Millhouse Howell Landscape Company brings curb appeal to our neighborhoods—upping the style quotient and creating even more welcoming places to call home.
A pretty house can easily be overshadowed by a not-so-attractive landscape. In the same vein, a great looking landscape can elevate the look of a nondescript house. Adam Millhouse and Will Howell take on both of these challenges, bringing beauty that not only improves the landscape but also the look of the home itself.
“Through hardscape and landscape layouts, outdoor environments should function similarly to well-designed interiors,” Adam says. “We strive to develop well-defined outdoor spaces—both small and large—by means of terraces, accent or retaining walls, hedges, paving patterns, or a combination of all.”
MAKING AN ENTRANCE
Before, this 1972 Cherokee Bend home’s front yard sloped straight down to the house. How did you flatten the space to make it more approachable?
MH: The sloped topography made the entire front of the property unusable. By building an inconspicuous retaining wall (which fig ivy will eventually cover), we were able to create space outside of the living room and entrance hall that is suitable for entertaining.
Why did you replace the sidewalk?
MH: The former brick walkway felt like an unnecessarily long hallway from the driveway to the front door. Now, with the addition of the new terrace, the path to the front door allows for a destination at the end of a shortened entrance walkway.
The new materials look great! What did you use? And why the mix?
MH: The bricks had settled and become uneven. The new steps are slabs with gray flagstone treads. We added a handrail for style and safety. The terrace is Selma-brown pea gravel. Pea gravel functions like typical hardscape elements and pavers, but it is visually softer. In this setting, the informality of it pairs well with the formality of the bluestone border and boxwood hedge.
You introduced symmetry to this wooded landscape through the squared terrace with boxwoods anchoring each corner. Why is this so successful?
MH: Boxwoods in containers are timeless and can yield a classic or contemporary result depending on the setting. In this case, they formalize the woodland environment. Plus, boxwoods are easy to care for. If maintained correctly, they should not need replacing on a regular basis.
What a charmer! How did you approach the design?
MH: After an exterior renovation designed by Leigh Ann Moor (new copper awning, new roof and chimney caps, fresh paint color), we intended for the corresponding landscape to complement the refined, cottage look with strong lines.
How did you use plants to enhance the design?
MH: Boxwoods at the bluestone landing entrance are a formal welcome. Larger boxwoods anchor the front steps, and a low, clipped boxwood hedge forms a border across the foundation in front of the Limelight hydrangeas. A Confederate Jasmine espalier fills an otherwise awkward void between the two windows on the front of the house. The three mature crepe myrtles and boxwood hedge at the street were existing. They create separation from the street.
“We strive to develop well-defined outdoor spaces — both small and large — by means of terraces, accent or retaining walls, hedges, paving patterns, or a combination of all.”—Adam Millhouse
What an improvement! The architectural changes and landscaping bring new life to this 1950s home. What challenges did you overcome?
MH: We were asked to create additional parking in a way that would prevent a vehicle from blocking the view of the house. We leveled out the front yard and raised the front grade. Then we widened the yard enough to accommodate a driveway, a front landing, and a lawn of Emerald Zoysia, and we set it off with a moss rock retaining wall. A clipped boxwood hedge serves as a visual barrier.
New plantings also help open up the view of the house. How?
MH: The boxwoods were overwhelming the entrance, so we removed them. The new anchor boxwoods, along with a lower boxwood hedge, set off the Limelight hydrangeas and complement the home. We also widened the narrow front steps to open up the entrance. And we replaced the existing steps with deeper bluestone treads to create a more comfortable ascend.
The front entrance seems so much bigger and so much more inviting now.
MH: The bluestone pavers extend from the new front steps and offer a place to pause before entering the home. It feels very inviting. Containers with seasonal plantings add definition to the front corners.