Living With Style: Exterior Improvements Just In Time for Spring

By Sasha Witte
Gazette Columnist
Jan 27, 2018 

 Spring is coming.

And with it the possibilities for dinners served in the garden and time spent lounging in the sunshine with neighbors or a good book.  I couldn’t be more excited as I sit here listening to the bird song and cracking open my windows to let the fresh air from the recent rain come into our home.

Here are a few ideas for sprucing up your outdoor areas.


Color And Contrast

Living With Style: Outdoor Paint

Consider adding color and contrast at your exterior paint finishes - even when subtle it can be wonderful.

—Gazette photo by Sasha Witte

Consider giving a face lift to your home’s color palette with a perked up paint job.  Perhaps the siding or stucco is in great condition.  Look at highlighting the architectural features or the trim with a historically inspired, contrasting color.

This is one of the simpler improvements we can make as homeowners – but what a profound difference it can make to the look of your home! 

Soften the Edges

Living With Style: Plants

Plants in colors that contrast the green majority add visual excitement to the garden

—Gazette photo by Sasha Witte

Most homes are designed with straight lines and right angles.  In designing your outdoor spaces, balance this with round or oval containers or curved garden plantings that complement your home with organic shapes in contrast to the straight lines of the house structure. 

Most nurseries offer plants with leaves in a wide selection of colors.  Consider adding some visual interest with a tree such as a Japanese Maple which has delicate reddish violet leaves.  Coleus plants are another favorite of mine as they have a wide range of colors (chartreuse to burnt orange to purple…) that are easy to tuck into garden pots and between other plants for the season.

Highlight the Entry

Living With Style: Highlight the Entry

Most homes have straight lines and squared edges, adding curves to our garden plantings offsets that nicely.

—Gazette photo by Sasha Witte

Large planters at a front stair can offer drama and a welcoming touch.  Don’t be afraid of going big and colorful.  Make your entry friendly and exuberant.

I like to tuck in additional flowering plants that pull in the color of the season.  This afternoon I’m planning to swing by the garden center to pick up some pink and yellow flowers to tuck into my entry pots to celebrate Spring!

Add a Border

Living With Style: Plant Border

Consider a colorful plant border as a soft divider instead of a fence.

—Gazette photo by Sasha Witte

Consider outlining your garden with a picket fence or colorful plantings.  Picket fences come in a wide variety of looks and are the consummate cottage garden backdrop. 

Or if you’d like a softer divider between the sidewalk and grass – consider a colorful flower border in plants of mixed heights. 

Go Native

Living With Style: Drought Plants

Draught tolerant plants are beautiful and often loved by both birds and butterflies.

—Gazette photo by Sasha Witte

There are many drought resistant flowers and shrubs that not only look beautiful, they can also reduce that water bill.  One fringe benefit is that many are hummingbird and butterfly friendly.  I recently planted some salvia– and every day I watch the hummingbirds come by and linger.

If your affinity is for a more English feeling garden – use wood chip mulch so there isn’t a need to water as regularly.  An additional benefit is that it will keep weeds at bay!!

Add Water

To add an extra layer of tranquil sound, consider adding a water feature to your garden area.  I added a small one a few years ago and I love the relaxing sound as the water flows and also love watching the birds who come to enjoy it! 

Living With Style: Water

Water features, whether large or small, are enjoyed by all.

—Gazette photo by Sasha Witte

Let There Be Light

An especially well selected light at your front entry offers a friendly touch.  If your home is historic, there are many options that honor that heritage – but in a wide selection of metals, glass tones and styles. 

Well placed landscape lighting lets the garden be special at night too.  Try to avoid the “run way” look of fixtures all lined up in a straight row.  Let the lighting be as varied as your landscape plants.

Spring is in the air – so it’s time to feel the soil between my fingers.  See you in the garden!

Sasha Witte can be reached at or (562) 434-8824.

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