This Landscape Designer's Front Yard Has A No-mow "Korean Grass" Lawn That's Low-maintenance And Looks Incredible
There's something of a renaissance happening in the design of front yards recently. Sure, we've always wanted curb appeal for front yards - a neat lawn, some seasonal color maybe - but always in aid of creating a good first impression over useable outdoor space.
This is translating into modern front yards where not only is a pristine green lawn a concern, but where social seating is integrated into the design, allowing for the residents to use the front yard in the same way they do their backyard - without being shut away from neighbors.
And if anyone is going to spearhead these trends in their own front yards, it's a landscape designer. For Ben and Erin Fredrickson, the owners of Southern California-based landscape company Fredrickson Landscape Inc, these were all important considerations for the design of their own yard.
'We offer several design packages but specialize in "softscape" designs - plant design, finish material selections, and lighting,' Erin tells me, 'but since we were starting from scratch and had hardscape needs as well as softscape, we collaborated with Max from Max Vedder Land Design to put everything on paper. Max is known for his modern landscapes that are not only beautiful but inject a sense of fun into any yard.'
'Before our design meeting, we carefully considered how to best use our yard,' Erin adds. 'We knew we wanted a better entry (after all curb appeal is king); privacy because we are a corner house; and as busy, small business owners and parents of teens, we knew we wanted to minimize maintenance time!'
'Speaking of teens, gathering spots for their friends were key, so we wanted to create spaces that would allow them to hang comfortably,' she explains.
It's a lot to ask from a front yard, but the resulting space succeeds in all that and more. From Ben and Erin's water-wise grass selection, to how they've turned a front yard into a space that's a joy to spend time in, this might be one of my favorite front yards I've ever seen.What is this lawn alternative?
a modern front yard
A peek over Ben and Erin's fence reveals an unusually-textured lawn, defined by small mounds, surrounding their patio. 'We thought long and hard about what grass alternative to use in this space,' Ben says. 'As landscape designers, our focus is always on water-wise designs, and as busy, small business owners, we knew we wanted to minimize maintenance time.'
Traditional lawns are neither, so these designers took a different avenue that lends a unique texture to their front yard landscaping. 'In the end we chose zoysia tenuifolia also known as Korean grass,' Ben explains. 'It comes in flats and fills in so quickly! It's lush, green, super soft and definitely a conversation starter. RIP lawn mower and high water bills!'
However, it's not a lawn choice that works for all climates. 'We were really inspired by Australian coastal landscapes,' Ben adds. 'They use zoysia tenuifolia quite often and have a similar climate to ours. Zoysia works best in warm climates. We live in Oceanside, Californiam where the hottest summer temps rarely top 90 degrees Fahrenheit and the coldest winter nights are rarely below 35 degrees. Zoysia loves the heat but hates the cold. If your area drops into the low 30s, this grass is not for you!'
a seating area in a front yard
So what maintenance does it require? 'I've had it for almost 1 year and never mowed it,' Ben says. 'It will continue to grow and the mounds will get larger slowly over time. I may have to scalp it down the road if it gets too high, but I don't see that coming for years.' It's a win for a low maintenance garden if it suits your climate.
Zoysia grass plugs
Quantity: 50Price: $44.99Should I have seating in my front yard?
a seating area in a front yard
There's a definite trend towards making front yards more sociable that we've spotted here at Livingetc, and Ben agrees. 'I definitely think front yard social spaces are trending,' he says. 'I think it started during the pandemic when people were home more. Homeowners began to re-evaluate how they used their spaces and they wanted to use every inch of space and that included their front yards.'
Outing seating in this front yard design that made sense for Ben and Erin's lifestyle, and as a way to enjoy the Californian weather more. 'We are outdoor, social people by nature, so the idea of more gathering areas was a no brainer for us,' Erin explains. 'We also have a small home with two very social teens, so outside spaces give them room to spread out and not trample through the house.'
