What to plant where there is nothing!!

christym2828(7b)January 20, 2012

I'm renting this house, and the landlord has given me full permission to landscape. I don't want to spend a lot of money, but I really need some flowers!!! In the small plot between the front door and the garage I have 5 David Phlox in the back, a row of black and blue salvia in the middle and I've been putting annuals in the front. We've only been here 6 months so I hope those perennials will make it!! I would like some plants to the left of the front door, I was thinking some nice flowering bushes to keep it tidy looking and easy to maintain. I like flowers, butterflies and hummingbirds so anything in that family would be nice. The house faces NW, and gets heavy afternoon sun. There are NO TREES in the whole neighborhood, so it can become a wind tunnel. Each house is on a acre of land, and not all of the plots are even built on. I have seen many bluebirds and many hummingbirds. It used to be farmland until 1996. I know the Phlox will add some nice scents - and there is a Crape Myrtle in the front near the ditch. There are pink knock out roses on both sides of the driveway near the end and I'm going to put some flower carpet scarlet roses around the mailbox. I'm going to put some more rose bushes and bee balm on the south west side of the house and there is a Rose of Sharon hibiscus there, too. Any ideas? Thanks :) Christy

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designoline6(Z6)

My suggest pic maybe some help:

    Bookmark   January 21, 2012 at 2:28AM
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yardvaark

Christy, You might consider relocating the crape myrtle to the blank wall space between the windows, set out from the wall about 3 1/2 to 4' in a bed of groundcover or low growing, flowering perennial... and some low, matching shrubs below windows (Japanese Spiraeas would get about 3' so not much trimming.) I wouldn't plant "rows" in the bed next to garage. Just fill whole bed with right height perennial or ground cover and a flowering shrub off the garage wall (big leaf hydrangea?) and annual color at each side of steps. Flowering perennial could wrap the house corner (mixed daylilies?) for extended summer bloom. Where the crape is now, a shade tree would be more meaningful. The way to keep it low cost is use small plants. Baby them a little and be willing to wait.

To make things look good, your biggest challenge will be the grass. For renting, it might be too much of a challenge. Looks like there's two main types here. It doesn't matter whether it's blond or green in the winter but it should be uniform... one or the other in order to look good.

    Bookmark   January 21, 2012 at 8:32AM
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yardvaark

As I look at your photo again, I'm thinking that maybe the tree I first thought was the crape myrtle is something else and the crape is near street. If so, leave tree in place and consider moving crape.

    Bookmark   January 21, 2012 at 9:47AM
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christym2828(7b)

Thanks for the suggestions :) The plant by the street on the right are the knock out roses, and the tree between the ditch and house (you can see a tag hanging from it still - it's just below the door) is the red flowering crape. I don't quite understand your post (yardvaark) move the crape? Thanks :)

    Bookmark   January 21, 2012 at 5:49PM
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yardvaark

I was saying that where the crape is right now, a shade tree would be more useful and meaningful. The crape would be more useful near the house between the two windows so I'd relocate it.

designoline6, as I view the house I think the areas with more interest are the central area with door, windows, railings, post and steps.... and the left side with dormer and windows... and then the garage dormer. The least interesting places are the blank space between the windows, the roof and I imagine the garage door (but we can't do much about it.) As I look at your picture, it seems that the more interesting areas of the house are screened and the less interesting areas remain visible. I'm wondering why you choose to screen the particular areas you do.

    Bookmark   January 22, 2012 at 12:23AM
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designoline6(Z6)

I only think a privacy problem.

    Bookmark   January 22, 2012 at 12:49AM
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yardvaark

D...6, Privacy problem in what way? Usually, the front yard is the area that, to a large extent, is for public display. Most homeowners want the entrance to the home to look inviting and appealing as viewed from the street. There are always exceptions, but they are not typical.

    Bookmark   January 22, 2012 at 8:24AM
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yardvaark

D...6, Privacy problem in what way? Usually, the front yard is the area that, to a large extent, is for public display. Most homeowners want the entrance to the home to look inviting and appealing as viewed from the street. There are always exceptions, but they are not typical.

    Bookmark   January 22, 2012 at 11:17AM
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designoline6(Z6)

You are right.Homeowners like curb appealing+privacy;Homerenters enjoy privacy Usually.

    Bookmark   January 22, 2012 at 1:06PM
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christym2828(7b)

Thanks for the input :) I am a homeowner, but am renting out my house and renting this one for four years. Gotta love the military!! Privacy is a definite must - but in this neighborhood the only things peeking in are birds. Other plots are either not developed or far away. I think we have 18 houses in the whole neighborhood, and there are 5 different streets. It's considered rural. The three windows in the front go to my children's rooms and the living room (not including the FROG upstairs). They have blinds and room darkening shades in each of the rooms and there are blinds in the living room. Fortunately privacy is not an issue for me. I love the designs, it is hard for me to get out of my symmetrical mind!!! Christy :)

    Bookmark   January 22, 2012 at 2:19PM
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yardvaark

I would not guess that the renter of a nice single family home is interested in privacy AT THE EXPENSE OF curb appeal (since they, too, have their back yards for private use.) That might be true of apartment dwellers or people who live in complexes who have very little or no private outdoor space. Then, neither do they have much in the way of front yard landscape space... if any at all.

