How to Keep Kids Safe Around Pools and Spas


Implement several layers of security to prevent life-threatening accidents in and around the pool


Here’s a sobering statistic: Nearly 400 children under the age of 15 drown in pools and spas every year — about one every day. Of those, 300 are under the age of 5. And 87 percent of those fatalities occur at residential pools and spas. 

This is according to Ellyn Pollack, campaign leader for Pool Safely, a public education campaign run by the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) that works to reduce child drownings and other incidents in swimming pools and spas. “Drowning is the leading cause of unintentional death for 1- to 4-year-olds, and every one of them is preventable,” she says.

But it’s not just about knowing how to swim. Some of those incidents involve a capable swimmer who’s become entrapped by a pool drain. What’s more, there have been about 60 deaths from electrocutions and 50 serious shocks in and around swimming pools since 1990, according to the CPSC. 

The best way to prevent accidents is to implement multiple layers of protection: adult supervision, safety barriers, door and pool alarms, regular inspections, and training like swim lessons and CPR. If you own a pool or spa, or are thinking of building one, here’s what you can do to keep your kids — or your relative’s or neighbor’s kids — safe.

Traditional Pool by Woodburn & Company Landscape Architecture, LLC

Woodburn & Co. Landscape Architecture, LLC

Teach Kids to Swim

We often think of swimming as good exercise for children or a fun way to pass the summer. But the real benefit is that it can save their lives. Kids who don’t know how to swim have a 70 percent higher chance of drowning, Pollack says. “Also, it’s important that if a child is missing, the pool or spa is the first place to check,” she says.

Designate a Water Watcher

No safety measure should be considered a replacement for adult supervision. Pollack recommends that people designate one adult to be solely responsible for watching kids in swimming pools and spas. “Not someone who is texting or reading,” she says. You can order a free water watcher badge and lanyard through the Pool Safely website. “Give an adult the badge and have them work in 15- or 30-minute shifts, then pass it along to another adult,” she says.

Also know that drowning is not like in the movies. “There’s no splashing and calling for help,” Pollack says. “Kids go down quickly and silently.” 

Contemporary  by All-Safe Pool Fence & Covers

All-Safe Pool Fence & Covers

Implement Barriers and Other Safety Measures

Even if you don’t have kids, it’s recommended, and in many jurisdictions required, that you still provide some sort of barrier around your pool, whether it’s a fence or safety net. You never know when your friends might bring their kids over to swim or a neighborhood kid decides to wander over to check out your pool. 

Fences. Removable fences are the most common safety barrier for swimming pools, says Reed Hauge of All-Safe Pool Fence & Covers. Fences come in a variety of styles and materials, but they should be at least 4 feet high (5 feet is better) and nonclimbable; the gate should be self-closing and self-latching, and it should swing away from the pool so that kids aren’t able to push it open if it fails to latch.


by Baby Guard Pool Fence of Bradenton

Baby Guard Pool Fence of Bradenton

Fences should be see-through, such as chain-link, wrought iron or glass, and they shouldn’t have any footholds or niches that kids can use to climb over. 

Jackie Barrera is with D&D Technologies, a company that makes magnetic safety gate latches and gate alarms for pools. The company was one of the founding fathers, so to speak, of the National Drowning Prevention Alliance, which works with Pool Safely and other outreach programs to spread awareness on pool safety measures. 

Barrera says that, because every state and local jurisdiction has different regulations, if any, on pool safety for things like barriers, the responsibility often falls on the homeowner to be educated on what can and should be done to keep kids safe around pools, and to make sure that the products they’re buying are in line with regulations. “I think it’s a reality, and we see a lot of news where homeowners are prosecuted because a neighborhood kid drowns in their pool and they didn’t know what the pool codes were,” she says. 


Eclectic Pool by StyleGuard Systems

StyleGuard Systems

You don’t have to skimp on style when it comes to pool barriers. Glass lets you keep views to your surrounding landscape intact.


Contemporary Pool by Apex Landscapes & Pools

Apex Landscape  & Pools

It’s hard to imagine this backyard with a wrought iron fence around the pool.


Traditional Landscape by Randy Thueme Design Inc. - Landscape Architecture

Randy Thueme Design, Inc.

