Front Landscape Do Over Help Please!

lupins4April 29, 2010


Does anyone have any ideas as to what we should add to this front landscape as far as plants and design.

Should we extend the bed down the side of the driveway?

We recently ripped out a poor bent lilac tree from in front of the window and an out of control pussy willow bush from in front of the fence to the left of the house.

My husband is thinking of making a raised bed toward the middle front with an evergreen tree and maybe some large rocks. We might also add another red

bud tree somewhere (would that be too much??)

There is a newly planted (last summer) row of limelight hydrangeas along the fence to the left of the house.

We are in Canada (Zone 6).

I would appreciate any and all comments, suggestions and criticism. :-)

(my first time posting pics...hope this works!)

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karinl(BC Z8)

Nope- didn't work. You need the html code from the photo you want to post, pasted into the body of your message. If your photo doesn't show up when you hit preview, it didn't work.


    Bookmark   April 29, 2010 at 3:36PM
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    Bookmark   April 29, 2010 at 3:55PM
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    Bookmark   April 29, 2010 at 8:18PM
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mjsee(Zone 7b, NC)

lovelupins...I'm not a pro designer...merely an avid amateur who works in a garden center...but to my eye those beds are too small for the mass of the house. I think things would look better if you widened the beds.

Cercis canadensis (that's redbud) is an awesome plant...and well suited to your area. Can you tell me what cultivar you have planted...and what cultivar you were planing on planting? They come in different "ultimate" sizes.

I, too, love lupines...but cannot grow them down here in zone-7b-verging-on-8 NC.

    Bookmark   April 30, 2010 at 4:12PM
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Thank you for the reply!

We planted that redbud 2 years's a "Canadian Red bud" and can grow 20-to-30 feet with a spread of 25-to-35 feet.

I think you're right about expanding those beds. The damn house looks huge...I wonder how to get the scale right?

There's some Russian Sage under the windows...thinking about extending that right around the corner of the house...I think it looks nice against the brick.

Thinking we might need something bigger/more substantial against the house instead?

    Bookmark   May 1, 2010 at 11:09AM
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It is a beautiful house. I agree with the above posts the beds do need to be widened and if or you could terrace x's 2. This will give you a better scale. Then tapper along the drive to avoid a cut off look. The yard looks to have a nice gentle slope that and appears to be large enough to accomadate such a look. Russian sage is an excellent choice to work in to this as well. Have fun!

    Bookmark   May 1, 2010 at 11:02PM
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Can you shoot the house from across the street, showing the whole front area? It looks very narrow and deep, and landscape has to be done as a whole, not spot by spot.

Take picture of the front from various angles and with a paint program, scribble in the mature size of the plants you have and any you think of buying (before you buy) - I'm not good on northern plants, but I think you crowded them and in a few years you will have problems.

The house is very tall and has strong vertical lines that need some equally strong, wide horizontal lines to balance it, and a few tall things to connect the house to the ground. That redbud will be great as the tall thing - can you add one along the left property line aligned with the corner of the house and one on the other side of the driveway? It's worth repeating.

Don't be afraid to repeat plant materials - some of the most striking landscapes have a very limited range of material. I think I see seven or more varieties on that side, which is going to look "spotty". To have an effective accent plant, you need to have mostly "not accent" plants as a background. (two species, maybe three)

A raised bed in the middle of the lawn would just be a "pimple" in the lawn, and rocks create a mowing problem.

The wobbly edge doesn't look as good as lines that reflect the lines of the house: bold straight lines like the pillar and shallow arches like the garage doors. Serpentine landscape curves need a lot of room to pull off. In a small area they look like the gardener was drunk when he/she dug the beds.

I would bring the beds out from the property line squared with the corner of the house, then even with the width of the house until they are even with the pillar of the entry, then to the middle of the window and until they are past the start of the sidewalk curve, then go back straight to the drive. Then I would make a low wall with a short pillar at each corner of the bed, in stone or with low-growing evergreen shrubbery. Make an emphatic formal terrace look to the front, squaring up the rounded sidewalk too.

Make some outline of beds using bright string or a garden hose and see how they look, use boxes and paper bags as plant stand-ins (and ignore the neighbors pointing and giggling) Keep adjusting until you see balance.

Whatever you have growing next to the house under the windows looks too close to the wall. Foundation plants need to be a minimum of one and a half rake widths from the wall for easier maintenance, or 1/4 the mature size so you don't deform the plant. Move them now while they are small.

The evergreens directly in front of the door will be a problem. It's a very pretty entrance and they will hide it soon. They will also overgrow the sidewalk, and aren't a plant that takes well to pruning. Plants should be set back from a walkway at least 30% or even 50% of their mature size so they don't block the walk and don't...

    Bookmark   May 2, 2010 at 10:20AM
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karinl(BC Z8)

That's such a good guide from lazygardens that I don't think anything more needs to be added!


    Bookmark   May 3, 2010 at 2:12PM
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Thanks for all of the great advice everyone. I'm taking it all into's all overwhelming for a newby brown thumb but I just love plants and trees and flowers, so I will persist.
I like the terraced idea, but it sounds like too much $$$ and work since we're doing it ourselves.

Lazygardens...did you call my husband a drunk? lol

I took some more pictures from across the street and some closer up to the house (how much is that doggy in the window?)

I learned my lesson about just willy nilly buying anything that i liked at the garden center with no real plan! I think I need to keep the different types of shrubs/perennials to a minimum to have a better effect. 2010-05-04

    Bookmark   May 4, 2010 at 2:14PM
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Oh, I forgot to ask...those are "limelight" hydrangeas all along the fence (we lost 2 already) which we are hoping will grow into a nice sort of hedge like in the link below.
Do you think we should extend them around the corner of the fence toward the house or stop them at the end of the straight line that we have going now?

Here is a link that might be useful:

    Bookmark   May 4, 2010 at 2:21PM
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Seeing the full view - another redbud to the left of the existing one - near the fence corner out past the corner of the house, would add some weight to the bottom.

I think you have too many varieties already, which makes it hard to settle the house into the landscape. The house's tall mass of brick and stone needs something as consistent and massive in plant material to balance it.

That hydrangea hedge works because it is a large sweep of the same plant. If they are reliably hardy in your area, and don't need a lot of maintenance, and won't overgrow the designated area, use a lot of them ... stopping and starting plant material chops up the lines you need.

If you are a newby, self-admitted brown thumb on a budget, use bulletproof plants. If you don't see it growing on a freeway or street median, don't buy it. Spend some time at the library or on the web looking up hardy plants for your zone and your soil.

The terracing effect could be done by enlarging the flower beds and edging them in plant materials such as low-growing evergreens. Anything that adds broad, visually heavy horizontal lines to the sides past the base of the house will help anchor it into the landscape.

    Bookmark   May 4, 2010 at 6:19PM
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A word of caution about limelight hydrangea. It gets bigger than you think. I have a mass planting of them that are three years old, they are aalready five feet high and five feet wide, and growing like mad. They look good in the "hedge" photo you listed because they have plenty of room to grow on both sides. I don't think they'll do well close to a fence, as you have planted them. They will also require regular pruning, which it sounds like you might not enjoy. And I mean true pruning with bypass clippers, not shearing with a hedge clipper.

I love them as plants, but they need more room than I can see that you have in your front yard. Do you have a larger area for them in your backyard where you could move them?

    Bookmark   May 5, 2010 at 9:03AM
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I would consider adding groundcover. Something like Daylilies, or Lilyturf. Also, a quick design rule. Never plant even numbers...only odd, 3, 5 , 7 etc.
I would also look into putting a ornamental tree on the corner of the home to brake up the height of the house.
Hope that helps.

    Bookmark   May 5, 2010 at 2:57PM
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