Front yard makeovers offer high potential for impact. A great design boosts curb appeal, property value, and can be enjoyed every single day.
In the Pacific Northwest, it’s no surprise that a long winter spent poring over design ideas on Pinterest, Houzz, and HGTV, has many homeowners deciding to pull the trigger on landscaping projects during the warming days of spring. It’s one of our favorite seasons of the year.
However, after nearly three decades in the landscaping business, we’ve observed two types of projects that will inevitably keep us running at full speed while the sun is out: designing and implementing yard makeovers, and doing repair work and damage control on makeovers gone wrong.
While we’re glad to help solve headaches, we’re even more pleased when we can prevent them from happening in the first place. With that in mind, here are the three top mistakes we see time and time again. A little time spent in education and planning now will ensure your project is on the right track for success.
Front Yard Makeover Mistake #1 – Overplanting
One of the realities of putting in new plants is that you must leave room for each piece to grow to maturity. This can be tricky because young plantings are small and may not seem like they are making the statement you hoped for when they first go in the ground. It’s tempting to cheat on the recommended spacing so you get a fuller effect from day one.
Don’t do it! Overplanting causes multiple problems: labor-intensive maintenance, limited success of the plant material, and a higher likelihood of failure.
For example, if a 5×5 shrub is planted in a 3×3 space, it will need to be pruned continually to maintain its boundaries. Being short-circuited from reaching full size will also prevent it from doing what it’s supposed to do in the landscape (bloom as well, get as tall, etc). A crowded growth habit can easily turn into an unwanted ‘thicket effect’ — a haven for pests and diseases.
Don’t fall into overplanting in an attempt to produce a mature garden look as soon as your project is finished. Having the foresight and self-control to leave space in the landscape for healthy growth is the key to making it easy to maintain your yard’s beauty in the long term.
Front Yard Makeover Mistake #2 – Planting in the Wrong Location
Beautiful trees, shrubs, and ornamentals can turn into money thrown down the drain when they are planted in the wrong location. Just because something might look good in a certain position in the yard does not mean that spot is well-suited for it. Color and texture are excellent to consider, but soil, water, and light are the factors that should trump all when it comes to placement in your yard.
Do your homework: check soil quality, know how wet/dry/sunny/windy the location is, and double-check the compatibility of each tree, shrub, or flower with the other plants you’d like to place nearby. Pay close attention to mature height and width. For example, as a young tree grows and spreads, it will provide shade to a larger area, changing the amount of light available to plants nearby.
Check in with a knowledgeable local source to get specifics on how various plant materials perform in your specific microclimate. There may be a big difference between the promises of a stock issued plant label from a big box store and the actual performance of the plant in the soil, water, and light conditions of your neighborhood.
Front Yard Makeover Mistake #3 – Underestimating Tree Size
A healthy, beautiful tree (or several) can be one of the most rewarding components of a front yard makeover. Trees act as visual anchors in design, provide shade and shelter, offer habitat for birds and wildlife, and can be enjoyed by family members for decades.
On the flip side, poor planning with trees opens the door for danger and destruction as the years go on. The most common issues nearly always arise from underestimating the size of the mature tree.
For example, while a line of trees planted in a median strip between the sidewalk and road may seem a pretty way offer privacy and sound screening, a buckling sidewalk and protruding tree roots in a few years may saddle you with a costly extraction if they grow larger than you anticipated. Taking the time to confirm mature size of the trees you’re using is always worthwhile.
Another classic example comes from the Leyland cypress and English laurels which are familiar sights throughout the greater Clark County and Portland Metro area. If you have one of these giants on your plant list, keep in mind that they frequently need significant intervention. These trees grow large very quickly and aren’t strong enough to withstand winter storms if they’re top heavy and then weighted down with snow or ice.
Leyland Cypress. Weak and messy, they perform well when consistently maintained. More info: Frontier Tree Service
The good news is you can virtually eliminate the danger of failures like these by committing to a consistent maintenance schedule for the trees you’ve planted. For example, both Leyland cypress and English laurels make excellent hedges for screening when regularly pruned to maintain healthy attachments and growth habit. Whether you’re inheriting trees or planting new ones, a consult and maintenance plan with Frontier Tree Service‘s ISA-certified arborists will ensure your success.