Here, Randy Thueme created an artful second line of defense with acrylic bubble rods. These support the main, code-compliant barrier of an automatic pool cover. 


Pros of fence barriers: Fences don’t need to be taken down to use your pool and put back up after you’re done. Once they’re up, you just walk through the gate. Installation usually takes only one day. 

Cons: They can cut into valuable space in yards and pool decks. “Fences work better for large back yards,” Hauge says. Some people find them aesthetically unpleasing because they can block views to surrounding landscaping.

Cost: Fences cost $1,500 to $2,500, depending on size and material.

by Katchakid


Safety nets and mesh covers. These have come into use in the past 15 years or so, Hauge says, and work by securing a net or mesh cover to anchors around your pool. They require a little time to put on and take off, so they’re better for people who use their pool or spa less often.

Pros of nets and mesh covers: Installation takes only a day. Some people find them a bit more aesthetically pleasing than fences because they visually impact the surrounding landscape less, though they do obscure the views of the water.

Cons: Nets and mesh covers are a bit physically demanding since it takes about 10 to 15 minutes to fasten a net over a pool, which entails walking around the pool’s perimeter and bending down 40 to 50 times to clip a portion of the net into anchors that have been drilled into the hardscaping material. Hauge says that he’s often asked what the safest option is. “There is no good answer to that,” he says. “They all have pros and cons. Safety nets — you can’t get over it, under it or through it, so it’s the safest option. But if it isn’t on the pool, it offers no protection.” 

Cost: Nets are $1,500 to $2,500, depending on size; mesh covers are $2,500 to $4,500.

Traditional  by All-Safe Pool Fence & Covers

All-Safe Pool Fence & Covers

Automatic pool covers. “Automatic pool covers are the easiest to use but the most expensive,” Hauge says. These covers are designed and built to the specific dimensions of your pool, and operate by the touch of a button.

Modern Pool by The Garden Route Company

The Garden Route Company

The automatic cover shown here on a San Francisco pool was mounted under the pool coping on a steel track and added about $20,000 to the pool installation cost. 

Pros of automatic pool covers: They’re the easiest to use. Just press a button, and the cover opens or closes. 

Cons: They are expensive and take four to six weeks to manufacture, though installation is usually done in just one day.

Cost: Automatic covers are $6,000 and up, depending on size, configuration and features.

Modern  by Guardian Pool Fence Systems

Guardian Pool Fence Systems

Door alarms. It’s recommended that even if you have a fence, safety net or automatic cover, you should still get an alarm for any door leading to your pool area. This is especially important if your house acts as the fourth side to the barrier surrounding your pool. 

These alarms should have a distinct sound, Pollack says, that’s different from other door alarms in your home, the doorbell or telephone. That way, you’ll know immediately when the pool door has been opened. 

Also, don’t forget about pet doors. Curious kids can easily slip through the openings, and some local jurisdictions require that doors leading to pool areas not have pet doors.

Pool alarms. Another type of alarm is the pool alarm. These detect waves or movement in the water so you know when something — or someone, rather — has fallen in.

Modern Pool by Frameless Impressions

Frameless Impressions

Update Pool Drain Covers 

Drain entrapment and electrical shorts are also serious concerns. 

The Pool Safely campaign was established as part of the Virginia Graeme Baker Pool and Safety Act (VGB), named for the seven-year-old daughter of Nancy and James Baker IV, the son of former Secretary of State James Baker III. Virginia Graeme drowned after becoming stuck in a hot tub drain, despite being a member of her community swim and diving team. Nancy Baker was unable to pull her daughter from the drain. Two men eventually pulled her off the drain, braking the drain in the process, but it was too late. 

After that, Baker advocated for pool and spa safety, and eventually lobbied Congress to pass a law requiring anti-entrapment drain covers and other safety devices. 

Beach Style Pool by Siemasko + Verbridge

Siemasko & Verbridge

If you move into a home with a pool or are installing one, it’s important that you check to make sure that the drains are anti-entrapment and compliant with VGB. These are mandatory in public pools, and some local jurisdictions also make them mandatory in residential pools, though regulation occurs at the local level, Pollack says. In other words, there’s a chance that your pool drains — even if they’re new — aren’t compliant with VGB.

