Lawn Begone: 7 New Ideas for Front Yard Landscaping

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They say you are what you wear. This is also true of your house. Your front yard makes a strong first impression. Here are seven of our favorite landscaping ideas to dress up the place:

Fairy Tale Flowers

Above: For more of this garden, see Garden Visit: The Hobbit Land Next Door. Photograph by Tom Kubik for Gardenista.

My next-door neighbor in Mill Valley, California tore up the grass first thing when she moved into her house. The property is fenced, so it feels like a private world. The walk from the front gate to the stoop is only about 30 feet, but on the way you pass so much—a hydrangea grove, lemon trees, fragrant roses, Japanese maples, columbine, wisteria, herbs—that it can take days to get there if you stop to smell everything.

Above: On the front porch, a potted orange begonia is all it takes to remind visitors of the flowers they’ve just walked past.

Above: A riot of color in a window box reinforces the theme.

Gracious Living

Above: For more of this garden, see Before & After: A Grande Dame in LA’s Hancock Park.

The first time LA-based landscape designer Naomi Sanders saw the grand 1920s house in Hancock Park, it felt hemmed in despite its generous front yard. A maze of formal parterres and fussy plantings (“a million different plants”) were to blame.

She designed new hardscape elements (including a concrete front path to match the material of the stoop) and reduced the plant palette to three colors (green, white, and red). “I was really interested in looking at the work of Mark Rothko for inspiration, for that limited use of color for effect,” Sanders said.

Above: By simplifying the plantings, Sanders made the boxwood parterres feel tailored instead of cluttered.

Above: A front path of flagstone was replaced by concrete pavers. “It makes the hardscape feel more connected to the house,” says Sanders.

The Secret Garden

Above: A mysterious front path invites visitors into Jean and Ken Linsteadt’s Mill Valley, CA front yard. Two pencil thin cypress trees flank—and define—the walkway. For more, see A Modern Garden Inspired by the Classics.

What makes it welcoming? No fence. No gate. And the high boxwood hedges look fluffy rather than fierce (thanks to gentle pruning).

Above: Photograph by Nicole Franzen for Gardenista.

A the end of the path, wide stone steps (and Louis the springer spaniel) lead to a covered front stoop.

Above: Photograph by Nicole Franzen for Gardenista.

Alongside the Linsteadts’ path, cheerful pink and white clumps of Santa Barbara daisies signal that visitors are welcome.

Elevated Thinking

Above: In Philadephia, a steep grade change required retaining walls at a property’s edge. To make the house feel accessible and welcoming to visitors, designers at Fieldesk planted a colorful, drought-resistant front yard garden on either side of the stairs.

Above: Hardy perennials including coreopsis (R) and thyme edge the walkway.

Painterly Prairie

Above: Photograph via Adam Woodruff & Associates.

In central Illinois, garden designer Adam Woodruff created a painterly mini prairie when he tore out the turf in his own front yard and planted a low-maintenance mix of perennials, ornamental grasses, and shrubs.

Above: Woodruff planted hardy blooming plants that will perform year after year. He created a crazy quilt of color (L) with Astilbe chinensis ‘Purpurkerze’; Helenium ‘Mardis Gras’; Baptisia ‘Purple Smoke’; Eryngium yuccifolium; Origanum laevigatum ‘Herrenhausen’, and Perovskia atriplicifolia.

At (R), plants include Perovskia atriplicifolia, Amsonia hubrichtii, and Salvia ‘May Night’.

Victory Garden

Above: For more of this edible garden in London, see Garden Visit: The Little House at 24a Dorset Road.

When London architect Sam Tisdall designed a replacement house to match the rest of a block’s Victorian era homes (which had been built for railway workers), he sited the clients’ vegetable garden in the small front yard to take advantage of available sunlight.

Above: Raised beds add another architectural element to the facade.

Steal the Views

Above: From a Napa Valley farmhouse, you can see vineyards from the house—if nothing blocks the view. For more of this garden, see Vineyard Retreat: A Garden That Belongs to the Land.

