Seeking landscape help!

MIssyVApril 23, 2014

Thank you in advance for giving us some input on our landscape. This was my grandma's house, we bought it 11 years ago and have been slowly updating the inside. Finally, the landscaping will be getting a small upgrade!

Our house is looooonngg... so hoping maybe landscaping will help offset that visually. This year we would like to focus on the front of the house, so I am attaching pictures for your input. My main trouble area is the small bed that lies between the walkway to our porch and our porch.

Again, thank you!
Missy, in Ohio

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This is the walkway I was referring to that you are unable to see from the full front street shot above.

    Bookmark   April 23, 2014 at 1:11PM
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I am not an expert by any means but I find that a mix of straight lines and curves is more appealing than all of one or the other. The front of your home has a lot of straight lines and changing the flower bed to a more organic curved bed would help to offset the horizontal and vertical lines. You could also add a tree or shrub bed in the front to break up the wide horizontal line and add color and texture.

I think the house looks very nice.

    Bookmark   April 23, 2014 at 3:41PM
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babera(5a (Montana))

Look at it as a blank slate, the sky's the limit.
I think the first thing I would do is add handrail to the small patio/porch on the 2 sides and across the front except where the entrance is. I think it would break up the length as well as define the patio/porch from the surrounding beds.

As for the landscape, if it were mine. . . I would add at least 2 more trees, one between the garage and the roof line of the porch and the other closer to the house but on the right side of the one that's already there.

Also take out the rounded shrubs on the right. Having them in a straight line just adds to the on-going length. replace them with something more airy, not so dense. Variegated dogwoods would look good against the house for contrast.

The shrubs in the bed along the sidewalk could use some freshening up as well. . . again I would stay away from dense evergreen, the dogwoods would add continuity if you planted them here as well. . .

I'm sure others will chime in with more specific choices for flowering plants. . .

    Bookmark   April 23, 2014 at 10:27PM
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Before I even got to your second paragraph, I was saying.. that ranch looks looong. You are spot on about using plants to cut of the ends and shorten the view of the ranch visually. What zone are you? Probably 5b? If so, you won't be able to use Japanese Maple, but you could use dogwood or tri-color beach tree, or Korean Maple (Acer pseudosieboldianum).

The placement of the 2 trees is the most important step to improving the curb appeal, the rest is just thoughts. A walkway would draw the eye to the front door and separate the long front lawn. A white fence would provide another layer, with some flowers for color.

The area area you refer to near the house is probably going to be challenging, depending on amount of sunlight and your zone. Does the front of the house face north? please provide additional info and I can make recommendations on plants that can be used there.

    Bookmark   April 23, 2014 at 10:46PM
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I would consider filling in the long, narrow space between the porch and walk with concrete or some hard paving surface. It might be possible to do it so that it incorporates colored and/or patterned concrete. A second solution would be to plant that space with turf so that, at least, it's still walking space. It doesn't make a good planting space.

it's not possible to evaluate the existing planting (to see what is savable) from the photos since all the plants are in deep shadows. It would be better if you submitted photos when the plants are in good lighting and it would be better if they were taken from straight on to the house face, in sections (each planting bed separately.) Then add one more overall shot taken square on, lined up with the front door. (With good lighting, too, of course!)

    Bookmark   April 24, 2014 at 12:30AM
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Thank you all! I will post pics late day since the sun isn't hitting the front of the house til then. Yes, we are zone 5b :) And yes we face north.

Just a few foods for thought... when we moved in we had over 120 bushes that need trimming. So if we could maybe plant a few things that don't need trimming twice a year, that would be fabulous! Second.... the kids and dog seem to cut through that flower bed that is between the porch and sidewalk. So maybe pavers are a solution but looking at that picture, I am not sure of the look.... and third, your pictures help me tremendously! I am such a visual person, so thank you for taking the time to help me see what you are visualizing!! I will be back later today!

    Bookmark   April 24, 2014 at 8:13AM
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I apologize, I do not know how to upload multiple pictures anymore. Garden Web has changed since I last used it!

    Bookmark   April 24, 2014 at 3:36PM
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Starting at the far right end of house, working towards garage....

    Bookmark   April 24, 2014 at 3:37PM
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same flower bed, just straight on vs angle view...

    Bookmark   April 24, 2014 at 3:38PM
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flower bed between side of porch and garage/driveway

    Bookmark   April 24, 2014 at 3:39PM
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And lastly the corner of the garage flower bed that also extends down the side of our house. I didn't post a pic of the problematic flower bed, I think you can see it in my earlier post. I feel bad I am already posting all these pics individually! Again, sorry. But thank you for all your input! I will say putting a walkway to front door looks cute, but really not practical since most walk to front door from our driveway when the come to visit.

