November 26, 2007


Now that the gardening season is winding down, Gina at Myskinnygarden is busy scheming and dreaming. This time she wants suggestions for a new path in her frontyard. Knowing how thrifty ( cheap ?) she is and how she loves free stuff, May Day Garden Design ( that's moi ) is sending her a gift certificate worth $1,500 of free garden design.

Our frontyards are are pretty much alike, Gina as far as size and shape go . Here are my suggestions : A flagstone path to your front entrance would soften all that harsh concrete and it can be cemented right on top of your existing walk if it's in sound condition. I would suggest removing the strip of grass between you and your neighbor , if that's possible, and widen the walkway there . Flagstone on top of it to match your entry would add interest. I wouldn't add a path along the curved bed because I think less is more in small yards .

GINA I ( Left )

Alternatives to flagstone would be : Stain your concrete walkway a natural earth tone ( brown perhaps ) to soften it . Is your porch concrete as well ? That could also be stained to tone down all that gray cement . The curved flower bed will break up that rectangular shape.

Notice that all the "Poodles" are gone and in their place I've created a background that is not too formal yet not wild and it is the bones that will provide year round interest ( Azalea and Magnolia blooms in the Spring and the Lilac in the Summer ; the Dwarf White Pine or a Mugo Pine is evergreen ) and structure with both deciduous and evergreen plant material ( I know you're a wild child but I think that a natural, serene setting at the entrance is important ! )

Since your frontyard is small, flat and rectangular, adding height , such as a berm or built-up flower bed ( 8-12 inches ) would give it immediate interest. Plus , plants grow faster and better in a raised garden. Yes, Gina, this means more topsoil to be ordered and delivered.

GINA II ( right )

You'll note that I've gotten rid of the lawn ( groan, hard labor ! ) and replaced it with some choice round landscape rocks, decorative stones and low growing evergreen Japanese rockgarden cypress ( 1-2 ' tall and spreading ) . The clean lines and naturalistic style go well with the style of your house. Once established it's also pretty low maintenance.

Hope you like your Christmas present. Are you Scottish by any chance ?


  1. Carolyn, I don't know what to say except YOU ARE SO AWESOME!!!!!!!!!! This totally caught me off guard. Really, I can't thank you enough. I can't wait to go look up all the plants!! What I love about this is that I can do it in phases which works for my budget ;) No im not Scottish - I sure hope that's not a prerequisite to being able to enjoy my Gift Certificate!

    Yes, my porch is concrete. It's funny you mentioned staining it because that is actually something I had thought of before (thank you HGTV). I think I could do that myself, too! At the risk of sounding silly, would you recommend staining the porch and walkway the same color? Also, I was a little confused about how the widened walkway by my neighbor would work. Since the fence door is right along the existing narrow path, wouldnt it look awkward to have the path even wider than the fence?

    You know, Carolyn, you should think about doing this as a new business venture! I once had an "online personal trainer". Online landscape designer! I love it! It's perfect for those do-it-yourselfers like me!

  2. You're most welcome. Remember the tree and shrubs are just suggestions and you can substitute things you may like better -just keep in mind that you don't want to be constantly pruning whatever you plant there because it outgrew its space.
    Staining concrete is very doable and Home Depot carries stains for just that purpose. It seems that the brown tones are the most natural looking. For some contrast, I think it would really look attractive if you tiled the stairs ( a warm coral, terra cotta or nice blue? )and stained the concrete porch and foundation area brown. I saw that on HGTV and it really jazzed it up. The tile must be the non-slippery kind for outdoors.

    Do you have a better photo of the gate, fence and walkway with dimensions ? At first glance it appears that the gate is very wide but I think I now see that part of it is the fence. How wide is your walkway there? It looks so narrow, but if it's 3-31/2 feet wide then it's good.

    I'd still remove that strip of grass and replace it with a planting of ornamental grasses, beginning with low ones in the front and leading up to a tall, narrow one to soften the lines of your fence. Just a layer of natural mulch around the grasses and the strip will take on new life.

    Designing on-line is tricky, Gina. There's nothing like a visit to the site.

    I was just funnin' ya about being Scottish -because you're so thrifty, like moi.

  3. carolyn - i'll measure the gate and fence tomorrow and let you know. in the meantime, here is a link to a blog entry that shows the gate opened - not sure it that'll help. ps i didnt know about scottish people being thrifty!

  4. Looking at that photo the sidewalk seems to be of average width so it's okay. As indicated in the plan you could either jazz it up by applying flagstone on top of it or staining it brown so that it looks more natural.

    I see you've indicated painting your house white as one of your projects. Does that mean you're also painting the brown trim, everything white ? I'd think twice about that because all white on a small house is very bland. It actually looks quite natural with the cream and brown ( the Tudor cottage colors ! ) .

    My friend has a front "Stoop" ( not quite a porch-more like an entrance ) like yours and she removed the railings and columns and replaced them with a thick wrought iron she found at a salvage yard that gave it much more balance. Just another thing to consider for "the list."

  5. The plans look great! How fun for both of you. Thanks for the tip about staining the concrete. When we ripped out the old front walk & steps (concrete), we put in a brick paver walk, but left the stoop concrete. I've never liked that it didn't match. Now, I'll have to get some terra cotta stain. That'll be my 1st project next spring.

  6. CG: What a thoughtful and great gift! Leave it to you to be so practical and generous! Love the new design! And you cook also? You Southern Girls are so adept!

  7. Thanks, MMD, I'm glad that you are inspired to stain the stoop concrete. It'll look really good.

    layanee, you are too kind. Glad you like the design. Would you believe I didn't like to garden or cook when I was young-it was work then. Now that I have more leisure time, I find both enjoyable.

  8. Carolyn Gail... how kind and thoughtful of you! And Gina is so eager as a new gardener. Her enthusiasm is refreshing, as is your generosity in helping her with some design!

    Carol, May Dreams Gardens

  9. Thanks, Carol. It is good to see the younger generation enthusiastic about gardening isn't it ?

    I like helping people who want to help themselves.

  10. Bravo Caroly Gail!!! What a generous, helpful gift.

  11. Thanks, Lisa,

    Been meaning to pay a visit to greenbow. Learned about you from Carol at Maydreamsgardens. Welcome, neighbor to our little corner of the world.

  12. What a great present, Carolyn Gail! I love your ideas for Gina's front yard.

  13. Hey David,

    Thanks a lot. Glad you liked my ideas for Gina's front yard.

    Did you get any more rain in your neck of the woods ? I'm praying for those folks down in Georgia , Tennessee and Alabama as well. This must be the WORSE drought in history. I don't remember ever having such a thing when I was a child growing up on the farm. We were always blessed with good rain almost every season.

  14. Thanks for the prayers, CG. We've gotten very, very little since that big storm--maybe an inch.


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