Dear Homework,
My husband and I recently moved to a classic ’70s ranch in Creve Coeur. We’ve trimmed the interior down so we can figure out direction there, but the front of the house needs more than a trim. The overgrown shrubs are hiding a handsome home. I really want window boxes; they’re so easy to maintain on a ranch. The front door, circle drive and lawn are begging for attention, too. Help!

—Time for a Trim


Dear Time for a Trim,
To begin with, the bushes in front of your garage wing are obviously out of control. I suggest starting over with the landscaping close to the house. Keep things low and trimmed with a few well-placed, vertical, evergreen accents. On long, low ranch houses, tall bushes make the house look even lower and longer (if they don’t hide it completely as they do here.)

The window boxes you desire will work fine here. From the photos you sent, I’d guess the façade gets good sun, so I would suggest planting the boxes with bright red geraniums.

You mention the idea of improving the circle driveway. I would suggest creating a wider drop-off area near the front door, with a surface of pavers. I would further highlight this area with a low brick wall topped with a clipped evergreen hedge and corner brick piers with luxuriously planted urns. This will make this section of the façade look taller from the downhill approach. Then, make sure to buy good hedge clippers!

Thanks for the educational example,

Homework is penned by Paul Doerner, Founding Partner of the Lawrence Group. If you would like your home critiqued, contact us at