Grass Is Greener
J. Sterling Morton, founder of Arbor Day said, “Each generation takes the earth as trustees.” Since April is Lawn & Garden month (and we celebrated both Earth Day and Arbor Day this week), it only feels right to celebrate our landscape and become ‘trustees’ of our own yards!
A huge part of my job in television design is to make sure the landscaping is “camera-ready.” And by camera-ready, we simply mean the space should have curb appeal. Homeowners often focus creative design efforts on the interior, neglecting to consider the exterior. How can we overlook an aspect of our home that adds so much life to our own nest, but even more so to our neighborhoods and community?
You know the old saying, “the grass is always greener on the other side?” Well instead of getting green with envy over your neighbor’s lawn, check out these practical tips that will help you create a landscape worth smiling about.
1. Start with the curb.
The best way to give your yard depth and interest is to create plant beds at the entry of your walkway or near the mailbox, close to the street. Foliage at the foreground of your yard brings perspective and gives the eye a place to start. Just like an artist needs a canvas backdrop, I have used small sections of fence (about 2’ tall x 4’ wide) as a backdrop for plant beds in the foreground. This creates a natural frame for the walkway to your front door.
Too often in neighborhoods, we see linear walkways up to a front door from the street. I say, don’t take this straight and narrow approach! Give your guests a “wandering” experience that isn’t so expected, while maintaining a clear path. The walkway should have some shape to it. Draw an S, add a curve, or take an unexpected turn leading to the door. You can guide your guests by using different hardscape materials, contrasting mulch, planters, path lights or plant beds.
On this note, the driveway is absolutely part of the yard. The same creative approach applies. Whether you are using asphalt, concrete or stone, the driveway is often a significant portion of your yard. If you have room to give your driveway a curve, or break it up with a plant bed, do it! If not, consider adding a stone wall or planters along the driveway border for interest.
No matter the size of your yard, enjoying time outside is an experience we all need from time to time. Just like you would identify areas inside your home for certain functions, the same applies to your yard. Every good yard should have a quiet spot and a place to entertain. If you love nature, consider adding a birdbath to your front yard or place a bench under a shade tree for a cozy reading spot. Exterior spaces can serve different purposes, just like the inside of your home.
Once the groundwork and shape of your yard is planned out, the real fun begins! Flowers, foliage and trees are all meant to work together. Through texture and color you can really create a beautiful setting that enhances the exterior of your home. As I always say, pick a theme for the design and stick to it. What look are you going for? A relaxed and casual lawn, or a super manicured setting?
Consider the following when accessorizing your yard:
– Flower species, grass, ornamental grass, trees
– Hardscape (stone, gravel, concrete, etc.)
(ProTalk #ProTip: Different materials complement different architecture, so check out Deryl’s Good Bones series for some tips for your home’s unique style!)
– Boulders, rocks
– Mulch color
– Bird feeders / bird baths
– Mailbox (Yes, your mailbox is an accessory)
– Structures, like pergolas and archways
Nobody can replicate the magnificent colors that are born in nature. When selecting your landscape materials, treat this job like an artist would. Pay close attention to the colors, textures and time of year plants will bloom. Have a mix of perennials and annuals to keep your yard looking lively all year round. I can say from my own experience, it’s a great feeling to see your plants blooming as spring is rising…
6. When the sun goes down:
Any successful landscape plan must have landscape lighting involved. If you have considered the above advice up to this point, it has been all about creating an experience in your yard. Just like interior lighting, exterior lighting immediately evokes mood, creates dimension, and, most importantly, makes your yard functional at any time of day. There are beautiful options on the market for pathway lights. Consider solar operated for more energy savings.
At the end of the day, the truth is, the grass is always greener where you water it! It’s up to us to be the ‘trustees’ of our lawns…time to bust out your pencils, gardening gloves, watering cans and roll up your sleeves!