    Bookmark   January 22, 2012 at 2:55PM
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yardvaark

Christy, what is your "symmetrical mind" doing to you here? What is the issue that confounds or disturbs?

    Bookmark   January 22, 2012 at 3:01PM
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christym2828(7b)

Oh, not disturbs. Your design is something I would have never considered, that is what I like! I have the phlox lined up and the Black and Blues lined up, but I never considered the house design. I agree, the unappealing part of the house is between those two windows, and I never really considered bringing the landscape up to hide the bareness. My other thought was just lining up some Oak leaf hydrangeas to the left. And that's it! It's like your design, love the pop of color on either side of the entrance, where my focus was on just in between the door and garage. My symmetry is just lining things up - in 3's and 5's :)

    Bookmark   January 22, 2012 at 3:14PM
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lazy_gardens

Widen that wimpy front walk with brick laid in sand, or some sort of climate-appropriate materials, and have a bed of perennials and evergreens between it and the rest of the front lawn to say "the door is HERE".

Trees will take several years - talk to the landlord on placement and type so you don't saddle him/her with a maintenance or size problem down the line.

If cost is an issue, start with seeds, planting annuals and perennials. As the perennials grow larger, stop planting annuals.

Consider using the front area for full-sun vegetables that have attractive foliage: intermix flowers with leafy greens and herbs, grow peppers and eggplant or okra as larger green bushes.

    Bookmark   January 22, 2012 at 3:54PM
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yardvaark

I see what you mean,then. Generally, you'll find that a small bed has much more impact if the bed is filled with mostly one thing (within reason) rather than little rows of different things.

I think lazygardens makes a good point... that seed-grown annuals can be very useful to someone who doesn't want to spend a lot of money. I could see the little tree I've shown (and called "crape") coming from 3 castor bean seeds. Bottom leaves could be removed as they grow. The hedges under windows could be dill. The low growing beds could be Petunias (might be best starting from bedding plants.) There'd be any number of plant varieties you could consider to put something like that together. Though only temporary, it would be colorful and bright. I'd use only easy-to-grow plants so as not to be at the mercy of uncooperative ones. "Play" first, and then gravitate toward permanent shrubs as it suits you.

Oak leaf hydrangea can get pretty tall. 'Annabelle' or "big leaf" might fit better somewhere.

    Bookmark   January 22, 2012 at 4:52PM
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christy2828(8a)

Thanks!!! I actually have a Tea Olive I put in the backyard that I think would look great where you have placed the smaller tree!!! There is a link to someone else's picture below. I can relocate it up front. There was a vitex there, but I think it is dead. If not, it can go out back - where the Tea Olive is currently located. I have a lot of seeds, and enjoy growing them!! I have Zinnia and Dahlia seeds, and several black eyed susan/coneflower varieties. I like the idea of the dill, and in front put in some of the black eyes and coneflowers in front. I like butterflies and hummingbirds. I also got some Laura Bush petunia seeds, I've really been wanting to use those!! Thanks for the great suggestions!!!!

Well, I can't link to the picture - per GW but it is called Fortune's Osmanthus, you can google it to see some nice pics, I guess there is spamming from a particular website?

    Bookmark   January 22, 2012 at 5:10PM
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adriennemb2(z3/4)

Agh!!! No castor beans!!! She has kids!!!

    Bookmark   January 22, 2012 at 5:10PM
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christy2828(8a)

adrienneb, Lol, I looked into those a few years ago, and vetoed them just for that reason :) I actually bought the seeds, looked them up, and carried them to the dump - didn't even get to sit in my indoor trash can!!!

They were very pretty, though!!!

    Bookmark   January 22, 2012 at 5:15PM
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yardvaark

I was a kid and we had castor beans. How ever did I live?? It's pretty easy to train kids--even little kids--not to eats plant parts from the outdoors until they understand what they are doing. It's part of growing up. Considering how rare it is that we hear of it happening, I'd say we're pretty successful.

    Bookmark   January 22, 2012 at 5:23PM
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christy2828(8a)

Very true, I have even house plants that are not good for kids, but my Dad gives me crap. If he saw a castor outside I'd never hear the end of it. What did you think of the Tea Olive??

    Bookmark   January 22, 2012 at 5:31PM
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yardvaark

The tea olive would work as a small multi-trunk tree and with its delicious smell is one of my all-time favorite plants!

    Bookmark   January 22, 2012 at 6:00PM
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christy2828(8a)

I've never smelled it :) I bought it after reading many GW posts and am really looking forward to seeing it bloom!! I hope it does so in the next 3 1/2 years!!!!

    Bookmark   January 22, 2012 at 7:12PM
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yardvaark

It does not need to be big to bloom so you will "see it." However, the flowers are barely visible so not much to see. You will smell it though!

