Front yard perennial garden planted in boulder retaining wall terraces.

Northwoods-style front yard landscape design stands out from the crowd.

This eye-catching home in St. Paul looks like a modern take on a cabin in the woods. The wood siding with warm undertones creates many horizontal parallel lines that contrast the bold vertical forms of the front windows. This beautiful home needed a front yard to match. Unfortunately, with only weeds to keep the soil in place, the hill was slowly washing away onto the sidewalk. Plus it was impossible to mow. The solution was obvious: terraced retaining walls with gardens. However, the homeowners didn't want just any modular block wall. They wanted a one-of-a-kind design element that would complement their home and enhance their property.

Before & After: Weedy hill becomes an aesthetic delight

Taken all together, the composition of the home site now has three main colors. The variegated greens of the perennial gardens and grey blue of the boulder wall work together to ground the warm wood siding of the home. To make the wall more interesting, the designer mixed Gray Trap boulders with Granite. Filled in with smaller rocks in between. Shade loving Hostas and Lady’s Mantle “Thriller” populate the first course of gardens. The perennial garden at the top of the stairs includes Astilbe, Hosta, Solomon's Seal, Snowdrop Anemone, and Sedum.

Assembling the boulder retaining wall

A stable wall requires a a solid base course. The first boulders are buried to half the boulder height. Heavy equipment is necessary to move the boulders into place.These boulders weighed 700 to 1,200 lbs. Over several days, one by one each boulder is fit into place like a life-sized game of Tetris.

Team of heavy equptment and landscape workers excavate for base course.
Landscape fabric installed behind base course of the boulder wall.

Landscape fabric is used on the backside of the boulder wall to prevent soil from going through the wall. Gravel was also added behind the wall to allow for water drainage.

Terraced boulder retaining wall garden planted with hostas and other low-maintenance northwoods perennials.

Terraced boulder retaining wall garden planted with hostas and other low-maintenance northwoods perennials.

Unique landscape that stands out from the crowd

Beautifully designed and skillfully built, this St. Paul front yard landscape left the homeowners happy and satisfied. Beyond the improvement in curb appeal, the difficult chore of mowing the lawn on the steep slope has been eliminated, and a new railing and outdoor lighting improve safety and accessibility.

If you don't want just another cookie cutter front yard, Southview Design is ready to design and build a landscape tailored to your home and lifestyle. Contact our design team today for a consultation.

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