If they aren’t, replacing them isn’t too expensive, and you don’t even have to drain the pool. “Suction from drains can be strong enough to hold an adult underwater,” Pollack says. “So it’s a nominal investment that can save a life.”

She also recommends inspecting drain covers regularly to make sure that they aren’t broken or missing. And it’s worth educating kids to not swim near them or play with them.

Traditional Pool by FS Landscaping Contractors, Inc.

FS Landscaping Contractors, Inc.

Get Your Pool Inspected Regularly 

You should have your pool inspected at least once a year by a licensed pool inspector, Pollack says, to ensure that drain covers are functioning properly and that lights in the pool aren’t posing any danger of electrical shock, which can lead to death by electrocution. 

There have been 60 electrocutions and nearly 50 serious shocks in and around swimming pools since 1990, according to the CPSC. Some have occurred during attempted rescues because the rescuer didn’t know about the electrical hazards. Wet surfaces such as grass or pool decks can even cause electrocution. 

Pool equipment (pumps, filters, vacuums), lights, power or extension cords, overhead power lines, electrical outlets, radios, stereos and TVs are all sources of electricity around pools and spas, according to the CPSC.

Beach Style Pool by Bayon Gardens

Bayon Gardens

If you’re in a swimming pool, signs that you’re experiencing an electrical shock include feeling a tingling sensation, experiencing muscle cramps or not being able to move. If you’re supervising swimmers, you may see unsettled or panicked behavior by others in the water, one or more motionless swimmers, or underwater lights not working properly, such as flickering or on when they shouldn’t be. 

If you think you’re being shocked, the CPSC recommends that you move away from the source of the shock. Get out of the water but avoid using a metal ladder if one is present.

If you think someone is experiencing a shock, immediately turn off all power. Call or have someone call 911. The American Red Cross says you can also use a fiberglass shepherd’s rescue hook.  

Learn CPR

Knowing what to do should you find an unresponsive child or adult in a swimming pool or spa can be a life-or-death scenario. And while CPR generally is a good skill to have, if you’re a pool or spa owner, it’s vital. It’s another layer you can implement in addition to barriers, covers and alarms to help save a life. “You don’t know which method is going to work until it does,” Pollack says.


By Mitchell Parket –  May 28, 2016


Posted on June 22, 2016 at 6:49 pm
Jana Ace R Wunderlich | Category: Yard & Garden Tips

5 Tricks to Rejuvenate a Run-Down Patio on the Cheap


Sitting inside because your patio is oh so shabby?  

These super-easy projects will make hanging outside fun again.




















Oh, your poor, sad patio. Not a comfy seat to be had, and that cracked concrete … well, it probably looked really great when disco was king. If a lackluster patio is keeping you from enjoying your outdoor space, it’s time to change things up.

Whether you love to entertain friends or bask in the sun with a cocktail and a novel, here are five easy ways to inject new life into your very own corner of nature.

1. Ditch the Rust But Not the Furniture

Lounging on your patio, cocktail in hand, requires something to lounge on. But if that secondhand chaise you bought post-college is covered in rust, you’re not going to be relaxing on it in your summer whites anytime soon. But replacing it is expensive — and a waste! Give it a rust-busting makeover, instead.

There are several ways to remove corrosion. If the damage isn’t too extensive, the job can be as simple as scraping it off. Use a wire brush, sandpaper, or steel wool — and a bit of elbow grease — to scour it away. For less effort, use a drill with a wire brush attachment. For more extensive rust issues, you can use an acidic agent like vinegar to help with the removal. Or use a chemical rust converter (such as Rust-Oleum), which actually changes the rust into a different substance and protects against future rusting, adding years to your chaise’s lifespan.

Paint over the treated spot and that chaise will be right back to its glory days and ready for you in your white shorts.

2. Stop the Pests that Make Your Patio Look Untidy

It’s hard to enjoy your patio if it’s covered in yard debris scattered by the wind or by critters with a penchant for digging and trampling. Stop critters with the humble pine cone — instead of regular mulch.

Pests and mischievous pets will be less inclined to trod around and dig holes in a sea of spiny cones. As an added bonus, pine cones acidify the soil, making show-stopper plants like azaleas and rhododendrons happy. They also decompose slowly, so you won’t be constantly re-upping your supply — saving you time. The best part? In most parts of the country, you can easily find them for free.