“Our goal was to make this garden evocative of the surrounding landscape, which is just stunning,” said SF-based landscape architect Scott Lewis, who came up with a garden design for the one-acre property. “What we did was clear the clutter away to take advantage of those views.”

Above: On both sides of the front path are sweeps of perennial grass Bouteloua gracilis ‘Blonde Ambition’. In the fall, the grass turns gold, like the distant hillsides.

For more of front yard landscaping ideas, see:

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Best of Ikea 2015: A Glass Greenhouse Cabinet

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Spotted and admired in Ikea’s new spring collection, a glass greenhouse cabinet to house your plants outdoors or in:

Above: Made of powder coated galvanized steel with glass doors, a gray Hindö Greenhouse Cabinet measures 56 3/4 inches high and 24 3/4 inches wide; $99 (currently available in US stores but not online).

Above: The greenhouse cabinet has five shelves, three with adjustable heights. Each shelf will hold up to 50 pounds. The cabinet’s feet also adjust to enable the greenhouse to stand level on an uneven surface.

For more of Ikea’s new collection for 2015, see:

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A Modern Garden: At Home with Charles and Ray Eames in California

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From the Department of Famous Love Letters:

In 1941 when a young Charles Eames proposed marriage to Ray, he wrote, “I am 34 (almost) years old, single (again) and broke. I love you very much and would like to marry you very very soon. I cannot promise to support us very well. But if given the chance I will sure in hell try.”

He sure in hell did. In 1945, the designer began brainstorming ideas with fellow architect Eero Saarinen for a pre-fab house where the Eameses could live in LA’s Pacific Palisades. By the time the iconic modernist home was built four years later, the design had changed radically—because of the garden.

Nearly 70 years later, Case Study House No. 8 and the 1.4-acre property that inspired the Eameses’ work for the rest of their lives remain intact, overseen by the nonprofit Eames Foundation. The other day photographer Mark Robinson (whose online shop OEN is one of our favorites) visited with his camera:

Photography by Mark Robinson except where noted.

Above: Photograph by Daniel Schreurs.

The original plans called for a cliffside house to overlook the ocean. But post-war steel shortages caused delays. Waiting for construction materials to become available, the Eameses picnicked on the property and fell “in love with the meadow.” To preserve it, they changed the design of the house.

Above:  Photograph via LA Places.

Built in 1949, the house was redesigned to fit into the landscape and became the home of the husband-and-wife design team for the rest of their lives (Charles died in 1978 and Ray died 10 years later).

Above: A shaded patio, with a corrugated steel overhang, and a wall of floor-to-ceiling windows connect the garden to the living room.

Above: Photograph by Ricardo DeAratanha via Los Angeles Times.

The living room has a 17-foot-high ceiling and 10-foot-high potted houseplants to reinforce the connection to the natural surroundings.

Above: Photograph by Ricardo DeAratanha via Los Angeles Times.

Among the artifacts original to the house is a ball of dried tumbleweed that hangs from the ceiling; the Eameses collected it on their honeymoon in 1941 as they drove from Chicago to the West Coast.

Above: The house, preserved in its original state to the extent possible, has had plumbing and electrical repairs (and original fabric recently was re-glued).

Above: The Eames house and garden are open to visitors; to make a reservation, see Eames Foundation.

Above: A seedling seeks the light.

Above: Originally designed as a metal chair in the 1940s, Charles and Ray Eames’ a Molded Plastic 4-Leg Side Chair with a metal frame now has a seat and back made of recyclable polypropylene. The Eameses “continually updated their work as new materials became available,” according to Design Within Reach, where the licensed design is available in 13 colors (including white, as shown) for $319 apiece.

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Above: The Eames house is at 203 Chautauqua Bloulevard, Pacific Palisades, California.

For more Eames design, see:

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Table of Contents: Best of 2015

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Revisit the greatest gardening hits of 2015 with us this week:

Table of Contents; Best of 2015

Above: For more of this garden (and cat), see 11 Garden Ideas to Steal from South Africa.

Monday

Ikea glass greenhouse hindo ; Gardenista

Above: Ikea’s best new garden product for 2015? The Glassy Greenhouse.

