border, for example, native bloomers such as butterflyweed, coneflower, baptisia, and helenium thrive in this Midwestern garden without being pampered.
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