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The Casa Project! Part 1: How to Design the Front Yard of Your Dreams

After 15-plus years of landscaping, we're finally renovating our own yard!

Back Story

The small biz owner time struggle had us putting the project off for years! Ben and I had purchased our small Oceanside home just after we were married, and while our son Sam was only 6 months old. At the time, Ben was still a partner with his cousin's landscape company. This was just before the Great Recession of ’08. As soon as that hit, we knew we had to put our yard renovation dreams on hold.

Fast forward almost 15 (embarrassing) years later. Our kids are now teenagers, and Ben and I have since branched out on our own to create Fredrickson Landscape. We’ve been in the industry for 10+ years now and our business is thriving. We finally gained the success and knowledge needed to undertake the yard reno we had dreamed of all those years ago!! Here’s what our process looked like so that you can get an idea of the steps needed for your dream renovation!

The Yard

The Before

In the beginning, our front yard was as basic as ever with large, boring shrubs that needed constant pruning, a thirsty grassy area that needed constant mowing, and not one but two large trees that blocked our front entry and limited natural light from coming into our home. We had a large Magnolia tree with an invasive root system that was pulling up the concrete in all directions and was consistently dropping its leaves everywhere. It was a mess.

But every cloud has a silver lining! The bonus to our basic yard was the size! We had a corner lot that came with a bonus of a relatively large side yard. With this, we knew we could get creative. (Spoiler: we did! ;)) In addition, the yard was slightly elevated from the street which provided an advantage as elevation changes in landscapes are a bonus that gives a yard depth and dimension. Two things that we love for landscape design!

The House

We knew if we were going to tackle the front yard, the house would need some updating as well. We didn’t want our gorgeous new yard details to completely outshine certain aspects of the house. Certain features of the home would need to balance out the new landscape.

Creating unity between a home and its outdoor landscape is an important factor to remember when designing any space. For us, we were going for an Australian coastal plant palette (more on that later), which meant we wanted the style and colors of our home to feel cohesive with such a palette, while still allowing the foliage to pop.

To that end, we replaced our outdated windows and installed new vertical siding to give our home a modern coastal vibe. We debated whether to go dark or light with the paint color. When it came down to it, we went with Benjamin Moore Simply White paint. We knew we wanted to go big on the landscape, and the white paint choice was the perfect backdrop for all the gorgeous plant material as it really let the plants shine.

Determining our Design Needs

Ben and I knew that renovating our dated yard would be no small feat. We had years to really wrap our heads around exactly how we wanted to use our yard. A few of our key must-haves included:

  • More usable space (our interior is tiny so gathering spots are key)

  • More privacy (we’re a corner house)

  • A larger driveway (why were driveways so small in the 80s?!)

  • A defined entryway

We're trained to see the potential in every yard. Can you see it?

At Fredrickson Landscape, we offer several design packages. Most of our clients opt for our on-site design package. This package is perfect for clients with yards where “the bones” (aka hardscape) are already in place, but simply need finishing elements like plant design, finish material selections, and lighting.

With the on-site design package, clients approve a plant palette and trust the expertise of the designer to lay it all out organically on install day. With its low hourly rate and design flexibility, most people opt for this accessible package.

For us, we were starting from scratch and had hardscape needs as well as softscape. Because of this, we knew we needed to reach out to one of our designers to put it on paper and get the details and measurements just right.

The Perfect Match

We have several designers that we like to work with (all with their own specialties) but knew that Max Vedder at Vedder Land Design was the perfect match for this project. Max is known for his modern landscapes that are not only beautiful but inject a sense of fun into any yard. His fun, beautiful designs encourage spending time outside which we’re obviously big fans of. Not to mention, Max is an all-around cool dude that could easily understand our vision and translate it with his own signature twist.

Our next blog will cover our meeting with Max and how we prepared so that he was clear on our needs and vision. In it, we’ll explore all the questions and items you should have ready when meeting your designer and start your landscape project.

If you’re ready to start your own dream renovation project and are curious which design package is right for you, contact us today! We would love to help you determine which landscape plan is right for you!


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