Turn your barren front yard into a welcoming entrance.
Award-winning landscape designer Trudy Ohnsorg thrives on a challenge. An empty front yard is no match for her. When home owners Jim and Kathy Carlson of Inver Grove Heights, Minnesota came to Trudy, they had 3 acres of challenges surrounding their newly built home. To remedy some nasty grading issues, Trudy tackled the backyard first, designing steps, retaining walls and a unique raised patio that connects to the deck. Then it was on to the front yard. When Trudy met with the Carlsons, she discovered four issues that needed to be addressed. Here are the challenges and Trudy's savvy solutions:
Challenge 1: Generate a welcoming feel and provide curb appeal.
"To add a dramatic focus to the landscape and clearly define the entrance, we added the freestanding wall and the pillars that frame the sidewalk. Boulders were placed near the sidewalk entrance to create 'visual weight' and draw guests toward the entrance."
Challenge 2: Create a great look that lasts all year.
"Many of the plants I chose for this landscape have attractive structure and provide movement and presence in the gardens, even in the dead of winter. The plant color palette is primarily red, purple and tan, which works well with the home's siding and roof. And I always like to work some small areas for annuals into the garden beds for continual bloom."
Challenge 3: Draw attention away from the garage and toward the front entry.
"The white-painted pergolas and trellis structure break up a boring garage wall and create a sheltered feel when you pass through them on the way to the front door. In the future, the trellis will look even better as the flowering vines grow and further soften the facade."
Challenge 4: Ensure proper drainage away from the house foundation.
"The flagstone patio provides a practical solution for that awkward space between the walkway and the large garage. Water can get trapped in this area and cause damage in the basement. We graded the patio away from the foundation of the house so that when water hits the hard surface, it can quickly run off. By contrast, if this area were planted and covered with wood mulch, the water would seep into the soil instead of running off the surface. The sidewalk can act as a barrier to drainage, and the area becomes a moat."
Trudy Ohnsorg left an executive job where she managed corporate software installations and went back to school to learn about horticulture and design. Now she designs landscapes and manages their professional installation at Bachman's in the Twin Cities. She also teaches an advanced landscape design course at the University of Wisconsin-River Falls.