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Landscaping: Making the New Look Old

Landscaping a new house can be exciting, but challenging. You are working with an open slate, but may not have mature trees and shrubs that add a lived-in feeling. There are ways to make new landscaping seem older, however.

Selecting Trees and Shrubs
Mature trees and shrubs offer a warm, comfortable backdrop in many older homes. While it is difficult to replicate that look in a new house, there are ways to come close. Start by identifying three to five key spots where large trees or shrubs would make an impact. Ideally, you should plant trees and shrubs first so that they can provide an anchor for the flower bed and start growing.

Good Tree Choices
When selecting trees consider the growth rate, leaf structure, flowering ability, potential for seasonal color and the thickness of the canopy. Do you want a free flowing magnolia tree to give your home a warm, old-fashioned feeling? Or, do you prefer the vivid color of a Japanese maple?

Selecting Shrubs
While large trees should be planted away from the house, shrubs can be planted closer to add balance. There are many evergreen shrubs that can provide an older look, from yews shaped into a formal hedge to boxwood planted in a more rounded mass. One great, old fashioned flowering shrub is the Annabelle hydrangea, which have large, snowball shaped blooms.

The Planting Beds
Another important element is the shape of the beds. Older homes tend to have flowerbeds with curves that were modified as plants grew or were transplanted. By adding similar curves to new landscaping, you can help bring that same feeling to your yard.

Plant Size is Key
As you select plantings, ask for trees and shrubs that are at least four feet high and those that grow quickly. While taller plantings will cost more, they can give a house a lived in look more quickly. If you are on a limited budget, start in a few areas and plan to add more each year.

Careful selection of trees and shrubs can make a world of difference in your landscaping. With a little planning, you can bring together the right heights, colors, and textures and create a warm, lived-in feeling.

About the Author
Allison E. Beatty is an avid old house enthusiast who has been renovating houses and writing about them for more than 10 years. She contributes regularly to national newspaper, magazines, and web sites. She lives in an 1888 Victorian era home.

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