Easy care front yard Landscaping

December 20, 2017
Low-Maintenance Plants for

outdoor living space with fireplace, patio dining set and lounge chair1 ×

Backyard Getaway

Using no-fuss materials and water-thrifty plantings, this landscaping pro gave his small urban lot plenty of visual punch and practical outdoor living space while minimizing upkeep. Coming up: five key ideas he put to work—and you can too.

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Practice Makes Perfect

One reward of overhauling other people's properties for a living is experience that you can put to use on your own place—eventually. For eight years, Vincent Ocampo worked as the contractor half of a design-build team in Southern California with garden designer Nicole Lopez. He loved how their work blurred the boundaries between indoors and out.

Shown: Westchester, California, homeowner Vincent Ocampo and his daughter, Alexis, get set to enjoy a meal outdoors.

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Before: Bland & Bare

Finally, a year after he and his wife, Ilianet, bought a house and had a baby, it was his turn. Where there was just a small, sloping lawn in front and more struggling grass in back, he and Lopez imagined an easy-to-maintain landscape alive with color and texture and divvied up into lots of outdoor seating and entertaining areas for friends and a large extended family. Read on for the principles they followed in revamping their landscape.

man and small girl eating at outdoor table4 ×

1. Plant a front-yard garden

Front lawns demand regular watering, mowing, and weed control. The Ocampos' sloping front-yard garden adds privacy, beauty, and plenty of play space for their young daughter with a virtually maintenance-free garden. A stepped-up slate-tile path winds through the center, flanked by dramatic palms, colorful succulents, and other low-water plants. An airy metal fence establishes the private part of the yard. Gates close off the driveway (which cuts in front of the house to the garage) and a parking pad. Concrete paving tinted a deep purple gives the whole yard a rosy hue. Safely behind the gates, daughter Alexis and her friends ride bikes and play hopscotch on the driveway or do artwork on the small front deck.

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2. Keep the lawn to a minimum

The Ocampos kept a patch of lawn, but it's so small—about 16 feet square—that it seems more like an area rug than wall-to-wall carpet. It sits to one side in the backyard and is the first thing you come to if you enter from the side yard. They thought they needed it as a play space for their daughter, but it mostly serves as a lush counterpoint to the hardscaping around the fireplace area. Vincent constructed a focal-point pebble fountain against one of the garden walls where it is surrounded by palms and feathery Chilean mesquite trees. Now the sound of splashing water enlivens this quiet corner of the yard.

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3. Rely on low maintenance hardscape for outdoor living

The Ocampos' garden is so easy to care for partly because it substitutes paving and planters for lawn and traditional perennial beds. But with a lot of hardscape, you need a good design or you could wind up with a yard that looks like an industrial parking lot. Lopez's solution was to create an underlying grid of lines that gives the spaces a sense of order. Changes in elevation help tame the slope in front and delineate the spaces in back.

outdated house with sloped front yard before gardening remodel7 ×

3. Rely on hardscape (cont.)

The front walkway leading up from the sidewalk has four steps and takes two 90-degree bends about 6 feet apart, then ends where the concrete driveway cuts across the yard to the garage. But your eye continues because the concrete is scored into 6-foot-wide squares whose edges visually connect the path to the front steps.

In the backyard are three nearly square areas—the lawn, the fireplace patio, and the dining patio—though the yard jogs in and out to match bumpouts in the house. Planting beds of different sizes fill in the odd spaces to make it look more symmetrical overall.

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Dividing the backyard into three distinct "rooms, " the design gives each a slightly different elevation and paving material underfoot. The poured-concrete floor of the dining area is largest; level with the floor of the house, it connects via a wood deck accessed by two sets of doors. On one side of it sits the outdoor kitchen, which is paved with broken flagstone surrounded by softer-looking decomposed granite. On the other side, a step leads down to the fireplace area, which is paved with the same slate tile as in front, and a small ribbon of decomposed granite outlines the sitting wall and surround. This area steps down to the patch of lawn, the smallest and lowest "room"—fitting for the section most closely rooted to earth. "The step-ups are subtle, " says Lopez, "but they really do make the space seem bigger." The poured concrete and mortared stone just need a quick sweep for cleaning. The decomposed granite might need to be replenished with a couple of new shovelfuls once a year.

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4. Focus on water-thrifty perennials to provide color and texture

A low-maintenance garden means forgoing annuals and plants that need to be coddled. "I always tell people, 'Don't plant anything that needs to be swapped out, " says Vincent. Because of the region's hot, dry climate and water restrictions, the Ocampos used a lot of native plants and succulents.

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Low-growers cover the ground around stepping stones and shrubs, and soften the edges of hardscape areas. Says Vincent: "If I knew then what I know now, I'd have saved money by just walking and plucking." Today, passersby often ask to do just that, harvesting easy-to-root sprigs from his street-side succulents to stick in pots and grow at home.

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5. Add containers as sculptural decorative elements

Containers serve a practical purpose, of course, but they can also double as garden art. The Ocampos invested in three tall chartreuse pots to act as focal points and draw the eye upward in their small yard. Stationed by the barbecue in front of a jasmine-covered privacy wall, one vessel holds a burgundy-leaved bromeliad.

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5. Add containers (cont.)

Another holds a small palm, and the third is the focal point in a pebble fountain near the lawn. Similarly shaped vessels in earthy terra-cotta hold blue-green succulents and red-veined cannas.

remodeled house with stepped up path and lush landscape outdoor patio with lounge chair and small patch of grass family enjoying outdoor living space with fireplace and lounge chair outdoor grill
Source: www.thisoldhouse.com

Landscaping Tips

Though your home is your castle, there is no necessity to surround it with a moat. Here are 5 tips that will help you to make your landscaping feel more warm, welcoming and cozy.

1. Put some flowers nearby your entrance. Flowers make any area look more welcoming and attractive, so greeting your guests with Petunia, Snapdragon, Lily-of-the-Nile or some other garden flowers is always a great thing to do. What is more, to add some space between your house and the entrance, you can consider adding a little white fence. It will create an illusion that your front yard is bigger than it actually is. What is more, adding fence will create a great space for planting flowers to add some color and coziness.

2. Add rambling vines to make your yard look absolutely lovely. You can not deny that rambling vines always create romantic and even magical atmosphere. So why not to use this tip while decorating your yard?

3. To hide the unattractive driveway, consider adding some color, texture, and height. You can easily do it by adding various sorts of flowers. To start, create an island of green lawn right in the hub of a drive. Then add a couple of low boxwood hedges with flowers toward the back of your island.

4. If you want your yard to blossom and flourish bust still do not have enough time to maintain it, consider planting low-fuss lilies. Such flowers look absolutely gorgeous and come in the variety of rainbow hues, so you can pick the one you love most. What is more, low-fuss lilies do not care about the sort of soil, they love the sun and welcome hot, they do not afraid of drought. In other words, Crinums is an ideal flower for all those who are looking for low-maintenance solutions.

5. The last tip also touches the low-maintenance aspect. To make your life easier, group plantings into beds and islands. This will help you to avoid mowing and trimming around each individual plant, save a lot of time and even money.

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