Privacy and Parking

With help from a landscape designer, Tom Johnson and Barbara Chasnoff of Park Ridge, Illinois, were able to gain some privacy and space for parking by replacing their do-nothing front lawn.

Challenge: "Originally, the house stood out like a big gray shoe box," recalls Chasnoff. The couple wanted it to blend more with the surroundings. They also needed parking space because the house had no driveway, forcing guests to park on the busy street. Some buffering from that busy street and low maintenance were other top priorities. "We like to spend time outdoors, but we're not gardeners," says Chasnoff.

Solution: Landscape designer Tim Thoelecke of Garden Concepts in Glenview, Illinois, put every inch of the 23-foot-deep site to work. He eliminated the lawn and concrete walk and replaced them with an 11-foot-wide U-shaped driveway. "Now, people can park off the street, and they don't have to back out into heavy traffic," Thoelecke says. The dry-laid interlocking concrete pavers provide an easy-care surface compared with the lawn they replaced.

Thoelecke replaced the original foundation planting — a single row of clipped shrubs pressed against the house — with deep planting beds for a generous look more in scale with the house.

New plantings are simple, but hard-working. Amelanchier shrubs, shown here in spring flower, look good all year. Flowers are followed in early summer by purplish berries, and colorful fall foliage drops to reveal a striking silhouette in winter. The amelanchiers combine with lower-growing evergreens, ornamental grasses, and flowering bulbs to soften the transition from the house to the ground.

A planting bed by the sidewalk includes a bench and creates a sense of enclosure. In summer, ornamental grasses planted behind the bench grow tall enough to screen it from the street. "I frequently sit out on the bench or the front stoop simply to enjoy the yard," says Chasnoff.

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