I Don't Know What to Do: Front Yard Color

rdowens(7)April 13, 2012

My wife and I moved into our home about 10 years ago. What you see in the front is pretty much what was here then. Things have grown. We battle the weeds. I've pulled out some dead stuff. The bushes have grown. I hack them back, they grow again.

We would like to have a rotation of flowers. It seems some homes have the daffodils followed by the tulips followed by tiger lilies (I think), etc.

My problem is I don't know how to plant and maintain flowers. I am willing to learn, but whatever I search for doesn't seem to be what I need. I pretty much need someone to explain (or point me in the right direction) of what to do.

After mowing and trimming yesterday, I was motivated today to get some tulips. I know bulbs go in the fall, but I figured I'd just plant them today. No go. Five days after Easter, there isn't a tulip in town.

Now what?

Here is the front of the house:

Of particular interest is our mailbox area:

I appreciate any assistance you can offer.

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Brad Edwards

I think your idea for tulips is a good one, especially near the mailbox. I would plant a large amount, maybe 100-150 bulbs around the mailbox. I also think your yard could use an ornamental focal point tree, nothing huge but maybe a Japanese maple near the shrubs on the left? I think a witchhazel would work the the front left corner of your house. maybe even a harry lauders walking stick.

Another idea would be finding a weeping juniper or dwarf japanese maple area near the garage. I also think juniper as a grouncover near the mailbox would work well if you don't want to go the bulb route and would be easy.

The more I look at your home the more I think something thats in the 15-20 foot range to the corner left of the house would make the home look much bigger, maybe a large weeping or yoshinio cherry.

    Bookmark   April 13, 2012 at 2:56PM
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Tulips and daffs make a nice display, but once the flowers are gone and the foliage starts to yellow and die back and get cut - which can take a long time - you're back to square one with empty space around your mailbox.

The mailbox area, though, is where I'd start to get my feet wet with gardening/landscaping if I was going to be doing everything myself. If it took you ten years to become "unhappy", a few trips through local garden centers would be additional time well spent... read some plant tags, see things you like that have the right habits for the space, etc. Many shrubs and perennials even have diagrams for appropriate hole digging.

The shrub arrangement on the left looks okay, but could be enhanced with something tall that didn't require meatballing. One of the upright dwarf conifer varieties?

What are the three lime green balls? Any chance those could be allowed to grow out just a little more naturally? Size can be maintained by judicious pruning. The internet is full of pruning how-to's just by searching how to prune_________.

Relax. None of us here likely got it right the first time and have been working and reworking our spaces for years.

    Bookmark   April 13, 2012 at 3:43PM
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Other some plants work too,you can read their name on the pics.I would soft the driveway straight.

    Bookmark   April 13, 2012 at 4:18PM
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    Bookmark   April 13, 2012 at 4:37PM
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I know you're asking about annuals for the color, but here are a few landscape ideas. Maybe it will inspire you. I think your yard needs trees in order to look less "new subdivision" at the front yard. Per the bed at the mailbox, it will have more power in the neighborhood if you keep it simple... just a single plant type & color for the whole bed. Find what annual looks appealing to you that takes full sun and give it a try.

    Bookmark   April 14, 2012 at 2:52AM
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I would recommend some fat and thorough book about perennial gardening.

    Bookmark   April 14, 2012 at 10:27AM
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Thank you everyone for the ideas.

* While I was excited to plant tulips, that apparently cannot happen. There are no tulips in the county I live in. Everyone told me I needed to purchase them prior to Easter. Some years Easter would not have occurred yet. :(

* The Japanese maple is an interesting idea. We once had one in the front yard on the left (looking at the house). It died. Apparently, it got a fungus. I asked the 4-H folks about it. They indicated that is typical in the area for those trees. We have a second one on the other side of the driveway that has just died too.

My wife and I have thought a dogwood would look nice too.

Witch hazel looks nice. I have never heard of that before.

* I do not know what the green bushes beneath the windows are. Here are some close-ups:

* I like the design of the flowers up the driveway designonline6 posted. We have thought of doing something like that, but want to concentrate on the areas we already have before we add to the work.

* Yrdvaark, that is an impressive change to our house. I like the pink/purple tree. It seems like that would be a good place for something, although we took out four pines that were there. They grew so much that I was afraid they would take out my neighbor's fence. They also rubbed against our house.

We have thoughts of fencing off our yard eventually. I am not certain how a tree there would work.

You have definitely expanded what the options are. Thanks.

I appreciate everyone's thoughts. I think we are going to start off with the mailbox area and see what happens from there.

Is there a normal rotation of bulbs through the summer/fall for our area? Where would I seek that information?