3. Pop Some Color on that Ancient Concrete

Rejuvenate that dilapidated patio with color in a can. Try painting it a bold, bright color or a fun pattern, like chevron. You can also mimic the appearance of upscale stone patios with just a bit of paint and some stamps.

“There are great, colorful designs that will liven up the area and and cover up the bland concrete,” says Keith Sacks, vice president of the landscaping company Rubber Mulch. If you want to let your creative juices flow, try mimicking a carpet or even a game board, such as Twister. At the very least, a new coat of concrete stain will give that tired concrete a fresh look.

4. Conquer the Clutter

If a dumpy layer of clutter and scattered pots make your patio look sad, consider adding DIY storage to keep all of your outdoor whatnots neat and tidy. “Storage can be as important outdoors as it is indoors,” says Sacks.

One of his favorite solutions is super easy and fun. Simply paint wooden crates (about $10 each) to match your patio (or try a bright, fun, contrasting color) and add a sealant to weatherproof the wood. Arrange them to create attractive, rustic storage. Glue the crates together and attach wheels to the bottom if you want to be able to move it around.

5. Build a Fire Pit — No Tools Needed

Sometimes the best way to distract from a patio that needs some love is by drawing attention to a feature that does nothing but delight. A mini fire pit can serve as an arresting visual focal point while adding more fun and function to your patio.

Creating your own outdoor s’more-making oasis doesn’t have to take much time or money. Try DIY blog Young House Love’s super-cheap, pint-sized pit, which requires only heat-resistant pavers (also called fire bricks), which cost about $5 per stone. Stack two layers of them in a small circle about six bricks in circumference on top of a stone slab, and there you have it: a mini fire pit. Make sure your patio is constructed with fire-safe materials before attempting this project (sorry, wooden deck lovers!) and that you follow local fire codes.

Who knew such a mini project could rekindle your love for home’s outdoor space? Time to grab a few marshmallows and start to enjoy it again.


writer and editor with a focus on home improvement and design.  

Posted on May 23, 2016 at 5:30 pm
Jana Ace R Wunderlich | Category: Yard & Garden Tips

10 Compact Decks, Patios and Porches for Making Memories


From Florida to Hawaii, homeowners show how they capitalize on their small outdoor spaces

An enjoyable outdoor living space comes down to creating a memorable experience, regardless of square footage. From a soaking tub under the stars to a high-rise vegetable garden, these 10 compact outside areas show how good things don’t always come in big packages.

Houzzer Patios

1. Taste of Marrakech
Location: Los Angeles
Size: 150 square feet 

Majorelle Garden, Yves Saint Laurent’s tropical retreat in Marrakech, Morocco, inspired Carrie Hayward's patio in L.A.’s Windsor Square neighborhood. Working with landscape designer Laura Morton, she transformed an uninviting apartment balcony into a Mediterranean oasis in Southern California. 

Moroccan light fixtures, a custom-tiled tabletop and easy-care Mediterranean plants fill out the patio’s corners, provide the homeowners with fresh fruit, and screen unsightly views. “In the end, not only did we get an extra room, but we improved the view and atmosphere of the two rooms that look out on the patio,” Hayward says. “We try to eat dinner out there most nights from spring through fall, and we love to entertain guests there too.”


Deck by Melanie Rekola Landscape Design

Melanie Rekola Landscape Design

2. Lush and Drought-Tolerant Deck
Southern Ontario, Canada
Size: 168 square feet 

Landscape designer Melanie Rekola's former backyard in southern Ontario may have been tight on square footage, but it wasn’t short on plant life. “Small spaces can indeed be lush,” she says. “I grew lots of herbs and vegetables in pots there too, plus shrubs and grasses in pots.”

To add privacy and block intense summer sun, Rekola built a wood-framed screen and packed it tightly with saplings. A verdant living wall filled with a variety of sedum species contrasted with the screen and contributed to Rekola’s enjoyment of the space. “Having the lush plants all around made it always feel cool, even in the hot sun, as the plants absorb some of the heat,” she says. An irrigation system kept the green wall watered, although it didn’t require too much. “It was quite drought-tolerant,” she says.


