Help with landscape design and planning for nautical/beachy theme

defence21March 18, 2013

First of all, let me intoruduce myself. My name is Matt, and I consider myself an experienced novice when it comes to landscaping. I have a lot of experience with doing very simple (yet large) projects, but am pretty green when it comes to laying out a plan and executing it.

I have plenty of ideas in my head, but I can't figure out how to tie everything together to make for one unified look. Additionally, I'm on a budget and really need to watch expenditures. Ideally a staged/stepped project would be perfect.

My wife and I love the beach and have created our own little beach oasis inside with plenty of blues, yellows, whites, etc., while also utilizing driftwood, lighthouses, buoys, netting,roping, etc. Outside, we're a different story. Our landscape is more rustic/natural, as designed by the previous owner of our house, and we want to make a transition to a more beachy/nautical look. Please keep in mind that we're not necessarily looking for authentic, but rather a "look" that reminds of the beach.

Now on to my dilemma. I have two sections of landscaping I would like to work on this spring/summer. The first is shown in the uploaded image. As you can see, it's pretty weak. It's not what it once looked like, but has been thinned out significantly, leaving it dull and needing a makeover. I like the shape, but I need ideas to fill in with shrubs/trees/plans/flowers. For reference, from front to back, it's roughly 20 feet long, and the widest point is about 12 feet, with the narrowest point being around 7 or 8 feet. There is a corner fence which can stay or go (was thinking of coming up with a dock piling idea to support our mailbox there, maybe). Any nautical ideas -- kind of like a Red Lobster landscape -- would be much appreciated.

Now, the second project, which is much more important and on a larger scale, includes a preformed pond -- maybe 500 gallons? -- and will sit in the corner where my garage meets my fence. The garage is roughly 15 feet wide, and the length of the space is indefinite, though I'd like to keep it to 20 feet max. I'd like the pond to sit in the corner (I think), but I also want to find a way to "hide" the sided garage. I have an old, blue, wooden rowboat I would like to use in some way/shape/form, and I'd like to create a mini "boardwalk" through the space leading up to the pond.

Is anyone willing/able to help me come up with some more concrete plans in terms of plant selection and layout? Once the weather breaks here (we're in the midst of a snow/ice storm that has left me home from work today), I'd be happy to take additional pictures of the spaces to provide more clarity.

Any help would be much, much appreciated!

Thanks, and I look forward to responses!

This post was edited by DMB21 on Mon, Mar 18, 13 at 19:23

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catkim(San Diego 10/24)

I'm not sure what's going on in your bed there -- grasses, for sure, and they are appropriate for an oceanside setting. Looks to me like a strong structural element is needed. Two ideas -- and I am uncertain if both are hardy in your zone -- Norfolk Island Pine, and/or Trachycarpus.

Here is a link that might be useful: Trachycarpus

    Bookmark   March 20, 2013 at 3:03PM
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Suzi AKA DesertDance Zone 9b

I've only seen this on HGTV, but there was one show that highlighted surfboards as part of the landscape.

When we visited Cancun years ago, I knew our pool had to be white sand, and turquoise water. I knew it had to include multiple umbrellas to get that resort feel.

We achieved that in the BACK yard overlooking the golf course with an infinity edge pool, with a sun shelf full of umbrella holes so you can sit under that row of white umbrellas in your beach chair with a cool drink. We used a sandy pebble tek finish with a hint of aqua. Pool rocks!

This might work in your front space, properly planned. Nothing spells B E A C H like umbrellas and sand chairs!

I actually think you need to move ;-))


    Bookmark   March 20, 2013 at 3:58PM
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What type of beach/nautical climate are you looking for?

Try doing a google image search for different types of beach/nautical environments and decide what you like.

    Bookmark   March 20, 2013 at 4:21PM
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Zone 5 covers a lot of territory. Are you close enough to a body of water that would make a nautical landscape less than a curiosity?

We have quite a few such themes around here - the city wrapping around the head of Lake Superior. An interesting feature of the city is a mini Outer Banks type barrier with the St. Louis Bay on one side of the street and the dunes, white sand beaches and open water of the big lake on the other.

Most of the homes seemed to have gone with vignettes for the yards - boats, driftwood, anchors, life saving rings, a well placed buoy... Given the location, it's pretty effective if not over done in a hodge podge.

I like this vignette for it's simplicity.

Here is a link that might be useful: Vignette

    Bookmark   March 20, 2013 at 5:43PM
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Sometimes, I never know what's going to show up with a copied Google image - it's the picture of the tilted boat, pier pilings, black eyed Susans, and seagull.

    Bookmark   March 20, 2013 at 5:46PM
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First off, thanks to all of you for replying. I thought I signed up for auto-emails with each response, and when I didn't get any emails, I assumed there wasn't much interest in help.

@catkim, I'm not either :) Actually, it's in transition. We had a Blue Spruce as the anchor, and it was too large, blocking the view to and from our house. We had it removed, leaving a discombobulated mess. Quick -- very quick -- research suggests the Norfolk Island Pine won't be hardy in my area. The Windmill Palm is an element we plan to use in our backyard, as I think it will look entirely out of place in out front yard.

@desertdance, thanks for the ideas. I love the surfboard idea, and the chair/umbrella idea definitely will give it the right feel.

@lyfia, great question. I think we're looking for a rustic cottage-type nautical/beach theme more than tropical. So, looking at your pictures, I'd say two and three are about right. Of course, I want more than just blade grasses. To sum up my thoughts: think Red Lobster. I realize it's commercial and stereotypical -- but that's kind of where we are heading with this.

@duluthinbloomz4, I'm in Johnstown, PA, which is about 2 hours east of Pittsburgh. Closest body of Water is Lake Erie roughly 4 hours north :) That's why I would like to keep the front yard basic, not getting to advanced in a nautical look, while using some more common nautical ideas in the back. As for your photo search, this is a lot of what I'm thinking of/looking for.

@All, Thanks again for the help. I'm not short of ideas, but I think my biggest concern is plant selection and placement to give this a semi-authentic look without over or undercrowding. I've found some garden plans at the Better Homes and Gardens web site, but I can't seem to find plans elsewhere. Again, what's most important to me is the plants, as I have plenty of other ideas, which I'll list below:

- A small, rustic boardwalk leading from the edge of the garden up to the pond.

- A small "dock" that sits at the edge of the pond with some pilings and rope

- Chicken scratch (oyster shells, etc) as a substrate in certian areas to be highlighted

- An old, blue rowboat placed on an angle with flowers pouring out the side

Thanks again, everyone!

    Bookmark   March 22, 2013 at 3:53PM
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