I designed this garden for a couple in Oak Park, Illinois. The wife is recently retired, and the husband has a few more years before joining her.  They enjoy gardening, but not to an obsession (like yours truly).  This is an older home that has been lovingly taken care of and completely remodeled over the years. The interior is beautiful simplicity with natural colors and materials throughout.  The front of the home has an enclosed porch, also newly remodeled. The back of the house has an add-on screened in porch with a unique layout, giving it the feel of an outdoor room.  Both porches are used every day,  so a colorful view was high on the list.
Here is the home BEFORE

And here it is after with a new curvilinear design 
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Here is a closer look at the details of the new garden. This first photo is the view walking up to the front steps.

I designed their garden with the following criteria in mind: 1) the couple’s design style, matching the interior style with the exterior; 2) four season color from low maintenance plants; 3) keeping budget in mind, I used some of the perennials already in the garden and cleaned up and rebuilt the existing wall; and 4) extended the garden bed to give them more garden to enjoy and at the same time creating a garden  with a style uniquely different from its neighbors.
The plants that give this garden its “bones” are the three variegated Ivory Halo Dogwoods in the center, which have red branches for winter color. At far end there is a dwarf Hydrangea Tree which blooms mid-summer,  and next to the stairs there is a medium-sized rhododendron for spring color.  These bushes were chosen with the home owners.  The same for the perennials.
How can you adapt this to your own home? Well, first notice that this is not a large front yard. You don’t need a big yard for a beautiful garden.  If you’re on a tight budget, make things easier and cheaper by  working with what you already have.  Here I made the raised bed slightly larger with more prominent curves and cleaned and reused the flag stones. Lastly, find something to make your garden a reflection of you. Pick a unique plant or add an extra garden bed, like I did here with the garden connecting the sidewalk to the raised bed.
Here is a close up of that litle extra bed.  I think this is the favorite part of her new garden. She picked out the little beauties  herself on our trip through the nursery.  Shopping with your landscape designer allows you to be part of the creation of your new garden, which is in fact why you hire a designer instead of a traditional landscapers.
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I think she has a good eye. The miniature sedum, which is in the front of this bed, has curly leaves with variegated blooms.  Everyone around here has Sedums, but NO ONE has that Sedum.  And that’s they way you do it!

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