Ideas for front beds

btcharm_ga(zone 7)March 18, 2010

We moved into our home in August 2007 and I have struggled to figure out what to plant since. I am desperate about what to do. I have planted a few things and didn't like the shrubs and moved them. I love the cottage garden look as well as butterfly gardens. As you can see I don't really have a cottage style house. We really aren't crazy about all shrubs up front (which is what I see everywhere). My next door neighbors beds look great in the summer, but when winter comes it is bare (which is something I do not want). I want what I do to compliment my house, and really don't think I could afford to hire someone. My main problem is I have a hard time picturing things.

The only two things in my front bed that were there when I moved in (foreclosure) are an azalea and a holly bush. Also planted is clematis, balloon flowers, gardenias and mondo grass. I have a big empty yard to work with and can move things if need be.

Also plan on building up a wall (like the one around the river birch) to the left of the fence area. I have three rose bushes over there and want to possibly level it out and turn into a rose garden/ butterfly garden. I've also thought about adding jasmine along the fence and have it grow up lattice.

We live in zone 7, just outside of Atlanta. Please help me! I have searched the internet FOREVER and don't know what to do. Oh and the wind blew off one of our shutters... we will be putting that back up this weekend. :)

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You are lucky having such a BIG home and so much place to garden. Why are you restricting yourself to only front bed?
May be you want to start from there :)
As your home is painted with light colors so i would suggest flower beds to compliment your house front with flowers.
Talking simple, you can go for Red roses and daffodils.
Then you can add some perennials to them.

    Bookmark   March 18, 2010 at 12:08PM
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You've got a whole lot of empty there. I would probably invesitgate some trees first off, either for shade or to bring the house down to some scale with its surroundings. Drips and drabs of little shrubs and blooming perennials around the foundation will be for enjoyment when coming out the front door - not to make any kind of impact from the street or to help the house look settled in.

And if the winds are strong enough to take off shutters, think about a windbreak of conifers. Conifers are virtually a part of everyone's landscape here and I'm sure Georgia has an array to choose from. Not much help, I know, but with so much blank space I'd have to get the bones (and carefully thought out and placed trees will give you points to depart from) in first then flesh it out over a few seasons with maybe an island somewhere for a cottage garden/butterfly garden.

Pick your jumping off point if this is going to be a DIY; you can't do everything at once... well, unless you can go for the whole package of hiring for both design and install.

    Bookmark   March 18, 2010 at 1:33PM
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I have nothing brilliant to add, other than to agree with Duluth. I'd definitely start with the trees, before doing anything else. You can always throw some annuals in the front beds for a little instant color/gratification. And I have to say that that's the most unusual front entry I've seen. So, the front door opens onto the second floor?

    Bookmark   March 18, 2010 at 9:34PM
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btcharm_ga(zone 7)

First of all, thank you for responding.

LOL. No it's a split foyer. You open the door and there are steps going up and going down. As far as trees go, I have planted a river birch in front and will probably add another one near the one I planted in the fall. All I can do now it wait for them to grow. I don't want to plant trees in front of the house, as I don't want them to block my house totally. And I am not quite sure where else to plant trees so it looks right. I don't have a whole lot of yard to the right side of my driveway.

So I have the trees done for now (I think)... any ideas on the other things I asked about?

    Bookmark   March 19, 2010 at 7:20AM
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Well I would think some nice round evergreens (Wichita Blue?) to cover the foundation of the stair might be a start. Either that or a trellis if you need access or want that area for storing gardening equipment or toys.

Also for the house section/bed between the front door and the garage door some smaller darker shrubs to recess that area and some larger lighter shrubs/bolder in a planting bed to the left of the door to pull that area forward.

Some Taller trees (for the grandchildern to enjoy) to the sides of the house to match the scale of the house would work.

Also don't forget that the same old plants everyone elese has, they have them for a reason, because they work. It isn't always the material that makes a great project but how it's used to a good effect that makes the difference.

    Bookmark   March 19, 2010 at 10:26AM
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What do you like about cottage gardens?

So many people say they want a cottage look, and I'm not clear whether what they like is really what a cottage garden offers.

A well-wrought cottage garden will have flower power, but it is mighty hard to pull off. It rarely looks like the pics even for an experienced dedicated gardener and depends on an informal, crowded, almost blousy eclectic display. If that's what you mean, it can be fun. It's sort of what I do in my own haphazard accidental garden ... but I don't recommend it for good landscape effect.

So ... what exactly do you mean when you think "cottage garden"?

And if, as you say, it wouldn't really fit with your home, then why, oh why, do a cottage look if what you also want is something that works well with your home?

Maybe what you really want is romance. Tons and tons of flowers. That's not necessarily "cottage". It can be pulled off well in a Southern zone 7 garden, perhaps with a series of seasonal displays.

For example, my mother's zone 7 garden got photographed again this year for her daffodils, forsithia, and hellebore display. it works because she has huge beds full. She then gets her gardener to help put the daffs to bed in preparation for the gorgeous azaleas, new foliage on Jap maples, and dogwoods. Again, it works because it's generously done. There's nothing unusual about the plants ... the reason the newspaper again wants photos about every third year or so is simply because she's planted enough to create a show, a blaze of azaleas.

Summer is when she shifts gears. There's no huge swath of any one flower, rather a series of smaller groupings of perennials coming in bloom then out. The keynote in summer is to use the several groupings of trees to suggest shade and shelter from the summer heat. She does occasionally feature a large urn on the doorstep overflowing with an annual or she fills the planters set into the retaining wall on either side of the stairs from her lower yard to her upper garden.

Her garden is by no means "cottage", yet it has a sort of characteristic southern charm and flavor ... Don't know how else to put it.

I've wandered off into contemplating why that garden works, but the question remains: What is it about a cottage garden that stirs a longing in your heart? Decide what it is that you are really wanting to pull off, specifically, then see what you need to do to build toward that goal.

    Bookmark   March 19, 2010 at 10:31PM
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