Now that you know what not to do, check in with Frontier Landscaping to explore all of the things you can do to make your front yard makeover a dream come true. Whether you have questions about plant material, soil testing, or tried-and-true methods for local success, we would love to help you put together a yard that will yield beautiful rewards for years to come.
Give us a call at (360) 574-8979, or send us an email: [email protected].
When sketching your front yard makeover ideas, remember to think for the long term. Leave space for plantings to grow up and fill out. Double-check that the materials you’re choosing will have compatible requirements for light and water. Account for regular pruning and maintenance to keep your trees safe. These three keys ensure an attractive mature landscape for years to come.
In a year when winter has been particularly long, cold, and wet, it’s not unusual to enter spring with a distressed lawn. The high pressure produced by intense winter conditions creates a lot of opportunities for pests and diseases to move in and cause problems.
Here are a few common issues we observe in the Clark County and Portland metro area. If you’re seeing bare patches, brown patches, or circular patches of pink or white, you may be facing one of the following:
Red thread, or Laetisaria fuciformis, is an opportunistic lawn disease. Its name comes from thin red strands this fungus sends out from the tips of infected grass blades. If your lawn and soil isn’t well drained, a wet winter can throw the door wide open for problems due to this infection. Prolonged exposure to moisture is the primary cause of red thread in unhealthy turf.
From a distance, you may notice circular patches of pinkish grass ranging up to 8 inches in diameter. It’s important to take a closer look to see if ‘threads’ are present, though, as there are similar symptoms that result from other kinds of issues.
The good news is that red thread does not destroy grass roots and crowns. There is potential for full recovery if you commit to thorough treatment. The best way to ward off future infections of red thread is by conditioning your soil, providing good drainage, and sticking to a proven, consistent maintenance plan.
Pink Snow Mold
Pink snow mold, as its name implies, is associated with extended snow cover. Like red thread, it’s caused by a fungus, Microdochium nivale. Pink and white foamy fungal spores sit on top of infected grass blades, creating pink circular splotches across the lawn. In a prolonged wet and snowy winter, it can result in severe damage to turf.
The road to recovery begins with skilled thatching and aeration. Committing to best practices for fertilization, drainage, snow management, and pest control is the key to keeping damage from snow mold to a minimum, whatever future winters may bring.
Crane fly infestations are notorious for their potential to kill an entire lawn. While adult crane flies swoop and fly around the yard, it’s the eggs they lay down that spell serious trouble. Crane fly larvae (also known as ‘leatherjackets’) are 1-inch long and tan or grayish white in color. The hungry larvae wreak havoc on turf as they feast on grass roots and crowns.
Look for patches of damaged grass that may appear to grow together and spread. Peeling back the soil will reveal whether crane fly larvae are to blame. While a healthy lawn can handle a medium population of larvae, a teeming infestation means it’s time to call for help.
The encouraging thing about battling crane fly is the potential for treatment and full recovery. The crew at Frontier Landscaping has generated impressive results for lawn restoration and would be happy to work with you to save your lawn if you’re dealing with an outbreak this year.
Maintaining healthy turfgrass is the #1 way to prevent future pest and disease issues!
Lawn Rescues and Revamps
In the moist Pacific Northwest, especially after a very wet winter, it’s not uncommon to have problems show up if your soil and grass haven’t been regularly maintained for optimal health.
If you’re in need of treatment, the Frontier Landscaping crew is expertly qualified to help you back to a thriving, healthy lawn. The process we have developed through years of local experience consistently produces successful, healthy turf.
Aeration is a generic term for exposing soil to the air by removing plugs of soil from the turf. The openings created by aeration help water and nutrients move more easily through the soil.
While it’s common practice to leave soil plugs in a lawn after aeration, the crew at Frontier Landscaping has determined that the most successful lawns are created when we pick up and dispose of the hardened plugs. This additional step allows topdressing to better penetrate the new holes in the soil, enhancing the entire aeration process overall. While it is a greater effort, this step has consistently shown itself to be an effective key to helping sick lawns bounce back quickly and look better than ever.
