Tuesday, Apr 24, 2018
One of America's Great Newspapers ~ Toledo, Ohio

Kelly Heidbreder

Curb appeal: how to freshen up a stale landscape


This diagram is a landscape design for a front yard by Staci Stasiak, an Owens Community College student.


I heard it and I felt it too! The calendar says spring has been in town for the past three weeks, but it didn’t feel like it until Sunday. The 80 degree weather might have inspired the gardener inside you to come out of dormancy.

To give you some landscape ideas to dream about, I called on Owens Community College Landscape Design students. If you need some curb appeal, Staci Stasiak has some ways to freshen up your front yard.

 She is in her senior year at Owens in the Landscape Design Turf Management program. “Many people have landscapes that were designed in the ‘70s,” she says. You might have a few elements in your yard like overgrown or sheared shrubs along the foundation, Bradford Pear in the middle of the front lawn, daylilies in a corner clump, flanked by lanky junipers and spindley spirea. If this sounds like your landscape, she has some new ideas.

Inside out design

As you plan your landscape adjustments, Ms. Stasiak says to make sure you look out your windows to find the right spot to view a pretty tree or focal point. “A lot of people have shrubs or trees that block your view. It is really better to enhance your view, not block it.”

In place of spirea, she advises using Korean spice viburnum. “This is a great foundation shrub because it has a great fragrance and unique shape. It gets about eight feet tall and can fill in along a fence or can be kept shorter to fit nicely under your windows. Plant them about three feet away from the base of your house to give them plenty of space to mature.”

For a structural shrubs, to soften the corners of your house, she suggests Japanese snowbell. “It has pretty bell-shaped flowers and is a spring bloomer,” she says. “I like the texture of the bark too.

 “Instead of that overused Bradford Pear, I put together a combination of a softer evergreen like Blackhills Spruce with three white butterfly bushes. This will be really showy from the street and give your landscape an instant update,” she says.

“The evergreen is a bit different because it has softer edges and the shrubs will attract butterflies. They are easy to grow and the butterfly bush is a long bloomer.”

For another showy tree to show off and soften the corner of your home, Ms. Stasiak suggests planting Kwanza Cherry or crabapple. Look for other colors of flowers and disease resistance. Weeping crabapples are popular because they are unique but they need a lot of upkeep.

 If you need something to go along your sidewalk, Ms. Stasiak suggests summersweet. “It blooms in early summer and gets about four feet tall. It looks like a bottlebrush flower, and has a white flower that complements other bloomers,.”

Other plants to round out this plan are Russian cypress, fothergilla, summersweet, St. John’s Wort and Maynight Salvia. These plants will complement the yellow green and white colors in the trees and other shrubs.

 “It is important to streamline the number of plants you consider for your entire plan,” she says. “It really pulls together a continuous flow throughout the yard. If you plant five of the same thing together, it will make much more of an impact than if you plant just one. It really brings out the overall habit of each plant.”

Now, get our landscape doodles down on paper! You can get some of these plants at the Owens Community College annual plant sale April 26 and 27 from 10 a.m. – 5p.m., or load up your cart at your favorite nursery. The potential for frost will be long gone in a month, so it is time to get your plan in place. Next week, another Owens student will share some ideas for a design for around the base of a tree

Contact Kelly Heidbreder at getgrowing@gmail.com.

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