Landscape Ideas

lccraigApril 2, 2012

We moved into a house in Spring 2010 and the front landscaping has been neglected. It is overgrown and bad. We are now planning on ripping out most of the landscaping and redoing it this spring. I need ideas for what plants/shrubs to plant. Here is a picture of the front of the house.

We are going to tear out all the bushes that are there now except the shrub that runs right along the porch. I like real clean crisp simple landscapes. We are thinking of putting a Japanese maple in the front just to the left of the door and then some bushes or something around that. I also want to put some nice flowering bushes under the window. Any ideas on what types of bushes would be good? We live in SE Michigan. Ideally I want different kinds of bushes some that bloom in spring & some in fall. Plus I want to have an area that I plant annuals each year and maybe tulips.

On the left is a large tree that sits off the corner of the house (we need to have the tree trimmed back as well). There are some paver bricks that go around that and we are going to replace those with new pavers and extend that around to the front of the house. I would also like to plant something under the tree maybe some small bushes, but there isn't a lot of sunlight under the tree. Our house faces southeast and the front gets morning sun & shade in the afternoon.

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I add bugleweed,hydrangea for you.

    Bookmark   April 2, 2012 at 5:12PM
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Please read name in the pic.

    Bookmark   April 2, 2012 at 5:34PM
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"We are going to tear out all the bushes that are there now except the shrub that runs right along the porch." Which one(s) is/are that/those? I submit that they are all working against you. This picture is how it looks to me.

Japanese Maple comes in wildly different forms. which one are you getting?

The tree on the L. is notorious for splitting in half as it gets larger. This would be a good time to rethink its existence. If it remains, why are you allowing low branches to stay on it?

    Bookmark   April 3, 2012 at 6:55PM
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We are basically going to rip out all the bushes, except the evergreen type shrub right in front of the porch. We are just going to trim that back and shape it better.

Not sure about all the types of Japanese Maples. We just wanted one that was on the smaller side maybe getting only 5-6 ft tall.

Also, we are planning on keeping the tree on the left for now. We are going to be trimming it back as well as removing the low hanging branches. I don't believe the previous owners ever did anything to maintain the landscaping.

    Bookmark   April 4, 2012 at 9:24AM
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"...except the evergreen type shrub right in front of the porch."

Since it's Michigan, I guess you mean the green hedge that acts as a barricade for the porch...? Especially in the area of the stoop, the shrubs (even the green ones) don't enhance the entrance and create an invitation to enter. They pinch the entrance to a fraction of its architectural size and say that the owners don't really use this door or want anyone coming this way. Some Jap. Maples are trees 15' or more tall so it would make a difference which type. Based on these plans, I'm speculating that you're more interested in developing a collection of favorite plants for the front yard than you are in using plants to solve problems and enhance architecture...? If it were the latter, you'd be interested in using plants to cover ugly places or mitigate boring places of the architecture (which it actually looks as if they're quite minimal.) All that would be left to do is to create the most pleasant view possible.

It does not look as if this is a tree-lined street or that there are trees in the front yard...?

What looks to be variegated Euonymus in front of the Yew hedge might be useful somewhere else.

    Bookmark   April 4, 2012 at 10:25AM
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Yes I agree that the green hedge does not enhance the entrance or make it inviting. We were going to trim it back near the stairway so it looks more open. Do you have any suggestions as to what we could put in front of the porch if we were to remove that hedge?

I would like to get some advice on what types of flowering shrubs / plants that I could put into the landscape that would be nice. I would like some that bloom in different times of year, spring, summer, fall, etc.

You are correct that there is variegated Euonymus in front of the hedge. I would like to remove those, but then what do I put in front? Maybe keep it a place for planting annuals each year?

    Bookmark   April 4, 2012 at 2:31PM
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karinl(BC Z8)

Why do you need something in front of the porch? Is there a privacy issue from the street or neighbours? How do you use this area?

What might help here is a bit of definition of what this forum can do. As a national, even international group that comes from a variety of climates and has no idea what is in stock at your local garden centre, not to mention not knowing your personal taste, this is not the best place for advice on plant selection except in very general terms (tall and narrow, low and spreading, etc) or fairly ubiquitous plants.

What the forum is for is to talk about landscaping - WHERE to put things - including hardscape, plants, and different surfaces; how to manage drainage and other terrain issues, and so on. How to see a site; how to assess its challenges and opportunities.

If you want that kind of help, you could start by telling us what your objective is with respect to your home's frontage, and maybe posting a picture that shows the whole context. What are you trying to accomplish?

You might or might not get a proposed design, but some ideas to help you make good decisions yourself.

Karin L

    Bookmark   April 4, 2012 at 2:45PM
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The reason that you are ripping out what you have is not because the plants are not "nice" or because they have not been maintained. It's because the scheme they are the product of does not solve functional or visual problems. It CREATES them. My thought is that you are jumping the gun in your focus on "what types of flowering shrubs / plants that I could put into the landscape that would be nice." The first thing I'd be asking myself is what shapes and forms of plants is the house (and the street) asking for in order to solve functional and visual problems? Placing a "nice" plant in front of various architectural features, but not in a way that addresses those features (which is what you have now) does not create a nice landscape... regardless of how nice the plants themselves are. I can't even see the porch so it's impossible to say what you should do in front of it. All I know is that you should probably NOT surround it with barricades, regardless of what color, texture or material they are made of. It strikes me that the you are on the way to creating just a different, newer version of what you're ready to rip out. A good landscape will not only look better... it will last much longer. Though it needs tweaking and maintenance along the way, a well thought out landscape can last the life of the property.

"We were going to trim it [green hedge] back near the stairway..." What is the actual measured width of that stairway... and of the the opening created by the innermost columns that flank it?

    Bookmark   April 4, 2012 at 3:34PM
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