'We also liked the idea of a transition down into a fire pit seating area where we could hang with neighbors and our teens could hang with their rowdy friends (and not be in our tiny house),' she adds. 'Curb appeal is great but nothing's better than actually using and sharing your yard with family and friends.'A modern planting scheme
a tree next to a front door
Part of the charm of this front yard is in its plant selection, and how it feels like an undeniably green space, but not overly formal. 'We were inspired by Aussie landscapes but wanted to give it a California Coastal twist, Ben tells me. 'We chose a monochromatic green palette with lots of texture.'
This texture includes the likes of Pittosporum golf balls and agaves pto provide structure, while softer grasses like lomandra and miscanthus morning light grasses bring movement to the front yard landscaping. 'Even though we were looking for a monochrome palette, Max added a touch of color with the Leucospermum high golds,' Ben says. 'And I'm glad he did! The yellow pincushion blooms are a gorgeous addition come spring and I now use them in a lot of my softscape designs.'
Ben also added some feature plants he'd always lusted after since becoming a landscape designer. 'We installed three large Jubaea wine palms and some rare cycads as feature plants,' he says. 'Only plant nerds truly appreciate how cool these are. It's my little landscaper flex.'
Leucospermum High Gold
Size: 0.7 gallonPrice: $79.99Creating curb appeal
the front of a stylish house and front yard
However, this front yard's looks aren't neglected from the sidewalk, and the landscaping incorporates an upgrade to the home's overall curb appeal.
'Other than our zoysia grass, the fence and address monument are our most asked about yard features,' Ben says. The privacy fence is unstained cedar 2" x 2" pickets on a 2" steel frame and is only 4.5' at its highest point. 'It adds so much dimension and curb appeal to the space without being overbearing,' Ben explains.
'The address monument was all Max's idea,' Ben adds. 'We wanted something substantial and cool at the entry and this was it! It's a poured in place board formed concrete wall. We went vertical with the boards to mimic the siding on the house.'
'We really leaned into the coastal design theme and added an Ipe wood deck for the anding area. It's a nice transition to make you feel like you've arrived! We left the wood unstained so it will age into a cool, driftwood color.'
It's the perfect combination of materials that sets off the entire design beautifully.
Does Landscaping Increase Home Value?
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The Main Problems In Landscape Design — And How To Avoid Them
The Main Problems in Landscape Design — And How to Avoid ThemHyperlane Linear Sky Park / ASPECT Studios. Image © Bing Lu Share Facebook Twitter Mail Pinterest Whatsapp Or https://www.Archdaily.Com/988422/the-main-problems-in-landscape-design-and-how-to-avoid-them "COPY" Copy
Far beyond its decorative features, landscaping brings with it biological and cultural issues that need to be addressed in projects. However, what can be seen in most public, residential, condominium, commercial and business gardens is a series of approaches that distance landscaping from all its attributes, reducing it to a decorative layer in the construction. Next, we have put together strategies to avoid the main problems of landscape design, joining aesthetics with its environmental and cultural possibilities.
According to Ricardo Cardim, in his book Paisagismo Sustentável para o Brasil (Sustainable Landscaping for Brazil), "the usual landscaping in contemporary Brazil is, in general, devoid of major environmental and functional concerns". He also states that the landscaping market, involving both the projects and the sale of ornamental plants, follows a fad that results in "gardens disconnected from local natural, urban and cultural realities, offering limited ecosystem services and few possibilities of use by people". Therefore, the garden, whether public or private, whose imagery is connected with the idea of a refuge in the midst of routine, a place for rest, appreciation and health, often goes unnoticed by people or becomes an image to be appreciated instead of a space to be occupied and lived.Sóller Park / BARRIO PERAIRE Arquitectes. Image © Adrià Goula
The planned and designed garden needs to be connected at different scales. First, the gardens have the potential to be a space that has ecosystem services, which are benefits obtained from ecosystems that generate human well-being, which have been degraded due to the contemporary urbanization process. A garden can connect with the local fauna and flora, responding to its natural biome, bringing benefits both to the surroundings and to its users. In addition, the gardens also represent an opportunity to experience local nature, learning about seasonality, climate, fauna and flora, reestablishing the connection between human beings and nature, which was lost in the urban environment. Finally, gardens are a space for people to use, promoting leisure and self-care activities that bring benefits to society's physical and psychological health.
