Curb Appeal, Comfort & Safety

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Curb Appeal Through landscaping
Curb Appeal, Comfort and Safety

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.

Curb Appeal - Before Photo
Before Work Started

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.

Property as Viewed from Left
Property as Viewed from Left – See Before Picture at EndThe use of small boulders throughout the plantings help ground the landscape and make it feel natural.  New trees include a young purple-leaf plum, a willow oak, and 3 river birch.  Right now, the shrubs, perennials, and grasses have center stage.  As the trees mature, the feel of the yard will change dramatically but the trees will complement — not overwhelm the space.  The other plantings were places such that most of them will either tolerate the new shade well or will continue to receive adequate sun.  Eventually, the roses might have to be moved as well as some of the grasses — but not for many years.  And much sooner than that, the trees will offer welcome shade in Washington’s brutal summers.  Property Viewed from Right – See Before Picture at End

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.

Curb Appeal - View Back to Street
View Back to Street – The Curved Walk Helps Slow the Entrance

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:

Foliage Detail Makes the Garden Pop All Season Long
Foliage Detail Makes the Garden Pop All Season Long
Folliage Interest and Rocks Create An Inviting Tapestry
Folliage Interest and Rocks Create An Inviting Tapestry
More Examples of the Tapestry Created by Striking Foliage
More Examples of the Tapestry Created by Striking Foliage

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.

Rendering of Concept During Conceptual Design
Computer Rendering of Concept During Conceptual Design


Additional Rendering of Design Concept
Additional Rendering of Design Concept


Additional “Before” Pictures:

"Before" - View from Right
“Before” – View from Right


"Before" - View from Left
“Before” – View from Left
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1 thought on “Curb Appeal, Comfort & Safety”

  1. I really love what you have done to the exterior of this home. I am currently renovating a 1950’s home. I have been in Interior Design for over 20 years and really appreciate your designs. You have been an inspiration to me and my design for my new/old home!! Thank you for sharing your designs.

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