Tag : gardening
Tag : gardening
A hedge planting is one way to build an enclosure without breaking the bank. It can be made of evergreen materials, like an arborvitae hedge; deciduous plants, like a lilac or privet hedge; or even a mixed planting that combines both.
Some hedging materials, like privet or boxwood, look best when sheared or hand-pruned regularly to maintain an appropriate size and breadth.
Other live screening looks good when left to grow to its natural height, such as lilac and rhododendron hedges.
right • Because it is so easy to prune, boxwood is a satisfying hedging material that can be trimmed into architectural or curving shapes. In this garden, it acts as a soft low wall that encloses more shrubs that billow above it.
Mixed hedges add variety in color and texture; imagine evergreens growing with climbing roses and a contrasting foliage shrub. Given the right growing conditions, and depending on the plant selection, most hedges will mature quickly.
right • Flowering hydrangea hedges encircle a small bluestone patio, creating a low enclosure, while a high privet hedge screens out neighbors.
above • This elegant bamboo hedge (Bambusa multiplex ‘Alphonse Karr’) grows to a neat 7-ft. height. Clumping bamboos, unlike running bamboos, will stay within their bounds.
An enclosure, like a wall, fence, screen, or hedge, designates and defines an outside area as special. Such boundaries have always played an important functional role in the landscape: to keep livestock in and intruders out. These days, an enclosure can also be used to mark property lines, close in a hazard like a swimming pool, and provide privacy. An enclosure also acts to extend the walls of the house out into the landscape. It’s strange but true: an enclosed space feels larger than a similar area lacking such definition. Perhaps it’s because a fenced yard seems like it’s marked out as special, with its clear edges and entrance gate.
Wooden, steel, or bamboo fences sit more lightly on the land and are less expensive to erect but don’t last as long as their masonry counterparts. Hedges are the least expensive means of enclosing a landscape. Evergreen or deciduous, tall or low, hedges can be effective living screens for a variety of settings. Gateways, as breaks in an enclosure, allow passage into the delineated realm. Railings are low post and rail structures designed to keep people from falling over an edge, especially on stairways or around high decks. The simplest kind of enclosure—edging—separates plants or garden beds from pathways or lawns in a useful and attractive way.
top right • An ornate wrought-iron gateway, in line with an elegant double staircase leading into the house, links lawn areas separated by stone walls and hedges.
right • Dry-laid stone walls are an ancient form of enclosure, built originally to use up excess material, delineate boundaries, and keep in livestock. These days, we enjoy them for their beauty and sense of history.
above • A wrought-iron handrail softened by a leafy vine embraces this outdoor living room.
right • This 7-ft.-high fence is made of a series of concrete-block piers and wire mesh panels that keep animals out, allow air circulation through, and provide views into the forest beyond.
Walls are powerful visual extensions of the architecture of your house into the landscape. They can be structural or ornamental and can serve different purposes in the landscape. These can provide backdrops to gardens, define the edge of the property, create a sense of privacy, or frame an opening for a driveway or path.
An interesting form can give walls greater character. Straight walls are practical, direct, and efficient. Curved walls, with their softer flow, can be playful, meandering, or sensuous. Tall walls that you can’t see over or where a lot of soil is being retained can be intimidating.
A friendly height for a wall is one that allows a neighborly view between houses. Materials and finish details can make all the difference. Whether stucco or stone, mortared or dry stacked, round or square stone, natural or cut stone cap, stucco texture and color, there are countless details that you can use to give a wall your own personal touch.
top right • Concrete walls that are plastered or stuccoed can resemble traditional hand-molded adobe or mud walls. Vivid colors satisfy in this tropical setting.
bottom right • Irregular blocks of limestone are stacked to form a low planter wall. Use local stone wherever possible.
above • These walls retain a steep slope, creating terraced spaces for trees and large shrubs. Make sure to include weep holes behind the walls to allow water to drain through.
right • This wall is built of concrete faced with stone and capped with a contrasting material, in this case, bluestone. A slightly higher square pier provides a clear end to the wall, marks the top landing for the steps, and provides a base for the Arts and Crafts lantern that lights the way.
