Hi, new to the forum

indymom76(5)March 7, 2012

Hi everyone; I usually post on the hosta forum, but today I have a question for you guys! I have read some of the posts here and would love to bounce some ideas around here about my backyard. We moved into our house about five years ago. We live in zone 5 (Indiana) and from pictures you'll see that our lot is pie-shaped. We have about 0.8 acres; most is in the front and the pie "point" is in the back. The previous owners did not want to worry about mowing, so they laid out ground cover-English ivy and something else that has taken over the backyard. There are pockets of crocus and mayapple which we don't mind and would like to incorporate into the landscape design, if possible. If some are taken out, that is fine.

The first two summers we lived in the house we were out of state and came back to a wild back yard. I want to reclaim it. I have begun the tedious task of ripping out the ivy and other ground cover; we want to blow the leaves out, cut down the new saplings that are beginning to come up and start new. There are a few dead trees in the back yard that we will have to remove as well and one black walnut I would love to get rid of-sits close to house and drops the annoying balls from the tree.

The yard slopes away from the house and with heavy rains, the backyard can get mushy (there used to be a pond a few houses to the east of us). I didn't know if I should bring in some dirt to try to level out the backyard before beginning landscaping endeavors. I did include a rough sketch that I made one day when I was bored; I can envision a walking path with lots of hosta and a sitting area with a fire pit back there as well. I'd like to get a new privacy fence put up around our yard; the one in place has seen better days.

We do have a patio off the house now that is approximately 10 x 15 feet. I would like to extend that across the back of the house. I would love to close off the door that leads out to the patio and knock out a window (seen in one of the pictures) and put a french door in there that leads out to the new patio area. I'd love to see something with stone that has seating and would be fun for entertaining.

I'm open to suggestions! I will try to find the exact dimensions of the property later on for reference.

Here are the pictures:

Here is a link that might be useful: Backyard Project

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I just added little notes to the pictures on flickr

    Bookmark   March 7, 2012 at 7:53AM
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OK,this some my suggests:

    Bookmark   March 7, 2012 at 8:24AM
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woodyoak zone 5 Canada(5b)

ooh! I'd love to have your property! I can see a fabulous woodland garden there. I'd start by messing around scribbling possible layouts of spaces and places - the patio, firepit, paths etc. - on a copy of the survey or a scale drawing of the yard. My preference for paths, particularly in the woodland area, is fine pinebark mulch mixed with concrete sand (looks natural and packs down nicely...) The path network makes the space look much more organized, plus makes it easier to work out there. I'd probably live with the ivy initially and remove it as you develop each sector of space and are ready to replace it with something else. I'd break up all those hosta lines in favor of clumps of hostas throughout the space, using a variety of hosta colors, sizes and textures, matching them with other plants that would make nice combinations with them. I'd add understory trees and shrubs that would provide flowers and good fall color. Infinite possibilities for you to work with - have fun!

    Bookmark   March 7, 2012 at 11:22AM
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catkim(San Diego 10/24)

Hi Indymom, and welcome. Your location and climate are outside my expertise, but your photos show a very pretty, if a bit wild, garden.

If you are an avid gardener and enjoy spending a lot of time in the garden,over time you could add flowering shrubs and smaller plants in "clouds" among the trees. If you are more into low maintenance, you could plant one colorful "island" in a clearing, and mow the rest.

I'm sure you'll get many more and better suggestions from others like Woody who have more experience with gardening in a woodland setting.

    Bookmark   March 7, 2012 at 11:33AM
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You mention that you have some water issues. In your drawings, include where the water ponds naturally. It would probably be worth your while to work with the natural water flow so you can contain where the sogginess happens and plant rain garden plants there so it looks nice. That should allow you more room to garden as you want.

I agree with woody that taking it in sections is the way to tackle it. And once you clear an area of ivy, be vigilant.

    Bookmark   March 7, 2012 at 12:45PM
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Designonine6-thanks for the plan-there are some things I really like about it-I never thought about opening up the middle part of the backyard-thanks again!

Woodyoak-thanks!That's what I've been doing-I was going to see how much it would be to get it cleared out-to make it go faster :) I'll keep you updated. I got the DH okay to get creative. :)

Catkim-thanks for the suggestions-I'll look into some of those suggestions-I like them!!

Tanowicki-I think the water issues I have aren't too bad-I think hostas can handle it-it's not as bad as the neighbor two doors down has it bad-they bring out a hose to siphon water from their backyard-ours just pools a little and probably drains down to their water problem :)

    Bookmark   March 7, 2012 at 3:35PM
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deviant-deziner(Oh zone)

Beautiful piece of property.
After seeing your photos, reading your wish list and site conditions, I think a consultation with a respected landscape designer from your area would be a great investment with valuable financial return.

About 10 years ago I worked with a young couple who had a pie shaped lot that had drainage problems. They also had a whole list of items that they wanted to incorporate such as adding several patio areas, creating paths and de-emphasizing the pie shaped lot.

We started with a drainage plan and then worked our way around to planning out the sitting areas, paths, and privacy screening.

To mitagate the drainage we installed a collection and disapation system . In its finished state it looks like a dry stream bed. This is something that might be a consideration for your property, but a site inspection with a professional is really needed for most all drainage situations.

To de-emphasize the point in the pie a semi circular patio was installed with copious layered planting. This affect may work well in your situation

I'll attach a few progression photos so you can see how we sculpted and shaped the land to handle the drainage and pedestrian flow patterns.

The pie shaped property - drainage on the left
From Before and After Projects

Mid way thru the project:
From Before and After Projects

After installation - one of the sitting area in center of pie shaped back yard
From Before and After Projects

Detail of the sitting area with water fountain. This could easily to translated into a fire bowl.
From Before and After Projects

The dry stream bed - collection and disapation system

Good luck with your project.

    Bookmark   March 7, 2012 at 4:09PM
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Love that dry stream bed, Michelle. What is under the base of smaller rocks? Is it percolating water, slowing it down or directing it?

Sock monkeys rule.

    Bookmark   March 7, 2012 at 4:18PM
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deviant-deziner(Oh zone)

Sockmonkeys unite !
There is a 6 inch diameter perforated pipe in a deep trench of gravel. The perf. drain pipe slopes at 2% and is directed out to a drainage ditch that runs along the opposite side of the property . The drain pipe outlet daylights at the end of the pie shaped lot into a bio filtered drain ditch which feeds a wetlands. The dry stream bed collects and slowly disapates the run off water on site . When the surrounding soil is fully saturated to 'point of refusal', the water then swells up into the pipe and flows out to the drainage ditch on the other side of the fence , along the hiker/biker/dog and horse trail ( right side of property )

    Bookmark   March 7, 2012 at 5:20PM
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Thanks-I will contact someone before I go crazy back there and regret it later. It did rain here yesterday-some puddles, but gone later in the day. I truly think our neighbor two doors down takes the brunt of all our run off. Poor things. I'll update with pics along the way and if there are any additional ideas-I'm open to hearing them. Thanks again for the advice and welcome! Oh-and the compliments on the property-it was one of the big selling points to buying the house-our own little forest!

    Bookmark   March 9, 2012 at 8:30AM
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