Wednesday, July 15, 2015


Summer is finally in full swing! Garden parties, barbecues, and cook outs are surely taking up some space in your schedule, so what better time than now to give your yard a mid-century makeover? Grab some gardening gloves and let's make your yard the talk of the town!

Getting Started

First thing's first, how do you want your outdoor space to be utilized? Will it be your own private oasis, or a gathering spot for all your friends? Are you going for a woodsy look with a lot of trees and foliage, or do you prefer a wide open space spotted with colorful garden beds? Unlike furniture in a room, plants can't be moved around on a whim once they're in the ground, so have a game plan and know what you want before you begin. 

When choosing plants be sure to do a little research first and make sure they can survive in the climate where you live. Just because a local nursery sells a particular plant does not mean it will thrive in your yard (I found that out the hard way).

There isn't too much difference between the gardens of the 50s and our gardens today, and there really aren't any rules to follow in order to obtain your perfect mid-century yard. Below are some examples of what outdoor living looked like in the 50s, I hope they inspire you to get outside and make the most of your outdoor space. 

Front Yards

It's common practice today for people to erect 6 foot fences around their entire properties, blocking the yard from their neighbors view, but this form of privacy was not popular in the 50s and definitely wouldn't be considered very neighborly. Wide open front yards with inviting pathways, and maybe a white picket fence for decoration, was much more common. 

Flowers, especially roses, were planted around perimeters of the home, creating accent points. 

Depending on the size of the home, and of the yard, garden beds could be small and modest, or large and flowing, Small beds were often planted close to the front door to enhance the entrance and make it more inviting 

In larger yards the gardens might spread out away from the home along fences or walkways, inviting people to enter from the sidewalk.

These homes have utilized the natural slopes and hills of their lots to create cascading gardens, and to give the yard a bit of privacy while still keeping it open and friendly. 

This type of gardening may seem like a lot of work, but adding this type of curb appealing can add quite a bit of value to your home! Look carefully at the space you have and maybe make a few sketches to help you decide how best to accent the natural appeal. Then head to the nursery and start getting dirty!

Back Yards

In my opinion, this is where outdoor renovations get fun. The backyard is often much more secluded and it offers much more opportunity to really make the space yours. Here a few ideas people of the 50s had for their spaces.

All the color!! Give your patio a makeover by painting it in fabulous mid-century pastels. And why not add a sporty yellow convertible in the driveway, just for fun?

This is a great example of a Pacific Northwest yard. This family opted for concrete slabs over grass, which can be a great idea if you hate mowing the lawn, or if the pine trees on your property prevent grass from growing.

 A very simple outdoor space for anyone who doesn't do a lot of outdoor entertaining, but would like the option to once in awhile.

Another simple outdoor space, with a lovely concrete and stone table! The barn-style split door is a nice addition to this home.

If you'd like the space to be all yours, consider installing a koi pond. The staggering stone slabs give this pond a lovely modern look.

Building your very own brick barbecue was very popular in the 50s and could be a fun summer project. If Lucy and Ethel can do it, anyone can!

This yard is my favorite and comes from an article titled "How to build a guest house and yard for $2000!" Wouldn't that be nice? This little area features a brick "rug", plenty of seating, and the strategically placed shrubs gives it a lot of privacy. Three of the concrete slabs have been replaced with aluminum pans to create reflecting ponds, which is something I hope to do in the future! 

I hope these photos have given you some inspiration for your own yards! Happy gardening! 

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