My client, in Silver Spring, MD – a close-in, older neighborhood outside Washington, DC — had already done some modest interior renovations before I was referred to her by her neighbor. About a year before I had done extensive interior, exterior and landscape renovations for her neighbor a few doors down the street (see that work: interior renovations; exterior renovation front, exterior renovation back).
My new client’s meticulous interior wasn’t matched by the exterior. Erosion on a relatively steep hill just off the street was tamed with ivy and periwinkle. But as you can see from the “Before” picture, below, that’s about the only benefit of the invasive ivy. The stairs were narrow and uneven. The straight brick walk got you to the porch but without much interest in the journey.
The new landscape tames the hill with a curving brick retaining wall with blue stone cap. The deep, wide curve of the wall allows plantings both below and above the wall – helping to soften the look and to invite visitors up the stairs and onto the porch. Too often walls create boundaries that scream “keep out – you’re not invited”. This one does the opposite. The clear foreground, mid-ground and background help make the home feel more private and protected from the street even though no fence or privacy plantings were used.
The curved walk slows the approach to the house and puts the plantings on center stage. The walk is regular flagstone on concrete. This stable surface provides easy walking even with heels. It also provides a good base for shoveling snow. However, it’s retains a natural look that will feel even more natural as the plantings fill-in. This fall, the bare spot by the stairs to the porch will be filled with a Carol Mackey Daphne that provides both a delicious scent in the early spring and delicate variegated leaves throughout the summer months – sometimes, you have to wait to find the plant you want at your local nursery.
A focus on Foliage Yields Year-Round Interest: The plantings were selected to present foliage, bark and flower interest year-round. You can see some of mid-summer interest in the photos below:
Computer Renderings At the Conceptual Design Phase: To give you a sense of what the client saw during the conceptual design phase that allowed her to move forward with this extensive front landscape remodel, I’ve included 2 of the design renderings she viewed of this option. This was one of 3 design options I presented. Note that we changed many details of materials and plantings while still retaining the overall feel of the design.
Additional “Before” Pictures: