What would you change?

Wendy08April 15, 2014

I've been trying to improve the front of the house over the last few years. I have a very small budget I can work with each year, so it's a slow process. I enjoyed my plant selections last summer but when everything died back it didn't leave any visual interest through the winter.

Anything you would change?

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This is what I started with.

    Bookmark   April 15, 2014 at 3:26PM
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If you are to keep large shrubs that only want to get much larger, at the foundation, there is little choice but to incorporate them as architectural additions. Shrubs should be trimmed so that the bottom of each is wider than their tops in order that sunlight reaches lower foliage and it is retained over time. (Shrubs with no lower foliage look terrible!) So, essentially, their shapes should be turned upside down ... more obelisk-like, narrower at the top. Since some are matching sets, they should be trimmed more uniformly ... just like the matching set of shutters were created and installed. (Those are all same height, size, color.)

I would reconsider on the alternating shrub arrangement below the windows. I think what was there "before" had more promise, though I disagree with the notion of trimming every shrub so that it is a separate individual. Sometimes, several shrubs can be grown and trimmed together to make a single "architectural" object. If you don't want things to look so rigid, pick plants that don't exceed the height that the space requires and then allow some space (and time) for their width/depth to grow.

It is time to remove the lower branches from the small tree. Do not let them start turning into trunks and become a key part of the tree. When mature, the ceiling of the tree canopy would be well over your head so that's where permanent branches would remain. All those seen now are just temporary and should be removed, little by little, as the tree gains height.

    Bookmark   April 15, 2014 at 10:14PM
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Green blob shrubs are everywhere, I would get rid of them. You can do much better. Don't think that evergreen means boring and green. There are some incredible evergreens in yellow, blues, and nice shades of green that offer 4 season of interest, plus a solid backbone for your landscaping.

I know you are on a tight budget, but I threw in 2 ideas that would help out a lot in my opinion. #1 reseal the driveway and get it back to a nice black color. #2 create a rounded walkway for curb appeal and creation of nice planting back. The current one is really too narrow to add anything nice.

I'd prefer to see the small tree moved and put in a large tree on the right hand side that will eventually create a canopy over the yard. Maybe something like Acer rubrum 'October Glory'.


    Bookmark   April 15, 2014 at 11:49PM
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saypoint(6b CT)

If you don't want to enlarge the planting beds, I'd get rid of the large evergreens, which are a bit too severely sheared. If they are a plant that will recover from a very hard pruning, you might be able to cut them back low and let them grow back, keeping them a bit smaller. Check first to make sure they would recover.
A low planting of a few shrubs that would stay small with minimal trimming would be nice. A mix of evergreen and deciduous. One of the smaller boxwoods (evergreen), spirea (spring flowers and colorful foliage on some cultivars), itea virginica (nice fall color), or even a clump of perennials or two for a bit of color would cover all of the seasons. I don't know how much sun or shade you have in that area, which will dictate your plant selection.
There are lots of options, your county extension service probably has a website that you can use to search for plants that would do well in your area. Missouri Botanical Garden has a very nice searchable database of plants, or at least they used to. Pay attention to mature size if you don't want to do battle with your shrubs for years to come.
You don't appear to have space for more than three or five small plants there unless you remove the large shrubs, in which case you can add something larger on the corner. I'd stick with plants that will have a more rounded, looser look than tightly sheared angular shapes. I'm also not a fan of using eye-catching specimen plants as foundation plantings, such as the weeping trees, which would probably grow way too big for the space before long anyway.
Specimen plants with unusual shapes or colors will draw your eye, so be sure that is your intent before planting one. I prefer to use foundation and front yard plantings that show off the house to best advantage rather than call attention to themselves. Just my opinion.

    Bookmark   April 16, 2014 at 10:16AM
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I have thought about removing the tall bushes but I can't convince my Husband to do it. I will look into maybe shortening them. I've been told they are Yews but I have no clue if that is what they are.

The driveway is something I was planning on fixing this summer.

Encore Azaleas were planted under the windows last year after the nursery recommended them. There are hydrangeas on each side of the steps that was also a recommendation.

The Azaleas didn't fair too well after this winter and I think they need to be moved. Same for the hydrangeas.

This side of the house faces North and gets 'bright light' but no direct sun. Plants that like shade (ie hostas) seem to do well here.

So, I will have to keep this area as a 'still in progress' project and can't really do too much. I'm thinking my main focus will be on the driveway and replacing the Azaleas and Hydrangeas.

I didn't want to put the traditional boxwood shrub in these areas when I first started working on it a couple of years ago but I'm starting to think that will be the only options due to the limitations I have with light and budget.


    Bookmark   April 21, 2014 at 9:40PM
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First let me say you live in a dream home. I think you could enlarge the bed on the right side of the house. Add short ground cover closest to the lawn. I must practice thrifty gardening myself so I know a bit about it. Many plants can be passed from gardener to gardener for free. Talk to people you know who have plants you like. It is a more long term goal as plants only get divided at certain times of year. Seeds can be affordable and even free if you know a seed collector. Do you enjoy gardening? A lot will depend on that. For example, if you do not like gardening then you will most likely not like shearing shaped shrubs year in and year out.

    Bookmark   April 22, 2014 at 5:06PM
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Thank you, I really love this house!

I thought about enlarging the bed on the right side as well. I was planning on going out there and figuring out the outline today.

I'm probably going to use a few plants that I can divide from family but most of those are sun loving plants so I will have to see what will work.

I do enjoy gardening and learning about new plants. I've just been running into some challenges with what will work in my yard.

Shaping shrubs don't really bother me that much. I just have limited time I can spend on gardening with a two-year old boy running around.

    Bookmark   April 22, 2014 at 7:01PM
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