Welcome to R & J Landscape Design!
This part of The Charmed Garden blog will show you before and after photos with advice on troubleshooting using design techniques combined with some basic horticulture information.
Budget Friendly Re-Design
I truly believe anyone can have a beautiful, low maintenance, garden with a personal, unique design. This garden design was done for a couple in Oak Park, Illinois. The wife is recently retired, and the husband has a few more years before joining her. They enjoy gardening, but not to an obsession (like yours truly). This is an older home that has been lovingly taken care of and completely remodeled over the years. The interior is beautiful simplicity with natural colors and materials throughout. The front of the home has an enclosed porch, also newly remodeled. The back of the house has an add-on screened in porch with a unique layout, giving it the feel of an outdoor room. Both porches are used every day, so a colorful view was high on the list.
Here is the home BEFORE
Here’s a closer look at the details.
designed their garden with the following criteria in mind: 1) the couple’s design style, matching the interior style with the exterior; 2) four season color from low maintenance plants; 3) keeping budget in mind, I used some of the perennials already in the garden and cleaned up and rebuilt the existing wall; and 4) extended the garden bed giving them more garden to enjoy and giving the garden a style uniquely diferent from it’s neighborsThe plants that give this garden its “bones” are the three variegated Ivory Halo Dogwoods in the center, which have red branches for winter color. At far end there is a dwarf Hydrangea Tree which blooms mid-summer, and next to the stairs there is a medium-sized rhododendron for spring color. These bushes were chosen with the home owners. The same for the perennials. I prepare the design giving the homeowners a few options for the plants and we go shopping together. It’s a very personal connection to the home owner and their garden.
How can you adapt this to your own home? Well, first notice that this is not a large front yard. Any size yard can be transformed into the garden that suits your style, your budget, and the needs of the site. To make things easier and cheaper, work with what you already have. We used the somewhat curvilinear design already in place and the materials.
Use the design principle of grouping plants in 3’s, 5’s, 7’s, and so on. Here are 3 Sedum Autumn Joy grouped with a set of 2 Little Blue Stem and 1 miniature Sedum. All of these plants require little water, adapt quickly to their new home, are resilient to the snow being piled on them in the winter, and are happy in sun or part-shade.
Highlight the curves in your design by planting your annuals or smaller perennials in mass along the inside of the edging. Use the same color and the design will pop!
Sketch out your plan, layout the pattern of your plants and give it a go.
Hardy Design for Rough and Rugged Soil
This is a home near Vienna, Virginia. The photo is taken just after the installation was complete. My sister’s friend sent to me her plat of survey and photos, from which I was able to obtain enough information to prepare her design.
FOUR SEASON COLOR IN YOUR FRONT YARD GARDEN
The Home Owner has a sweeping curvilinear design, which incorporates bushes and perennials that shine at different times of the year.
HERE ARE BEFORE AND AFTER PHOTOS. Yes – it really is the same house.
First – a quick overview of the before and after. Here you can see in the first photo the outdated front yard garden. The Second and Third photos show the new, curvilinear design, including a new curving sidewalk.
NEXT – THE PLANTS – We installed three different sets of bushes: 1) the boxwoods between the house and walk up to the front door; 2) the rose bushes in front of the sidewalk; and 3) the dogwoods in front of the house, under the windows.
The Boxwoods are a broadleaf evergreen. This means they are green all year. The rose bushes are Knock Out Rosebushes, otherwise known as shrub roses. They are of course summer and fall color. The Dogwoods are variegated (green with white veins) and have small white flowers in the spring, and have glorious red twigs all winter. An added bonus is that the red twigs stand out even more against the sand color of the brick. Hmm it’s as if it was planned that way. Oh Wait it was!!! That is a garden design tool people.
Another design tool/principal is to plant en masse. The color has greater punch when there is a lot of it. A swath of red roses on the rosebushes knocks you out more than a single bush (see what I did there). Also, always plant in odd numbers, 3, 5, 7, etc. Your eye will always look for that third or fifth bush, etc.
Fill in the spaces with an assortment of perennials that will provide you with four season interest as well. In this design we have red Tulips for spring color, Shasta Daisy and Day Lilies for summer color, and Sedum Autumn Joy for fall color and winter interest. We also have 3 small blue oat grass (right next to the driveway) and periwinkle blue perennial Vinca ground crover. The vinca flowers in the spring and is actually green through the winter. The Blue Oat Grass maintains is color year round as well.
Last note – the home owner really had his heart set on a dwarf Japanese Maple. When you only have one of something in your garden design, it is called a Specimen plant. This Maple is it. It is at the end of the row of dogwoods. It is in a spot where it won’t be competing with the knock out roses or the fall color of the Sedums.
And there you have it! A simple planting plan which is easy to maintain and gives you four season color.
If you are considering any of these plants for your design, Boxwoods like sun or shade, Dogwoods like sun/part shade, and rose bushes love love love the sun. Perennials come in shade, sun, sun/part shade.
Happy planning and planting