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Our Landscape Plans

Friends! Welcome to the first post about our landscape design- this is the one where I tell you allll about our plans over the next couple of years. Dan and I purchased our first home about a year ago but we just moved in at the start of this year. We have slowly been working away on the inside but have not done A.THING. to the outside of our property yet. I know that for many people landscaping is a less important project than working on indoor spaces (understandably so) but for me and Dan it is actually what we were and are most excited about (although I feel Dan’s enthusiasm fading daily as I talk his ear off…).

The spring, summer, and fall seasons are typically very busy for us with weddings (this year is very different with Covid, but that’s another story!) so we do not get a chance to spend as much time outdoors in the warmer seasons as we would like. We rarely go to the beach, visit a cottage, or spend a day hanging at the park. Last year, the first time we finally got the chance to do any of those things it was already the middle of October! I love the summer but the outdoor time that we get is realistically what we can squeeze in on weeknight evenings or after weddings on the weekends. So, making our own outdoor space one that we can easily enjoy is really important to us.

Additionally, right now our property is soooo wide open to the road that even if you were someone who didn’t place huge value on designed outdoor space, our property would probably still make you say ‘um yeah, we’re gonna need to do something with the landscape here…’. AND, in case you didn’t know, I got my Bachelor of Landscape Architecture at university, worked at a residential landscape design firm for 6 years…AND I spend most of my free time perusing images and books of beautiful landscapes. So yeah…I kinda care about this stuff!

With my future posts about our landscape I am planning to share tips, advice, and information that will help you in making selections and designing your own landscape. However, with today’s posts I am simply going to show you our property and share images of our plans so you can follow along as I share more in this space.

Where We are Starting with Our Landscape

This photo is taken while standing on the sidewalk and shows the majority of our property – the large sideyard and ‘backyard’. On the opposite side of the house there is a narrow side yard between the neighbouring building and in the front yard there is a porch and about 15′ frontage before the sidewalk. Our property is 80′ wide x 100′ deep…it isn’t a big lot but there is definitely a lot of untapped potential!

Our Design Goals

The main goal we have with our property is to create an enclosed backyard area where we can have a private hangout space. As you can see, currently there is no privacy at all and the property is open to the sidewalk and road on 2 sides. Without any defined barriers, the property really feels like a house kind of plopped in the middle of a piece of land…I guess that’s essentially what it is, actually! Before I started designing I listed out our main design objectives in addition to this one big ‘to-do’.

Goals for our Property:

  • a fenced in backyard for privacy
  • patio for outdoor dining/hanging out (potentially fire pit?!)
  • BBQ/pizza oven area
  • vegetable planters and cutting garden
  • lots of plants that will provide visual beauty throughout the whole year and that I can cut from

With this list at the top of my mind I set out and sketched various designs. The design that we selected is classic with sculpted hedging and mass planted perennials and shrubs. I am envisioning traditional materials such as brick for the patios and iron fencing for the perimeter fence, along with hedging. The design has focused on angular geometry for the planting beds that will be lushly planted. This is actually the most simple of all the designs I came up with but what we especially like about this design is that it can be added to over time – it will look great as proposed but also leaves room to add a second patio area or hedging around the whole property in the future and these types of additions would not compromise the initial design.

The Back Yard

With the backyard I have created an enclosed area off of our back porch. Yay! While the assumed ‘backyard’ area looks quite small when it is wide open like it is right now, the fenced in area is approximately 30′ x 30′ which is perfect for what we have planned. Within this backyard space I have given us space for one patio and we can decide later on if we would prefer to furnish this with a dining table or a lounge set. Off of the patio there is a little extension nook for a BBQ and pizza oven (making pizza is our newest obsession!). I like having these placed in their own designated area just so that these pieces of equipment do not take away from our patio.

As far as the fencing goes, I am imagining a combination of beech hedging on the two sides and an open iron fence paired with lush flowering shrubs along the back. Around the whole perimeter of the enclosed space we are planning for angled beds of mass planted perennials and shrubs. I am hoping to add some perennials in here that I will enjoy cutting for flower arrangements throughout the year.

