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One of our favorite features of the Home Outside Palette landscape design app is “Ask an Expert,” which lets users email us a design of their own creation so that JMMDS designers can revise it–adding, subtracting, and moving elements around to improve the aesthetic and functional appeal. Not only is this a lot of fun for our designers, it also allows us to use the app as a teaching tool, sharing our expertise and knowledge of principles of landscape design.

Laura's Home Outside Palette landscape design before

An app user named Laura sent us the design above and asked for some expert advice. JMMDS designer Bethany Gracia reworked the design as shown below and wrote the following description of her revisions.

JMMDS's Ask an Expert redesign of landscape app user design


This is a great front yard. I love the large tree shading the driveway, the formal front walkway and that you provided a place to sit and enjoy the front yard.

This style of house, center-entrance Colonial, begs for a center walkway to the street, but as you show, it’s just as important to provide a path from the driveway. Since that path gets used everyday, it should be substantial, wide enough for two people to walk together, easy to walk on and maintain, and tie into the path to the front door. 

To distinguish between the formal entry path and informal driveway path, use different materials–brick for the formal and natural stone for the informal path. Landings and thresholds are made with a solid neutral-colored material like bluestone, granite or concrete.

I marked the property’s major entry with evergreen shrubs to create a doorway; even knee-high shrubs can give a sense of entry. The plum-colored ornamental tree is used as a beautiful focal point at the end of the path. The pond with a birdbath/small fountain adds some action and movement to the gardens, something to watch from the bench. I added a peastone drip edge around the house because it’s a good idea to keep plant material a couple feet from the foundation to avoid wet plant material resting against your sill and siding.


We hope these design tips have been helpful. Blog readers, please use the app to send us YOUR landscape designs! The Ask an Expert feature won’t be available forever, so try it out now. We look forward to seeing your creations!