Sari and Hannu’s Garden Design Story: The Redesigning of a Japanese-style Front Yard
They often say, 'the yard renovation is challenging to start and easy to postpone,' and I fully understand. If you don't have a clear vision and steps to follow, it takes time and a gut to start making even the slightest changes. And that often leads to taking two steps forward and one step back.
However, it doesn't need to be so. Having a clear vision of the desired result will make starting easy and guide you along the way during the renovation project.
My numerous garden consultation clients say the same. When the goal and steps are clear, they feel confident and motivated to renovate their yards Then you know that everything you do will move the project forward and towards the desired result, your work becomes more focused, and you start enjoying the process.
There Are Many Reasons Why Yard Renovation Might Be Necessary
Changes may occur in life situations, the site, or its surroundings, like in Sari (I know, we share the same first name) and Hannu's front yard, where they removed two overgrown spruces growing between their and their neighbor's front yards.
I met Sari in May in their front yard. She explained the initial situation: "We did the last bigger yard renovation in 2006, and at that time, a friend of ours, who is a garden designer, helped us with the planning. Last fall, two huge spruces with drooping branches, which had been the basis of the previous design, were felled from the front yard. The look of the whole front yard changed after the trees had gone, and now it's time to update."
The front yard BEFORE the redesign
Why Did Sari And Hannu Want a Garden Consultation?
When considering renovating their front yard, Sari decided she didn't want to waste time. "We wanted an expert to look at our front yard with fresh eyes and new ideas without longing for the old one. On the other hand, however, we hoped we could save certain elements that still work," she says.
The Elements of the Front Yard Design
We began our consultation session in full sunshine, but as you can see in the photo below, we also got some rain and a surprising snowfall. When bursting with ideas and inspiration, they didn't stop us. We drew the new lines of the front yard in the snow and marked the planting areas in place. We discussed the different aspects of the yard and decided which elements we would keep and which should go.
Things to keep:
- The Japanese-style theme would stay, and
- we decided to emphasize the stone lantern, bench, and a small evergreen already in the front yard.
Problems: In addition to being pretty bare, the front yard was also quite flat, and it needed some height differences and lots of vegetation and texture to look charming.
For adding the height differences, we visioned an evergreen hedge between front yards and a raised planting area with lush ferns in the corner.
For texture, we planned evergreen conifers, stones, and coarse gravel to give an extra layer of texture and structure.
As for planting, we chose a combination of evergreen and deciduous ground covering perennials, shrubs, and conifers that would make the area easy to maintain and look great from spring to fall.
Front Yard Consultation Meeting
During the consultation, we created a clear vision of the new yard and how to implement it. We went through the needed plants, materials, construction, and maintenance. My client took precise notes and sketched the yard on paper, adding the strategic measurements we had taken.
"Sari could see our front yard with fresh eyes and create an exciting vision for our tiny space. The new plan feels like our own in terms of plant selection and atmosphere, but it's still completely new," says my design client about their new plan.
"The collaboration was uncomplicated and comfortable, even though it snowed during the consultation in May," said Sari. It was a pleasure to plan together!
Finished in One Month!
Based on her notes, Sari thought she could begin the garden implementation with her husband when they had time in the summer.
However, she had got so inspired that she started to build the garden with her husband almost immediately, and already in June, they sent me photos of their renewed front yard. It was great to see the completed Japanese-style front yard we envisioned during our consultation meeting!
Front yard about a month AFTER the consultation Photos © Sari Lahtinen
Choosing Plants for the Front Yard
We have been sending messages with Sari after the completion of their front yard. She messaged me that the planting had gotten a great start, and the planting looked so abundant already.
Choosing plants suitable for the site is essential to get them to:
- settle down quickly,
- look beautiful, and
- prevent weeds from growing in planting areas.
Did you notice how effectively the vegetation already covers the ground?
Front yard about 2.5 months AFTER the consultation and about 1 month after completion.
The Joys of Yard Renovation
I am happy to add here the list sent by Sari of a few things that she and her husband especially like in their new front yard:
- The existing elements, such as the stepping-stone path, the Japanese-style lantern, bench, and the small evergreen look as if they were planned just for this new yard
- Building a raised planting area created height differences and made the space more interesting
- The existing gravel and stones were tidied up and reused on site
- The plant choices (conifers, ground-covering perennials, shrubs, and conifers) are suitable for the site and easy to maintain
Renovating the yard: 'Before' and 'After'
I always recommend my clients take lots of photos during the renovation process. Later, it's easy to forget how the area looked previously and how much you have accomplished.
It was great to see the beautiful transformation of this front yard. Thank you, Sari and Hannu, for sharing it with us!
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