Houzzer Patios

3. Sunny Porch for Edibles
Size: 72 square feet 

On a ninth-floor balcony of a Minneapolis high-rise, Jenny Lipscomb grows tomatoes, peppers, kale and chard, among other edibles, and she even has a birdbath. “Birds come to swim in the little bath, and I have a ton of growing space,” she says. 

New composite decking, multiple seating areas and plantings along the railing create an outdoor oasis in the middle of the city. To maximize the limited square footage, an Ikea banquette doubles as storage, and a long planter next to the railing maintains a narrow footprint while keeping the soil from drying out as quickly as it would in individual pots. “My neighbors all thought I was nuts out there with my power tools for a weekend, but now everyone is doing the same flooring to cover the ugly, cold concrete,” she says.


Contemporary Landscape by Jay Sifford Garden Design

Jay Sifford Garden Design

4. Monochromatic Harmony
Location: Charlotte, North Carolina
Size: 70 square feet 

Landscape designer Jay Sifford designed this walled courtyard for a Charlotte townhouse with limited outdoor square footage located next to a street. “I went with a fairly monochromatic color scheme to make the space seem more harmonious and built up,” Sifford says. He stained the concrete patio a medium gray, and used Mexican beach pebbles to conceal conceal the yard’s slope and frame the patio. Potted Japanese maples flank the water feature and soften the perimeter wall.


Houzzer Patios

5. Soak Under the Stars
San Francisco
Size: 200 square feet 

Ruth Krumbhaar lives with her family in an 850-square-foot house in San Francisco’s Telegraph Hill neighborhood. “The master bath is small, so it only has a shower, and we wanted a place to soak,” she says. A small private deck off the living room offered the perfect spot. “We love having a soak at night with a glass of wine while looking up at the stars — or fog. It’s also a great way to get kids to bathe as they find the outdoor aspect of it fun.”

Resilient Trex decking integrates with the home’s interior wood floors, and an elegant bamboo planting and custom fence add interest and privacy. Builder John Steadman collaborated on the redwood fence’s design and construction, as he did with the rest of the project.


Houzzer Patios

6. Downtown Seclusion
Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada
Size: 244 square feet 

“Our townhouse is quite small, so we really liked the idea of having an outdoor living room that is very comfortable and private,” says Michael Rumsby of his downtown Vancouver home. A wood screen blocks the view to a high-rise and bicycle shop, and palm and maple trees shield the patio from surrounding buildings. A comfy sectional sofa that Rumsby has slept on during warm summer nights rounds out the space. “My close encounter with a raccoon ended that practice for me,” he says. Orange and teal accents carry through to the house.


Houzzer Patios

7. Relaxing Nook in Paradise
Location: Waikoloa Village, Hawaii 
Size: 253 square feet 

Terry and Jay Paulson may already live in paradise, but their deck on Hawaii’s Big Island provides them with a private spot to sit, relax and read after a long day. Made of long-lasting ipe wood, it abuts a flamed-finished granite spa deep enough for swimming. Vincas and other tropical plants surround the homeowners in their intimate oasis. “Of course, it’s great in daytime,” Jay says, “but in the evening, we’ve got those remote-controlled Costco candles, the tiki torches and dedicated speakers for the music.”

Jay built the side table between the two chaise longues, putting it on casters so that it can move around the deck. It stores towels and a propane tank for the grill, and has an acid-washed galvanized steel top and corrugated galvanized steel sides.


Houzzer Patios

8. Morning Meditation Space 
Location: Sarasota, Florida
Size: 144 square feet 

Maurina Rachuba retreats to this enclosed patio off her master bathroom to meditate every morning. The bold blue wall and tropical plantings evoke Morocco and Greece, and provide distinction from an otherwise neutral home. “We decided to make it as lush and colorful as we wanted to contrast with the interior as a happy little surprise for us alone,” she says. 

In addition to providing a calming place for the homeowners to relax in the morning, the private patio also features a retractable clothesline for them to air-dry their clothes. Rachuba purchased the metal gears at a vintage shop and decided to hang them on the patio because they resembled small suns. 


Houzzer Patios

9. Secret Patio for Sipping
Location: Dallas
Size: 192 square feet 

Tom Morrow and Jens Mielke’s narrow side yard in Dallas leads to a small patio for lounging and drinking iced tea. The iron fence protects them from the street while still providing visibility, and a fountain repurposed from the backyard softens the sounds coming from the road. 

