Landscaping help for front of house

sweetrainJanuary 7, 2009

Hi, My DH and I purchased this little house last spring. I spent most of the summer working on the backyard. (cutting down about 1000 old trees and shrubs that were just randomly scattered throughout the yard) What a mess! lol

This year I want to get the curb appeal thing going. My yard is pie shaped with only about 25 feet across the front and spreading out to about 120 across the back.

I just can't seem to figure out what to do with the front though. I want something on the right side of the sidewalk as well as the left of course. Running up the left edge from the street to the house we have planted 6 ft. cedars to divide my property from the neighbours as well as provide some privacy from a yard that is always full of toys and gets mowed maybe twice a year. The left side I'm not so worried about as the neighbours are great and I think it would make my front yard look even smaller if there was a distinct line of division.

There is a small flower bed running along the front of the deck but I would like something to really stand out and dress up the yard.

We plan on residing the home a light color, maybe yellow or light beige as well as building a new porch roof with stronger looking pillars.

Any suggestions are very welcome as I've searched this sight and the net for months and can't find any examples of a yard like this.

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other some ideas:

I think you are zone 4,you can plant big trees,dont need wait,enjoy garden.maybe my ideas fit your budget,soil PH:

Here is a link that might be useful: share other some ideas again

    Bookmark   January 7, 2009 at 4:59AM
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Thank you for your help. I never even thought of doing the whole yard, just a few beds.. But I can now visualize what it would look like with more done.
Thanks again!

    Bookmark   January 7, 2009 at 2:47PM
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Embothrium(USDA 8 Sunset 5 WA)

Notice that ideasshare has curving walks that don't make a beeline for the house and then angle abruptly around it once getting there. Although I wouldn't have walks snaking all over the yard I would have had the front walk curve up to the house instead of aiming for it like a rocket. You won't be in a big hurry to undertake the expense of replacing the walk but it's something to consider. The way it is now says "Nothing to look at out here, move along please!".

Frame the house with evergreen shrubs having soft shapes that make it look less boxy. Use different kinds and sizes, for example a large one at one end and a small one + a medium one at the other to get balance without matching pairs - matching pairs etc. are only called for when the facade of the house is geometrically symmetrical. Possibly a hardy climber could also be training across the front.

The little round dots in front of the railing are contributing nothing and should be replaced with something more relaxed and substantial.

A small-growing deciduous tree could also be included - maybe to the left of the house (in this view) as there is the bigger tree behind and to the right; it would balance the existing tree and might also be useful for shading the potential seating area behind the railing during hot weather. Additional shade and filling out of the treescape could be provided by an intermediately sized tree behind the house.

Or you might like to do something like plant a medium-growing tree to the left of the house and a small one in front of it, or to the right a bit.

    Bookmark   January 7, 2009 at 5:56PM
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Thanks bboy!, I removed the "little round dots" last summer. I have a mockorange on the left side of the deck and a burning bush closer to the right side, with some daylilies in the middle.

I agree with you about the sidewalk, in the future I would love to change that but until then, I'm still stuck on what to do on the right side of the sidewalk. As well, I know that the flower bed on the left side is just a straight little bed against the deck and I'm trying to picture something more curvatious *spelling* in front and maybe going down the sidewalk a little,

But then how do I balance this with the right side? Or is it smarter to bring the bed down more on the left side against the cedars that I have planted as a division line?

I like the idea of the two sizes of trees on the left side. I had planned on placing one but never thought of two.

Ugggg, this is killing me,, I just don't have an eye to design something appealing. And living in zone 3 my options of plants are very limited. Annuals are plentiful but perrenials that make it through our winters are far and few between.

Thanks again though,, with your input I'm "starting" to see something that doesn't say, "nothing to look at out here, move along please".

    Bookmark   January 7, 2009 at 6:43PM
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pondwelr(z5 WI)

What a cute little house. The roof seems to dominate the overall look, however. Adding a roof over the long porch would really 'ground' the structure and give it substance
lower down. Plus, would give the option to screen or glass it in at a future date for extra living space in nice weather. I would get rid of that little peaked porch roof that is now there.
For sure, you should take care of anything on the house before tackling the yard.

With only 25 ft, I would do like ideasshare suggests, and turn the whole thing into one garden with walkways and
a bench or other stopping point.

A row of cedar trees is pretty boring. Go for diversity and a mixture of blue juniper, crab apple, hardy shrubs, and (in front of the tree line) mini globe arborvitae, tall sedums, etc. On the other side of your lawn, some tall and feathery trees like 'skyline' locust and lilac
would balance the two sides.

Surprisingly, planting along lot lines on a small lot, does NOT make it smaller. Because of all the interesting things and stopping point for the eye, it actually looks larger. I sure hope you dont plant spruce, white pine or other giant forest trees in your front garden. There are so many trees that top out at 20 to 25 ft.

