AFTER: Create a Hidden Patio
This industrious homeowner created a shaded patio in his side yard. Made from salvaged slate tiles and accented with garage-sale finds, the new patio is a perfect private getaway filled with personal style.
Why it works: Using salvaged finds, such old bowling balls and dumbbell weights, offers lots of personality without costing a lot of money.
The long, narrow space made it tough to create one seating area, so the homeowner created two "mini rooms" -- with seating options at the front and the back of the space. Hint: Use a screen, such as tall container gardens, to help separate spaces feel even more like distinct rooms.
Mixing paving materials is an effective way to make an impact. Here, stone chips transition to pea gravel, which transition to flagstone. Hint: You can do the same with any materials -- from bricks to gravel to stone and even concrete pavers.
AFTER: A Lush, Low-Care Planting
This corner not only looks better, but the plantings also help save energy by shading the air conditioner for part of the day.
Why it works: Low-care plantings look great and don't take up a lot of time. This planting incorporates tough plants such as daffodils, switchgrass, blue caryopteris, blue fescue, and purple-leaf Joe Pye weed. While beautiful, they're also relatively deer-resistant choices. Hint: Look for native plants to help make your plantings lower maintenance. Plants from your region usually hold up better to pest and disease problems, as well as weather extremes.
A simple color scheme makes this garden feel planned out and easy on the eye. Silver and blue foliage from lamb's ears and the grasses create a cool note that's accented by the blue caryopteris and dwarf butterfly bush.
AFTER: An Exceptional Backyard
These Midwestern homeowners weren't afraid of a challenge -- and their progress certainly shows it! They filled their yard with character, including a small water feature at the back and a handy patio right off the back of the house.
Why it works: A big patio creates outdoor living space, which adds resale value to the home and makes the back yard more comfortable. Hint: When designing a patio, keep in mind convenience; the closer to your back or side door, the better.
A variety of evergreens provides year-round privacy (and act as windbreaks). Hint: Mixing evergreens and including selections with different needle colors (such as golden or blue varieties) or plant shapes (such as columnar or weeping) creates a rich, complex background.
The small water feature next to the patio adds a lot of ambiance. The sound of running water makes any spot feel more relaxing. Hint: A water feature is also a great way to attract birds to your garden. Their songs add another layer of pleasant background sound.
AFTER: Beautiful Terrace
AFTER: Lush Planting
AFTER: Plentiful Plantings
The toughest part of this makeover was getting rid of the big, old evergreens. From there, the yard became a fresh slate for a mix of stones, boulders, and easy-care plants.
Why it works: The landscape feels lighter and more open thanks to the silvery-blue foliage of ornamental grasses and perennials. Hint: Don't forget to add plants, such as ornamental grasses, that look great in winter.
A raised berm to the left of the front door gives the landscape more contours and creates interest. And by raising the plantings up, it also helps decrease street noise.
A new pair of redbud trees in the front yard will eventually grow up to provide more privacy. But the trees' small stature will keep them from overwhelming the house. Hint: When you plant trees, keep a sense of scale in mind. A giant tree next to a one-story house will make the house seem even smaller.
AFTER: A Pretty Patio
AFTER: A Cool Outdoor Retreat
This multistep project created lots of living opportunities -- and less mowing. Though it was a big project, it definitely paid off -- not just making the yard more comfortable, but also adding resale value to the home.
Why it works: Moving the patio away from the hot walls made the space more comfy. Adding a pergola created even more shade and privacy. Hint: Creating a ceiling or walls with an outdoor-friendly fabric will give you more privacy and shade if your patio is in a sunny, exposed area.
Plantings around the patio and pergola help soften it and create visual interest. Hint: Using fragrant plants will add extra appeal to your borders.
Installing an outdoor fireplace gives your outdoor living spot even more versatility. It can help take the chill from cool nights, create perfect ambiance, and give you more outdoor cooking options (we can't resist roasting marshmallows over an open flame).
AFTER: Patio Perfect for a Family Dinner
AFTER: Beautiful Front Entry
AFTER: Beautiful Backdrop
Out went an old mulberry whose roots were pushing up against this home's foundation. It opened the door for this lush planting.
Why it works: The curved edge of the bed softens the 90-degree angle of the corner and creates more visual interest. Hint: Unless you have a formal, geometric garden, incorporate curves as much as you can in your landscape design. They're typically much more pleasing to the eye than straight lines.
A series of easy, colorful plants including mums, pansies, spiraea, and purple smokebush makes this border a knockout. It's another great example of how foliage color and texture can be just as pretty as flowers. In winter, red-twig dogwood, a dwarf mugo pine, junipers, and ornamental grasses add texture (and a place for birds to hang out).
A tree-form smokebush in a big pot creates a dramatic focal point. Hint: Use containers in beds and borders. They're perfect for being able to swap out color in an instant -- and move to fill in any bare spots.
AFTER: No-Mow Slope
It's a big project, but you can do the same thing without feeling overwhelmed by making it a multiyear project. We love the result: a lot less work (no more weekly trips up and down with the lawn mower) and a lot more beauty.
Why it works: This front yard planting is filled with plants that look good in all seasons to create an ever-changing display. Hint: Autumn and winter can be tough seasons to plant for; look for fall-blooming perennials and small shrubs and trees with great fall foliage to get through autumn. Look for small evergreens, grasses, and plants with interesting habits (such as corkscrew willow) for winter good looks.
This planting also takes advantage of color to create extra impact. The contrasting purple-and-chartreuse color theme looks great and personalizes the garden. Hint: To create extra impact, look for colors that will accent your house colors.
A thick layer of mulch makes maintenance easy; it keeps weeds at bay and reduces the need for watering. Hint: Another great slope solution is to plant densely; tight plantings help hold the soil so it isn't washed down the hill.
AFTER: An Eye-Catching Landscape
It didn't take long to spice up the yard. This homeowner added a wider bed around his crabapple and filled it with colorful perennials that stay showy spring to fall.
Why it works: The free-flowing bed in the front yard looks great from all angles -- which is especially important because this house is on a corner lot. Hint: Don't forget the way your garden will look from inside your house. It should look just as good -- if not better -- from your windows as it does to the rest of the world.
A small retaining wall breaks up the slope, giving the yard a little extra oomph. Hint: Whenever you can add contours, such as berms, or break up a slope with a wall like this, you add lots of extra interest.
Stone edging around the bed matches the wall and gives the planting a finished look. Hint: Using edging around your beds will keep the lawn from creeping in -- so you won't have to constantly spend time pulling the turf out.
Original article and pictures take http://www.bhg.com/gardening/landscaping-projects/landscape-plans/great-garden-makeover-ideas/?sssdmh=dm17.526645&esrc=nwgn051911&email=2631301104#page=11&imagenumber=2 site