Split-Level Front Yard Suggestions

VeggieLevisFebruary 20, 2014


I enjoy the suggestions and commentary on this site and I wanted to ask for your help. I own a split-level home and I am planning to sell in a few years. As preparation I would like to spruce up my front yard. I don't have a lot of extra cash so I can't do anything fancy. Given my images, what are some areas I should highlight? What low-maintenance plants could I add?

I was considering removing the front tree and adding a japanese cherry blossom on the left side and possibly using Heuchera and grasses. I have some connections to get that done cheaply. I also have a man-hole cover in the center of the front yard so I can't do anything at the front center. There is also a patch of about 5'x5' garden space between the stairs and the garage.

Thank you so much!
Edit: I am updating the pictures based the requests in some other threads I have read.

This post was edited by VeggieLevis on Thu, Feb 20, 14 at 5:20

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My second image. Further note: the first image doesn't show that my yard is a bit wider than in the picture.


This post was edited by VeggieLevis on Thu, Feb 20, 14 at 5:21

    Bookmark   February 20, 2014 at 3:28AM
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I suggest to keep the front tree.improve the hardscape.

    Bookmark   February 20, 2014 at 6:24AM
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Thank you for the suggestion.
Your picture shows flowers in the front yard as well as two shrubs and a pergola(?). The rest I'm not quite sure what I am seeing. The Pergola you show, however wouldn't work as our heads would smack right into it as we went up the stairs! Assuming it is against the house.

I love the idea though. I also am concerned it might be too costly for us. I need to stick to inexpensive hardscape. Things like cinder block hidden by plants or pea gravel. Maybe some basic concrete work. I might be able to rope my uncle into helping with that. I have access to plants and I hope to have time to dig it all up over the next summer or two but I can't bust the concrete steps without hiring someone. I'm not very landscape-handy.

I also like the tree in that picture. I guess I was concerned that the tree covers the front of my house a ton. It's blocking the view both from the house and of the house. It also STINKS! It's one of the worst smelling trees! That might be just myself and my partner though. I have never liked bradford pear trees. Perhaps I could leave it and consider working the landscape down around it as you have though.

I attempted a drawing for myself. Anyone want to comment on this?

I'll attempt another one with your idea in mind yin49 :)

    Bookmark   February 20, 2014 at 2:42PM
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jerseygirl07603 z6NJ

Looking at the first picture, I wondered "what house?" For selling purposes, there seems to be little curb appeal since the tree blocks the house. I think your instincts are right - take the tree down. Make a bed under the windows and plant smallish evergreen shrubs. What is planted by left corner of house? That might be a good spot for a tallish "something". I personally am fond of & like your idea of Japanese cherry. Where were you thinking about putting grasses and heucs? Is front of house shady or sunny?

    Bookmark   February 20, 2014 at 2:45PM
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The front of my house gets evening sun except for more directly under the left windows where it's pretty much shade. I was thinking shade grasses/heuchera under the window. I like the heuchera a lot and it's probably one of my fave plants. It's readily available and I've grown several types in my pots out front. I wanted to have color without flowers that I need to maintain.

I did want to put something tallish by that front window but I was thinking more "large shrub" because of the overhang. I am not sure what else might fit in that space without becoming too large. I was looking at variegated holly maybe. I liked the bright ones. I also remember that hostas are shade plants so they might do well toward the house, right? I thought some large leaves could be attractive against the colorful heuchera. I also see that it says "slug resistant" on a lot of hostas which is great since we have slugs galore.

    Bookmark   February 20, 2014 at 3:39PM
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Another idea I had with keeping the front tree.

    Bookmark   February 20, 2014 at 4:49PM
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VL, your most recent sketch is getting wildly busy. I'd tame it down a good bit with the idea of making it lower maintenance and being easier to grasp visually. A low groundcover could improve the appearance and get you out of mowing the worst of the slope. A tree at each side could help block what's outside of the house facade itself. (It gets unattractive looking between the buildings and seeing so much of the neighbors' houses.) I think you need another shrub on the right, but I can't see enough over there to tell what to do. So I left it out.

If the tree is Bradford, just get rid of it before it gets any harder to do.

    Bookmark   February 20, 2014 at 8:01PM
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I love that layout, Yardvaark! I think I would still need to figure out what to do with the patch between the stairs and garage.

I'm not sure about trees in those positions. I'm concerned they would be too close to the foundation of the house and too far into the neighbor's yards. There's maybe 2 feet from the side of my house until my property ends. I can play with that idea though. Perhaps if I find a thin-type, slow grower and plant them a bit more forward it would work. It looks far more balanced which is what I wanted. My mother also agrees that my latest idea was "busy." I just thought it was colorful lol.

Any suggestions for the groundcover? I have played with that idea before. I am just not sure what to plant or even how to plant it. I don't want it to still look like dirt by the time I list the house.

I am definitely leaning toward getting rid of the front tree. When we bought the house there were two out front. We didn't move in for a month as we were renovating and one week it was SUPER windy (our street is a bit of a wind tunnel) and the tree to the left split and landed in the neighbor's driveway. I felt terrible because it sat there for 6 before we returned the next weekend.

    Bookmark   February 21, 2014 at 1:28AM
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Search Google for groundcovers for your zone # and it will return some results with choices. Something in the 6 - 8" range would be ideal, especially if evergreen. Usually, groundcover grows quickly if given regular supplemental water.

    Bookmark   February 22, 2014 at 5:09AM
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