The challenge: The front yard of Jon and Cheryl Bogen's brick Georgian Colonial in south Minneapolis had long been a gathering and entertaining place for the couple and neighborhood families.

The Bogens already had a backyard patio as a quiet retreat, but "when we're sitting in front, it's telling the neighbors we're here — come on over," said Jon.

They clustered together chairs, which always seemed to wobble and sink into the lawn. Jon and Cheryl wished for a dedicated, stable spot to sit and socialize. Plus the 1920s Colonial was on a pretty busy corner, so that shrubs, gardens and trees not only would add some beauty, but create a natural privacy screen, as well.

The couple had decided they were going to stay in the house for many more years and planned future improvements.

"A front yard patio was one of my top items," said Jon. "Let's dress it up a bit."

The landscape designer: Daryl Melquist, Bachman's Landscaping & Garden Services, Mpls.,

Outdoor living room: Because the Bogens' front yard was party central, Melquist set out to design a gathering area as comfortable as an outdoor living room surrounded by pretty landscaping.

"I made the patio large enough so neighbors could come and join them," he said.

Melquist chose a brick color for the new front walkway and patio, which matches the original brick on the house. "Clay bricks are pretty timeless," he said. "They don't deteriorate and fit the era and look of the house."

He designed an eye-pleasing brick herringbone pattern, repeated from the home's original front stoop, interwoven with a running bond pattern for the circular patio and walkways. A low stone wall defines the curves of the landscaping beds.

"The sweeping soft curves are more in sync with the mind-set of a relaxed setting," said Melquist.

Easy path from car to door: Jon would often park by the sloped side yard and walk across the grass to the door. Melquist added limestone steps up the side yard leading to the new brick walkway and patio.

Nature's privacy fence: Melquist's landscaping plan helps to conceal the patio from walkers on the busy street, as well as freshening up the front yard.

A clump of birch trees creates dappled shade on the corner. A boxwood hedge wraps around the outer border of the curved patio and will grow to about 3 feet tall. "It's an evergreen and gives a sense of enclosure all year round," said Melquist.

Other beds are filled in with hosta, upright yews and pachysandra, a low-growing ground cover. A Quick Fire hydrangea blooms along a walkway in the summer.

"The design of the stonework, hedges and the sheltered corner was spot-on for the site," said Jon.

Watch your step: The landscaping crew tore out the old weatherworn brick walkway and installed a new version leading to the home's front door. Melquist added a white Fond du Lac limestone step along an incline in the new walkway. The contrasting color makes the step stand out so people don't trip on it.

The result: The old front yard was drab with overgrown shrubs and expanses of turf. The new landscaping adds interest and color and gives the brick patio a sheltered, cozy feeling.

Best part: Completed last spring, the welcoming front yard patio is like an "open door" for people to stop by.

"Now it's a dedicated sitting area and we can fit up to eight chairs," said Jon. "We bring out the fire pit in the fall."


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