Front of House help!!!

rajdawgApril 9, 2014

This is the walkway leading up to my house. It is all mulched. I have no idea where to start or how to design a layout of plants/bushes leading up the path. Looking for some ideas that can help spruce this area up. The walkway is roughly 25 feet long if that gives you an idea. I live in Zone 5 as far as planting guidelines go.
Also ignore the areas along the front of the house. there are hydrangeas on the left side of the front door that have yet to bloom for the year

Am also thinking about painting the front door a different color like red

THanks in advance for all of your help

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The planting bed you've created along the walk frightens me. You are in danger of creating the worst possible landscape feature: the lined-both-sides walk. If there is anything tall in that bed, it will make the walk seem like an unwelcoming feature of the property. It would be better to have an island at the street (around the mailbox for example) and then planting near the house. There is no good reason to corral in the walkway space.

The picture does not show how much planting space is in the bed near the house.

    Bookmark   April 9, 2014 at 1:49PM
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there is no planting space in the bed near the house. One the one side is a trio of hydrangeas. The other has a compact jap maple and some grasses

I am just concerned with making this walk as good looking as possible

    Bookmark   April 9, 2014 at 2:38PM
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I read it better (instead of just looking at the picture!) and see that what-I'm-saying-not-to-do is your primary intention.

Please submit a picture taken at the end of the summer so we can see the result.

    Bookmark   April 9, 2014 at 4:27PM
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Generally people want to highlight the entry and the house, not the walk itself. Where do you want peoples eyes to go when they look at your house?

The front door and porch area?

The whole house?

The walkway?

Whatever that is I would choose to frame with plantings so that the eye is drawn to that area.

If you don't beef up the plantings near the house then what the eye will be drawn to is just the walkway, not what is at the end of it.

    Bookmark   April 9, 2014 at 6:22PM
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What I would do - buy enough sod (or grass seed if you prefer) to replace the mulch 18' or so leading up to the house. Same for the big expanse of mulch where its starts to flare to the right and left above the street.

Leave a manageable sized bed surrounding the mailbox and a match on the other side. Put in a dwarf conifer - like a Mugo pine - which is easy to keep small with a routine spring candle cutting. Or a Bird's Nest Spruce - some mounding, but largely ground hugging. Nepeta Walkers Low is a nice plant for background or interspersing. Can get big, but can be cut back as wanted. Potentilla is a workhorse all season long flowering shrub - particularly fond of the "Pink Beauty" variety. Little dabs here and there of something upright, like Siberian Iris. The foliage stays good until cut down in the fall. With some bones in place, annuals make colorful fillers. Would be welcoming even if not chock-a-block full leaving some of the mulch showing.

I would not line both sides of the walk with shrubs, etc.

    Bookmark   April 9, 2014 at 6:33PM
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I think you could make it look attractive, especially if you widen the beds as they approach the house, kind of like you've done near the are a few examples.

Traditional Exterior
I like that this has a low ground cover that visually widens the walkway, before the shrubs are used.

Traditional Exterior by West Chicago Landscape Contractors Grant and Power Landscaping

I think this is especially nicely done area near the house, if you like symmetry.

Traditional Exterior by Moorestown General Contractors Canton Custom Homes

This is pretty formal and fancy, but they used a ground cover grass along the walkway to soften the edges and then planted the shrubs (altho this is quite formal) behind.

Traditional Landscape by Carrollton Landscape Architects & Landscape Designers Harold Leidner Landscape Architects

    Bookmark   April 10, 2014 at 1:19AM
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Olychick, as usual, comes up with some pretty good looking examples. But careful here, in those examples, the walks all look to be 4' wide (or thereabouts.) Even so, a couple of the examples use very low plants next to the walk -- extending the space --so the walk does not feel engulfed. In one case (green house) the total front-to-back depth of planting looks like only about 8'. Being as the OPs walk is so narrow (looks like 30" or less) and so long (40' to 50') planting anything tall is going to seem engulfing.

    Bookmark   April 10, 2014 at 9:55AM
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Wow! Thank you everyone for the insight. Couple of quick questions for all of you. The total length of the walk from curb to front step is 26 feet long.

Olychick I had originally planned on using some boxwoods spaced evenly lining the walk up to the door. Is there something else that you would reccomend.

