If you want to make your house and landscape stand out as something individual and not like all the other houses on the block, you don’t have to do much. Homeowners often think they have to pull it all out, replace entire mature plantings, and hire an architect to create a new entrance, when really all you have to do is step back, and look at what’s already there with a fresh eye. Try a dash of unexpected color, install a few new plants, rethink concrete surfaces, and then you really have what you seek: a house and landscape that will be a better reflection of you.
Let’s talk color. The easiest thing you can do is slap a new hue on an existing surface, like a door and shutters. And think about a color that will both thrill you and be calm as well, like the eggplant shade used here. It’s the perfect complement for the pale gray stucco walls, injects a modern feel, and is serene at the same time. And, yes, unexpected. If you don’t trust yourself to pick out the right shade, consult a color wheel. You’ll see complementary colors opposite each other. Start with the front door, then add your dash of new to other, smaller architectural details. This simple—and quick—change will make all the difference in setting the tone you want as people come up your walk.
And what about that walk? Most of us have poured concrete already in place, but you can easily lift it and replace with cut flagstone or terrazzo. By removing a bit of the concrete that seems to sometimes surround us everywhere we go, we can personalize the space. You have many options besides cement. And you’ll probably want to flank your new walk with a bit of (controllable) planting. Nothing does the trick as well as dwarf mondo grass. You don’t have to trim or mow, and it doesn’t sprawl or spread. Plus, it has this great ‘cuteness’ factor, which almost brings in a sense of play. Something as small as mondo can add that ‘happy’ factor you’ll want.
Recall what I said about removing some concrete? I simply hammered up the middle strip of the drive and replaced with some more happy mondo. That idea of poured concrete for an entire driveway is relatively new, and you can breathe a bit of life—literally—by taking part of it out and planting. Mondo is easy, drought tolerant after the first year, and needs almost no upkeep. Something else to note: I used aspidistra along the house. It’s the best friend you’ll ever have in deep shade. It’s hard to find something that will live without sun, but aspidistra is it. In fact, if it gets sun, the leaves tend to yellow or burn. It spreads, but oh so slowly, and provides a nice contrast to the mondo. I sell lots of these hardy plants because they are resilient, look good, and last a long time.
Your last addition should be something unexpected, like this vintage lamp post. It originally stood sentry outside a commercial building, but such an architectural leftover can bring a bit of serendipity to any residential landscape. And you don’t need to place it front and center, either. I nestled it into the existing bed here, so it’s a bit of a surprise to anyone passing.
You can create a thrilling new look for your house and landscape by keeping it simple, changing minor details, and adding a touch of color. You won’t go broke, need a building permit, or require a series of craftsmen coming in and out, to get what you want. Just take it one detail at a time, and don’t try to alter your entire landscape. ‘Cool’ is easier than you thought.
Live Life to the Fullest,
Chris H. Olsen