How To Landscape a Classic Cape Cod House


Classic Cape Cod homes evoke feelings of romance and nostalgia. From their weathered gray cedar shingles to their copper weather vanes, these houses are elegant yet informal. The Cape Cod home is built to withstand extreme temperatures, wind and salt spray. These homes coexist with the ocean and so must their gardens. Native plants are good selections. Check out local restrictions and regulations about landscaping nature buffer zones. Never use invasive plants. The garden layout should reflect the clean lines of the home. Plant a traditional lawn and flower beds in the front. Place vegetable and cutting gardens in the back.

Front Yard

Step 1

Prepare your garden site. Pull out any existing weeds by the root. Remove any twigs or rocks. Rake smooth the soil and grade any slope away from the house.

Step 2

Spray paint the soil to indicate where you will be planting. Mark the areas where you want the lawn. For a walkway, mark a straight path leading to the front door. Make sure the path is at least 3 feet wide. Mark a flower bed in front of the house on either side of the pathway. Make sure each bed is at least 3 feet deep.

Step 3

Install automatic irrigation. Choose one zone for the lawn, and set up a separate zone for the planting bed. Amend the soil for the planting bed area. Border the planting bed area with bender board.

Step 4

Border the walkway with bender board. Excavate the soil about 6 inches. Remove soil. Apply a 3-inch layer of crushed seashells to create the walkway surface.

Step 5

Plant flowering plants in the beds. Put the tallest plants at the back of the beds. Use bold colors for sunny areas. Use pastels and whites for shady areas.

Step 6

Install grass sod. Install wooden flower boxes. Fill with potting soil. Plant flowers and trailing plants in the boxes.

Back Garden

Step 1

Choose a sunny area of the back garden for vegetable and cutting beds. Make sure the area is flat and even. Mark the perimeter for the beds with spray paint. Make sure your beds are 6 feet long and 3 feet wide. Use your redwood boards as a length guide if needed. Excavate a shallow trench along the entire perimeter.

Step 2

Place the 2x6 plank on its long edge, in one long trench. Secure it with garden stakes. Repeat for the opposite side. Then place and secure the 2x3 planks to form the rectangular bed. Add mulch to the beds. Mix in with the existing soil. Install drip irrigation.

Step 3

Install sod around the beds. Or choose crushed seashells for a water-wise ground cover. Plant native shrubs at the back of the property or bordering any wilderness area.

Tips and Warnings

  • Always check for underground cables and pipes before you start any landscape project. Check out for more information.

Things You'll Need

  • Long-handled spade
  • Sturdy work boots
  • Garden gloves
  • Utility knife
  • 2x6 Redwood planks
  • 2x3 Redwood planks
  • Redwood bender board
  • Garden stakes
  • Flexible tube irrigation tubing
  • Sprinkler heads
  • Automatic timer
  • Drip irrigation hose
  • Soil amendment
  • Mulch
  • Native perennials
  • Fescue grass sod
  • Annual rye grass seed
  • Cedar window boxes
  • Crushed sea shells
  • Spray paint


  • Clues to American garden styles;David P. Fogle;1988.
  • Landscape Nursery and Landcape Forestry:UMass
  • "Call 811-Know What's Below" website

Who Can Help

  • Houses For Good Living:Royal Barry Wills
  • Sunset Gardens;Landscape and Design
Keywords: Classic Cape Cod Homes, New England Landscapes, Period Gardens

About this Author

Barrett Barlowe has been writing since 1997. She is a Masters swimmer, enjoys open water events and is an outdoor sports and fitness enthusiast. She writes for LIVESTRONG.COM, Modern Mom and The Nest, among other sites. A digital artist with many major film credits, Barlowe has a Bachelor of Arts in English and French and a Master of Fine Arts in film animation.

Article provided by eHow Home & Garden | How To Landscape a Classic Cape Cod House