I had the pleasure of hearing Lucy Hardiman speak last week at our Windermere Premiere Forum. She’s a highly-regarded garden designer, who gave us a great presentation of “before and after” slides of local gardens. She packed a lot of tips and ideas into the talk, and I came away motivated to get into my own garden, but also tucked away a few suggestions for you!
Her first tip was to plant your rows of low plants on a diagonal to create the effect of a larger space. So if you have a garden that runs right up to the curb, plant those rows of grasses or other low plants in clear diagonal rows to make the space appear larger. Her example also showed a large gate-like structure right at the curb, and a sidewalk that was offset from the front door, with 90 degree angles to create a sense of space instead of using a straight path. If your house sits close to the street, call me and I’ll talk you through this one!
Next she mentioned a couple of trends in landscaping that you might consider. In Oregon, we love to have a place to read our book outside, even if it’s raining. Top on her list was a simple overhead structure that allows you to be outside, even in the winter. A covered deck or patio, or a more elaborate structure should be considered when you’re doing your landscape overhaul. This gives you another room to delight buyers with when you sell your house! And it’s a room you and your family will really enjoy.
Less emphasis is placed on full-blown outdoor kitchens than in the past. Some people are getting rid of their lawns entirely and creating spaces that can be maintained without chemicals. She suggests you think hard about your choices before digging in.
Another idea that she loves is to connect your garden to your neighbor’s. Obviously this involves a good relationship and fair gardening practices! But without a fence, one continuous, lovely landscape will make your yard look bigger and feel much more dreamy.
Think outside the zone. In other words, look to California and other climates and see what you can do with their plants there. Obviously, palm trees DO grow in Oregon – what else can you plant that’s a bid different? She calls it zonal denial! I love it, and I’m jonesing for a palm tree in my front yard.
Another idea is to plant a garden that is strictly green – all the plants are evergreen, and the only color is in bulb plants that grow from spring through fall. Lots of sword ferns, and painted boulders create a very dramatic, contemporary look. In addition, try some concrete finishes and concrete textures in your garden paths, benches, and walls.
Group your pots in threes. Be sure to plant all three pots with the same plants for maximum pop. The pots can be different sizes of the same style, but the plants should be the same. Then move them around for different effects.
Outdoor rugs are huge right now, as are outdoor chandeliers. Hanging a chandelier in your covered area will make it cozy and fun!
Create mystery by leaving a little bit of a view into your front yard. If it’s fully fenced, you’ll miss the opportunity to create an entry to draw you into the space and you’ll lose your chance to welcome visitors into the garden.
Don’t forget to create paths that have 90 degree angles to enlarge the space, as you wind through the yard around the side of the house or on a narrow path. Multiplication by division! Breaking up a space into smaller spaces actually makes it feel bigger. Zigging and zagging give you the feeling of width. Try large sweeps of forest grass to fill your large planters or open areas.
Try square blocks of cement with grass or gravel in between. (She mentioned hydra-pressed pavers)
Water features are falling out of vogue – one of the negatives is that they attract critters, especially destructive raccoons. Try a small bubbling pot, or a reflecting pool.
For vegetable gardens, don’t be afraid to use the front yard and even the median strip. 3/16″ x 8″ structural steel borders will last a lifetime. Flat bar steel is a great new border and terrace edging and while it’s more expensive, it outlasts wood slats by a mile, and it looks cool! Core-ten steel is being used a lot now – it’s more hip than the rusty steel that has a farmyard look.
We are seeing corrugated metal fencing, cool outdoor lawn accessories imported from Europe, and lots of fun, bright colors like red and orange. Outbuildings and sheds are artistic and fabulous, or can be made to match your house.
For separation from your neighbor, or to shield an unsightly view, try arbor vitae, or Italian cypress. Large groups of similar trees together sometimes promotes disease and insects, so try to mix it up! A tapestry hedge is the most beautiful way to solve these problems.
Short hedges, called baffle hedges, are a wonderful way to create definition in your yard. Try one between the vegetable garden and the grassy area.
And for more on Lucy, see lucyflora.com.