    Bookmark   April 15, 2012 at 11:52PM
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bahia(SF Bay Area)

First off, it would be a good start to know where your garden is located, so people could actually give advice on transitional seasonal color effects that work in your zone. Bulbs might be a useful spring burst of color, and spring bulbs that reliably return each spring might rely more on basics such as more reliable daffodils and Muscari, which pretty much work across the country.Removing a portion of the lawn adjacent the existing foundation shrubs and adding a low growing ground cover and bulbs might be a good start. Lower growing spring or summer flowering shrubs could also be added as a foreground framing the existing shrubs at the house. Personally I think it would be more interesting to add a few larger growing mounding low perennials or arching flowering shrubs with ground cover out at the mailbox, rather than a bed of all one type of annuals, something like dwarf Spiraea or Weigelia or similar. If you did want annuals in that spot, something taller and lacier such as Cosmos or Cleome or Nicotiana would look good there. There are also plenty of useful summer flowering shrubs such as Hibiscus syriacus or Philadelphus, or spring flowering herbaceous perennials such as Paeonies or Oriental poppies that could be used
for seasonal color. Perennial asters and chrysanthemums are classic fall color effects, along with shrubs that give fall color.

As to tree placement, it would make more sense to look at tree locations based on views from the house as well as from the street. Framing the house at each side and again at the street seems very static and may not frame or screen views from the house or elsewhere in the front garden, nor give shade where it makes the most sense.

Not enough information given to really help with tree placement, and in my opinion tree locations, sizes and types should be based on much more than just this one street view of the house.

If you have a good local or regional botanical garden near you, they are almost always a good venue to get ideas of plant/tree choices for different seasons that actually work. Photoshopped photos may be a starting point to help you visualize possibilities, but aren't as good as
seeing the real thing to know how it will actually look. I also notice that Yard's revised foundation planting scheme that emphasizes formal
symmetry centered on the 3 front windows has inadvertently planted up
your entry walk; something you won't likely want to do...

    Bookmark   April 16, 2012 at 2:41AM
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Tupils are not available nor planted in the spring. They are planted in the fall.

If a tree rubs against your house, cut off the offending branches. It can be done with very simple, inexpensive tools. You might want to study up on basic pruning practices.

The globe plant in front of house are 'Golden globe' arborvitae. Keep them clipped regularly or they will grow too large. The ones next to it look like dwarf barberry.

    Bookmark   April 16, 2012 at 2:47AM
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Now here's a man who knows what he wants.

Suggest you post your inquiry on the Bulbs Forum on this site.

    Bookmark   April 16, 2012 at 10:34AM
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deviant-deziner(Oh zone)

Mr. RDOwens,
A helpful common rule of thumb is if the flower blooms in the spring like tulips and daffadils, you will need to plant them in the preceeding autumn.

Different bulbs bloom at different times so a little bit of planning is required if you would like to have a steady succession of blooms.

If you went into a garden nursery at this time of year ( mid April ) you will find these type of bulb like plants : Dahlias and Cannas - if planted now in early spring they will bloom in mid to late summer.

To help you remember when to plant a particular type of bulb you might add your name to a bulb supplier catalog list. The bulb supplier will send you a lovely catalog each seaon just before the right time to plant. A couple of bulb companies to check out is John Scheepers, Brent and Beckys bulbs, and Van Engelen.

There is a simple technique called "over planting" that you might enjoy to try.
Basically after you plant your bulb in the ground you will then plant a few annuals ontop of the bulb. The annuals will continue to grow and provide you with color while the bulb develops underground. Eventually the bulb will push up thru the annuals and you will have a nice little colorful vignette.

As an example : I planted these tulip bulbs in these pots last December ( I live in CA so my weather is probably warmer than yours ) . After planting the bulbs I planted some winter thru spring blooming annuals : alyssum, pansies, snap dragons. The annuals provided winter color and will continue thru the spring. The tulips grew up thru the annuals and were lovely for about 3 weeks.
From Loropetalum chinese

    Bookmark   April 16, 2012 at 12:23PM
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catkim(San Diego 10/24)

Ooooo! Although not a flower fanatic, I must admit those pots are gorgeous and so feminine. Almost worth refrigerating some tulip bulbs to get a look like that. Of course, I'd have to fake the Italianate villa somehow... "nice little colorful vignette", such a talent for understatement. :-)

    Bookmark   April 16, 2012 at 1:22PM
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bahia(SF Bay Area)

Gotta like those ultra-limbed up street trees in the photo painted simulation! Scaling off the photo with the mailbox, those first branches are tall enough to drive a semi-truck below them and not break a branch. Very similar to the preferred street tree pruning that gets done here by the city of Berkeley, California. A bit unnatural looking in my opinion, but the city does it here to limit damage to trees by trucks as they park along commercial streets, and probably with the rational that such severe over-pruning will stretch out the interval between city prunings. Sometimes it doesn't work out quite so efficiently, as some trees will quickly try to regrow lower branches along the trunk, or have their long term health impacted adversely, such as sun scalding the trunk, or leaving large pruning cuts that don't fully callus over.

Some trees also just look better if left to their natural form, with broad spreading branches that arch back down to the ground. I remember the beauty of large oaks with low canopies back in Indiana as being perfect examples of such natural beauty. Our California native Coast Live Oaks also prefer to form a broad low canopy as the default tree form, which benefits the tree itself by reducing soil evaporation with the shade it creates.

    Bookmark   April 16, 2012 at 3:01PM
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