Give Curb Appeal a Self-Serving Twist

Garden curb appeal is a laudable idea, but what is in it for you? When was the last time a stranger stopped the car, knocked on your door and told you that your backyard looked great? Thought so.

So, what if you could make a good impression for coming guests and passersby, while at precisely the same time turning the lion’s share of the eye candy toward yourself?

Billy Goodnick Garden Design

BEFORE: Most gardens are designed as a leash that slopes toward the road, with taller plants against the house and reduced perennials, ground covers and grasses tapering toward the control.

That is fine if your only concern is what other people think about your backyard, but where’s the reward for yourself, given the time, money and imagination you’ve spent?

Billy Goodnick Garden Design

AFTER: why don’t you build a ridge into your front-yard backyard — a fence, wall or medium-height group of shrubs that functions as both a backdrop for your street-facing plants and a generous composition you may see from your front windows?

My guideline would be to direct one-third of the composition toward the road and the rest so it can be looked at from inside the house. After all, you likely spend more time looking at your yard from the house than you can from across the street.

Woodburn & Company Landscape Architecture, LLC

This backyard is completely about what is viewed by the owners. It’s a stoutly built white fence as a neutral color foil for colorful flowers that are high across the fence and dip down as they approach the lawn.

Westover Landscape Design, Inc..

A narrow strip of grass leads the eye into some uniform massing of daylilies here. The rustic wood fence not only functions as a backdrop for these perennials, but divides the land into people and semiprivate spaces. The internal plants are arranged en masse, blocking the view of the curb from the house without being unneighborly.

Westover Landscape Design, Inc..

As shown in this aerial view of the same yard, the plant massing into the left of the fence also provides a measure of intimacy for a gravel-topped dialogue area.

Where space is limited, eliminate lawn and create masses of dense shrubs and perennials that greet arriving people and say”hi” when you shut the door to fetch the morning paper.

Lankford Associates Landscape Architects

By placing the front yard entry to the side, this designer produced a courtyard feeling while allowing enough space for a handsome street-side backyard.

Dan Nelson, Designs Northwest Architects

As shown from this side perspective of the same place, the inner courtyard is a space unto itself, not only enriching the coming view for guests, but behaving as a work of art when viewed from the porch and in the house.

Tour more of the Washington farmstead

Kiesel Design – Landscape Architecture

Yard alternatives, as in this backyard in Santa Barbara, California, are a powerful trend, especially in low-rainfall climates. After removing the existing turfgrass, the designer created an abstract interpretation of a creek using ornamental grasses and colorful succulents. Where the garden meets the road, the crops become denser and more massive, providing a backdrop for its wide swaths of foliage feel.

Billy Goodnick Garden Design

With only 12 feet between the sidewalk (right) and also the front-facing wall, there wasn’t much room to create privacy for a path resulting in a bistro dining table and chairs around the bend in this yard. Cape reed (Chondropetalum tectorum) stands tall, forming a vertical screen, while yellow poker plant (Kniphofia ‘Malibu’) and germander sage (Salvia chamaedryoides) incorporate a colorful punch. The lush burgundy foliage of Forest Pansy redbud (Cercis canadensis ‘Forest Pansy’) adds drama and will eventually arch over the road.

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