How Landscaping Added Instant Charm to this New Birmingham Home
Birmingham, AL Manicured Garden Design
Shapely hedges, bold pathways, colorful plantings, oh my.
Best Yard on the Block
Make it different from every other one on the street. That was the only guideline the owners of this newly built Birmingham-area home gave to landscape designer Todd Dorlon. Brooke Oser and her husband, Allen, bought the house when it was still under construction because they wanted a blank slate. "That's what attracted us to it. We could basically start from scratch," she says. Dorlon relied on smart plantings to bring the exterior to life: Climbing roses add instant character to the new white-brick house, and sculptural boxwoods frame the yard from different angles while providing year-round structure. He dialed up the curb appeal by placing key focal points up front, like vibrant flower beds and a diamond-patterned bluestone walkway. Read on for six ways to make your yard say "Come on in."
Work Toward the Curb
Symmetrical flower beds positioned near the street pop against the all-green backdrop. "I didn't want everything plastered along the foundation of the house. That was one way I made this yard different," Dorlon says. Manicured boxwoods balance the wilder shapes and heights of blooms in the beds. Layers of white-and-purple salvias, Joseph's coat, white lantanas, purple fan flowers, Cuban oregano, and pink angelonias create a wave of splashy color. A pea gravel driveway suits the front yard's garden effect better than dark asphalt would have.
Wow With a Walkway
How do you catch the eyes of passersby? Design a welcoming path. Dorlon pulled inspiration for this diamond-patterned one from an existing exterior feature. "The house has a bluestone sidewalk and steps at the front porch, so I used that material in a different configuration here to match those but still look unique," he says. Two stone orbs signal the entrance from the street, and ‘Emerald' zoysia grass defines the stones' checkerboard pattern. Along with being a statement maker, the path is "fun for the kids to hop around on too," Oser says.
Grow Your Home's Character
"This was a brand-new house, so the vine was a quick way to soften its look," Dorlon says. ‘New Dawn' roses climb over the front door and up the sides of the bare white brick. This selection does call for frequent pruning, but Oser doesn't mind at all. "These roses are like my babies," she says. Low-maintenance, round American boxwoods and aged urns filled with seasonal white plumbago lend some additional interest to the entryway.
Dorlon kept privacy top of mind when outlining the Osers' compact lot. Instead of building a heavy fence here, he opted for a natural barrier, planting a dense row of ‘Emerald Green' arborvitaes. These evergreen shrubs grow into neat, narrow cones that don't take up much ground space. This fast-growing, easy-care hedge requires sheering only once a year to maintain its shape.
Fill Every Inch
Much of the backyard's design caters to the Osers' young children with a big, open grassy area, but that didn't cramp Dorlon's vision. He utilized empty spaces to add decorative details, such as the apple tree espaliered onto the house with wire and screws. (Pick a leafy spot on the branches for attaching the wire so it's hidden from view.) Oser likes
to sneak additional spring color into the window boxes.
Carve Out A Lush Alley
Treat your side yard as more than just a connecting area, and fill it with the right plants. Dorlon relied on a few foolproof favorites for this shady spot. He ran a row of ‘Endless Summer' hydrangeas along the side of the house and accented a plain wooden fence with espaliered camellias. He also paved the walkway with bluestones to bridge the front and the back.