Trying to Find Some Light

Dear Homework,
We’ve loved our Tudor revival in Pasadena Hills for the 20 years that we’ve lived here. Because of its orientation and surrounding mature trees, our front yard is very shaded, making it hard to grow plants and grass. Despite trimming, the holly bushes flanking the front door are overgrown and probably should go. Also, the extreme slope of the lawn makes it very hard to maintain, but what sort of retaining wall would work with the architecture?

—Trying to Find Some Light

Dear Trying to Find Some Light,
I think we can take some of your problems and turn them into assets. First, by adding an asymmetrical brick retaining wall with a spill of exposed aggregate steps, we can eliminate the problematic slope while adding a measure of architectural refinement to the home’s composition. I would complement the new walls with some planting space along the sidewalk to soften it a bit.

For the landscape changes, replace the zoysia with the groundcover Baltic Ivy, which should grow well in the shade. The overgrown holly bushes completely hide the facade’s most dramatic feature and need to be removed. I would then place three upright evergreens to the left of the entry to ‘distance’ the facade from the neighboring home. I would keep the existing boxwoods or replace them with hollies, which we know grow well in this location. A row of bright red impatiens will also thrive in the shade.

Finally, some additional architectural details pull the picture together. Striped canvas awnings bring needed interest to the second level. A new, large coach lamp provides detail to the left of the entry, while a large stone flower urn adds some color to the retaining wall. A new carriage style door gives some charm to the front entry garage. Hopefully these changes will help your property shine, even in the shade.

Hope that helps,

Homework is penned by Paul Doerner, Founding Partner of the Lawrence Group. if you would like your home critiqued, contact us at homework@townandstyle.com.


Skip to toolbar