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Landscape redesign: Don’t get stuck in the mud

Congress Park couple uses inspiration from their own backyard to address trouble spots in the front.

April Montgomery and her husband Kim Hartsen love their Congress Park  neighborhood and home, but admit their front yard needs a little tender loving care.

“We’ve got a big patch of mud where everyone walks over the grass, and the garden is an overgrown mess,” Montgomery said. “We’ve been stuck on what to do with these trouble spots.”

Fortunately, they don’t have far to go for inspiration.

The couple enjoys their backyard because it has a patio, an herb garden and a variety of plants along the fence. These features cut down on the amount of unused grass, leaving them with the right amount of turf for their outdoor needs.

A home in northwest Denver features a functional and diverse landscape with a mix of grass, hardscapes and gardens. Photo credit: Denver Water.


“Functional landscapes are ones that fit the needs of the homeowner and family,” said Mark Cassalia, conservation specialist at Denver Water.

These practical landscape features include grass for kids and pets to play, vegetable gardens to grow food, sheds for storage, patios and decks for entertaining, and flower gardens for visual beauty.

According to Cassalia, the Congress Park couple’s backyard is an example of a diverse landscape because there are a variety of landscape features.

“The benefits of functional and diverse landscapes are that homeowners enjoy their homes more and these types of landscapes require less water than traditional turf-grass yards.”

Functional and diverse landscapes appear to be gaining popularity in Denver’s housing market.

“Local realtors tell us that many homebuyers are looking for a mix of grass, hardscapes and gardens,” Cassalia said. “People are looking at yards differently. They want to maximize the benefit of their outdoor space just like the inside of a house.”

Whether it’s improving your own yard or making it more attractive to sell, landscape designers like Curtis Manning stress the importance of going slow.

Landscape designer Curtis Manning (left), discusses landscape options in the front yard with Kim Hartsen and April Montgomery. Photo credit: Denver Water.


“Before starting any renovations, I’d encourage homeowners to think about the intended use of each space,” said Manning, who met with Montgomery and Hartsen to discuss options for their front yard. “Preplanning before digging saves time in the long run and provides better overall success.”

After meeting with Manning, the couple decided on several ideas to make their front yard more functional including building a walkway over the mud patch, enlarging the garden and adding water-efficient plants.

“It doesn’t make sense to water mud,” Montgomery said. “By fixing things up, we’re going to get a great yard and help future generations by using less water.”