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Gardening, Lawn Maintenance, and Landscaping Articles written by Kim Lewey

Ideas for Enhancing the
Outdoor Beauty of Your Home

Part One of a Three Part Series1, written by Kim Lewey


The last two years have been challenging for many individuals and businesses, especially small businesses. As a result, many homeowners had to make hard choices regarding the landscaping and lawn maintenance of their personal and rental residential properties. They may have purchased a lawn mower and maintained their own lawn, or decided not to replenish mulch or pinestraw. Or, they delayed an outdoor beautification project. Regardless of your own personal situation, there are signs that many homeowners are ready to once again pay attention to their neglected lawns. It may have been at least two years since you last provided a little “TLC” other than very basic maintenance, so where do you start?

There are several directions you can go. If you know you want to make improvements to the outdoor beauty of your home, you may want to consider a landscape design. You could contract a landscape architect to design a scaled architectural design of your turf and natural areas. They will then either provide an estimate of service cost or refer you to a landscape professional. This is typically an immediate out-of-pocket expense, regardless of the direction you take with the improvements. Another option is to discuss your goals with a landscape professional and ask for a simple landscape design, commonly known as a thumbnail sketch that is not to scale. The fees may be much less, or waived, if the services are provided by the professional that provided the design. Either option affords the homeowner a plan where the service cost can be budgeted over time.

You may have no interest in having a landscape design plan. You may want some “quick fixes” to freshen up your landscape. Spraying or hand-pulling the weeds in your shrubbery beds and installing new mulch or pinestraw may be enough to give your yard a facelift. Add some summer or fall annuals, and you now have additional color to your landscape. If you want a quick fix in the fall, you might address the turf area by aerating, seeding, and fertilizing your lawn if your grass is fescue or other cool season grass. Following up with at least one more application in the fall and two applications of pre-emergent in the late winter & early spring will produce new grass and fend off weeds like crabgrass and chickweed before they germinate.3

Additional ideas that might be more expensive are adding or changing plant material in the natural areas or increasing the natural areas where there is poor turf growth1. You may also want to consider replacing your turf by replacing the grass with new sod. While this option is a quick fix, it can be very expensive so make sure the landscape professional is knowledgeable about warm and cool season grasses. If you have very sunny or “hot” areas where cool season grass like Fescue does not grow well, and you do not want to naturalize the area, you may want to consider a warm season grass like Bermuda. Its pricing is comparable to Fescue and requires less maintenance. It is, however, dormant in the Triangle winter, so it will turn brown. Two winter pre-emergent applications will help control weeds later2 and once it “greens” in the spring, it only needs to be mowed once a month.

Other beautification projects include stone stack walls to enhance your plant beds and trees1 and stepping stones or brick walkways. Cascading waterfalls are another dramatic landscape effect and outdoor ornamental lighting provides a beautiful evening backdrop for your home.

Occasionally, a landscape design and/or professional is needed to provide drainage solutions. It may involve trenching or a retaining wall to divert water4. Another water solution to enhance existing turf and natural areas may be the installation of an irrigation system to combat dry weather. City or town watering requirements or your home’s well water can limit your usage, so determine its intrinsic value first.

Whatever direction you elect to go, many options are available to help enhance the outdoor beauty of your home. Whether you elect to have a landscape design or an “a la carte” list of individual projects, think about what is important to you. If you enjoy spending time on your porch reading a book or enjoying a beverage with your significant other, consider the aesthetic beauty as relaxation therapy. If you have children or pets, consider how “healthy” grass feels to your bare feet while you’re enjoying a game of tag or hide and seek. Then, take the steps with a “do-it-yourself” project or contract a landscape professional to achieve the results that are important!

1Three-part Series – Part 2 “Creating Beauty with Plants” in September 2010;
      Part 3 “Selecting the Best Lawn Care Professional for You” in November 2010
2Additional detail will be provided in Part 2 of this series.
3This topic will be covered in detail in the January 2011 Boom! Triangle issue.
4This topic will be covered in detail in the March 2011 Boom! Triangle issue.

Reprinted with permission from Boom! Magazine, July 2010