However, as stated by Cardim in his book, there are some design strategies that need to be outlined so that gardens can reach their full potential. Here are four issues to keep in mind when it comes to landscape design:Studying the Natural Environment
The native flora of each location is the result of thousands of years of evolution of Planet Earth, responding to topography, climate, humidity, seasonality and many other natural aspects. Landscaping projects, however, resist studying the natural environment and the original species of each biome, often falling into the ease of purchasing the species available on the market without much reflection on the impact that this can cause, resulting in projects lacking cohesion with the local natural landscape. Gardens, often disconnected from the native flora, combine plants from the most different biomes, climates and regions of the planet, even if almost imperceptibly, as in the case of "tropical gardens" which, from their density and remarkable diversity, end up using invasive species from other regions with similar characteristics. Aesthetics must not overlap with biological demands and definitions.The Bobrowisko Nature Enclave / 55Architekci . Image © Kamil Bańkowski Seek Species Diversity
A selection of palm trees, in addition to other supporting species that have similar characteristics and a few more shrubs, arranged on a grass plane. These gardens filled with exotic plants are arid settings, with no biodiversity, and with almost no ecological role. According to Ricardo Cardim, the landscaping market reproduces landscape compositions around the world based on the repetition of 15 species from the global market for ornamental plants, which results in entire neighborhoods with a continuous and monotonous landscape. This homogenization of urban flora creates regions considered "green deserts", in which invasive species impact the natural environment, causing environmental damage and also cultural identity damage.Jardim Paulistano Penthouse / Gabriella Ornaghi Arquitetura da Paisagem. Image © Rodrigo Bordigoni Understanding Dry Squares and Gardens
The modern dry square continues to be reproduced in cities as much as it is adapted for buildings, creating low-density, uniform gardens with entire surfaces of stones and gravel, facilitating maintenance and with almost no interference in the building. The problem with this practice lies in knowing how to read the place and understand if its needs and natural characteristics allow the existence of this type of space, considering not only the landscape, but also its use. The same happens for the use of xeriscaping strategies, a methodology that intends to reduce the water consumption of the designed garden. Both of them start from arid places with low insolation, which justifies these strategies, while in tropical regions where both the average rainfall and insolation are higher, it is not necessary to apply the same solutions, running the risk of having a result that pushes people away and prevents them from enjoying the garden.Azatlyk, Central Square of Naberezhnye Chelny / DROM. Image © Evgeny Evgrafov Balancing Decorative Strategies
Contemporary landscaping is often based on strategies that seek to reproduce impressions of the imagination of the past, such as the use of species with saturated colors, or even topiary techniques, which is the pruning of trees and shrubs creating geometric shapes or animals. These two strategies refer to European noble gardens, especially the French ones, and are linked to wealth and power. Likewise, another strategy is to reproduce themed gardens inspired by other cultures. All these decorative strategies use mainly non-native species in their configuration, in addition to detaching people from the true local natural environment.Landscaping Restaurant Origin 75 / Alexandre Furcolin Paisagismo . Image © Evelyn Muller
Therefore, landscaping has great potential if, during the project, the local natural geography is recognized. The study of possible species to be implanted, with priority to natural species, the critical look at the ornamental plant market and, finally, the recognition of possible parties are necessary actions to design gardens made to be used, not just to be seen.
Reference: CARDIM, Ricardo 2022. Paisagismo Sustentável para o Brasil: Integrando natureza e humanidade no século XXI.
Editor's Note: This article was originally published on September 08, 2022