Casual, colorful city garden

A low-maintenance front yard
Lauren Bonar Swezey

A carpet of lawn isn't the only way to landscape a front yard. Virginia and Murray Davis don't have any typical turf in front of their house in Piedmont. Instead, their angular, sloping lot is filled with easy-care plants that provide colorful flowers from spring through fall.

Landscape architect Bob Cleaver developed the garden's layout, then Shari Bashin-Sullivan and Richard Sullivan of Enchanting Planting created an inviting purple, green, and white planting scheme that plays perfectly off the new decomposed granite and stone entry. Tall, lacy azara trees frame the front door and soften a long expanse of wall. Below them, Erysimum 'Bowles Mauve', purple Verbena Tapien hybrid, and white 'Iceberg' and 'Flower Carpet' roses pump out flowers over a long season. Downslope, a patch of creeping red fescue grows naturally, requiring mowing just once or twice a year to renew growth.

"The trees, shrubs, and large boulders give volume to the slope," Bashin-Sullivan explains. "The result is a very relaxed, casual-looking garden."

DESIGN: Cleaver Design Associates (925/934-6044); Enchanting Planting (925/258-5500).

IF YOUR FRONT YARD SLOPES...

Use large boulders and stones to form a retaining wall.

Take advantage of the upper and lower levels to create paths or patios.

For best effect, choose medium-size shrubs (3 to 4 feet tall) and cascading groundcovers (such as 'Flower Carpet' roses).