Before: An Exterior Makeover

Photograph provided by Garden Search & Rescue

Our homes are our spaces, and our yards should be an extension. Loving your yard is something everyone should do whether it’s from the window while you wash dishes or when you wander from your parked car to the front door. Many of us have more diverse intentions or requests from our taxable green space, but there is a way to make this a reality on any budget for any size yard. Sometimes all we need is a place to land.

The decision for an entire exterior makeover was not one that took long to make, but it wasn’t on the client’s to-do list. The interior of this spacious and family-friendly home was a great fit to the new owners, but, sadly, the yard was not. Our initial meeting was called because the clients wanted to plant a tree. They desired a more functional yard for learning, growing, and gathering, and felt that privacy would bring that. I wholeheartedly agreed, but not with their approach.

One quick tour of the yard and my list was long: the fence was rotting and in serious disarray, the siding was washed out, the trim was chipping and pealing, there were sizeable water issues that led to much foundation and basement concerns, and the kids space (the trampoline) sat literally right on top of the only patio space available. Not to mention the new family dog needed a space he could both share and demolish with dog-like behavior.

A few questions in it became apparent the family wanted much more out of this yard. The kids needed play space, the adults dreamed of a place to relax, and the daughter had a lengthy list of flowers and food she wanted to grow. I saw the need for a quiet space for morning coffee all the way to a comfortable place to entertain guests at the grill. Being in such proximity to schools and bus lines, the home always has some people traffic, and we agreed we all wanted to see a more secluded area while providing an open and inviting feel to all whom entered, including those who just strolled past.

The home is situated on a corner, and the layout of the usable green space spread around the home in roughly a U shape. This provided varied areas of shade and sun, and also left some gaps in how the flow of the yard went—things like no path from the front door to anywhere in the yard.

The property had several understory trees that were of healthy size and the client had already visited the nursery many times the season before, so we had lots of existing things to work with. New to the home, the clients wanted to create something they could enjoy and that was equally highly desirable when they wanted to sell. Budget concerns were always present, but as an investment, this particular case was made special as the clients agreed to take out a small home equity loan to behoove the overall property. We found it was a challenge to sort out what needed attention the most and discovered quickly that the clients would be happiest if they could enjoy it in the short term instead of budgeting for the long term.

We started work on a chilly April morning and things happened fast. I assumed the position of designer and overall planner while my team at Garden Search & Rescue helped with construction preparations and landscape maintenance. Qual Line Fence tore down and replaced the old fence, assisting with a specially designed gate and some screens for privacy outside the kitchen window.

Jason Higbie with Higbie Perfection Painting started immediately on the repair and painting of the siding and trim, and John Leonard of Star Valley Landscape tore out the old patio and brought in the heavy equipment. We chose a new house color, trim color, patio stone, layout, and more. We expanded the fence line and built retaining walls where needed. We fixed grade, alleviated the water issues, and designed a unique gate. We built a new back deck and structure for the patio with Bob Matty of The Madison Handyman. The summer was long and muddy, but the results were stunning, and all the neighbors agreed it was needed. By August, we were delivering furniture and decorating with planters.

A garden takes time to grow, and plans take time to complete, but starting with a vision is always needed. At Garden Search & Rescue, we believe all yards can be great for you, and we’re happy to help you get there. The after edition of this transformation will print later in 2018.

Karina Mae is the owner/designer at Garden Search & Rescue.

Photographs provided by Garden Search & Rescue.

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