The side Yard

In the road facing side yard I am focusing on mass planted perennials that will create a big visual impact. Our property is a corner lot which means that there are certain rules in place regarding where we are allowed to put fences and how high they can be. These rules are in place to ensure that a corner property does not put up a fence too close to the road that would impede traffic views at the intersection. With our property, a large portion of our front yard is not able to be fenced due to our municipality fence bylaw. So, since we will not be using this side yard area to create any additional enclosed private space we are going to make it a really beautiful garden to view.

In addition to lush foundation plantings I would love to add a large bed in the open side yard closer to the sidewalk that will be for 3 trees underplanted with some ground cover (I’m thinking this bed will be about 20′ long and 5′ wide). The corner where we are located is fairly visible – it is on a ‘busy’ road (busy by tiny town standards) and has views to the property from the mini town centre. As small as the town is, the corner is viewed by quite a few drivers each day. Each spring I look forward to the flowering trees for months before they finally arrive. When they finally bloom I make a point to go on drives so I can appreciate all the flowering trees before they drop their flowers. Flowering trees make me so excited for the seasons to come and seeing them always brightens my mood. With such a wide open property I think we have a great opportunity to add some spring flowering trees to our property that will hopefully make spring lovers like me smile after the long winter!

Front Yard

The front yard is really a continuation of what is happening in the side yard with more dramatic masses of perennials and some hedging to balance them out. As far as the hardscape here, we will redo the front walkway but will keep the front porch as is for the foreseeable future (it’s not ‘nice’…but it’s a low priority!).

Narrow Side Yard

This is the one area we have actually started…but it definitely hasn’t come to vision yet! I wanted to put up a vegetable planter this year which is actually what sparked me doing this whole design now, even though we won’t be doing the actual work until later – I wanted to make sure that we placed our planter in the location that we would want it for the long term and not smack in the middle of our future patio or something like that!

This strip between our house and the property next door is quite narrow and at first glance I definitely considered it unuseable space. Much to my surprise, this narrow alley gets sun all day making it the perfect spot for our vegetable garden! We are planning to add a stepping stone path that will connect the front yard to the backyard and a low hedge to act as a visual barrier between the two properties (while not blocking any sunlight). We have a side door that enters into this side yard and it is located off of our kitchen. I would love to source a pretty antique glass door for the kitchen one day and build a tiny deck off the back porch for potted herbs and a small bistro table to make this a true ‘kitchen garden’.

Phasing

To spread the work and budget out over time we are going to implement the project in phases. Could we go ahead and built it all at once? Sure! But honestly, I am a person who enjoys these projects and the process of planning and doing them more than anything, so working in phases keeps me excited and evolving the plan. I don’t think I would have a blog where I shared the process of our projects if that were not the case!

Here are the basic phases we have planned out so far.

Phase 1: Sideyard Planting

The side and front yard planting is what we are planning to do this year to allow these plants to get established and also clean up the VERY messy planting that is currently there.

Phase 2: The Backyard!

Next, we will add in the backyard fence, patio, and planting. This will happen next year.

Phase 3: Additional Hardscape

This will be replacing our front walkway and the driveway. These items are lower priority but will definitely complete the look.

Phase 4: Potential Overall Hedging

We are playing with the idea of adding a low boxwood hedge around the entire property just to have more safe enclosed space. My niece loves to run around on our property and a low hedge would make us a lot more comfortable with that! We may also consider a second patio at this point too, depending on if we feel the space is tight for our needs. The items here are still to be determined and will really be based on what we feel we need as we live with and enjoy the space.

What’s Next?!

Choosing plants! I am currently working on completing our planting plan for the side and front yard and will share that process and our plant selections in my next post. I am definitely look forward to cleaning up the planting around the house because, oh boy, it needs it!

Thank you so much for your interest in our project! Please let me know if you have any questions! Have you done any landscaping projects at your home lately?

comments +

  1. Liz says:

    I love the digital plans! My Fiancé and I are closing on our first home soon and I would love to know what software/program you used to plan this all out!

    • Emily H says:

      Oh that’s so exciting! Congratulations! The program I used is called SketchUp – there is a free online version or a professional version but the tools are really quite similar between the two. It’s pretty user friendly to use and fun to play around with!

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