Winter Planning

Winter landscapes, Planning your landscape, planning your landscape in winter, Lehigh Valley, PA, Allentown, PA., Bethlehem, PA.
Take a good look at your landscape in winter to see if you are happy with what you see. If not, now is the time to plan for the change in spring.

If you are one of those people that mourn the end of the gardening season, here’s some good news.  Just because plants go dormant in winter, doesn’t mean that people have to do the same.   Planning is such a very important part of winter.  With the bones of the landscape exposed, you can see what’s out of balance and where you need to make some changes.  You might want to add more structure to the garden either with hardscape or plants with structure and form.  You want to make sure that if you can view that part of your landscape in the winter, that there is enough evergreen or winter interest such as berries, ornamental grasses, or beautiful branch structure.  It’s a great time to take a step back and see if you are happy with your landscape.  If not, now is the time to plan and then make adjustments in the spring.

In the winter you can see what sight lines you want to view and which you might want to screen with evergreens.  Often times there are borrowed views of neighbor’s properties that are quite attractive but if not, you might consider creating your own little oasis as an escape from the world.  In that case, you would want to create a screen with fencing or plant material so you can have your own privacy.

When people hire me in the winter to do a design, they are not competing with all the many phone calls, emails, and job sites to visit.  They have my undivided attention to work on their design.  I do get cabin fever for all the green leaves to start growing again and so I get the most inspired because I am so anxious for everything to come back to life.

What does your landscape need?  Think about it now, don’t wait for spring so you are ready to go!

Suggestions for Updating Your Curb Appeal


Lehigh Valley, PA., Allentown, PA, Bethlehem, PA, curb appeal, front of house landscaping.
Curb appeal with the finished garden

You can see the difference new plants and path can make in the curb appeal of a home. 

* Create an entry path that’s wide enough for two people to walk side by side to get to the door.  Four feet is a good target dimension.

*Choose evergreen plants for your foundation because our winters are long.  Green should be used as a permanent color to support the foundation.

*Confirm the mature size of the trees.  Make sure they don’t overwhelm the house in later years.  This is especially true in planting evergreen trees in the front of your house.

*Plant deciduous trees on the south side to help cool the house in the summer and reduce air conditioning costs.

*Plant evergreen trees on the northwest of the house to block cold winter winds and reduce heating costs. 

*Create beds away from the house’s foundation to frame the house.  This creates dimension and develops views into the house that are much more appealing than an empty lawn.

*Use the architecture of your house to guide your choices for shapes of beds, plants, and any features you may add.

*Use any grade changes for their advantage and not to your landscape’s detriment.

*Consider the addition of low voltage lighting to beautify a landscape at night when most people are home to enjoy it.  Accent major trees or specimen plantings.  Night lighting also provides great security as well!

*Design the space (the shape of the paving and beds) using all of the elements and principles of good design.

Curb Appeal, Front of House Landscaping, Old sheared yews removal, New front of house look, Landscaping, Entry Garden, Entry gardens, Allentown, Pa, Bethlehem, PA, Emmaus, PA , Macungie, PA
The before illustrates a standard foundation planting from the 1950’s.

If you have sheared yews or anything that needs to be sheared so that it doesn’t grow over the windows, it’s time to redo and update your curb appeal.


How to Go From Outdated to WOW!

Entry garden, Outdoor entry, outdoor foyer, front of house landscaping, landscape, Bethlehem, PA., Allentown, PA,
This new space creates a new area to relax as well as adds value or curb appeal to the front of this home on the way to the front door.

What makes a landscape look outdated?  The number one reason is plants sheared in various shapes to prevent them from growing over windows or eating your house.  Many new homeowners install plants along their foundation when they initially move iinto their home.  They haven’t studied varieties,k cultivars, and selections enough to understand how big some plants can grow as they mature.  They see plants they like in the garden center or nursery and think they would look nice.

When plants are inexpensive and large in the garden center, it’s generally because they grow fast.  For that reason, these are poor choices for use along foundations.  Still, many “landscapers” use them because when these monsters are installed they produce a finished look with minimal expense.

Putting any plant in the ground is beneficial for the future of the planet and the continuing education of our children, but it is very important to put the right plant in the correct place.  It’s inconvenient and expensive to move a plant when it’s overgrown its place.

Entry garden, Outdoor entry, front of house landscape, landscaping, Allentown, PA, Bethehem, PA, Center Valley, PA
These old tired shrubs did nothing to enhance the front of this home, especially because they were sheared so they didn’t grow over the windows.
The new architecturally designed paving area creates a sitting area for use as well as the path to the front door in the far corner.

Every Window is a Picture

When you look out your windows, do you have beautiful views to enjoy? Can you watch the birds getting their seeds and berries, the butterflies flitting around? If not, you are not taking full advantage of the property where you live and either pay taxes or rent to be there.

In order to create beautiful views, unless you have a lovely long distance view that is off your own property, take advantage of making your own work for you. I believe that if you live in a neighborhood or subdivision, you should create your own private space. You wouldn’t want your neighbor to be standing in front of your kitchen window looking in on your family but yet, if you have no beautiful borders to view, you are inviting your neighbors to view your life when you are outdoors!

If you have a small property, fences with vines and some of the new vertical gardening are a good option to give you beautiful views. Even in the front of your house, you can create beautiful borders at the edge of the property that allow you to enjoy lovely views from your windows but do not block out the street by using a combination of trees and lower plant material. By creating a front border, you not only enhance your view but you create depth to your property so it is not just grass up to a strip of foundation planting. Your house is much more attractive with this approach.

Waterfall, Water feature, ponds, natural water features, naturalistic plantings, waterfalls, stream bed, every window is a picture, views of your landsacpe, garden views
Wouldn’t you like to have this view out your window? If you have outdoor space, you can have a beautiful view.