Garden Designers' Roundtable: First Impressions

In the course of my work as a landscape professional I've logged first-time visits to hundreds and hundreds of properties.  The thing that always strikes me first about a landscape is:  Is it well maintained?  I don't care what design style it's in or how clever it is - after all, that's why I'm there.  But if the existing gardens are overrun with weeds, the shrubs are overgrown and encroaching on "tripper" walkways, and the lawn is unmown and half dead, then I'm pretty sure I'm wasting my time in presenting them with fancy new design ideas.  (Time to switch into garden coach mode!)  So regardless of the size of your house or the zip code it's located in, here is the best way to build "curb appeal" . . .

Step #1 in creating a great first impression:
Show that your property is valuable because it's worthy of your care and attention.  Maintenance first!

Notice how the terraced slopes in the next two examples eliminate hard-to-maintain grass slopes and bring colorful plantings into public view: 

by Jocelyn H Chilvers

Step #2 in creating a first impression:
Show that your house is valuable by creating a landscape structure that complements its architecture and / or eco-region.

A traditional walled courtyard enhances the Southwestern style architecture.

Elegant serpentine walls in native flagstone match the tone of the 1900 era home. Design by Ivy Street Design Group

A xeric garden of diverse plantings is an engaging lawn-free landscape.

Lush, colorful, welcoming and xeric (that's a buffalo grass lawn) - perfect for our region.

Step #3 in creating a great first impression:
Show that your house is a home by creating a landscape that expresses your personality.

Exuberantly colorful!
A colorful cottage garden complements the homeowners' aesthetic. Design by Jocelyn H Chilvers

A crisp, modern design works surprisingly well with an old bungalow.

A more rustic and earthy (yet attractive!) take on the cottage garden style.

Obviously a lover of our native prairie/foothills region!

A big, floriferous, xeric garden sets the scale for a large home. Design by Jocelyn H. Chilvers
I hope these examples have shown you that large or small, simple or complex, there are many ways create a landscape that says, "Welcome!"
For more great ideas on the topic of "First Impressions" please visit the Garden Designers' Roundtable or click through to the following: 
Lesley Hegarty & Robert Webber : Hegarty Webber Partnership : Bristol, UK
Debbie Roberts : A Garden of Possibilities : Stamford, CT
Susan Morrison : Blue Planet Garden Blog : East Bay, CA
Christina Salwitz : Personal Garden Coach : Renton, WA
Shirley Bovshow : Eden Makers : Los Angeles, CA

Note:  with a few exceptions, the designers of these landscapes are unknown to me. Please let me know if I can give credit where it is due!

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