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Front-yard privacy on a corner lot.

Living on a corner lot can, literally, have its setbacks. Ordinances usually require that corner-lot houses be set in from both streets. This can push a house so far into the rear corner of the lot that little usable space remains for a private garden.

At Suzanne and Dick Gunther's corner house in Palo Alto, California, the most expansive area for outdoor living was in front. But traffic noise and passers-by intruded on their privacy. They asked landscape architect Steven T. Kikuchi to recapture some of the exposed front yard. Kikuchi put fenced entry and fountain courtyards in front, and a narrow enclosure along the side. Visually, it's difficult to tell where the house ends and the gardens begin: fences covered with matching siding extend from the house and push outward to the two streets. Seen from the street, low concrete planters set back from the sidewalk make the fences seem less abrupt and help settle the two-story house gracefully on the property.

Low maintenance and water conservation play important roles. Hypericum grows in most of the ground-level and raised beds outside, and mondo grass, rosemary, and azaleas fill beds in the inner court.
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Date:Jul 1, 1990
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