Many of us are lucky to live where natural stone is plentiful. Whether flat or rounded, granite, sandstone, or limestone, a stone wall made out of what’s local looks great because it is in keeping with the natural landscape. And there are many ways to build with stone. You can use round or flat fieldstones to face a wall or to create a built-up surface. Joints between stones can be fully mortared, partially mortared (hidden joints), or dry-laid (where no mortar is used at all). Make sure you employ an experienced mason to get the best results.
right • This arching picket fence sits directly on a concrete wall faced with a thin veneer of fieldstone.
above • This dry stone wall was built without mortar. At its end, a ruin-like window seems to erupt from a sea of plantings.
above • A steeply sloping hillside can be held back by building stone retaining walls. Properly engineered, they act as beautifully planted terraces that create more usable living space.
right • Wide stone walls curve between upper and lower lawn areas. Flat fieldstones are secured in place using a dark-tinted mortar instead of a cap.
A recent Boston-area JMMDS project aimed to turn a high retaining wall along a tight entry space into a lovely vertical garden. To do this, we proposed transforming one side of this shady driveway into a living wall.
A steel frame made of cells to hold soil was bolted into a 7-ft.-high, curving concrete retaining wall and then filled with a palette of predominantly native and shade-loving perennials.
Now this north-facing space functions as an outdoor entryway, a driveway turnaround or parking spot, a protected place to read a book, and also a living work of garden art that greets the homeowners whenever they come home.
above • Ferns (both Christmas and autumn), Solomon seal (Polygonatum commutatum), woodland strawberry (Fragaria vesca), bunchberry dogwood (Cornus canadensis), fringed bleeding heart (Dicentra eximia), and wintergreen (Gaultheria procumbens) grace this north-facing green wall.
For those who live in southern climes, the bright sun and warm weather offer opportunities to bring color into your open-air rooms.
Artfully designed tiled walls can act as vertical focal points with their planes of smooth, colorful finishes that catch the light and make for an easy-to-clean, moisture-proof surface. Tile can be laid out as a background that highlights a fountain or sculpture or as a focal point in itself.
Colorful tiles made of glass, ceramic, or natural stone are all available in a wide range of sizes and finishes. You can even design your own tile pattern, putting your personal stamp on your backyard.
top right • Large squares of blue tile are used to face an exterior planter wall filled with native plantings, enclosing an ipé deck.
right • Vivid colors stand out in bright light. Flanked by fig trees and agaves, the tile pattern on this wall acts like a hearth in a living room, creating a central focal point around which to place the furniture.
A seating wall is a masonry wall built at a height and depth to provide a place to sit. Retaining and freestanding walls alike can deliver a solid bench for sitting. Since stone can be hard to sit on and cold to the touch, seat walls can be made more comfortable by the addition of a wooden seat or cushions, or when painted in light colors or softened by cascading plants. Typical seat heights can be as low as 12 in. and as high as 30 in. (more of a leaning height), with the usual height being 18 in. or so from the ground.
above • A low concrete wall whose limestone cap doubles as a circular seat retains this island planting and breaks up the expanse of a large concrete driveway.
left • A skilled mason fashioned a built-in seat out of a retaining wall, complete with a side table for setting drinks or containers of plants.
below • An exedra—a semicircular bench—fits perfectly around a firepit that also functions as a coffee table. The thick pillows made of outdoor fabric bring the feeling of inside out. Notice the handsome bevel formed along the inside edge of the bench.
Front yards are taking on new roles to better support the life of the family. Rather than the typical broad swath of front lawn, the front yard has also become a welcoming entryway as well as a comfortable living space. No longer just made up of overgrown foundation plantings, now rain gardens, edible landscapes, and riotous perennial borders are planted in this valuable land at the front of the house.
The layout of your front yard also conveys the first impression visitors have of your home and, by extension, your personality. A lively, colorful cottage garden centered on a painted bench gives passersby a very different image of who you are than would a bland open lawn. There are special problems and opportunities that affect the design of a front yard.
When the house sits far above or below the street, getting to it requires thoughtful planning. Similarly, if a house rests too close to a street, it pays to enclose the front yard, not only for safety’s sake, but to increase usability as well. Reframe your thinking: what if you treated your front yard as though it were a backyard. How would it function differently from the way it does right now?
top right • A patio beside the front door can be an unexpected and welcoming touch. Here, the herringbone brick patio, inviting chairs, and bountiful window boxes create a friendly entrance.
bottom right • This suburban home enjoyed a nice large sweep of lawn, but the homeowners decided to create a more interesting space with lots of plantings.
below• A stately planting of river birches, ferns, and ground cover flank a bluestone walkway, leading eye and foot up to the front door.
