Front yard help with shrubs

bedelia(6 Rochester NY)April 30, 2010

This will be our 4th summer in this house and the landscape is overgrown. I'm not sure what the previous owner was going for with the design, but it's not working.

The house faces south so it gets quite a bit of summer sun. We're looking for low maintenance but still want something nice looking. Being in upstate NY, I like the idea of evergreens for winter interest, but what's there isn't working (I don't think). Color would be nice, but to me that would mean high maintenance.

I'm thinking of pulling out the evergreen shrubs (what are they anyway), but not sure. There's also sedum and a spirea bush that's out of control. A critter ate the tulips and part of the columbine plant also. To the right of the sidewalk are day lillies, primrose, and sedum. A limelight hydrangea is on the right of the garage.

We do the gardening ourselves, and have mainly put all of our time into the backyard. We've held back on the front since we don't have a clue what to do.

Any suggestions would be helpful and appreciated.

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Embothrium(USDA 8 Sunset 5 WA)

If you reduce the planting even more than the minimal amount that is present now it will end up being essentially a house in a lawn.

But maybe something like that is really what you want.

    Bookmark   May 1, 2010 at 12:32AM
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I love that tree to the left corner of house, beautiful! I would get a taller grass or plant in on right side of sidewalk just a little ahead of the 3 mound, transplant them somewhere else. It doesn't look right, needs something that is a little taller than porch rail. Looks easy to step on things in that area, need something to give area some importance, don't know what grows in your area but 1 plant with nice color that grows couple of feet wide & taller would make that area have some importance. Looked at it again & I think I would remove the bush just to left of sidewalk & make both sides of sidewalk same, will give entrance a nice finished look. Very nice house so doesn't need much just a little, if that rounded shrub grows some it will look better (to left of 2 light colored bushes) I think it is just too small yet. Basically need little more height up there near the porch!

    Bookmark   May 1, 2010 at 2:13AM
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bedelia(6 Rochester NY)

BBoy - it is a large lawn indeed. We really would like some bushes that won't get out of control as the ones that are there now. Maybe something a little colorful. Do you know what those evergreen shrubs are?

Sunnyca - thanks for the ideas. I know it looks off balance with the lillies on the right. Funny thing is that's one of the few things that is healthy looking. The rounded bush you mentioned to the left of the 2 evergreens, is a sprirea. It's very large and doesn't have enough room so I cut it back every year. It'll take off again this summer and be huge. I agree that we need more height - I'll look thru some mags and get some ideas. Thanks.

    Bookmark   May 1, 2010 at 2:55PM
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missingtheobvious(Blue Ridge 7a)

Daylilies love sun, and you've got a sunny front yard to keep them happy. However, if those clumps aren't divided in a few years, they'll be too crowded to bloom well.

For information about dividing daylilies, see the first two FAQs here:

More detailed instructions here:

Since daylilies die back in winter, I'd replace them with a low shrub (unless you need that space free for snow shoveled off the walk in winter).

If you enjoy daylilies, why not make a bed along the other side of the front walk -- or even along the driveway? (Again, if those spaces aren't needed to handle piles of snow.)

= We really would like some bushes that won't get out of control as the ones that are there now.

= If you reduce the planting even more than the minimal amount that is present now it will end up being essentially a house in a lawn.

I have to agree with bboy. Please don't take this the wrong way, but I absolutely can't see how those three neat, low, slow-growing conifers are out of control. Maybe we need more explanation as to exactly what you mean by "out of control."

Perhaps it would help if that flowerbed were deeper?

If you want shorter shrubs, you could replace them with "Blue Rug" or "Blue Carpet" junipers, which stay under a foot in height. But they'll still spread horizontally as the years go by.

When all is said and done, the only plants that don't increase in size are the plastic ones. Just saying....

    Bookmark   May 1, 2010 at 3:46PM
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It's a tidy-looking landscape, and until you have the time to dedicate to it, I'd make it as bulletproof as possible, with low maintenance high on the list of objectives.

I would remove the tiny flower bed and have a much larger walkway in that area. It will make shoveling snow easier, and lower the chances of someone stepping on the plants.

Remove the non-matching shrub along the porch - you have three of something, and one oddball - and replace it with whatever the three are. They look like some sort of juniper or arborvitae. They will get taller, just don't crowd them.

Repeat the red tree on the right side of the driveway - it has great color.

Repeat the low shrubs along the curved walk, on the lawn side, to give more importance to the walkway and entrance. Keep them far enough away from the walk that you don't need to do much pruning.

For spring/summer color, it depends on what you have the time for. Running sweet peas on a string trellis up to the porch railing, nasturtiums in front of the evergreens (their orange/yellow range would look good with the tan house) or maybe daylilies in that color range. Iris?

    Bookmark   May 1, 2010 at 3:46PM
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bedelia(6 Rochester NY)

Lazygardens - thanks so much for the mock up. The red tree looks great on the other side, but it would encroach too much on our neighbor's property (my husband is a stickler about that). I definitely want to pull out the spirea in front now that you mention it.

Missing the obvious - I'll have to check out the daylillies link. Never had them before so know nothing about them. I like the idea of a shrub there instead (how about a holly?), and the lillies on the lawn side of the sidewalk. I thought the evergreens were out of control only because they're so close to each other, and basically are full of spider webs all summer. There were lower ones in front of them, but we dug them out since they basically died.

Thanks for all the suggestions - I got my work cut out, or should I say, my husband does. LOL.

    Bookmark   May 2, 2010 at 10:13AM
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karinl(BC Z8)

Those shrubs could be pruned if it bothers you that they are intergrowing. A pruning book would likely help. It's not an overgrown landscape that you have, but an under-maintained one, if anything. I don't really see a problem either, except I would shape and edge the bed better. If you keep the bed that size, you could add some flowering plants in front of those shrubs

If there are dead areas on the plants where they meet that don't regrow upon pruning, it'll just be that you waited too long and you may have to start over with new plants. I kind of like the intertwined look myself though.

As for spiders, they come with the plants. It's not my favourite aspect of gardening either.


    Bookmark   May 2, 2010 at 1:52PM
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bedelia(6 Rochester NY)

Thanks Karin. I'll read about pruning. I also think a deeper curved bed would look better. I'll hit my DH up for that one.

    Bookmark   May 3, 2010 at 12:39PM
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