Additional benefits of aeration:
- Limits fertilizer runoff
- Improves ability to absorb water
- Slows buildup of thatch
- Builds strong root system and layer of topsoil
Frontier Landscaping recommends aeration once each year for all lawns to maintain great health.
Reseeding and Fertilization
Once soil has been aerated, ¼ to 1 inch of rich soil conditioner is applied. This mix works down through the new holes left by aeration and sets the lawn up for improved future drainage.
Why does this matter? Good soil texture promotes healthy turf. In turn, healthy turf is significantly less susceptible to disease.
Once soil has been treated, your lawn will be ready to be reseeded and fertilized. It’s not uncommon to see new grass emerging within a month of completion.
Intense seasons of wet weather can result in significant pest and disease pressure on lawns, especially if the grass isn’t robust and healthy to begin with.
If you find yourself facing ugly bare spots, remember that many issues are treatable if caught in time. Give us a call to learn about treatment options for your lawn. We’ll help you through and are happy to design a custom care plan for the future based on the specific needs of your landscape.
Ready for a winter lawn rescue? Call (360) 574-8979 or send us an email to arrange a consultation today.
We enjoy working with homeowners who want to use ‘green’, earth-friendly practices in their landscaping. After all, making decisions about land and water use in environmentally responsible ways feels great.
However, we’ve realized that there are some common assumptions about “going green” that are not always on target, particularly with regards to hardscaping. With that in mind, we’re glad to share what we know to help you avoid missteps.
With a little understanding, you can be confident that your results will be in line with your goals for a beautiful, sustainable landscape.
Going Green with Pavers
Without question, pavers are hugely popular for creating patios, pathways, and even driveways.
Hailed as earth-friendly heroes, they’ve moved into the top spot over concrete for two reasons: they’re available in a wide range of beautiful materials, shapes, colors and sizes, and they are marketed as a solution to handle runoff faster and more responsibly than concrete.
This is true if you use the right paver, but often some drainage is still needed.
While they do allow some water through easily, if you really want to guarantee these benefits in your landscape, you must choose a truly permeable paver for the job. Standard pavers are hard packed with sand and compacted gravel beneath them and product inbetween.
Permeable Pavers Pro Tip
To be sure your patio, pathway, or driveway gets the full advantages pavers can offer, choose a product specifically designed to allow gaps and drainage. While pretty versions of these materials used to be few and far between, innovators in the industry are now offering solutions that are beautiful to look at and effective. Locally, we partner with Mutual Materials to offer a variety of Eco-Priora® and Eco-Stone® options that can be laid in attractive patterns for patios, driveways, and pathways.
Hardscaping and Lawn Loss
Replacing turf lawn with hardscaping is another trend where it’s easy to get tripped up. Hardscaping is dramatic, beautiful, visually interesting, and requires less water use and less maintenance that keeping a lawn. It’s easy to assume that getting rid of the lawn is the right answer.
On the other hand, as more and more property owners are replacing trees and grass with hardscaping on the West Coast, it’s becoming clear that lawns have significant earth-friendly advantages of their own.
Green spaces and trees absorb heat and clean the air with their intake of carbon monoxide, two of the primary reasons the Pacific Northwest enjoys such high air quality and a temperate climate. Foot for foot, a healthy lawn will outperform even an eco-friendly paver patio with superior drainage and its clean water benefits.
Lawn Loss Pro Tip
Plan for balance, not elimination. Even a small yard can be designed to keep a percentage of everything: lawn, beds, plantings, and hardscaping.
Remember that nearly every element of your residential or commercial landscape can be designed with environmental responsibility in mind. Our expert team loves working with home and business owners to use the best practices available.
Learn More About Going Green In Your Landscape:
Dry creek beds provide attractive, functional relief, especially if your landscape is plagued by standing water. In the wet PNW, drainage problems are a common headache. Do any of these sound familiar?
