30 inspiring outdoor makeovers
More: See the full makeover
Rich goldenrod walls now set the mood, and drifts of gold-tinted perennials—Japanese forest grass, autumn fern, and ‘Bowles Golden’ sedge—reinforce it. Blue Hosta ‘Halcyon’ adds contrasting color, and Japanese maple and variegated fatshedera give a sense of volume. Now the soothing garden is a pleasure to walk through.
Design by: Darcy Daniels, Bloomtown Gardens, Portland, bloomtown.net
Owners Susan and Warren Byrne love to entertain, though, so landscape architect Jude Hellewell and landscape designer Laura White created a split-level living space complete with built-in seating and a peekaboo fence.
A gappy ipe fence gives a sense of spaciousness while preserving privacy. Low care plants, such as autumn moor grass, Mexican weeping bamboo, and yucca, soften the angular design. Now, Susan says, "People can’t get enough of our backyard. All our guests want to go out there."
Design by: Outer Space Landscape Architecture, San Francisco, outerspacela.com
Yellow and gray shade sails overhead provide much-needed respite from sun, and raised planting beds, made of steel, balance the heft and drama of the river-rock wall. A generous sprinkling of lush plants adds softness. Because of the intense sun, these plants were chosen for endurance as much as beauty: yellow-flowered Euphorbia rigida, verbena, and, along the wall, candelilla.
Design by: Christy Ten Eyck, Ten Eyck Landscape Architects, Phoenix, teneyckla.com
See the after on how Kendra Berger and John Eisenhart created a brighter entry with sculptural steps and graphic plants.
More: Front yard façade
And they wanted something more compatible with their Spanish-style architecture and that also better reflected their interest in travel to exotic places like Morocco and sub-Saharan Africa.
She added a new set of pilasters along the stairs—perfect perches for more pots—and faced the risers with blue and white Spanish tiles.
She also suggested painting the arch around the bay window a slightly darker color than the base color, changing the trim color, and replacing the awnings.
There was another problem. Because the street sloped sharply downhill, there was a dangerous drop-off between the front walk and the deeply recessed driveway.
Next, the front-yard makeover created colorful curb appeal.
Thanks to its interesting stepped back sectional design and lively color the lattice fence adds plenty of decorative appeal as well. The row of Spanish lavender in front of it accentuates the fence's cheery color.
And except for a big clump of overgrown wisteria, this large Seattle front yard was all grass―a real water hog.
Landscape designer Stacie Crooks knew it had to go.
Best of all, this extravaganza of plants requires less than one-half the water the lawn needed.
Dymondia margaretae, a gray-leafed South African ground cover, has replaced the lawn. And a range of drought-tolerant plants, including New Zealand flax (Phormium), kangaroo paws (Anigozanthos), Leucadendron, and Lomandra add further interest.
So when homeowners Ken and Beverly Behymer bought their house they asked landscape architect Jim Love to make the space feel cooler but without causing their water bill to spike significantly.
Oriental fountain grass (Pennisetum orientale), in full plume here, is one of the garden's stars.
Behind the low wall, flame grass (Miscanthus sinensis 'Purpurascens') is just beginning its transition to brilliant orange fall color. Between the pavers, adding a touch of coolness, is 'Red Carpet' sedum.
He added a diagonally placed wall between the driveway and the garden and planted islands of plants near the sidewalk.
Repainting the house pale terra cotta and the bricks two shades of gray also helped update its look without compromising its style.
The brick patio didn't work either. The pattern was too complicated for the style of the house and its surface was broken and uneven.
The shape of the lot was awkward, too – sharply sloping and angled.
The old front door was removed and replaced by two sets of sliding doors, one off the living room, another off the family room, making the whole area, in effect, an open-air foyer.
The Walkers added a new gable that spanned the width of the house, and underneath they installed two stone pillars topped with vertical wood posts and an overhead beam. They also poured a wider concrete porch and added a wall. But they weren't finished.
Michelle managed to squeeze in a maple tree, wisteria vine, weeping bamboo, ornamental grasses, a fountain, and a dry river bed to create good feng shui―all without the space feeling crowded.
The staggered walls provide room for generous planting pockets for green and burgundy foliage plants.
There's the craggy-textured cast-earth wall you see here plus two flanking walls of smooth stucco, which provide contrast. A lower wall of gabions (stone-filled wire cages) adds more texture. And now that it has agaves and desert perennials for company the agave looks more at home.
It's ample enough for two separate seating areas plus a dining space. Plant-filled raised beds add texture, while furnishings and accessories provide pops of color.
Greenery and a garden shed creates a sheltering screen.
It can also still function as a garage thanks to a set of glass-paneled Dutch doors opening on the plywood-paneled office side.
Western red cedar shingles replaced the rotting siding, and the front door was painted crimson. Now the revamped cabin makes the most of its small scale.