Privet and Japanese boxwood provide structure around the patio, and ivy, Knock Out roses, gardenia, jasmine and dwarf azaleas fill in. “Our young niece calls it her secret garden, and we agree,” Morrow says.


Porch Back Yard (in-progress)

10. A Little Goes a Long Way
Size: 72 square feet 

With a new hammock, drapes and a grill on the way, Lauren Zemp can now take advantage of her deck off the dining room. Evee, shown here, appreciates the shade these new curtains provide. Pocket doors separate the dining room from the rest of the house, so Zemp often leaves the French doors to the porch open. “While entertaining and grilling outside, we can use both the porch and dining room effectively as outdoor space, without worrying about bugs invading the rest of the home,” she says. 

“Solar string lights keep the space bright and colorful, even at night.” 


Annie Thornton – Houzz Editorial Staff    May 20, 2016


Posted on May 22, 2016 at 7:30 pm
Jana Ace R Wunderlich | Category: Yard & Garden Tips

Drought-Resistant Blooms for Year-Round Curb Appeal

Plant Palmer’s Indian mallow for velvety foliage, long-lasting orange flowers and an abundance of wildlife benefits

Sun-loving Palmer’s Indian mallow (Abutilon palmeri) dazzles with nearly year-round blooms and requires very little water once established. With golden orange flowers, velvety green foliage and striking red stems, this attractive shrub looks great as a single specimen or en masse. The flower nectar feeds butterflies and hummingbirds, and sculptural dried seedpods make great forage for songbirds. It’s a win-win plant for wildlife and people.


Landscape by Oakley Gardens


Botanical name: Abutilon palmeri
Common names: Palmer’s Indian mallow, Indian mallow, flowering maple
Origin: Deserts of California, Arizona and northern Mexico; adjacent Peninsular Ranges
Where it will grow: Frost tender; may tolerate temperatures down to 25 degrees Fahrenheit, USDA zones 9b and higher
Water requirement: Drought-tolerant to occasional water 

Landscape by Oakley Gardens

Light requirement: Full sun
Mature size: 4 to 5 feet tall and wide

Benefits and tolerances: This plant, originally from desert areas, thrives in full sun and can tolerate hot temperatures in a variety of soil types, including clay. Once it is established (usually after the first year), it is considered drought-tolerant and looks lush with a minimal amount of water.

Seasonal interest: Palmer’s Indian mallow flowers roughly March through October, tapering off in the winter. Its red stems stand out when the intricate seedpods dry.

When to plant: This desert plant may be planted almost year-round. Hot areas like Southern California should plant it in the cool season (late October through February) to utilize winter rains and cooler temperatures during its establishment period.

Landscape by Oakley Gardens

Distinguishing traits. Delicate, lantern-shaped golden orange flowers open and close with the rising and setting of the sun. Large heart-shaped leaves are fuzzy and delightful to touch, and striking red stems make this plant a pleasure to prune. The dried fruits appearing late summer through fall are sculptural seedpods that feed several bird species and make for beautiful ikebana, the Japanese art of flower arrangement.

Shown: Palmer’s Indian mallow grows next to Mexican bush sage (Salvia leucantha).

Landscape by Oakley Gardens

How to use it. Plant it in a hot, sunny spot in your garden and prune for desired shape in the fall. Palmer’s Indian mallow is gorgeous planted in masses and drifts in larger garden spaces where afternoon light dances in its velvety light green leaves. It’s also an excellent container plant, thriving in a medium to large container with a potting mix for cactuses and succulents.

Planting notes. This shrub grows fast and is worth starting from a 1-gallon pot (Southwest gardeners should check their local native plant nursery). If the conditions are right in your garden, Palmer’s Indian mallow may reseed, and you can transplant young seedlings to desired locations. 

Prune spent flower stalks — called deadheading — to encourage more blooms. Prune for shape and remove spent flower stalks during the cooler winter months.

