The ranch style home became popular in the 1950s and 1960s in the post-war building boom that helped to populate suburban areas. The styling offered simplicity and functionality, with a one-story floor plan and large, picture windows to bring the outdoors inside. Landscapers took advantage of these homes’ large lots and natural settings. Front porch areas often featured taller plants that broke up the long, low lines of the house, plus colorful low plantings to add interest.
Updating the front porch of a 1960s ranch often requires removal of the heavy evergreens that were planted years ago, and replacing them with a lighter, more textured shrubs such as holly or evergreen sumac. Holly provides brightly colored berries during winter, while sumac bears red, fuzzy fruit relished by birds. Mixed with flowering shrubs such as lilac or peony that bloom in summer will give the front porch area a more cheerful, welcoming look.
Bedding plants below the front porch rails can give the entry area a colorful, festive appearance that breaks the low, somber lines of the ranch house styling. Choose a variety of annuals and change them each year to give the entryway a different look. Perennial plants will die to the ground in winter but re-emerge the following spring, year after year. Try inclined bedding to give more softness to the home's look, with taller plants such as asters at the back, gently sloping to lower plants like begonia at the front.
Climbing, flowering vines give a ranch home a more country look, softening long lines and drawing the eye upwards. Vines Attack narrow trellises to front porch post and train vines to climb them. Clematis offers vivid, blue-violet color and perennial reliability. Annual climbing vines such as nasturium, morning glory or moonflower provide both privacy and shade for front porch areas.
Hanging plants can give the front porch of your ranch house a warm, inviting look. Use petunias, geraniums, lobelia and verbena. Choose nursery plants with several stems that will provide lush growth, according to the FineGardening writer Helen McCain.
Small trees in containers add a whole new look to the staid functionality of the ranch house style. Neat, well-sculptured trees including the Korean fir, boxwood, dwarf weeping birch, star magnolia or crepe myrtle grow well in containers and provide a big impact in a small space.
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