Yard & Garden
Plants in the Foreground Even though they’re not on the porch itself, the plants you include in the landscape leading toward your front door can have a big impact on how your porch looks and feels. From the street, colorful plantings draw the eye — and for those sitting on the porch, a screen of plants provides a bit of privacy and a lovely view.
Seasonal Blooms Picking out seasonal flowers to adorn a porch is one of life’s great little pleasures. Whether you fill a window box or pot, aim to refresh your planter at least three times each year: in spring, summer and fall. Don’t want the hassle of maintaining a planter? Bring a vase of freshly cut flowers onto the porch to enjoy.
Tuck a pergola against the house. Installed against the back wall of the house, this pergola transforms a small paved area into something magical. The yard faces south, so Kate Eyre of Kate Eyre Garden Design built the pergola in this sheltered spot and trained evergreen jasmine over it to provide dappled shade. Although this is, admittedly, part of a larger landscape design, it shows how you can turn a small seating area into a feature in its own right with a support for climbing plants and decorative lanterns
Screen for privacy. Nothing ruins the feeling of a secret hideaway like being able to see straight into a neighbor’s house from your seating nook. Increase privacy by using fencing, walls or strategic planting to cover at least two sides of a nook. Bamboo is a great choice for small gardens in need of quick cover. The plant grows faster than almost any other, and its skinny, upright form doesn’t take up too much floor space in a small area. To avoid bamboo spreading by underground runners — which will make you no friend of your neighbors — choose a clumping bamboo variety like ‘Golden Goddess’ (Bambusa multiplex ‘Golden Goddess’).
Create a romantic entrance. Nothing quite sets the stage for an intimate seating nook like passing through some type of alluring, perhaps partially hidden, entrance. Set that secret garden tone early on, and set the space apart from the rest of the garden by using a garden gate or an archway that’s dripping in vines.
Break up a larger garden into smaller nooks. This technique, a bit counterintuitively, works well even in small gardens and narrow city lots. By interrupting how far you can see across a yard, one’s eye is tricked into thinking the space is bigger than it is. The screening itself, whether you’re using fencing, walls or hedges, provides a perfect opportunity for nestling in a seating arrangement. Here, the designer used wood slat screens running laterally across the lot to selectively interfere with how far you can see and carve out multiple nooks for seating.
Electronic Soil Tester
To finish a dry-stacedk stone wall, large, heavy stones, which extend across the width of the wall (capstones), can be placed on top to help hold the wall together and prevent moisture from entering from above. By doing so, the wall is less likely to be damaged by the expansion and contraction that happens naturally during freeze-thaw cycles. Shown: A dry-stacked Fond du Lac ledgestone wall
For both freestanding walls and retaining walls, it’s necessary to dig a trench about 6 to 12 inches below grade and 2 to 3 inches wider than the base of the wall. Next, a heavy layer of crushed stone is laid to level the foundation trench. Once the trench is level, large stones are placed at the base, followed by stones stacked like bricks in a one-over-two, two-over-one pattern, ensuring that each joint or break is crossed. Tip: Be sure the foundation is cut into native soil, not bedding soil, to prevent any sinking or shifting and to help increase the longevity of the wall.