By: Margaret Oakley Otto – Contributor   May 3, 2016

(Photos courtesy of Oakley Gardens)

Posted on May 4, 2016 at 5:30 pm
Jana Ace R Wunderlich | Category: Yard & Garden Tips

Front-Yard Makeover Ideas With Mojo

Make a statement in your front landscape with one of these standout styles:

If you really want to make an impression on visitors to your home, don’t just play at improving your front garden — really make it shine. These front-yard ideas in a variety of styles — cottage, formal, minimalist and natural — will make you look at your home in a whole new way.

Traditional Exterior by Semken Landscaping

Cottage Style

A garden doesn’t have to be high-maintenance to make a statement, as shown by this one in Melbourne, Australia. Designed by Chris Gursansky of Semken Landscaping, this beauty combines neat lawns and low hedges with splashes of cottage-style color. 

Tip: Use climbing roses to frame a front porch or over a gated archway.

Traditional Landscape by Denise Dering Design

Denise Dering Design

 Your cottage-style front garden needn’t be restricted to behind the fence. Along the outside of this front fence, a ‘Mary Rose’ David Austin rose provides height and fragrance, while golden creeping Jenny (Lysimachia nummularia ‘Aurea’) and ‘May Night’ salvia (Salvia nemorosa ‘May Night’) form the lower tier. Stick to two or three colors or varieties of plants for a big effect.


Traditional Landscape by Denise Dering Design

Denise Dering Design

Hydrangeas and daisies are just as striking if a blue-and-white palette is more your style.


Contemporary Landscape by Secret Gardens

Secret Gardens


If you don’t mind getting out the hedge clippers once a month or so, low hedges framing simple garden beds and paved areas can give any house classic elegance (and will probably boost its market value). Don’t let the maintenance deter you: Keeping hedges neat and uniform can be quite therapeutic and satisfying.

Traditional Exterior by Whetstone Windows & Doors

Whetstone Windows & Doors

Add a water feature or two with lighting, and your formal front garden will become a standout. 

Tip: Symmetry is everything in a formal garden. What you do to one side of the yard should be duplicated on the other.


Contemporary Landscape by Formation Landscapes Pty Ltd

Formation Landscapes Pty Ltd


With pared-back interiors all the rage, gardens are following suit with minimalist styles (and minimal maintenance). A wide paved pathway sets the tone here, while a cluster of birch trees prevents it from looking too bare.

Tip: Plant mondo grass between pavers to make maintenance a breeze — no lawn mowing or edging required.

Contemporary Landscape by C.O.S Design

C.O.S Design

A front garden doesn’t get much more contemporary than this, and it’s the perfect fit for a similarly striking home. There’s no front fence separating it from the street and, apart from a few easy-care plantings, this home’s impact comes from its minimalism. The driveway has been laid with a charcoal-hued exposed aggregate concrete; raven granite strips add interest. 

Contemporary Landscape by C.O.S Design

C.O.S Design

The front yard comes to life at night with the help of well-placed lighting. An illuminated house number will show your guests the way. 

Traditional Exterior by Dig Design

Dig Design

A similar minimalist approach can be used on a more traditional-style house with just as much success. An exposed aggregate concrete driveway with bluestone border transforms this front garden, and an automatic sliding gate makes life easier.


Midcentury Exterior by Ana Williamson Architect

Ana Williamson Architect


Soft native grasses can provide terrific textural contrast against a contemporary home, and they’re drought-tolerant and low-maintenance to boot.


Victorian Exterior by Coy Yiontis Architects

Coy Yiontis Architects

 Combining native grasses with pebbled rather than paved areas in your front garden allows rainwater to permeate the soil rather than run off. That’s good news for the local environment and eliminates the need for lawn mowing.

Contemporary Exterior by Mondo Landscapes

Mondo Landscapes

Native plants needn’t look wild and unrestrained. Streamlined native plantings perfectly complement the contemporary architectural style of this home in Perth, Australia.

Contemporary Landscape by LD TOTAL


This native haven in Karrinyup, Australia, was designed to make the most of the bushland views surrounding the home. The low-lying native plants create a seamless transition between the two spaces, allowing the owners to feel immersed in the native surroundings. The garden is water-wise and low-maintenance but still provides color and texture year-round.   Australia Contributor Joanna Tovia – April 18, 2016 

Posted on April 20, 2016 at 5:43 pm
Jana Ace R Wunderlich | Category: Yard & Garden Tips