    Bookmark   January 23, 2012 at 7:01AM
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christy2828(8a)

I thought about that after I posted, I can't wait to SMELL it bloom :)

    Bookmark   January 23, 2012 at 12:20PM
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christy2828(8a)

I think I like the idea of the Japanese Spiraea's over the dill for under the windows. The blooms I see on the internet remind me of cherry blossoms. I'm ready to start planting now!! :)

    Bookmark   January 30, 2012 at 5:20PM
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yardvaark

Dill was a suggestion for a fun, very out-of-the-ordinary, temporary way of getting "foundation" plants for very little cost. Japanese spiraea is a nice permanent solution.

    Bookmark   January 30, 2012 at 7:44PM
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christy2828(8a)

I actually like dill. I just don't know what the bush looks like, and it is hard to find images without a recipe :) I did pick up some dill seeds the other day to give it a shot. Are they fast growing?

    Bookmark   January 30, 2012 at 8:08PM
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yardvaark

Dill looks like a shrub made of ostrich plumes. With good fertilization, they are almost bluish green. Seem to generally get 2 1/2 to 3-ish feet tall. I've found them to hold up very well to heat (they were the only thing grew well in summer in my garden in south Texas,) re-seed (but not obnoxiously so) and the flowers are pretty and interesting. They hold up to cold well, too... the only thing in my garden not injured or killed by this winter's cold weather. It probably got to 30*. And their smell is divine! I will take a picture and post tomorrow. (They're about 1/2 grown.)

    Bookmark   January 30, 2012 at 11:08PM
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yardvaark

First photo is looking straight down. It's about ready to begin blooming. They'd be bigger in warmer weather. They're coming up willy nilly as just volunteers. If making a hedge I'd plant about 12" apart in 3 rows that were about 12" apart.


By yardvaark at 2012-01-31


By yardvaark at 2012-01-31

    Bookmark   January 31, 2012 at 6:39PM
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yardworkuniversity

Wow, I am very impressed with the design ideas. Those seem like very elaborate designs for a house that you are renting. I am a professional landscape contractor in Southern New Jersey and thought I would offer a few tips for getting plants really cheap or even free...
Contact a few landscapers in your area and tell them that you are interested in taking any plants that they are throwing away. When we integrate a new design, I offer plants to neighbors and friends of mine for free as long as they pick them up.
Contact environmental organizations in your area. In New Jersey, the Nature Conservancy has a native plant sale. I once set up an award winning butterfly garden for a customer who spent $180.00 on plants.
Join the local garden club. Plant swaps are a great place to get plants for free. If you don't have plants to offer, try trading cookies or baked goods.

If I can offer some advice on the design process. The first day of landscape design 101, we learn that landscaping is all about leading the eye. When I look at your home, my eye goes right to the ditch in front, then to the large gap between the windows. I suggest planting 2 upright evergreens on either side of the stairs thereby framing the door. I also like the idea of transplanting the Crate Myrtle to the area between the windows. I would then buy a few inexpensive window boxes to install to the porch railing, fill with ivy geraniums and vinca vine.

Good Luck

Here is a link that might be useful: Lundholm Landscaping Blog

    Bookmark   January 31, 2012 at 9:55PM
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christy2828(8a)

The dill is very pretty!!! Thanks for all of the advice :) I'm starting to get a design in mind, following the above pics. I think I'll keep the Phlox David along the rail, I love those flowers and they are already planted. There are five, but the one on the very right I think died. I picked up a flower carpet rose they other day on clearance, paid $4.00 for a 2 gallon pot!! I think it is coral, but of course it wasn't labeled. I'll put that where the Phlox died and where the purple plant is in the picture. There are 3 black and blue salvia's centered in front of the phlox, I'll keep those for my hummingbirds. I love their dark green leaves and dark blue flowers!!! Where the 3 shrubs are on the left, I think I'll put in the Spiraea Japonica "Neon Flash". Hopefully I can find those in a garden center, or Lazy S' Farms has them for $10 each. I'll move the Tea Olive I have in the backyard to where the small tree is in the photo. In front on the left I have some Laura Bush Petunia seeds that I will winter sow, they should fill in, and petunia's are my favorite flowers!! Then where the yellow flowers are on either side of the doorway I have some huge yellow/orange marigolds that I grew last year from seed and were stunning!!! I might continue the Laura Bush petunia's in the front of the bed on the right. So, most things I have on hand and the only cost left is the Spiraea, and the labor :) What do you think?? Thanks again :) Christy

    Bookmark   February 1, 2012 at 9:30AM
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yardvaark

You have plenty of guidelines and plenty of ideas. Have fun! If you do something and it doesn't work, change it. When it works and you want to leave it permanently as it is, call it "landscaping." When it's in flux, call it "gardening."

    Bookmark   February 1, 2012 at 10:25AM
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christy2828(8a)

Lol, I'll do that :) I'm ready for spring!!!

    Bookmark   February 1, 2012 at 12:01PM
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