- Flooded flower beds
- Pooling water below a deck
- Swampy places in the lawn
- Puddles around a foundation
Leaving drainage issues unaddressed has serious consequences, from dead lawn and plants to costly repairs and decreased property value.
The Good News
Frontier Landscaping has years of experience designing and implementing features that effectively carry water away from problem areas. Dry creek beds are star performers, particularly in sloped terrain. They work twice as hard for a landscape by running water from Point A to B, and standing alone as an attractive feature in drier months of the year.
“Even property owners with no drainage issues may choose to install a dry creek bed due to the elements of natural beauty in the way they look.”
Controlling Water Flow
Dry creek beds are an excellent choice for addressing places in the landscape that are hard-hit by heavy rains. While a flat place in the yard may benefit more from a simple lawn drain, gradients and hillsides need the water capacity and speed that a dry creek bed can provide during extreme conditions. Effectively redirecting the flow of water saves you from ongoing erosion and long-term damage.
When property owners are looking for a greener way to landscape, dry creek beds play an exciting role. Different-sized rocks, boulders, and choice plantings give eye-pleasing texture to outdoor spaces, but require much less water than an expanse of lawn. While bark dust alone can look flat, a dry creek bed introduces definition and contrast. It’s aesthetically pleasing and earth-friendly — a winning combination.
Dry Creek Beds for Natural Beauty
We regularly install dry creek beds to add natural beauty to a landscape. Expertly balancing a few key ingredients (a natural shape, native plantings, multiple sizes of stone) brings a natural, organic flow to an area. The results are breathtaking in any season, wet or dry.
No two landscapes are exactly alike, and the solution that works for one may not work for another. While dry creek beds are particularly suited to slopes and hillsides, they aren’t usually the best choice for flat ground.
Other elements, like French drains, catch basins, and lawn drains also have a part to play — and that’s just the beginning. Frontier’s installation team has years of experience solving drainage problems for local property owners.
French drain pipe (L), installed as a garden path (R).
French drains are a functional solution for flat terrain and less water. They often have a part to play in designing an overall solution for moving water in a landscape. Read more about them here.
Ranging in size from 6 to 24 inches, catch basins can be square or circular. These grated drains are typically placed alongside a driveway or in a low or sloped spot in the yard or hardscaping, like a patio. This is a straightforward fix for diverting water away from wet spots. A blend of rocks around it allows the catch basin to blend in with the landscape.
From basic to beautiful, there are many combinations of elements we can put to work that provide an effective long-term solution for drainage issues in your landscape.
Ready to learn how can we help you solve your standing water problems? Call (360) 574-8979 or email us for a consultation. We’ll work with you to protect your landscape with the right drainage solution to meet your needs.
Find more inspiration for dry creek beds and landscape design by visiting us on Houzz!
What is Houzz?
Houzz is a website and online community designed to put meaningful resources in the hands of homeowners ready to make change.
It started as a side project by a couple frustrated with their remodeling efforts. They couldn’t find the tool they needed to make communicating their ideas easy. They used their frustrations to build the solution they needed. Now, the Houzz community numbers more than 40 million people worldwide.
Frontier Landscaping is a proud member of the Houzz Pro community. Now it’s easier than ever to collaborate. With Houzz, it’s a breeze to explain exactly what you have in mind. Planning your dream landscape has never been more convenient–or fun!
Inspiration On The Go
On the Houzz website or mobile app, you have access to photos, articles, and product recommendations. You can browse specific portfolios, or by general category. It’s designed for convenience: the site displays perfectly whether you’re on your phone, tablet, or web browser.
Look at real-world examples and ideas for your side yard, patio, fire pit, or outdoor lighting. You can ask questions or initiate a discussion about what you see. Pin down exactly what you like with regards to style and materials.
“Ideabooks” are photo albums filled with ideas. Browse them for inspiration. Save photos you like to your own Ideabooks as you go. Additionally, if you see something that you have a question about, you can ask and get answers, right in Houzz.
Collaborating Is Easier Than Ever
After you’ve decided on the look, feel, and products that you want to bring into your home, you can share them them directly with us on Houzz. We can give feedback and build on your ideas while literally being on the same page.
