After many years our landscape often becomes overgrown or loses curb appeal. The plants we originally chose can have gotten too large for their space or may no longer be our preferences. Let me share a few design tips on how to increase curb appeal.
The first step in your design is to have good structure or good bones to your landscape. This includes trees and shrubs, especially evergreens, that are usually in the background of the space. These create something similar to a room in your home - good walls and ceiling. Evergreen shrubs and trees will keep the feeling of green spaces year round and often come in blues and greens, needles or broadleaves. Other trees and shrubs can flower or create pockets of shade and textural differences with leaf shape and color. Combined they create a stable but fascinating foundation to the landscape. Avoid planting shrubs and trees that will get too big for the space and become overgrown for the area in a few years. Dwarf shrubs and trees are readily available for all situations and are a better choice in most cases for your landscape.
The next step would be a good floor- something easy to maintain but looks interesting or inviting throughout the year. The easiest to maintain is something you don’t have to deadhead, prune, mow, edge, or weed often. So your options are mulch, rock or groundcover plants. If you want to use mulch, use soil pep or compost. Remember, small is better than large. Wind can move large pieces and it’s harder to clean up. Small pieces will just be absorbed into other areas of the yard, i.e. lawn. Rock has the same rules - small is better than large. Large rocks trap weed seeds and trash that has to be individually hand picked out. Leaf blowers don’t work in this situation. Even small gravel is a weed trap so try either Flagstone Chips or Compacted Chat as a way to lower your maintenance of the space but still have a great rock look. Groundcovers are great ways to keep the area green and colorful seasonally. The lowest maintenance groundcovers are those that are growing year round, i.e. evergreen groundcovers. They are the best at keeping out weeds and reducing the need for pruning.
The layers between the ceiling and the floor of your landscape will be a mix of shrubs, ornamental grasses, perennials, and any structures, boulders, or sculptures. The important part of this area is layers. You need them. Don’t get the beds too skinny so there isn't room for enough plants for layers. This is one of the greatest downfalls of curb appeal. The beds need to be at least five feet wide to accommodate multiple layers. Avoid planting trees in the lawn and avoid having beds, often kidney shaped, in the lawn. All of these designs cause undue stress on the plants you are trying to cultivate because the lawn is so aggressive on taking space, water, and nutrients. Keep the lawn as the central focal point with the beds framing the landscape. You will also want contrast in texture but enough repetition of texture to create unity. This works well by planting in clusters, groupings, and boxes if you like formal straight lines. The ratio of lawn to beds needs to be proportionate to the size of the property and hardscaping. Too much lawn makes the beds look insignificant and too much bed makes the lawn appear diminished and too small to use. There needs to be a good balance between how much of the landscape is lawn and how much is flower bed. The lawn can be just an open space with groundcover or mulch. Also, don't use the lawn as the walking path. Install durable hardscape pathways. This will lower maintenance, look finished and make it easier to keep the lawn green.
In conclusion, these few good design tips will help you improve the curb appeal of your landscape and avoid the overgrown look. Create the right depth to your flower beds and proportions between beds and lawn. Use trees and shrubs to create bones or a foundation to the area and use groundcover to create a low maintenance flooring to your space. The final touch is contrasting textures and colors with perennials and ornamental grasses to create good layering and flow to the beds.