As you're planning for an urban garden for your historic brick home, it’s quite charming to choose classic landscaping plants. Some homeowners may prefer a historically-accurate garden that is an exact match to what it would have looked like in the time that their home was first built. Another option is to combine plants that were popular in different time periods, enabling you to achieve the look you desire, while still maintaining a harmonious balance between historical accuracy and modern curb appeal.
Create a Beautiful and Inviting Outdoor Space
No matter the size of your front yard, you can make a big impact with your landscaping. Having completed your spring inspection and tuckpointing, it's time to shift your attention to high-impact, vibrant flower beds for your urban garden.
A combination of carefully chosen perennials and eye-catching annuals will instantly elevate your home to a whole new level. Just be careful to avoid plants that can cause damage to your historic brick home, such as climbing ivy, and do not plant anything too close to the foundation of your house.
How Do I Plan for a Historic Urban Garden?
A historically accurate urban garden largely depends on the style of your home and the era in which it was built. This may mean you get to do some fun research about your home, which will enable you to become a modern steward of its historic integrity. However, if the plants from your home’s era don’t excite you, you can easily borrow from similar eras and still achieve a cohesive look. The most sensible plan is to choose plants that typically grow well and thrive in your area, as long as they suit your tastes.
Reinterpreting Historic Urban Gardens for Modern Tastes
First, examine the hardscaping features of your historic urban garden. For example, retaining walls are the perfect spot over which classic hardy roses can ramble. Raised brick planters provide an excellent opportunity for draping phloxes and stunning annuals with their pops of color.
Next, consider your brick color. Holding paint chips against the wall will give you a more objective view of your home’s true color. Many orange bricks have a red undertone, while many red bricks have blue, or even purple, undertones. Ascertaining the tones of your home’s brick doesn’t mean you must feel obligated to stick to one color, but you’ll be aware of which colors will harmonize best with your historic brick, and can make your floral choices accordingly.
Although many images of classic historic gardens show highly manicured symmetrical designs, they are difficult to maintain, and not always appropriate to the historic urban brick home. You can still achieve a symmetrical look with more relaxed and easy-to-care-for options.
Bring on the Color!
You can incorporate traditional topiary shapes with naturally rounded or squared shrubs like pyracomeles or boxwood. Tropical plants, such as many varieties of ferns, and even focal point palms, such as Majesty Palms or Dracaena can fit in nicely and offer a backdrop of tropical green to other, more colorful annuals.
Dahlias, roses, petunias and geraniums are all at home nestled into your garden, and since they are available in so many colors, it will be easy to find coordinating options. Lavender works as a border or container plant. Traditional lilies never go out of style but avoid the traditional orange type which can become invasive.
Some traditional, historic varieties such as pansies, posies, impatiens, petunias, Solomon’s Seal, Bleeding Hearts, Hollyhocks, Delphinium, Asters and Phlox all work well. Historic Coleus and Forget-me-nots can also be implemented for spring and fall surprises.
Balance your historic urban landscaping with symmetrical plantings – plant groups of the same plant in between symmetrical features, or one on each side, to achieve a truly classic urban look.
Don’t Forget the Hardscape Features
Beyond the brickwork, traditional features such as wrought iron railings and benches, and stone statues or water features, such as fountains, will help merge your house with the landscape. Other additions could include plantings around a flagpole, brick walkways lined with modern versions of well-behaved moss or creeping thyme, planters on your front porch or steps, and a cozy sitting area for long-term curb appeal all season long.
Renaissance Development is the expert in traditional tuckpointing methods, specializing in brick repair and restoration projects in Capitol Hill and many other historic neighborhoods in Washington, DC. Contact us today for more information about urban gardens, hardscaping, or retaining walls for your historic brick home. Call us at 202.547.2345 and ask about our Spring Promotion or click the button below to save 10% on any project contracted by June 20th.
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