Landscape around U-Shaped Driveway -pics

marciab10April 25, 2009

We finished our new home last fall-winter.. had grass, and some trees and shrubs put in last fall..(some didn't make it and will be replaced) now this spring we need to finish up with the smaller stuff.. The fist project (of many) will be the front entry.. LOTS of empty space.. any ideas???

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catkim(San Diego 10/24)

It appears you put a lot of thought an effort into building your home. It sounds like the "grass, and some trees and shrubs" installation didn't go very well, or at least not as well as you'd hoped. To bring the garden up to the same level of quality as the house will require more than odd strangers from all over the world tossing out random "ideas". Any chance of finding a landscape designer who will get deeply involved in what sort of garden you'd like to have?

Or do you plan to do all further work yourself? Are you an avid gardener? Experienced? Can you describe gardens you've seen and admired? Are there young children at home? Pets? No activities take place in the entry garden, it is there to compliment the front of the home?

This might seem like a lot of dumb questions, but if you want some decent answers, more information is needed.

    Bookmark   April 26, 2009 at 5:58PM
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holleygarden Zone 8, East Texas

I agree. You have a beautiful house and should have beautiful landscaping to go with it. Your house is large, so you may need some large plants to keep it in scale. Also, love the look of your home - your landscaping should enhance the overall look. Going to a landscape designer for a plan that you can put into place over a period of time may be the best bet for you. Look through magazines, neighborhoods, etc. to see what you like. Take pictures - you may be surprised what really links the 'inspiration' gardens together. A plan to start with really makes sense when you realize that you may spend years and lots of money putting in and ripping out until you find what you really like - and paper is a lot easier to change! Good luck!

    Bookmark   April 26, 2009 at 6:19PM
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I was thinking about trying to finish this up ourselves, We went SO over budget on landscaping.. all due to massive retaining walls in back.. but am rethinking the idea..We did have a landscape designer, who did phase one, and drew plans for phase 2, but only in sketches. I am having a hard time picturing what it would look like.

I have been trying to find pictures of a front similar to ours, with the u driveway, to get more ideas, but haven't had much luck.

I like simple and colorful gardens. No small kids or pets. I am not an avid gardener, but do enjoy working outside, and hope to do more here, but I think I might leave the front to the professionals and work in the back.

    Bookmark   April 30, 2009 at 6:17PM
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woodyoak zone 5 Canada(5b)

I add my 'vote' to go with a designer. It's a lovely house so you'd want an appropriate landscape too. Oddly, given my preference for colorful front gardens, if this was my house I'd keep the front very simple and green and keep the focus on the house. Looking at the last picture makes me inclined to pull all those little shrubs (globe cedars?) back to the road/driveway intersection and make a small hedge which would screen out the view of what appears to be a manhole - or is it just dead grass? I can't tell from the picture.... Having low green shrubs at the road end of the lawn seems to me would provide a more definite demarkation of where 'public' ends and 'private' begins while providing a sweeping view acoss calm green lawn to the house which has enough character and impact to stand alone. The beds on the house side of the driveway I'd fill with low perennials and evergreen groundcover and keep the flowering ones to mainly white with a few blue notes (e.g. could use periwinkle as the evergreen groundcover with white flowering, relatively low growing perennials scattered through it. Light conditions would determine what perennials to add to the groundcover.

    Bookmark   May 1, 2009 at 7:32AM
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I'd say go with the designer, too.

IF it were mine, I'd do it myself, but only after reference to a WHOLE lot of material.

I would make the space between the driveway and the street a parterre: I'd make it less fussy than many of the authentic historical ones--strokes a but broader.

Nearer the house, I'd have more sheltered but still formal space, with shaped trees, etc. The space between the driveway and the main house is calling out for a patio to me.

(I'm assuming, here, that you have a large back yard, too. Hopefully, several acres that you can turn into a European-style terrace with a "funnel" of trees in the background of an 18th-c style naturalistic garden....)

