A Low-Maintenance Modern Grass Garden

Services|Design & Install, Garden Care
  • The Site

    A new construction, rocky site in full sun to light shade.

  • The Task

    After hiring us to redo their back garden, the client called on us again to plant a sweeping low-maintenance garden to complement the modern-style new house.

This was our second job for Matt Hall and Krista Brucker at their new-construction home. We had previously done their back garden, packing in as much color as possible, softening a garage with a wire trellis, and working in a food garden. Matt enjoys gardening in the back, but this project was going to be different. Matt and Krista are busy professionals with a very young son, so the top priorities in the front were low-maintenance plantings that suited the modernity of the house.

Before
Before
After
After

While the back garden had been a blank slate, in the front we actually had to fix a few existing issues. The shrubs put in immediately after construction were too close to the house and unsuited to the tough soil, and the very narrow beds did little to tie the house to the landscape. We were able to save the existing burning bush and boxwood by moving them to empty spots off the alley. Using jackhammers to break up construction-compacted soil, we deepened the beds and worked in compost to lighten the texture. We picked tough grasses and evergreen shrubs to ensure the garden looks great in all four seasons—and that it can handle the very alkaline soil. The grasses will grow in to look like a short field of wheat, while the chartreuse false cypress and the greeny-yellow winter color of the dogwood stems play off the yellow of the front door.

Juniperus scoparium
Juniperus scoparium
Panicum virgatum
Panicum virgatum
Cornus alba
Cornus alba
Picea abies nidiformis
Picea abies nidiformis
Pennisetum alopecuroides
Pennisetum alopecuroides
Chamaecyparis pisifera
Chamaecyparis pisifera
Juniperus Scoparium
Juniperus Scoparium
Previous
Next

Once established, this front garden will only require an annual cut back on the grasses and pruning of the dogwood and lilac—about as low maintenance as it gets. While we initially handled the maintenance on this garden, realizing the minimal time commitment, Matt has taken over the annual cut back and mulching. The space has now become a simple and inviting compliment to their modern home.