Tuesday

Curb appeal perennials garden front yard landscaping ; Gardenista

Above: See 7 New Ideas for Front Yard Landscaping in this week’s Curb Appeal post.

Wednesday

houseplants bedroom Portland OR Emily Katz ; Gardenista

Above: Join us for The Big Debate: Plants in the Bedroom?

Thursday

Steel Factory Windows and Doors, Gardenista

Above: Erase the boundaries between outdoors and in with steel factory windows in this week’sHardscaping 101 post.

Friday

london-edible-garden-front-yard-sam-tisdall-gardenista

Above: We pay a call on a tiny 800-square-foot brick house with an enormous vegetable garden in the front yard (the proportions look perfect to us).

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Current Obsessions: Splendor in the Grass


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In the hectic days leading to this holiday weekend, here are a few things that brought us serenity and inspiration.

t-magazine-gardens-2015-gardenista-current-obsessions

Violet-Grey-thankyou-flowers-Gardenista-obsessions

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  • Above: On our wish lists: a trip to the rolling green hills of Scotland. Photo by Marlen Komar.
  • Over on Remodelista: An alpine hut that bends the rules.

Sunset-houseplants-gardenista-current-obsessions

 

nstagram and Pinterest Picks of the Week

Smit-Farms-instagram-Gardenista-Obsessions  

  • Above: Fruits are high art in the Instagram feed of Smit Farms (@smitfarms).

Marble-Milkweed-pinterest-gardenista-obsessions

  • Above: As fans of the botanical-based apothecary Marble & Milkweed, we love perusing through the team’s In The Garden board.

For more Gardenista, be sure to check out our most recent issue Homesteaders.

 

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Garden Visit: A White Christmas in Sweden


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Blogger Maria Sandberg of Lilla Villa Vita lives with her husband, two sons, and dog in a fairytale house in southern Sweden. Every winter, she takes advantage of a white landscape to deck the house (and the garden gazebo) in greenery and candlelight. Let’s pay a Christmas visit:

Photography via Lilla Villa Vita.

lillavillavita-sweden-christmas-decor-scandinavian-snowy-facade

Above: Built in 1909, Lilla Villa Vita is a house in Kristianstad in southern Sweden (closer to Copenhagen, Denmark than to Stockholm).

lillavillavita-sweden-christmas-decor-scandinavian-snowy-facade

Above: The wreath and garlands of spruce boughs came from florist Dennis Blommor in nearby Ahus.

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Above: Wrapped around tree trunks, white string lights glow in the snow.

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Above: “The table below is my little nature table, with treasures from nature and forest,” says Maria.

lillavillavita-sweden-christmas-decor-scandinavian-snowy-facade

Above: A dash of red: “I like to decorate from nature,” says Maria, who decorated with apples from a neighbor’s tree.

lillavillavita-sweden-christmas-decor-scandinavian-snowy-facade

Above: A birdbath becomes “a little candy table instead” when it’s too cold for birds to bathe.

garen-gazebo-snow-christmas-sweden-lilla-villa-vilta-gardenista

Above: More red. The garden gazebo, dressed up for the holiday season.

lilla villa vita garden gazebo candles Christmas; Gardenista

Above: At night, candles light the gazebo from inside.

lilla villa vita garden gazebo candles Christmas; Gardenista

Above: No red ribbon necessary.

lillavillavita-sweden-christmas-decor-scandinavian-snowy-facade

Above: Snowpack.

Merry Christmas. Here are more of our favorite holiday gardens to visit while you’re curled up with a cup of tea:

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DIY: A Menu for Christmas Morning


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Everyone knows that starting the day with a well-balanced breakfast is a good idea and as far as I’m concerned, this is especially true on Christmas. It’s a day when, if I’m not careful, I might happily fill up on melty foil-wrapped chocolate Santas in front of the fire and drift into a sugary stupor. A proper Christmas deserves a proper morning feast. But it also shouldn’t be anything too complicated—there’s dinnertime for that. Fresh juices, an indulgent smattering of fresh fruit, something warm from the oven, something savory, and something sweet sounds perfect to me. Olivia Rae James agrees. Here, her dreamed up version of the perfect Christmas morning spread.