I'm making these recommendations based on the fact that you're in Il. If you were in the hill country of Tx, I'd do an upscale native prairie kind of garden, with rocks and hillock-shaped perennials and mesquite and oak trees. :-) The house's style would fit that, too.

    Bookmark   May 21, 2009 at 1:19PM
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Ditto ditto because you are not just going to want to say, what perennials do I put in this spot of dirt?
Need stand back and take in the big picture.

For example, and this is getting too specific but it is in keeping with how to think about things, when I look at the bottom R hand photo, I think, there is a big semi-circle that exposes the whole facade including the garages as well as the entry.

In one approach to the design, there might be some plantings in the lawn area that add bulk and screening (not a hedge, but maybe small ornamental trees) in front of the garages and keep the visual sweep to the main entry.

To stay more economical, you might be able to find someone who can charge appropriately for the design and vision, with particular attention to form, weight of plantings, lines of sight and so forth (design, obviously!) but allow you to install in stages.

Another way to think about it is that you may have plant choices that are more common and less expensive as long as the basic design is good. Also, with such a large (sq footage and height scale) you can waste a lot of money getting it wrong and replacing large numbers of plants and shrubs.

    Bookmark   May 21, 2009 at 2:47PM
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update~~ a few more details ~ and having fun with Showoff!

Thank you all for your suggestions.. I have taken what I've learned here.. plans from 2 designers.. and then driving around for hours taking pictures to SEE what we visually liked.. melded it all, and we DIY'd last weekend...

a little more history.. during construction we consulted with 3 landscape firms, 1 just gave us a list of plants/tress and prices, the other 2 provided us with drawings and prices. What lacked from all plans was picutres! They had names of stuff we never heard of, I would look them up.. but to put it all together in our vision was impossible.

For now we have left the area in the front of the drive open.. the gravel at the end of the driveway is for emergancy(fire truck) turn-a -round. Someday our street will go through and we can eliminate that.. but for now it has to stay.

Prior to and during constuction we had used the home site section of these forums for invaluable help, being owner/builders. In looking through this forum, I had seen many posts where resposnes showed photoshop pictures.. so after reading the first posts I went back to our drawings.. searched online for a program that would show me pictures of how things would look..found Showff and had A LOT of fun playing with it! Very easy to use.. only negative, I couldn't figure out how to save more than the current picture I was working with..

In driving around it was very interesting.. some homes after only a few years, their front landscaping looked so cluttered and overgrown.. we definately liked the 'less is more" look. In front by the walk we invision a nice neat(not dead) looking boxwood hedge, behind it some perennials, roses and lillies.. then off to the sides.. dwarf shrubs( mostly spireas and barberrys) some evergreens.

We then went and bought lots of stuff.. laid it out, and started planing.. heres how things turned out!

We really like color, and the one designer planned for roses and lilies on both sides of the walk. We went with that..

The Boxwoods that were planted last fall.. had a hard winter.. we do like the idea of a hedge there.. but a few of the dead ones are going to need to be replaced.

    Bookmark   May 28, 2009 at 10:57PM
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catkim(San Diego 10/24)

It looks much better already. Please continue to update your photos as the garden progresses. It seems like this thought process was beneficial to you.

    Bookmark   May 28, 2009 at 11:17PM
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holleygarden Zone 8, East Texas

Looks great! Sounds like you took a plan, personalized it to make it your own, and got great satisfaction with putting the plants in yourself. Fantastic job!

    Bookmark   May 29, 2009 at 12:06AM
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I think the main thing you need to consider now is scale. Be sure to landscape to the scale of the house, not just to make feet-and-knee height pretty, if that makes sense.

The solution for this house is smaller and lower, percentage wise, than that of, say, a craftsman bungalow, but there's still got to be somewhat of a visual ladder to make it to the building. It can't get away with keeping *everything* at the height of 18th-c formal gardens. :-)

    Bookmark   June 1, 2009 at 3:42AM
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