Turn a potentially awkward space into one that welcomes guests.
grouping similar plants
Make variety work for you by grouping similar plants.
| Credit: Ralph Anderson

Fact: Designing the garden that leads to a set-back front door can be a nightmare. Fact: This one is well done, and Paul Bruns and Richard Babin at Good Winds Landscape in Germantown (a suburb of Memphis), Tennessee, are to be commended.

A Blessing and a Curse
Zero lot line homes are growing in popularity. They offer all the amenities of a full-size residence without taking up much land. One house starts where the other ends, thus the terminology.

A popular plan recesses the front door, with an entry courtyard for guests. This is a charming idea―if you find yourself a Paul or a Richard who knows how to make the most of a long, narrow space. Otherwise, you might just wind up with a retrofitted hybrid that is somewhere between bowling alley and overgrown blah.

Phased-in Perfection
"I was lucky that I got to work on this design twice," says Paul. In phase one, two redbuds, two ‘Little Gem' Southern magnolias, and a Japanese maple were planted in the tight space and have fared quite well. The arbor, installed by the builder, was a part of the architect's original concept.

Five years later, homeowners Mary and Jerry Sharp took the entry of their Mud Island home to the next level. The existing concrete, L-shaped walk came out. "We installed dimensional bluestone pads, only 3 feet in width, to give more planting room on either side," says Paul.

Divided by black Mexican rocks, the 50-foot-long path looks shorter than it is. Making a right-angle jog, it connects the door to the front sidewalk and accommodates an eye-catching water feature that delights passersby with aquatic music.