Monday, February 27, 2012

Garden Designers' Roundtable: First Impressions

In the course of my work as a landscape professional I've logged first-time visits to hundreds and hundreds of properties.  The thing that always strikes me first about a landscape is:  Is it well maintained?  I don't care what design style it's in or how clever it is - after all, that's why I'm there.  But if the existing gardens are overrun with weeds, the shrubs are overgrown and encroaching on "tripper" walkways, and the lawn is unmown and half dead, then I'm pretty sure I'm wasting my time in presenting them with fancy new design ideas.  (Time to switch into garden coach mode!)  So regardless of the size of your house or the zip code it's located in, here is the best way to build "curb appeal" . . .

Step #1 in creating a great first impression:
Show that your property is valuable because it's worthy of your care and attention.  Maintenance first!

Notice how the terraced slopes in the next two examples eliminate hard-to-maintain grass slopes and bring colorful plantings into public view: 

by Jocelyn H Chilvers

Step #2 in creating a first impression:
Show that your house is valuable by creating a landscape structure that complements its architecture and / or eco-region.

A traditional walled courtyard enhances the Southwestern style architecture.

Elegant serpentine walls in native flagstone match the tone of the 1900 era home. Design by Ivy Street Design Group

A xeric garden of diverse plantings is an engaging lawn-free landscape.

Lush, colorful, welcoming and xeric (that's a buffalo grass lawn) - perfect for our region.

Step #3 in creating a great first impression:
Show that your house is a home by creating a landscape that expresses your personality.

Exuberantly colorful!
A colorful cottage garden complements the homeowners' aesthetic. Design by Jocelyn H Chilvers

A crisp, modern design works surprisingly well with an old bungalow.

A more rustic and earthy (yet attractive!) take on the cottage garden style.

Obviously a lover of our native prairie/foothills region!

A big, floriferous, xeric garden sets the scale for a large home. Design by Jocelyn H. Chilvers
I hope these examples have shown you that large or small, simple or complex, there are many ways create a landscape that says, "Welcome!"
For more great ideas on the topic of "First Impressions" please visit the Garden Designers' Roundtable or click through to the following: 
Lesley Hegarty & Robert Webber : Hegarty Webber Partnership : Bristol, UK
Debbie Roberts : A Garden of Possibilities : Stamford, CT
Susan Morrison : Blue Planet Garden Blog : East Bay, CA
Christina Salwitz : Personal Garden Coach : Renton, WA
Shirley Bovshow : Eden Makers : Los Angeles, CA

Note:  with a few exceptions, the designers of these landscapes are unknown to me. Please let me know if I can give credit where it is due!


Acantholimon said...

Love this post: you should lead a tour to these Gardens for DBG! I would sign up. I recognized exactly ONE of these...the last one. And would love to visit the rest.


Robert Webber said...

Hi Jocelyn,
Loved your points about standard of care. I must say more and more I find myself asking clients to 'get a gardener'!!
Great about terraced slopes and appropriateness. And I loved the self expression where the pink flowers flow out of the attic. Made me smile that one!
Thanks and Best

Jocelyn H. Chilvers said...

PK, glad you enjoyed the armchair tour and I would love to do one for Denver Botanic Gardens: lots to lean from a front yard, no?

Robert, thanks for your kind comments. I agree that professional gardening help - even just once or twice a year - can make a huge difference in the overall impression a garden presents!

rebecca sweet said...

Thanks for the great photos and most excellent advice! Just tidy up what you have, folks - it CAN be as simple as that!! The second to last photo is one of my favorites.

Jocelyn H. Chilvers said...

That particular landscape is so perfect in its simplicity - I just love it! Rebecca, many thanks.

susan morrison said...

Terrific photos! You've shown such a range of styles, yet all with a common theme of appropriateness for the house/region and a commitment to upkeep. Wonderful examples of what curb appeal is all about.

Christina Salwitz said...

Spectacular photos to illustrate this post Jocelyn! Wow, wow, wow!

Jocelyn H. Chilvers said...

Susan, the Denver region is a rich melting pot of architectural and gardening styles. Glad you enjoyed your (virtual) visit!

Christina, a great compliment coming from YOU!! Thanks...

Pam/Digging said...

Great examples, Jocelyn! I'm particularly struck by your observation (which should be obvious but is easily overlooked), "Show that your property is valuable because it's worthy of your care and attention." So true!

And I'm intrigued by the different garden styles reflected in your post, and by your comment that Denver is a melting pot of architectural and gardening styles. When are we going to get you on the list to host the Fling, my dear? Your city has much to offer, it seems.

Debbie/GardenOfPossibilities said...

Jocelyn, There's so much inspiration in your photos, each one is beautiful in its own way.

You're spot on with the comments about maintaining your garden. I always assume that if the garden isn't well-maintained then the rest of the house probably hasn't been either.

Jocelyn H. Chilvers said...

Pam,I think property ownership is not for everyone - despite the so-called "American Dream"! Denver as a host city for Spring Fling would be awesome. Maybe if I can find a co-host (or 2 or 3)!

Debbie, I must say that I also get embarrassed customers who are only too aware of the state of their property and sincerely want to make things better. I love them!

Les said...

These are some great front designs and some great gardens. My least favorite is the exuberant colonial. The color and abundance seems at odds with the architecture. But it is not my house and if it makes the people who live there happy, then so be it.

Shirley Bovshow "EdenMaker" said...

Great examples of curp appeal elements!

Jocelyn H. Chilvers said...

Les, I agree with you that the colors of house & flowers are at odds, but it's so crazily cheerful that it's hard to resist!

Thanks, Shirley!

Susan aka Miss R said...

Hello (a day late!)
I'm struck by how different these are from our more traditional gardens in the NE. I'm also struck by how there seems to be little attention paid to the re-sale value of the 'first impressions' interesting post.

Rahul Sharma said...

Spectacular pictures of the design work.... Yeah! I do agree with you that the entrance of the house will create a great amount of impression in the mind of a person moving in to the house. That also help him to adjudge the behavior and the personality of the people live in that particular house. Great stuff.

Garden Designers London

Jocelyn H. Chilvers said...

Susan, I always appreciate your perspective! Most of these photos represent my personal preference for a landscape that goes beyond a lawn + foundation plantings (if that's what you mean by traditional) - there are certainly plenty of those in the Denver area. As far as resale value goes, most of the properties shown here are quite small and would be fairly easy (and economical) to renovate, if necessary. And, as I often say, Denver is a BIG gardening community with a great climate and people who love an active, outdoor lifestyle. Come visit!!

Rahul, I'm glad you enjoyed my view of gardens in the American West! Thanks for stopping by.

Scott Hokunson said...

"...then I'm pretty sure I'm wasting my time in presenting them with fancy new design ideas."

Oh how I hate this scenario. Excited to meet with new clients only to find that they "might" not value their landscape. These are great points, and should be part of client education 101!

Beautiful photos!

Matt Kucik said...

Great tips, Jocelyn! Usually, landscapes become remarkable not because of the collaboration of designs but with the vibrant colors plants give. The healthy green color of the leaves is refreshing to the eyes. So along with maintaining your home exterior, you should spare some time bonding with your plants as well.

Matt Kucik