At first glance, this planting looks like many other handsome front yards in this suburban neighborhood. But look more closely and you’ll see a host of edibles to harvest, including kale, artichoke, and lettuce, interspersed with herbs including basil and sage. Sometimes the best sun exposure is along the street edge. Why not put it to good use while also beautifying the neighborhood?
When you own a formal house, it can pay to extend its proportions right out to the street. This formal front yard was created to complement the designer’s own foursquare 1911 Colonial home in an older neighborhood in upstate New York. The boxwood hedge parterre is laid out in an Arts and Crafts design, which echoes a stained-glass window in the house. The garden is visible from several high vantage points (front and side porches and roof garden), so its intricate design can be fully appreciated from above. The owners, landscape architects A.J. Miller and Mariane Wheatley-Miller, fill the beds with evergreens and annuals.
right • Far more interesting than lawn, the parterre offers lovely views from inside the house. The property sits on a natural drumlin high above the level of the street; steps lead down to the sidewalk below.
Not everyone lives on level ground. Sloping front yards and houses that sit above (or below) the street require a series of stairs or steps to reach the front door. With thoughtful design, the experience of scaling a height can be exciting rather than arduous. Think of a series of steps and landings as being like a waterfall.
The front door is the “origin” of the falls; the front stoop or porch is where it “dams up” and then flows down the steps, pooling where landings occur, until it “spills” out to meet the road or sidewalk below. Make the steps wide enough for two people to walk side-by-side, complete with landings every few feet of rise so that visitors can catch their breath. For safety’s sake, place lights so that every step is well lit. Direct water runoff into adjacent planting beds or lawn areas so that the steps remain dry.
top right • Landscape steps look and feel good when the riser is low and the tread is long. Here, two offset stairways are linked by a long level walkway before reaching the front door. bottom right • These concrete stairs provide a handsome stepped walkway through a colorful garden. Note the location of the landings that provide visitors with a place to catch their breath every four risers. facing page • The wooden bollards on either side of this walkway echo the roofline and bring the architecture into the garden, while also scaling down the entrance to pedestrian traffic. Billowing grasses soften the house and walkway’s squares and angles. Concrete pavers and dimensional wall blocks combine to create inexpensive but handsome planters.
Categories: Front yard landscaping ideas
In order for a garden to work well, it has to work as one whole unit. If you remember back to our very first design principle, Shape, we discussed the importance of viewing the garden as a whole entity.
This is critical for any design. Just because you have existing elements in your garden doesn’t mean they should be in any way separate from the changes you make as the garden develops. Survey the garden and draw up a scale plan.
When you have everything plotted onto paper and can see an aerial view for garden, look at the empty spaces. So, are there clearly defined spaces, or an irregular smattering of plants and features dotted about? If you have lots of things dotted about without much clarity, as a result you have half the answer. What you need to do is to work out how to bring clarity and balance into the garden.
If that isn’t the case, try to detach from what is there now. Don’t think about all your favourite plants in the border on the right hand side . Be objective – is what is there on the paper working? And if not, why not? You need to be honest with yourself first, then work out what you can do.
in addition if you are totally against moving something, that’s fine. Just because something isn’t working, doesn’t necessarily mean you have to move it; re-shaping and linking into other features often works well. There are occasions when something simply is in the wrong place. Then it comes down to a judgement call; can and do you want to live with whatever the ‘it’ is that’s in the wrong place? The example shown below is a simple makeover.
The patio and main shrub borders have stayed in place. The lawn has been shaped and has a brick edge to define the shape. One shrub border has been trimmed back a bit on the right hand side.
A few stepping-stones link the patio to the newly shaped lawn and a bench has been added as a focal point in front of the large shrub border on the top left.
At a later date, the patio could be re-done and perhaps a semi-circle shape could be cut into the lawn to add more interest and shape. But for a makeover, which has only involved reshaping the lawn and removing a few shrubs, also adding some features, it’s totally transformed the look and feel of the garden.
It really can be as simple as re-shaping your lawn and borders that can create a dramatic improvement to how your garden looks. It’s easy to underestimate just how important shaping the space is, it really does account for 60% of garden design success, if not more. The modern courtyard garden plan below shows how simple box shapes have created the design.
Finally the plants go in the areas that are left either side of the boxes. In this garden, added interest, is created by making the left-over shapes raised planters.
Categories: front yard landscaping