Down Sloped Front Yard Design

lasswelltMarch 15, 2009

I have an unusual front yard it seems, I cannot find any photo help with what to do with this yard. It's got to be redone and I would like to consult the experts on ideas of what to do. I'd like to redo the bridge as well, but have been hardpressed to find designs.

any help would be greately appreciated

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I am just a homeowner with dilemas too, but maybe someone can help you, I'd say make a more open area at the front door, like a patio area, and plant some tall shrubs or bamboo in the yard part? But maybe that would take away the light below....

    Bookmark   March 15, 2009 at 11:29PM
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i was thinking the same thing with opening up the front porch to add some addtl area. My wife was also thinking a waterfall or water feature in the front yard.

i do like the shrub idea at the front near the fence, i'm most likly going to be removing the fence, so short shrubs to define that area would be nice.

    Bookmark   March 16, 2009 at 12:01AM
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I was gonna suggest a pond to look down in from above!!! But I thought it was just me obsessing about wanting one myself!!!lol!

    Bookmark   March 16, 2009 at 12:40AM
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jkom51(Z9 CA/Sunset 17)

I don't know if you're zone 10 East Coast or West Coast. I'd do a nice arbor with a strong horizontal element to match the house. I'd probably take the fence down and do mini-shrub plantings along the top of your garden beds to take their place.

I like trees but not right in front of the house. A small city tree on the LH side, just past the edge of the house, would frame your home nicely without blocking the sunlight.

Are there any drainage holes in your wall? If not, you should have them installed. New plantings require water, which adds tremendous weight/pressure to simple block walls like yours. They will crack over time, I guarantee you.

These are not large beds and any good nursery can point you to a modest selection of plants that will do well under your site conditions. Some trailing plants at the bottom edge would spill attractively down to make that block wall more attractive from the ground floor windows.

I would do drought resistant plants such as phormium, lantana, salvia, lavender or malva, helichrysum, pelargoniums. Easy-care plants that don't require a lot of fussing or water. You could have two beautiful, evergreen, colorful beds that would be a pleasure to look at from inside your windows, both top and ground floors.

    Bookmark   March 16, 2009 at 12:49PM
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catkim(San Diego 10/24)

I see potential for transformation to a Japanese-influenced garden. Imagine the fencing, bridge and door a deep red, the house some shade of charcoal grey, apply Calamity's bamboo idea, change out the odd rocks for some black lava, or other shapely stones with character, add some mosses and misters. Maybe a small deck area so you can enjoy it. Could be really cool!

    Bookmark   March 16, 2009 at 2:48PM
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Perhaps you could consider something simple and graphic - a very limited planting palette, making full use of the incline to take advantage of patterns that you typically wouldn't see.

These photos were taken at the University of Copenhagen Fredericksberg campus. There are classrooms in the basement floor, which open out onto these. The banks slope up to a parking lot at the top, concealed by the beech hedge.

- Audric

    Bookmark   March 20, 2009 at 9:32AM
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bahia(SF Bay Area)

I would be tempted to add some real vertical elements to the slopes, to give the effect of walking through a grove of trees. Light and airy foliage effects would be more in scale with the small size of the house, so nothing that gets to dense and shady. Bamboos could certainly work, or slender palm species such as Chamaedorea plumosa or palm-like trees such as Cussonia paniculata or C. spicata. I'd want to underplant the slope with lush foliage and texture that looks good from above, while also not needing a lot of water. An underplanting of cycads such as Dioon edule, Encephalartos horrida, Ceratozamia mexicana, along with lots of succulents or drought tolerant bromeliads such as colorful foliaged Dyckia species. I would also be inclined to make the fence more screening, and carry some plantings out to the street strip to unite the two planting areas.

Alternatively, if you don't like the idea of slender narrow accents such as palms, slender narrow trees with fragrance such as Hymenosporum flavum, or weeping foliaged accents such as Mayten trees could also be used. The blank walls of the house could also be used for wall accent plants such as staghorn ferns, or pendant plantings of Rhipsalis, bromeliads, etc. Just a few accent plants on the slope could really work wonders, and this slope would be impressive with some rosettes of xMangave 'Mocha Madness', some Portea petropliteana var extensa, or Androlepsis skinneri bromeliads, set within a sea of colorful succulents such as Senecio serpens or Sedum spurium 'Dragon's Blood' or Drosanthemum bicolor or D. speciosa, both of which are virtually everblooming.

    Bookmark   March 20, 2009 at 12:02PM
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This slope is very hairy, i would think about terracing, maybe two levels with a nice stone wall with trailing plant over the walls and lots of perrenials to add color on your hill. I do agree that you have to put weep holes in the concrete walls because there will be lots more water.Maybe also put some veneeer stone on the concrete walls to spruce it up. (this may sound expensive but you dont have to do everything at one time) I would celebrate the entrance way so that people feel invited into your home since you already have a brdge the best way to do this is either framing the entrance way with two taller trees/plants or possible an arbor with a warm colored vine. Maybe even run this arbor all the way down the bridge . I feel if you take the fence out it will and put a small hedge it will define your space but not really stop anyone from going through it unless you use a bush with spike such as a hawthorn or barberry but that will give you an undesirable plant. If its a fence you dont want look up "espalier" if you dont know what it already is but you can really make a nice barrier/fence using you favorite trees or shrubs this does howver take a couple years to get the full effect. Those are just some ideas so solve your problem i hope i may have helped you, and good luck on your project.

    Bookmark   March 20, 2009 at 1:39PM
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I would do a rock garden with alpine type plants with lots of color. Maybe some natives also. Bring in some bigger boulders.

    Bookmark   March 21, 2009 at 5:33PM
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My thought, too, was a rock garden. With the slope, it's never going to be a strolling garden. :-) But it could be something interesting to look out or down at. Dwarf or miniature conifers mixed with some of the succulent type plants... dianthus for color.

I'm not familiar with zone 10 flora. What's in there now? Remnants of an original planting scheme? Looks to need a major clearing/cleaning out and isolating anything salvageable. Good footing for general maintenance would be an issue; not sliding off loose rocks.

    Bookmark   March 21, 2009 at 6:07PM
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Hi Lasswellt,

I would widen the bridge. Build a pergola at the entrance with colorful bougainvillea and may be trellis the bridge. Don't paint it blue. That would de-emphasize the horizontal look of the house and fence. Vary the texture and color of whatever you plant in place of the fence. If security is an issue, a black wrought iron fence with plants in front and back with varied spacing would be a nice touch. Below would just plants you enjoy looking at and smelling. I enjoy looking at orchids and smelling jasmine, roses, a nice ground cover, etc. Also weep holes, but stucco the walls and cap with a nice stone or colorful tile. GL Aloha.

    Bookmark   March 21, 2009 at 8:58PM
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