Tag Archives: landscaping for curb appeal

The are of garden and landscape design to enhance the curb appeal or street view of a property.

Xeriscaping a low maintenance front yard!

We were hired by our garden owner Gail in the spring to re-do her front lawn.  The lawn is approximately 1000 square feet of poor soil and very poor lawn.  Gail had struggled with the lawn since she had moved there.  After years of trying to get the grass to grow she decided she needed a low maintenance xeriscaped area.  When I went to meet her, I agreed.  My motto has always been, when you are trying to grow something, you want it to thrive not just survive.  Her lawn was barely surviving…although the weeds were prolific, nothing else seemed to thrive.  As a retired farmer Gail realizes the importance of water conservation and thought it best to get rid of the lawn and conserve the water for better uses.

Gail said as each year went by the lawn became more unhealthy then the previous year.  The lawn is patchy at best and really required a new design.  Gail had already decided she wanted all of the sod removed and disposed of.  She wanted a rock wall across the front and a path to her side garden for her to be able to water with her garden hose.  She also wanted as much of the front lawn mulched as possible.  she wanted a design that would compliment her beautiful home and create curb appeal.

I suggested we frame the entire front yard with a perimeter of river rock.  It would not only add a new layer to the design, but more importantly it would allow good drainage of rains and help to keep the mulch in its place.  The last thing I wanted to happen was for a heavy rainfall to wash all of the mulch to the sidewalk and the road.  Without the perimeter of rock it was a likely problem as the lawn is on a gradient towards the sidewalk and the road.

The work began on Monday taking out all of the sod and disposing of it. A sod cutter works great for such a big job.  The perimeter of the lawn had to be cut out with an edger as the sod cutter cannot get close enough to cut it out.

Once we went over the lawn with the sod cutter we realized that although the grass was not growing above ground the roots were a solid mass with some as deep as 6 inches.  We had to run the sod cutter over it twice to rid the area of roots and start with a clean slate.  It was labour intensive but a necessary requirement to ensure a long lasting low maintenance design.  We did need to take the lawn down by a minimum of 2 inches to make room for the mulch but it ended up coming down 5 to 6 inches which actually worked out better in the long run.

Once the lawn and roots were taken out and disposed of (7truck loads of waste), it was time to prep the entire bare area.  We used a landscape rake to level the entire area. Then we built a stone wall across Gail’s front lawn to add depth and beauty as well as hold the mulch in place.   We dug out the entire perimeter lower then the rest of the lawn and put garden edging in to keep the river rock separate from the mulch.  We also added  layers of wet newspaper and landscape fabric underneath the river rocks.

Then we used recycled newspapers….8 to 10 layers deep on the entire yard.  We wet the newspaper first so it sticks to the ground.  This creates a barrier so that weed seeds in the soil cannot sprout or grow.  We were not willing to lay landscape fabric down on bare soil.  The landscape fabric does what it is supposed to…it has tiny perforated holes to allow rain water to flow through it but cannot hold the weeds back.  Many fabrics have a 5 year or 20 year guarantee on the package. That is not for the duration that it will keep weeds out…that is for the duration of its life before it completely breaks down.  There is a big difference.  For anyone who has ever used the fabric in their garden they know that is only a matter of time before a tiny weed seed sprouts and pokes through one of these perforated holes in the fabric and begins a weed trend that does not stop.  Once the weeds begin to poke through the fabric, the only way to get them out is to pull all of the fabric up and weed it from underneath.  It is not the current seeds that are sprouting but rather the old weed seeds trapped under the fabric and they do sprout and grow.

We purchased commercial landscape fabric and yes there is a big difference.  It is a strong mesh material that allows the water to seep through rather then the cheaper fabric with perforated holes.  Commercial fabric is 25% more but it is the only fabric to use when I am covering bare ground to impede weeds growing.  We layered the fabric and overlapped to ensure there were no bare areas that weeds could sprout.  Then we covered it with a medium dark mulch.  The dark mulch is larger chunks and less likely to blow away or move around in a rain storm.  We covered the entire remaining yard with 4 to 6 inches of mulch.  We raked it all out and then we watered it down.  We knew a storm was coming the next day and rather then take a chance on the mulch being so dry and light it would migrate, we watered it down to weigh it down.  The re-design turned out beautiful and Gail is very happy with it and so are we!



Designing a Xeriscape Boulevard

The garden owners would like a simple garden of trees planted in their boulevard.   After discussing with them what they would like, we came up with a list.

Please check Xeriscaping

  •  The trees must be dwarf trees so as not to overpower the area or block their ocean view.  Preferably under 15 feet maximum height at maturity & no more then 4 feet across in order to fit permanently on the boulevard.
  •  The trees must be able to survive our hot dry summers as they are too far from the    house to have a soaker hose reach.
  • They would prefer evergreen trees of some sort to minimize maintenance. (No leaf clean up) And no junipers as it would be more difficult to cut grass around low lying shrubs.
  • The trees must fit with the existing landscape and gardens.
  • A simple design is preferred.

I researched several dwarf trees:

Dwarf Alberta spruce, Mugo pines, Japanese white pines, Hinoki cypress

After some research I have decided on the “Alberta Dwarf Spruce”  it is a perfect combination of beauty and height for the location.  As I reserached the other choices, I eliminated each of the others due to height or width sizes.

The Dwarf Alberta Spruce is a perfect match here as it will only grow to a maximum of 10 to 12 feet high and 3 to 4 feet across, which is perfect for this location.  I designed the gardens and will create them this week.  Hopefully having it done by next Sunday.

Boulevard 3 -800x600Boulevard 2 800x584Mansbridge boulevardBefore design!

Copy of Mansbridge boulevard design 1Copy of Mansbridge boulevard design 3Copy of Mansbridge boulevard design 4This is the design that I will create.

There will be three Dwarf Alberta Spruces evenly spaced apart with rocks & boulders in between.  There will be a solid bed of wood chips and mulch straight across to ensure ease of grass cutting & less problems with weeds will make it less labour intensive.  By planting now during the spring rains and adding a deep layer of mulch and wood chips will help ensure the trees get plenty of moisture as they go through transplant shock and help for the tree to root properly before it is too hot and too dry.  The mulch and wood chips will be approximately 6 to 8 inches deep.  This also helps to keep the weeds down and adds curb appeal to the property.