M-Bracing in the Front Yard

A couple of years ago, I was hired by some new clients who were moving from a large house in the suburbs (with lots of deer) to a new house within walking distance of downtown Bethesda, Maryland, close to our firm’s offices. The lot was narrow and the front faced west. Most of the front yard was going to be taken up by a large two-car-wide driveway, and the husband wanted a shade tree to replace one that had been taken down. The wife wanted an ornamental tree, but she also wanted to be able to grow herbs and vegetables, something that hadn’t been possible in her other garden because of the deer. I proposed including some raised beds in the front yard because there simply wasn’t enough sun in the back garden, and she agreed.

So here’s the plan I came up with. I needed them to be as unobtrusive as possible, and far enough away from the street so that passers-by wouldn’t be tempted to pick tomatoes or nip off a few herbs.

Landscape Projects, Inc., raised beds

The front yard plan as you face the house from the street.

See the three rectangles on the right property line, in the center of the yard? Those are the three raised beds, about 4′ x 3′ each. Stepping stones allow access to the beds for maintenance, and we planted Mazus reptans between them.

To dress up the beds, especially since this was a front yard, I had them constructed of high-quality cedar, and used M-Brace brackets on each corner.

M-Brace, Landscape Projects Inc., raised beds

Brackets on the two outer beds have a “bamboo” design cut out of the steel; the center bed’s brackets sport a “carrot” design.

By now you see where this is headed. We didn’t want the beds to sit empty all winter, just waiting for warm weather to be planted with veggies and herbs. So we planted pansies and tulips, and voila! A wonderful effect was created.

M-Brace brackets, Landscape Projects Inc.

Tulips emerging from the pansies just as the hornbeams to the left of the beds start to leaf out.

The homeowners were delighted.

spring tulips, Landscape Projects Inc.

Almost (well, not quite) like being in Holland.

M-Brace brackets, Landscape Projects, Inc.

The beds now provide color in early spring, before the Okame cherry leafs out on the other side of the driveway.

The Mazus has filled in nicely, and recently we added some Knockout roses in a little row at the front of the beds. No more deer to worry about! (Now if we could just do something about the rabbits that are devouring the liriope in the tree beds . . . .)

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11 Comments on “M-Bracing in the Front Yard”

  1. Very nice. I like the M-Brace. Great name too!
    what are the varieties of trees?

    • Melissa Says:

      The ornamental tree on the left of the driveway is an Okame cherry (Prunus x incam ‘Okame’). For a shade tree that could cope with the compacted soil of a construction site, I chose an overcup oak (Quercus lyrata). And there are two fastigiate hornbeams (Carpinus betulus ‘Fastigiata’) for a little screening a bit behind the planters.

      Thanks for the kind words about the design!

  2. These are beautiful! I love the cut outs in the metal and the spring colors are fabulous. Very nice job. Well done!

    • Melissa Says:

      Thanks – this was a pretty challenging design because of the narrowness of the site, the western exposure, and needing to allow space for the big oak to grow in eventually. And who has veggies in their front yard? (This was before I visited the Rosalind Creasy garden in the Bay Area.)

  3. Looks great but I particularly like the steel brackets on the corners of the beds, originality value 10/10.

  4. Jason Swope Says:

    I have always found the most challenging designs are with small spaces. At the same time, when creative solutions are utilized in these areas, some of the best results are obtained. Good job.

    The really exciting aspect of the containers is that each year the color combinations could be changed up…..creating an extra element of interest for passers-by while at the same time allowing the homeowners to be creative.

    • Melissa Says:

      So right. Summer annuals may be a bit different this year from last, but we’ll probably use a small obelisk for climbing mandevilla as a centerpiece. Thanks for the kind words!

  5. John Says:

    Melissa, I agree with the all the other comments — the raised beds are a notch above the norm! I’ve taken note of those brackets. It’s interesting that when you remove one pest (the deer) you discover another that might have been below the radar in the past (rabbits in my case)…

    • Melissa Says:

      They have rabbits galore, but they seem to stay out of the raised beds, preferring instead to snack on the liriope in the tree beds and even little azaleas (I’m not kidding).

  6. […] m bracing in the front yard garden shoots Front Yard Planters Size: 450 X 280 | Source: melissaclarkphotography.wordpress.com […]

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