This brand new home had backyard that consisted of a gravel area for RV parking and a sickly lawn. The clients were partial to both modern design elements and the traditional English Cottage Garden— two seemingly disparate styles! But we accomplished a design that borrowed influences from both modern and traditional styles, and the clients were thrilled with the result.
Expired hedge and lawn transform into unique West Coast stroll garden.
In the front, the over hundred foot hedge was half dead. The ‘lawn’ was mostly snap weed and dandelion. The homeowner was an avid art collector with a modern yet whimsical sense of style. We took all of this, and created a design that marries elements of the Japanese stroll garden with the cheer and abundance of an English cottage garden, while retaining a distinctly West Coast feel.
The backyard was small and completely tired. We utilized the cozy dimensions to create three distinct spaces for veggie beds, a dog-friendly zone, and a unique space intended to have an art gallery feel.
The side yard of this home contained a patch of lawn, and a row of over-grown shrubs. It was also plainly visible from the master bedroom, so something needed to be done. Here, we created a design that was reminiscent of the dry riverbed, but with a lush, foliage-focused planting that could be enjoyed year round.
A small project that made a big difference in curb appeal.
The clients had a fondness for the traditional, picket fence front yard, and were completely underwhelmed by their overgrown hedge planting. By adjusting the scale and flow of the existing beds, and planting them with small shrubs and perennials to provide year round interest, we created major curb appeal that was both charming, and a valuable improvement to the property value.
From abandoned to Zen...
The new owner of this property took possession of a garden that had been left more-or-less untouched for years. An assortment of too-large shrubs were crowding each other in this relatively small space. After removing these, the potential was fully revealed. Working with the client's preferences, we created a Japanese-inspired garden. The existing Japanese Maple (Acer palmatum) and Junipers (Juniperus sqamata 'Blue Star') integrated beautifully with two new Japanese Maples, Rhododendrons, and-- a necessity in any Japanese garden-- a pine (Pinus thunbergii 'Yatsubusha'). The addition of low-maintenance perennials included Japanese Forest Grass (Hakanechloa macra), Hart's Tongue Ferns (Asplenium scolopendrium), and Shield Ferns (Polystichum setiferum).
Out with the lawn!
A Blank Canvas
Reconciling Scale and Flow
Editing an over-planted frontyard
Looking for Colour
Lush Annual and Perennial Beds
English Cottage Garden Bed
Here, our clients wanted to invigorate their tired front planting with an English cottage garden. By the end of installation day, a lovely English cottage garden had been created. The Contorted Hazlenut (Corylus avellana 'Contotra') will provide a focal point, and year-round interest. Classic English garden flowers, such as Foxgloves (Digitalis purpurea), Hollyhocks (Alcea), Phlox, Delphineum, Geraniums, Coneflower (Echinacea purpurea), Black-Eyed-Susan (Rudbeckia hirta), and Catmint (Nepeta) provide blooms througout the growing season. Shrubs, such as Rockrose (Cistus), Hydrangea, and Ramanas Rose (Rosa rugosa) will come into their own, as they grow, providing structure, texture and colour.
Here, our clients had struggled with the front lawn for several years. Even after replacing it with new sod, after a couple of seasons, it was sparse, full of weeds, and a general eyesore during the dry, hot summers. They decided they'd had enough, and called us with the idea of removing it all, and replacing it with a sitting area, and a drought-toeralnt planting that would attract beneficial insects.
Rather than pay to haul all of that sod away, we cut it with a turf-cutter, flipped it, and covered with a thin layer of 50/50 screened topsoil and composted yard waste. This saved the clients money, retained valuable organic matter, and lowered the carbon foot-print by not hauling material unnecessarily.
The idea of using drought-tolerant plants may sound like a limitation, but there are actually many beautiful plants to choose from. For structure, and year-round interest, we used various junipers and pines. Grasses were used for their beautiful movement, and they are the stars of the garden in autumn, as well as providing winter interest. A multitude of beautiful but tough flowering perennials, with blooming periods to cover spring to fall were used: Echinacea purpurea (Coneflower), Rudbeckia fulgida (Black-Eyed-Susan), Achillea millefolium (Yarrow) Papavierorientale (Oriental Poppy), just to name a few.
A garden without vast areas of exposed soil is both low-maintenance and water-wise. We used assorted ground covers as a 'living mulch'. These will fill in, over a couple of seasons, and will suppress weeds, retain water, and be beautiful in their own right. Among these selections were Thymus pseudolanginisus (Wooly Thyme), Cerastiumtomentosa (Snow-In-Summer) and assorted Sedum sp. (Stonecrop)
Front Yard Makeover
Our clients at this location faced some major challenges, not the least of which was roving heards of deer. Poor soil, and a perched water table were also issues. High-quality topsoil, with organic ammendments, were used in a mounded fashion to prevent plants having 'wet feet'.
The front bed was moved and reshaped, to relate to the overall planting. The Katsura Tree (Cercidiphyllum japonicum) creates a focal point; and as it grows, will provide the overstory for the rest of the planting. Rhododendrons, Mugo Pines (Pinus mugo), and California Lilac (Ceanothis) will fill out the middlestory. Bloodgrass (Imperata cylindrica), Festuca, and Sword Ferns (Polystichum munitum) are the understory. It was key to leave ample room for these plants to reach their mature size.
Unfortunately, the Japanese Maple was not salvagable. But the clients had two great existingRhodos that were moved and reused in the design.
In a few seasons, the Snowflake Viburnum (Viburnum plicatum) will provide a gorgeous, showy focal point. The use of Mugo Pines, grasses, and ferns is repeated, to give continuity to the overall design.
It may look 'under-planted', but that is because over-planting is so common. Here, various groundovers have been given space to spread out, and create a living mulch. The different textures of Brass Buttons (Leptinella), Creeping Thyme (Thymus serphyllum), and Irish Moss (Sagnia subulata), can be enjoyed from the seating area.