Tamarix is hardy to z3, and is a beautiful feathery pink
most of the summer. I expect you could find several virburnum for your zone too.
I suggest these plants, because they are what is in my pie shaped lot. I live on a cul-du-sac, and front yards are narrow, back yard wide.

I know you will develope a great plan, after you complete the house. Take some more pix, and pass them on please.

    Bookmark   January 8, 2009 at 11:53AM
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Pondy,, Thank you for your ideas!,, Yes we are planning to do "something" with the front and yes,, a porch running along the whole front is exactly what we want. There are alot of "wartime" homes in this city and there are a couple that really catch my eye and they have the porch and some dormers also. That would be my DH's job,, Mine is the landscaping,, :)

I agree that a row of cedars are boring but,, we needed something tall and quick to hide the view from the neighbors on that side. It was the only thing I could think of that would do the job quickly.

Couldn't I add some shrubs in front of them? I just have trouble seeing the shape and placement.. WOWLilacs are just too common here, I cut down a hedge last summer that was here for over 50 years!,, I love them to death but not in my front yard, it almost killed me to cut those down and miss out on the beautiful fresh lilac scent in my house and yard, but they were just in the wrong place and were never pruned and just looked terrible where they were. Tamarix scares me because of all the bad hype it's getting about the salt damaging the soil and also being invasive. But I get what you're trying to say with those types of shrubs.

Landscape designers are not too plentiful here in Saskatchewan and if you actually end of hiring one you better be prepared to dish out a lot for their services. So, I don't think that is an option, I really just want some beds and how to run them in my yard. I really don't love the whole front yard park look.

If you look on the right hand side very close to the ground you can see a stump that wasn't ground out yet. That was from one of three 60 foot spruce trees we had removed. So no worries there, I will NEVER plant another one of them.

Thanks for all your help and time you spent trying to help me. I need all the help I can get. Hopefully I will be able to use a little of everyones input and end up with a beautiful front yard!

    Bookmark   January 8, 2009 at 9:40PM
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Embothrium(USDA 8 Sunset 5 WA)

On a property being gardened to much extent a row of conifers along an edge would be used as a constrasting backdrop for other plantings or other garden elements like structures or furniture. It does not have to be the only feature.

    Bookmark   January 8, 2009 at 11:13PM
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pondwelr(z5 WI)

well sweetrain,
I hope you look at your front yard as a welcoming place for your guests. Perhaps you could make a landing pad for the family and guests. A small patio or whatever.
Patio trees are a given for your small front yard.

    Bookmark   January 9, 2009 at 2:40PM
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well pondy,

What I'm actually looking for is to welcome the visitors to my backyard which is where we would do any entertaining.

I just want a "pretty" front yard that will make passersby stop and just say "how nice".

I honestly don't know why I'm drawing such a blank on this. My backyard is coming along nicely and can't wait for a few years for my shrubs and perennials to get established.

Everytime I think of a plan I just can't seem to picture it completely. They just seem to take over the area instead of enhancing it. This is really getting to be a stressful thing for me as spring is coming and I really want to have a plan of action in place when it's time to plant.

Wow,, this is driving me nuts!

Just cannot get something going for this crazy shaped, small front yard.

    Bookmark   January 20, 2009 at 12:10AM
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What program is ideasshare using. Its a pretty neat program!! Id like to learn how to use it??

    Bookmark   January 20, 2009 at 7:58AM
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karinl(BC Z8)

I wonder if you are letting yourself get hung up on the issue of yard shape and letting that stop you from making other decisions.

The shape is not all that crazy. The issue is that it is pretty flat, so that topography isn't a decision-making starting point, and that the walkway gives you no guidance or opportunity either.

I also think your decision-making sequence is out of whack. You don't need to think of plant identities, especially not of perennials, until you have bed layout and tree/shrub placement figured out, to see whether you want any perennials at all and if so, where.

I think that the walkway shape should be addressed first, and adding what Pondwelr calls some "landing pads" to it (just with bricks or slabs; no need to pour concrete) is a nice alternative to redoing the whole thing. Those landing pads could each be anchors for beds that stretch across their section of the yard like an isthmus, or they could allow people to walk to beds that you make along the privacy hedge you've put up.

And definitely some framing up near the front end of the walk, whether a pair of specimen plants or a pair of accent beds... or a flare added to the walkway. Sometimes you just need to make one decision, take one action, and the rest starts to flow. My impression is that you have the ability to do what you want to do but you're keeping it corked up with some assumption that the shape of the yard constrains what you can do. It shouldn't.


    Bookmark   January 22, 2009 at 2:29PM
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Thanks for you vote of confidence KarinL. After reading your post and I think I am finally starting to envision what you and the others are trying to get through my thick skull.

I've actually FINALLY got some ideas and "pictures" in my head.

I'm going to start drawing some plans on paper and see what happens.

Again,, thank you so much.

    Bookmark   January 23, 2009 at 8:59PM
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