Best of all, this gives your project a head start. Instead of spending our first few meetings trying to figure out what you want, we already have a good idea of what you’re looking for.
How To Use Houzz
- Write a review. Reviews are the best way to help others connect with the qualified professionals they need. Do your fellow homeowners a favor. Let them know what it’s like to work with us.
- Start browsing! Save photos you like to your own albums. When you’re ready to meet, you can share your ideas with us directly.
Whether you’re updating or building, Houzz is an excellent place to get inspiration for what you’d like to do–and then get connected to your local pros to get it done. Join the community! We are looking forward to collaborating with you. Start Now
LED lighting continues its rise as a top trend for homeowners looking to get the most out of their landscape design. While low-voltage lighting is a traditional favorite, LEDs offer their own distinct range of benefits. It’s hard to resist the serious energy efficiency, ease of control, and nearly limitless design possibilities available to reflect your style.
Whether it’s bringing the view from your windows to life, or creating an outdoor room that’s welcoming and comfortable, LED lighting is a versatile and sustainable choice to fulfill your vision.
Light with Purpose: Set The Mood
First of all, what atmosphere do you want to create around your home after dark? With the right lights, you’ll trade flat, dull views for textured visual interest that increases your sense of enjoyable living space.
“Most people don’t realize this, but the backyard is a whole new room that they haven’t explored fully,” says HGTV outdoor lighting designer Michael Sestak. “You have the option to go beyond that light bulb at the doorway.”
Romance: Inviting Natural Charm
Use lighting to create a romantic view from your windows after sundown. Gently illuminated paths and layered accent lighting around plants and rockery creates a sweet invitation to savor your yard in the evenings.
If you’re a fan of a naturally-styled landscape, use delicate lighting to play across water features. In addition, the right shade of light bulb will echo the blue tones of moonlight. Consider soft uplights into your trees to showcase their shapes and textures.
Serenity: Relax and Enjoy
If you’re busy working during daylight hours, maximize your sense of rest and comfort around the places you enjoy when you’re at home. Tasteful accent lighting in shrubs and plantings around your deck, fire pit, or hot tub creates a relaxing atmosphere to enjoy a glass of wine and good company at the end of the day.
With the wide variety of LED lighting fixtures now available, it’s easy to carry over your design choices from inside your home to your outdoor space as well. This keeps a sense of natural flow to all of the living and entertaining areas you share with your guests.
“The right lighting can take any outdoor space from invisible to inviting,” explains Kate Campbell of HGTV’s “Decked Out” series. “Adding dimmable LED lighting to railing and stairs not only adds atmosphere but also enhances safety and security – and extends the time you can spend enjoying your outdoor living space.”
Excitement: Flaunt What You’ve Got
Gardening enthusiasts, use dynamic lighting to showcase your favorite trees, shrubs and flowerbeds. Additionally, don’t be afraid to exchange perfect symmetry for more irregular placement of your lights. This gives an organic feel that naturally complements each layer of your garden. With the right lights, you’ll lead the gaze of your viewers without overpowering your beautiful plants.
Do you have dramatic trees? Emphasize their structure and foliage with uplights, which enhances their scale and creates beautiful shadows.
Power: Forever First Impressions
Effective lighting strategies for your front yard sends curb appeal soaring with a few simple tweaks. Don’t settle for basic porch and walkway lighting. Set off an interesting front door or stonework with fixtures that showcase the uniqueness of your home. This creates powerful first impressions at walk-up (or drive-by). A small yard looks even larger when you bring lighting closer to the curb. Work the perimeters of your space for maximum impact.
Frontier LED Lighting Installation Services
In conclusion, outdoor LED lighting is a great fit for homeowners who want more from their landscape. It’s an environmentally-friendly solution that saves a lot of money over the long haul. Frontier offers low-voltage and LED lighting installation for new homes as well as retro-fitting existing landscapes. Contact us for a free consultation! We’d love to help you create the perfect setting around your home. Give us a call at (360) 574-8979, or send us an email: [email protected].