Three Things Every Landscape Needs

You’ve only got so much time and so much money to devote to your outdoor spaces. Therefore, it’s important to start with the basics. Assuming you’ve already addressed major issues like water drainage or precarious tree limbs, in my opinion, focusing on these three areas of your landscape will make the biggest impact:

  • Develop a cheerful, welcoming entry.
  • Create a place to eat outdoors.
  • Establish convenient parking and storage.

Develop a cheerful, welcoming entry.

It’s better to have one beautiful planting in front of your house than lots of little plantings here and there all around your yard.

Pulling all of your plants together in one spot makes it easier to maintain them, thereby ensuring you’ll always have a nice display where it will be appreciated most.

A well-developed front entry also makes it easy for people to know exactly where they should enter your home.

I’m in the process of doing exactly this at my own house by creating two pocket meadows on either side of the front door. I love the idea of these gardens being front-and-center, where I can most easily enjoy them.

You could also keep things extremely simple by using container plants and foregoing planting beds all together. Even just one handsome planter filled with seasonal flowers makes an eye-catching statement.

If you want to think about “curb appeal,” remember that whatever you plant in front of your house becomes a focal point. It’s much better to eliminate everything that isn’t a “wow” than to draw the eye all over the place to a lot of “meh” elements.

Create a place to eat outdoors.

In my travels, I’ve observed that Europeans spend a lot more time eating and drinking outside than Americans, even in winter. Often, there’s just a little cafe table and chairs set up somewhere handy. It’s so charming and so easy to do.

Even a simple picnic table or two Adirondack chairs can work perfectly.

If you already have a deck, porch, or patio, even better! Friends once hired me to design a patio for entertaining. Yet, they already had an unused front porch and back deck. So, they decided to make both of those existing spaces work better for everything from family dinners to company visits by upgrading steps, refreshing paint and stain, and adding new furniture.

Establish convenient parking and storage.

It’s usually practical things that add so much peace and calm to your day. Make sure you have these items in good working order for maximum functionality of your landscape:

  • Convenient place to park.
  • Place for visitors to park.
  • Safe, illuminated pathway from any outdoor parking areas to your front door.
  • Snow plowing service or snow blower and an ergonomic snow shovel if you live in a cold climate.
  • Decluttered garage or storage shed for bicycles, landscaping tools, and trash cans. Having a tidy place to put things away clears your head.
  • Several large, clean trash cans with lids as well as wheels if you need to roll them to the street.
  • Recycling containers. A dedicated sorting station for your recycling makes it fun to do, especially for kids.

Use this simple checklist to take the guesswork out of what to work on first. You might find you don’t need to do anything else!

This post appeared previously on The Simple Landscape blog.


Elizabeth Douglas is the founder of Pocket Meadows. She holds a degree in landscape architectural studies and is a member of the NY State Nursery & Landscape Association.

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