June 11, 2012

Landscaping trick takes cue from chimney stone

Landscaping can be cleaned up with some carefully chosen permanent plants

BY SUZANNE ROWE

Rotting railway-tie retaining wall is among the first things to go in Suzanne Rowe’s plan to improve curb appeal. Visitors will be drawn to the redesigned home’s warm burgundy door, complemented by a row of deep burgundy bushes.

I knew that this house had potential. The main problem was the use of too many different colours that were fighting against each other. The cornices and a few windows were reddish brown. Others were charcoal. The olive-green cedar shingles and the bright red door were just adding to the distraction.

For my future palette, I was inspired by the new grey taupe roof and the attractive chimney stone wall. Painted in a matte finish, the cornices and the horizontal gutters will adopt the colour of the shingles. The green cedar surface on the two triangular shapes ought to be stained opaque in a slightly lighter tint than the roof. All the windows and the brown aluminum siding should be painted a darker tone than the shingles in a matte finish. The vertical gutter pipe won’t be so obvious if it replicates the same tint as the wall behind it. For an intentional interplay with some new incoming shrubs, the entry door will be wearing a warm burgundy in semigloss. The existing tubular ramp could be replaced with a thick rectangular wooden handrail stained in the darker taupe.

The actual landscaping consists of a bulky two-tier square structure made out of rotten railway beams. This construction and a big amount of extra soil will be removed. The new level will be much lower. A minimum slant towards the driveway and the street will keep the excess rain water away from the house. An exposed bare soil surface created by the L-shaped alternative design ought to be covered with new lawn.

The previous decomposing timber probably discoloured the wall behind it. A good cleaning will be required before painting and planting. To form the new bed shape, to divide the lawn from the vegetation and to border the driveway; slimmer, treated wooden beams inlaid into the ground are a good, inexpensive option. These should be stained with an opaque darker-grey taupe. The use of deep burgundy shrubs with the contrasting foliage of variegated euonymus, paired with the saturated pink leaves of the perennials, are an effortless but effective combination.

For a bolder show of colour, these heucheras should be planted in a zigzag pattern. The ethereal silver white lace of the Cerastium border connects all the natural elements together. An elegant Taxus evergreen backdrop will enhance the beauty of its new companions. This clean and simple design is relatively inexpensive and low maintenance. The need to purchase annuals every spring for coloration is unnecessary because of the new permanent plants that are now responsible for the colour impact.

Any landscaping is successful only if well groomed. To keep its shape and encourage the density of the foliage, some of the shrubs will need a light trim only if necessary. Although the Taxus is a slow-growing conifer, it will still need a minor pruning every second year, mostly on its facade to prevent it from being too stout. The hidden roots of the lovely heucheras have a tendency to slightly come up with the cold weather. Every three years or so and in the spring, the pink heucheras will have to be uprooted to be replanted deeper into the ground.

This is a very easy operation since the roots are not aggressive. To slow down this situation, a constant four-inch-thick layer of dark brown or black mulch around the base of these beauties is just what the doctor prescribes. Most homes can use a little help when it comes to warming up their curb appeal. If you’d like some inexpensive ideas on how to improve the appearance of your home, send a clear photo of your house with your commentary to: Suzanne Rowe, Designer, suro@bell.net. Because of the volume of email she receives, it is not possible for her to individually reply to each correspondent.

 

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