creating a scene

Azaleas edge an Arden Road walk.







By the time you bid your nightly goodbye to the workaday world, you may have some great expectations for your own home and surrounding greenspace.

Naturally, your yard provides a respite from the day’s busy pace, hosting relaxation and enjoyment. It’s your window on the world—to watch winter’s first snowfall, appreciate magnolias’ spring bloom, enjoy summer fun and see leaves turn gold.

Colorful dogwood, azaleas and rhodie enhance this English stone cottage on Osage Road.

It’s also activities central—for relishing a dinner from the barbie or gathering with family and the neighborhood crew. A quiet night may suggest tinkering in the garden or reading in the hammock.

With so much on the agenda, it can be smart—and soothing—to break up your yard into scenic little areas that make a great whole while creating inviting spots for particular pastimes.

Your entrance greenery and accents help set the tone—giving a first impression of your home design and lifestyle. Window views lend themselves to establishing focal points that can have a powerful effect on your mood.

As you get out and enjoy the yard, you are rewarded with at-home getaways. Providing seating among the shrubs lets you soak up nature. A gazebo offers a quiet escape. Statuary provokes thought and introduces art. A stand of border trees lends a woodsy effect.

A peaceful outlook prevails in the flowers and greenery on this Neulon Avenue pond.

Water introduces an element of serenity—from splashing fountains to the peacefulness of a pond.

If you have children who play in the yard, your scenic areas need to fit in with the general melee, but you’ll probably be able to reserve a spot or two for quiet pursuits.

Creating memorable yard scenes requires thought. As your plans take shape, let your house design suggest complementary greenery—from  a flowing English cottage garden to well-balanced colonial shrubs. Pay attention to growing conditions for best results.
make a plan of action

How do you like to spend at-home time? If cooking is your hobby and outdoor eating your pleasure a barbeque grill or outdoor fireplace rates a prime place, along with a veggie and herb garden.

If you are the flowery type, devote time and space to blooming trees, shrubs, and perennials. Your efforts will be rewarded as they beautify not only your own home but the whole neighborhood.

Strategic placement of structures—like gazebos, fountains, and accessories—help create outdoor rooms, where the living is easy


To achieve a well-blended property, listen to your house and learn its lines.

It’s fine to ad lib a bit, but if you have one of Mt. Lebanon’s traditional English Tudor or colonial revival homes, know that herb and flower gardens start with formal geometric shapes. Paths and white picket fences establish borders; wooden arbors and gazebos offer accents.

An Arden Road garden’s gazebo seats have views of New Dawn roses and petunia baskets.

Lavish English gardens were inspired by landscape paintings and filled with abundant flowers. You might lift the mood of yours by planting black-eyed susan, yarrow and daylilies along a picket fence and an old Rosa Mundi rose near a gazebo. Or perhaps in your version, a wrought iron gazebo or gate might support clematis and a pink New Dawn rose, while magnolias and lilacs set the scene.  Add Wicker or lacy iron furniture for comfortably viewing sundials, fountains, planters. Choosing a few plants wisely builds to an abundant feeling over time.

Mt Lebanon also has many American ranch homes, These houses, with their low, clean lines, suggest well-trimmed lawns and shrub—from yews to holly—that should be gently kept in shape. Avoid over-trimming them into mushroom shapes; instead follow the shrubs’ natural lines. Neat flower borders and beds enhance the ambience, along with contemporary outdoor furniture and accents.


After deciding on your garden style, consider which plants will flourish in your conditions.

Say you’ve decided on a stone bench near a fountain. If the spot is shady, a backdrop of rhododendrons and azaleas would be suitable with ferns and hosta at ground level.

If the same scene is sunny, a bright-berried holly might blend with viburnum and yews. Spring tulips shine, while petunias and pots of verbena add summer color.

There are so many choices tailored to sun or shade—read labels, study up or confer with experts at your nursery. Consider the wind conditions and the hardiness of the plants, along with how much time you hve for tending.

You are on your way to “making the scene.”


The fashion adage, “accessories are everything” applies to outdoor living design, too. Some accessories are strictly a feast for the eye—as wisteria climbs an arbor or you return the morning glory’s greeting from the fence. More practical accessories—a chair, a bench or a swing, bring you into the picture, providing a place to appreciate the colors and textures of the plantings, breathe in the fragrance, hear the fountain. And whether its a simple picnic table or an intricate wrought iron grouping, an outdoor dining area allows you to relish your steak or s’mores, hot from the grill, amidst the scene you’ve created.

A statue of a boy and his dog plays well beside an iron bench under a tree in a yard on Spalding Circle.

Whether they’re cast in stone, woven in wicker or crafted of wood, garden props that blend with your house style should look like they “grew” from their surroundings.

Well-planned and -planted garden spaces will unify your yard and lift your mood, whether you’re chatting over the fence, relaxing in the gazebo, or digging in the good earth.

Nothing is more rewarding than creating a scene that welcomes you home and offers a perfect sense of place.