Playful front yard makeover
A Portland gardener transforms her yard into a cheerful space to call her own
So the journalist—you may know her from National Public Radio, where she was called the Doyenne of Dirt—reinvented the front yard for relaxing, entertaining, and expressing her vivid personality. “I’m not a very conservative person,” she says. “There’s nothing predictable about my life.”
After enclosing the yard with a mostly see-through fence and ditching the lawn, Ketzel created a playful garden that’s an escape from the busy street just steps away. “When I walk through the gate, I feel cosseted by beauty,” she says.
Ketzel hired her friend Nani Waddoups (naniwaddoups.com) to consult on the colors. Nani convinced her to choose vibrant orange for the house, with chartreuse trim and furnishings.
The planting beds, which hug the garden’s periphery, are straight-edged, almost boring. As contrast, Ketzel combined foliage plants with interesting textures and shapes, including black mondo grass, Corokia cotoneaster, Libertia, yucca, Iris foetidissima ‘Variegata’, and—for a pop of bright color—Kniphofia.
Ketzel laid alternating rectangles of brick and concrete in varying sizes for a jigsaw-puzzle feel, and she created a faux stream with round pavers set in fine bark. “This breaks up the concrete that leads straight to the house, so you don’t just plow into it—this slows you down.”