What would you do to add curb appeal to this house?
Fine looking property, but I'm afraid you may have inadvertently depressed one of the major "snobbery" buttons here. You might want to take a quick look at the Softening Corner of House thread, which acrimoniously concluded on 3-5-12.
Snobbery is right!
Newhome, I see you in the bathroom. ;) JK! I recognized the windows before the name.
Hopefully you'll get some good advice here.
Newhomeowner, Gardenweb shrunk the picture so it's hard to see. If you want a larger, clearer one, send me an email. (Just click on my name.)
The Arborvitae may be something to delete at some point. Looks like you have a redbud behind it. Maybe you'd want to match it as the small tree on R. side. For more specific suggestions you would need to say where the property is located.
Ha; yes, that was us with the bathroom addition - poster board is thankfully keeping us covered in the meantime ;)
We live in Minnesota.
The hostas along the boulevard get really thick and cover the entire thing. I know they are hardy so I could probably replant them to do what you propose for a layering effect.
Grass doesn't grow well on the slope as we don't get a ton of sun - we have toyed with ground cover but won't that take a really long time to cover that space? Any suggestions on types to look into? Pre-construction, we had quite a bit of ground cover on the redbud side of the house but it was trampled - it was a purple blooming variety that stayed green during the winter (nice when the snow melted as it wasn't all sludge/muddy looking). I don't love purple so I'd prefer one that maybe didn't have purple flowers but worst case, the flowers don't last that long (should we stick to those).
The plants under the flowerbox are yews. We were thinking of doing yews across the entire front and then doing a layering effect in front of them - maybe some tulips and something else? (transplanted hostas as you mentioned?)
The plants to the left of the yews are chokeberries (or something like that) - they are essentially twigs for most of the year but for a few months have greenery and some white flowers on them. We thought having yews all the way across might be best b/c it would bring some symmetry to our yard (since the windows clearly aren't!) and in the cold winter months, would add some greenery to our yard.
Was also thinking of replacing the variegated dogwood (to right of stairway in pic) as it too is twiggy during most of the year. Was going to put another yew there. I started digging around though and the roots are really deep so transplanting it might be impossible. I see you suggested a perennial and annual - any suggestions? (would you put a yew and something else? keep the variegated dogwood and add something else? If we did the later, would have to extend that section and when we re-do the fence/gate, would have to move the gate over a bit)
LOVE the idea of the small tree with white blooms! Crabapple perhaps or maybe a white star magnolia? Which grows quicker is probably the best pick for us ;)
The arborvitae is not my favorite either but it does add some height and if they hadn't needed to cut away at the top of it during the addition, might have covered the uneven windows on that side of the house - oh well! If we got rid of, what would you replace with? If we kept, would you prune it so that the line on the right side of it was more cone or straight up/down (vs. being big and then oddly thin on that side b/c of the cutting they had to do for the addition to work there?)
Old owner told us that the only reason the redbud was doing so well was b/c of the arborvitae but I'm not sure I understand that b/c the sun comes in from that side of the house (maybe she meant it was protected from the wind by it?)
Also, we are planning on painting the entire house white, replacing the steps/walkway and getting a new (not stained or painted) fence this summer - and maybe even painting the storm door to match the red wood door behind it. Am torn on what to do about flowerbox as it isn't in the best of condition - either need to get fixed or take off. If we fix, considering getting a matching one for the other window on the bottom floor. If we don't fix, could replace with removable (white painted wood or black wrought iron) flowerbox(es).
Any other suggestions/advice given this new info?
"but won't that take a really long time to cover that space?" No.
To the right of the stoop, a perennial that had a height limit would be a good choice. There is not room for most shrubs, including the Yew or the one that's already there.
Would need different view of house to respond to Arbovitae what-if question.
Window box as built is only good for artificial flowers. It's too small and set too high. The chokeberry is not good enough looking for front of house.
If there's too much shade along the street area that is makes growing plants difficult, it's another indication of the need to remove low (relative to the overall size of the tree) branches.
Previous owner had impatiens in the flower box and was able to grow those there so I shouldn't have to do artificial flowers in it. I think picture might make it look smaller than it really is - and what would too small/set too high matter? Rain maybe???
There is morning sun over the boulevard (where the hostas currently are) as well as afternoon sun over the entire front yard. The house is north facing.
The space where you propose grass and ground cover - would you not just put ground cover over the entire space since it isn't that big and the hostas between the ground cover and the yews?
Will snap some additional pics of the arborvitae for you.
Ripped out chokeberries yesterday - roots were HUGE!
Thanks for your suggestions!
"...and what would too small/set too high matter?"
"Too small" means that as the plants grow and their water demand increases... as does the heat of summer, then watering becomes a chore that wear most--even patient people--out. It's too easy to have wilting, panting plants. Sometimes, twice a day. If you don't mind whatever plant covering up the window (instead of underscoring it) then the elevation of the planter will work for you.
"...would you not just put ground cover over the entire space since it isn't that big and the hostas between the ground cover and the yews?"
Sorry, I don't understand the "where" and "what" of this question. Please break it down.