May 28, 2013

Landscaping Our Front Yard: Color Palette & Layout

This past weekend we made some major progress landscaping the front yard. Thankfully, we had squeezed in as much prep work as possible throughout the previous week, so we were a little ahead of the game. We had a pretty good idea of what we wanted to flower beds to look like shape-wise, and everything had already been tilled, so all that was left to do was shop and plant. Which, sounds a little less intimidating than it proved to be. But, spoiler alert, we made it out alive.

Now, we’re far from experts here, so what worked for us is no guarantee, but if it makes the process any easier for just one person I think it’s worth sharing. I feel fairly confident about decorating inside our home, but when it comes to outdoors I’m a little more hesitant to pull the trigger, so I can totally relate. The good news, I’m head over heals in love with how everything turned out (and hope you guys are too!) so I’m going to do my best to share the important details.

First, let’s take a look back. Before we started laying out plants, we had to shape the flower bed. The old bed was just a simple rectangle, running the entire length of the front of the house. Bleh.

Oh look, we have windows. |

We added a few curves and framed out the sidewalk to spice it up just a bit.

Adding Curves to Soften a Flower Bed |

The center of the bed we kept pretty skinny, while the “ends” we beefed up to allow for some serious plant layering. The previous owner had already shaped the right side of the bed with a nice curve around to the side, so we just bought  more of the same black edging and linked right up to it. The curves really help break up the extra long bed and they give the flat facade of the house a little more dimension. We’re hoping the window boxes on our original summer to-do list will really help with that too.

Adding Curves to Soften a Flower Bed |

When it came to shopping, one thing we were certain of was a color palette – a great place to start if you’re feeling a little lost. Our house is dark with red brick, charcoal trim, and black accents, so we knew in order to really make a statement we’d have to go bright with the landscaping. I shared this photo as one of our main inspirations, leading us to a color palette of bright yellows, a few shades of purple, and lime greens. Sticking with two to three colors, and then branching off into various tints and shades of those colors is the easiest way to keep from going overboard into color chaos. Then you just want to spread those colors somewhat evenly throughout the space, just like an interior.

Landscaping Tips on Plant Layout |

My parents watched the girls for us on Sunday so we were able to shop in peace (planning/selecting an enormous amount of plants is enough of a headache without whiny children in tow). Good thing too, because while we only ended up making an appearance at three stores, we somehow managed six stops. Lowes (KY and OH), Home Depot (KY & OH), and two stops at the same local nursery, Burger Farm & Garden. I thought this was worth mentioning since we saw such a difference in variety from Lowe’s to Lowe’s, Home Depot to Home Depot, etc. We actually passed on a few plants on our first stop to Lowe’s in Kentucky (by my parent’s house), assuming we could just grab them at our local store in Ohio. No luck. Just something to keep in mind if you’re shopping around :)

How to Choose A Landscaping Color Palette |

In our fist house, our landscaping layout was nice, but a little on the traditional side. We really wanted to branch off this time and give things more of a true garden feel. Something lush, dense, and compact. Of course, gardens like these take time, but we tried to get a head start by grouping several smaller plants together and condensing the spacing between larger plants more than we would have in our previous house. And while I did keep some repetition in the layout for consistency, we also threw in plenty of random plants to throw things of a bit. I’m hoping this will really make the space feel more organic and less.. “we just planted all of these yesterday”.

Landscaping Tips on Plant Layout |

 This is my happy corner.

Landscaping Tips on Plant Layout |

Something I found that really helped me from getting overwhelmed with the layout, was placing all the plants in the grass nearby first, and grouping them by size and then color. That way when it came time to fill a spot it was more, “ok, what size do I need and what color am I missing?” and I could just head over to the piles and grab something. It helped keep things random, yet controlled. If that makes any sense.

Landscaping Tips on Plant Layout |

 Another tip that kept me sane with such a large space was placing a few of the larger, staple plants in first, like the tall grasses and the azaleas. I knew I wanted to place plants with height in between the windows to fill some dead space, so those went in right away, along with a few other medium sized plants on the corners to round things out. Then I just worked left to right filling things in. Larger plants in the back, a few medium to small plants in the middle, and squat plants like Phlox in front to spread and fill out the ground space. Layers, layers, layers!

Landscaping Tips on Plant Layout |

And, just like styling interiors, odd numbers and triangles are your best friend. Grouping plants in threes was my go-to choice.

Landscaping Tips on Plant Layout |

After we were happy with the layout of everything, I took down the names of each plant and where it was planted to make a diagram for reference down the road.. For instance, next spring when half the plants don’t come back and I’m fuming mad. Now, I’ll know what we’re missing, and I can just take the tag and receipt back to the store for a replacement (crossing our fingers that doesn’t happen).

We’ll be busy mulching and planting new grass seed tonight, so I’m shooting have a full before and after post along with a diagram to help identify each plant we used throughout this week!


5 thoughts on “Landscaping Our Front Yard: Color Palette & Layout

  1. Megan Sloan

    I love adding flowers to our house! We are in the midst of completing transforming the side patch of grass (seriously that was it, along with nasty weeds) to a lush cottage style garden (or what will eventually be one hopefully). It’s been a work in progress for 4 years now as we’ve bought boulders from an old quarry, bricks from a house that was being demolished, and flower after flower. My daughter’s name is Lily and so it’s our “Lily Garden” with over 20 different types of lilies. It has many other flowers too and one teeny tiny Japanese maple. This summer will hopefully see the biggest transformation – a fence and the removal of the left over grass in order to put down a rock path and more mulched beds. This has to come after we get a new sidewalk so we don’t ruin anything in the way of the concrete. You should check our garden out at Can’t wait to see how your progress looks with mulch and everything in the ground!

  2. Sarah @ Babytalk Bungalow

    Wow, that’s quite a haul of plants! We’ve been working on our yard as well, and I can’t wait to get to the point where we can start deciding on a palette and picking out plants to add (though we’re currently still mired in the “dig up the weeds” phase, haha). Your front yard is really coming along, and I’m looking forward to seeing the final before and afters! :)

    1. Jessie R. Post author

      Thanks, Sarah! Yes, it’s definitely a few more plants than we’re used to. Here’s hoping we can keep up! The colors were definitely the best part :)


  3. Pingback: Landscaping Our Front Yard: Reveal

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