Photography by Olivia Rae James.

christmas morning breakfast | gardenista

Above: Olivia’s idea of the perfect Christmas morning spread.

christmas morning breakfast | gardenista

Above: Olivia’s boyfriend, Blake, was in charge of making the cinnamon rolls. He used Oh, Ladycakes Small Batch Cinnamon Rolls recipe, but added a boozy addition to the glaze: a touch of whiskey. Don’t mind if we do.

christmas morning breakfast | gardenista

Above: To offset the sweetness, Olivia made tartines of smoked salmon and whipped cream cheese on toasted sourdough bread.

christmas morning breakfast | gardenista

Above: Part of Christmas morning tradition in my family, too. Olivia broiled halved oranges, sprinkled with cinnamon and brown sugar, until they were just warm.

christmas morning breakfast | gardenista

Above: Blake’s glazed cinnamon rolls, ready to eat.

christmas morning breakfast | gardenista

Above: Coffee and grapefruit juice to wake up sleepy family members.

christmas morning breakfast | gardenista

Above: Breakfast in action. What about you? What you are your favorite holiday breakfast treats?

For more of Olivia’s festive recipe ideas, see A 5-Ingredient Holiday Cocktail Party and Mulled Apple Cider With a Secret Ingredient.

 

 

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Christmas in Detroit: A Pilgrimage to Gardeners’ Midwest Mecca


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Detroit Garden Works‘ motto is “Where passionate gardeners come to shop.” Step through the door, and you immediately understand why shoppers from as far away as Kansas, Pennsylvania, and Iowa make pilgrimages to this mecca. Founded in 1996 by landscape designer Deborah Silver, the store sells beautiful pots and planters, fountains and hardscape elements, well made tools (new, used, and antique), and special plants, from potted topiaries to giant amaryllis bulbs. We stopped by the other day to see the Christmas decorations:

Photography by Christine Chitnis for Gardenista.

Detroit Garden Works Christine Chitnis Gardenista

Above: Trees wrapped in burlap and tied with red ribbon make a festive holiday display in front of a living ivy wall.

Inside, different rooms have living walls and elaborate displays, and it is then that the full beauty and uniqueness of the shop hits you.

Detroit Garden Works Christine Chitnis Gardenista

Above: Oversized twinkling wreaths frame a fountain on a living wall.

Detroit Garden Works Christine Chitnis Gardenista

Above: A bit of sparkle; simple silver ornaments nestle in a bowl.

Detroit Garden Works Christine Chitnis Gardenista

Above: Rounds of twinkly lights frame the living wall and fountain, creating a sparkling vignette.

Detroit Garden Works Christine Chitnis Gardenista

Above: Every year, the shop has a silver bell made and engraved with the year.  A strand hangs on the door of the shop, and jingles as shoppers enter.

Detroit Garden Works Christine Chitnis Gardenista

Above: Garlands of all types are strewn about the shop, including this charming, simple garland of monochrome oak leaves and acorns.

Detroit Garden Works Christine Chitnis Gardenista

Above: A wall of pots and garden accessories. Detroit Garden Works does landscaping work throughout Southern Michigan, including everything from elaborate pots in the warmer months to garlands and holiday decor during the holidays.  In fact, November and December are as busy as May and June for the landscaping business.

Detroit Garden Works Christine Chitnis Gardenista

Above: Christmas bells and garland.

Detroit Garden Works Christine Chitnis Gardenista

Above: Lighted trees in the shop’s courtyard surround a simple wooden bench.

Detroit Garden Works Christine Chitnis Gardenista

Above: Birch branches and evergreen swathes in the window boxes.  The shop gets its holiday decorations after all thr clients are taken care of.  The simple palette ensures that the decorations can stay throughout the winter months, without feeling too “holiday.”

Visiting the Midwest for the holidays? Stop in at another of our favorite shops, A New Leaf in Chicago.

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