Given the constraints that the bed has to stay what bushes/plants would you put in there

    Bookmark   April 10, 2014 at 12:22PM
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should i avoid using something like a hosta on the walk? I am so clueless when it comes to this stuff

    Bookmark   April 10, 2014 at 12:25PM
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If the pros here can't suggest plants, maybe ask at the forum for your region. I struggle with my own landscape and what to put where. I am not a boxwood kind of gardener, so that wouldn't be what I'd use, but can see they look nice in some applications.

I think many Hostas prefer some shade, so next to the walkway might be too hot for them in some regions. I tried to link to a website that has a list of sun tolerant ones, but GW blocked it as spam. You have to consider their mature size as well, and they'll die back in winter. Intermixed with other things they could look nice.

I'd look for a low groundcover, evergreen that likes sun (ask at your local nursery, not a big box store), do some research online for your zone. Same with bushes. Look at your nursery for things you like and find out if they will like the conditions near your walkway, how large they get, are they evergreen, etc. Some evergreen azaleas like the sun, if they grow in your area. There is a huge variety euonymus to explore. Maybe think about whether you can interplant with boxwood to have some color year round.

    Bookmark   April 10, 2014 at 4:16PM
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amanda_m(z7 MD)

The thing with hosta (which I love) is that they like a fair amount of shade. Even the ones that are sun tolerant really look better with shade. And they die completely back in the winter, so they are not a four season plant.

I would pick some low growing bushy/shrubby things that do well in your aread. If they have beautiful/interesting stems for winter interest, all the better. Use those as the bones of the area. Then fill in with low to medium height ground covers and perennials. Add some bulbs for early spring interest.

    Bookmark   April 11, 2014 at 10:47AM
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A bit of photoshop to see the style in the pictures posted with your house. I do think for most of them it would be best if you could border your walk way with something to make it appear wider and then you'll need the beds to be wider too. The ones in the pictures appear to be minimum 42" wide walkways and yours appear to be 36".

    Bookmark   April 11, 2014 at 11:54AM
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Next one

    Bookmark   April 11, 2014 at 12:03PM
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Last one as the true last one is beyond my skills

    Bookmark   April 11, 2014 at 12:12PM
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WOW Thank you lyfia that is amazing

what type of bushes are those big tall things in the back in the second picture? I am really drawn to that one as I am afraid that resodding those areas could be a nightmare

    Bookmark   April 11, 2014 at 4:11PM
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also what would be a good plant to use as a ground cover

    Bookmark   April 11, 2014 at 4:33PM
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I think the plants you are asking about are either some kind of miscanthus or pampas grass, or maybe some other tall ornamental grass. I'd take a pic of your house to a nursery, figure out what shrub you will use at the outside of the walkway bed and then have them help you pick a ground cover to complement the shrubs. I'm quite partial to dwarf mondo grass, but it's not everyone's cup of tea.

I thought of your walkway when I saw this on's gorgeous, but I'd be worried about bees.

    Bookmark   April 11, 2014 at 10:24PM
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The strait as an arrow 25ft walkway is a killer... It just doesn't add any interest and sort of makes my eyes feel weird. The good news is, I think you can correct this for very cheap. If you just add a little more concrete at the bottom to swing it out on each side and give it a little bit of a curve, it would make a HUGE difference, and add some visual interest.

This also would shape two beds on either side. One could me mulch, the other river rock... you need different textures to offset the walkway, this would help a lot. Then it's just a matter of selecting a few nice trees to frame out the house, not the walkway... Def would suggest a red maple, probably something large like 'Bloodgood' to the left.


    Bookmark   April 11, 2014 at 11:16PM
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olchick what are those purple bushes that you just posted. I really like the color that adds

    Bookmark   April 12, 2014 at 5:32AM
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Rajdawg those purple ones are lavender.

I suggest you go to a local nursery (not lowes or Home Depot) and bring the picture you like and ask for plants that will give you the same look as you want and work for your area.

This post was edited by lyfia on Sat, Apr 12, 14 at 9:01

    Bookmark   April 12, 2014 at 9:00AM
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What is the width of the mulched area as it borders the walk? It does not look to me as if you have enough room for shrubs and ground cover. Ground cover seems better.

    Bookmark   April 12, 2014 at 6:53PM
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