New Construction - Front yard landscaping question

stuarbcJanuary 15, 2014

Our new construction has a sidewalk that curves around the house from the front door to the driveway. The main yard in front of the sidewalk (road side) will be sodded. I am struggling with what to do with the section between the sidewalk and the house. My builder wanted to sod it...or at least a portion of it. My thought was to make it one big bed without any grass and put in shrubs around the house and then grasses and other ornamentals to fill in the other areas. The builder keeps saying that he doesn't recommend doing that b/c the mulch, straw or whatever we use for our bed material will just wash over the sidewalk. I looked at a lot of other houses with similar designs, and the majority of those all seem to have done the option I discussed.

What are your suggestions?

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yardvaark

I concur with your opinion that it should be landscape plantings OTHER than sod. It seems like a decent and reasonable size for that, whereas in most instances, builders make the planting area too small. The argument that mulch will wash over the walk would not fly with me because 99% of the time, mulch is only a temporary condition. It's what covers the ground UNTIL the plants -- a combination of shrubs, perennials, groundcovers and annuals knit together. Then they cover the ground completely and there is no need for additional mulch, and mulch is not exposed or prone to washing. If one is viewing the area as though mulch would be the ultimate finished product (with a few plants here or there) then the builder might have a case. But that's not the best way to treat this foundation planting area. With a new planting, until the plants knit together, there is a period where mulch can mess up the walk. But it's temporary. There is a light at the end of the tunnel (that probably doesn't exceed one year in length) and the occasional tidy-up chore is not that aggravating for that length of time. The end result can be many times more magnificent than what the builder's fear might produce. Hopefully, the groundcover you use next to the walk would be very low height.

    Bookmark   January 15, 2014 at 12:38PM
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sc77

Sod in the front, mulch/plantings in the back... Even without a ground cover, your not going to have much flooding across the walkway, the bed is pretty level. However, ground cover does often look nice and can save you some $$ on annual mulch deliveries. The windows are low to the ground, so you are going to want to plant low growing flowers or something there. Between the windows is a great opportunity for a trellis+vine. That always looks nice on a brick house. I would select a couple of core evergreen conifers or broadleaf to fill in the space between the windows, and the end caps. That way you will have some nice structure and year round interest.

    Bookmark   January 15, 2014 at 10:51PM
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yin49

I also add some ideas:

    Bookmark   January 16, 2014 at 8:42AM
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stuarbc

great ideas. Thanks so much for the help

    Bookmark   January 16, 2014 at 8:51AM
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War_Eagle

What I would do right now...today....because I also just did new construction in AL with all that red clay is put something/anything in those beds (pine straw, etc...) to keep rain from splashing that red clay onto your brick. If not you will have a foot or two of reddish stain on there that is almost impossible to get off.

    Bookmark   January 16, 2014 at 9:14AM
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stuarbc

War Eagle!

Yeah...I have been trying to rush the builder along. So far it hasn't stained too bad. He is "supposed" to be sodding today and is going to put straw in all the bed areas to keep the dirt/clay from migrating. In case I do get stains, what did you use to get it off?

    Bookmark   January 16, 2014 at 9:25AM
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stuarbc

SC77,

What program are you using to make that image?

    Bookmark   January 16, 2014 at 11:33AM
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pls8xx

From the original post ....

The builder keeps saying that he doesn't recommend doing that b/c the mulch, straw or whatever we use for our bed material will just wash over the sidewalk.

I think the builder makes a valid point. But just once I would like one of these nitwit builders recognize the problem of trapped water between house and walk and install a drain pipe before they pour the walk.

    Bookmark   January 16, 2014 at 2:49PM
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War_Eagle

I have not used anything yet. Its not too noticeable once I got the landscaping in.....but there is definitely a stain. This spring I may try pressure washer. Luckily its only the brick and not the stucco. We finished up in our extremely wet summer so lots of rain falling and I probably didnt get those beds done soon enough....but there is only so much one guy can do!

    Bookmark   January 16, 2014 at 4:54PM
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stuarbc

We did stained concrete, so our builder actually brought in a sandier dirt that wouldn't stain as bad in case anyone tracked any in the house. I think that helped us out a lot with the staining of the walls.

    Bookmark   January 16, 2014 at 4:57PM
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War_Eagle

Dont let him just sod up those beds! He seems to be looking for the easy way out. Pine straw will hold really well in those beds. So what if you have to occasionally sweep some back into beds. I planted azaleas, camelias, boxwoods, crepe myrtles, etc... in the beds in my attached pic above.

    Bookmark   January 16, 2014 at 4:57PM
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sc77

stuarbc, I use Gimp. It is just like photoshop, but free, open source.

    Bookmark   January 16, 2014 at 8:51PM
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jcalhoun(8b Mobile County AL)

stu,

Sodding the small area is easy for him and he's charging for every piece of sod they put down.

I would have some good garden soil put there and plant several blueberry bushes and use strawberries as a groundcover. Pine bark mulch with a pine straw mix works for a mulch and won't wash away if it's not too high above the side walk. On the other side of the sidewalk I would plant some nice medium sized shade trees such as red maple, black gum and sweet bay magnolia. You can use the same mulch here.

All of these are AL natives so there won't be any issues with getting them to adapt.Reaserch the proper way to plant trees or take a look at the tree sction of the forum.

If you want pretty flowers check the Alabama garding section for suggestions.

    Bookmark   January 26, 2014 at 12:18PM
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