    Bookmark   April 24, 2014 at 3:42PM
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Wow ... that is a hodgepodge of hedgery!

You do not understand the concept of photographing ONE WHOLE SECTION AT A TIME. At the right half of the house, we should see a small amount of the porch and EVERYTHING TO THE RIGHT OF IT -- square on -- in a single photo. As it is, we don't even see any of the porch ... just half a window at the right side of house. (I'm talking about picture uploaded at 15:38.)

"...So maybe pavers are a solution but looking at that picture, I am not sure of the look..." I cannot help you "be sure." I'm only introducing an idea. You must work out the design details whether it's pavers, colored concrete, grass, plain concrete or whatever. I'm only saying it makes a better paving area than a planting area. Put a carpet over it for a few days and test if the theory is correct.

    Bookmark   April 24, 2014 at 8:36PM
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Yardvaark, I cannot get all that in one picture AND be close up. Is that okay with you? I will try again tomorrow :)

As for the pavers, I agree its a horrible area to plant and needs to be something we can walk through. We already do it every day as is :)

    Bookmark   April 24, 2014 at 10:10PM
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"I cannot get all that in one picture AND be close up." What about this: back up until you can get it in the picture ... and then stop. Don't go any farther! ...?? Trust me. It will work.

    Bookmark   April 25, 2014 at 8:53AM
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Third times a charm, right Yardvaark? :) Please tell me this is what you are asking for.

    Bookmark   April 25, 2014 at 12:51PM
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pic 2 of 3

    Bookmark   April 25, 2014 at 12:54PM
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pic 3 of 3... scroll up for the corner of the garage layout.

    Bookmark   April 25, 2014 at 12:56PM
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Good on the picture taking. It is close enough to see everything and far enough to see how things are grouped relative to the architecture. Unfortunately, there is nothing I would save of the existing shrubs. As I mentioned it is a hodgepodge of plants and nothing is working together. It's just a bunch of individuals.

The drawing is pretty scratchy because I don't have time to clean up the existing plants, but I think you can get the general idea, which is not premised on details, but on an overall layout and arrangement. A matching set of small trees will diminish the boring expanse of exposed roof and give a sense of protection, like awnings (but in a "green" way.) (I think there should also be one left of the garage, but it is not shown.) Groundcover below ... there is no need to hide windows and all the trim that extends quite low to the ground. A couple of dome shaped flowering shrubs (or perennial or annual masses) flanking the porch would add interest and finish to the entrance.

Small trees like this are made from large shrubs (12' to 15' mature ht., or so.)

    Bookmark   April 25, 2014 at 9:49PM
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I like this request, because it's perplexing...shade, plus z5 is very challenging indeed. It looks like you mostly have Yew shrubs and on the left Birds Nest Norway spruce. I'm glad to see the spruce, as that indicates that side is getting some sun, also they are much nicer than yew.

I think you should plan on keeping a few of the Yew shrubs on the right, as they provide a very unique combination of shade tolerance, evergreen, and cold hardy...this combo is not easy to find. Beyond that, here are some ideas on trees and shrubs that look incredible and should do well in your zone.

- Pieris japonica - Several cultivars that are very nice, I especially like 'Silver Flame' as it adds some color
- Hydrangea paniculata 'Grandiflora' - Forms a small tree, but has the huge hydrangea blooms, hardy to z3...very nice
-Hydrangea arborescens 'Annabelle'
- Hydrangea paniculata 'Limelight'
- Acer palmatum 'Red Dragon' - I think this particular Japanese maple would do well in your zone. Very hardy, deep red color, even in heavy shade
-Kalmia latifolia 'Carousel' or other cultivars

For groundcover, you can use Microbiota decussata (Siberian Cypress) in place of Juniper. Juniper likes full sun, but Microbiota decussata looks just like it, but tolerates quiet a bit of shade.

For the 2 big trees I wouldn't take a chance on Japanese Maple, unless you know neighbors that are sucessfully growing it in your zone. I'd consider Korean Maple (Acer pseudosieboldianum) or even more exciting is a new cross between Japanese Maple and Korean Maple called Acer x pseudosieboldianum North Wind

This should help you add some color, texture, and curb appeal to your house!

    Bookmark   April 25, 2014 at 10:54PM
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2nd shot

    Bookmark   April 25, 2014 at 10:55PM
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Thanks to all that have given some suggestions. Is there a way I can play around with pics like you guys are? What program are you using?!

The house looks extra "blah" right now because nothing has bloomed yet after a very long winter in Ohio, and we didn't mulch last year, which we typically do every year, so beds need built up and mulched!

    Bookmark   April 26, 2014 at 10:28AM
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