urban townhome patio

elixir75April 9, 2012

I just moved into this urban townhome and I want to make the patio look great. It currently has a stamped concrete pad filling most of the surface. The surrounding material is decomposed granite. I want to do something *very* low maintenance because there's no gate in/out - the majority of the surface should have something that weeds cannot grow on.

Here's a sketch of the layout and pics from inside and outside:

http://muleforq.imgur.com/patio/

Some ideas that I like so far:

- A flower bed along the back fence created with a permanent stone border (pavers?).

- A tree on the left side inside a circular border of the same material.

- River rocks on top of the remaiing surface. Or pavers with monkey grass in between.

Here is a link that might be useful: Pictures

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elixir75

Sketch:

View from left side window:

View from right side window:

Outside view to right side window:

    Bookmark   April 9, 2012 at 7:40PM
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designoline6(Z6)

You read plant's name on the pics.

    Bookmark   April 9, 2012 at 8:42PM
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designoline6(Z6)

    Bookmark   April 9, 2012 at 9:04PM
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deviant-deziner(Oh zone)

The element that jumped out at me when viewing your photographs was the surrounding second story units that look into your back yard space.

I would think that planting a privacy screen would be just as important as a low maintenace garden.

Several years back I worked on a simiar project. Like you we changed and enhanced the patio surface ( we used tile ) and used powder coated alumn. planter boxes ( Ore Studios) and planted a simple hedge of clumping bamboo, Alphonse Karr.
In the corner that had a low window we place three Balinese stone planters planted with a palm and some succulents.
Due to a strong visual axis thru the house toward the back yard wall a sculptural element was designed.

You might find that using some of these elements , raised beds and containers set on river rocks or DG to be a low maintenace option to consider.

photo below - A S.F. high rise courtyard
From Sculpture For S.F. Project.

Photo below shows a densely populated area in S.F. where neighbors have a clear view into the back yard. Landscape designer Ms. Shirley Watts used saw cut urbanite to create raised planters and planted with bamboo. The floor surface area is tumbled ceramic shards. There is a 'blue cube' set in the middle of the garden as a folly and functioning unconventional pergola.
From AIA garden tour 2009

    Bookmark   April 10, 2012 at 12:57PM
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elixir75

Great ideas! How would I achieve a privacy screen? Are you saying the potted bamboo will grow tall enough to achieve that? Or something else?

Here is a link that might be useful: Bamboo information

    Bookmark   April 15, 2012 at 2:33AM
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yardvaark

Here is a link to a wealth of information about bamboo.

    Bookmark   April 15, 2012 at 1:54PM
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whitecap2

Those unobstructed lines of sight from across the way are going to be a real "downer" when and if you need to put this property on the market. I wonder if they would allow you to put up a heavy lattice trellis just inside your fence, and extend it a couple of feet above the top. Probably not. Most vines aren't "low maintenance" anyway.

    Bookmark   April 15, 2012 at 3:24PM
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elixir75

Deviant and Yaardvark, thanks a lot for the link and ideas!

Is there a tall growing bamboo that I can keep in pots similar to the powder coated aluminum boxes in your picture?

I'm afraid of a runaway situation with bamboo if I were to plant directly in the ground.

    Bookmark   April 18, 2012 at 6:26PM
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deviant-deziner(Oh zone)

You will be best served with expert information from a local professional nursery / nurseryman in regards to the best bamboo for your climate/ micro-climate.

While you are at your local nursery, ask about some other plant options that fit your site specific needs/ location/ climate/ budget.

The gardenweb forums are a good source of general information but nothing beats a local professional nurseryman.

    Bookmark   April 18, 2012 at 6:47PM
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elixir75

Deviant and Yaardvark, thanks a lot for the link and ideas!

Is there a tall growing bamboo that I can keep in pots similar to the powder coated aluminum boxes in your picture?

I'm afraid of a runaway situation with bamboo if I were to plant directly in the ground.

    Bookmark   April 18, 2012 at 7:46PM
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designoline6(Z6)

Now so many people like to come here,why?
We don't need "local" so much. they trust designing,ideas ...online here.people often
tired native plants.they like different trees and flowers and love exotic.especial careful plants are not so much,only some
no-cold tolerant...many designers have these database and experience.I am a garden internationalist.

    Bookmark   April 18, 2012 at 7:46PM
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designoline6(Z6)

    Bookmark   April 18, 2012 at 8:00PM
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deviant-deziner(Oh zone)

I'm in zone 9 and grow a variety of bamboo in containers.
Alphonese Karr
Otatea acuminata aztectorum - I cut the bottom of pot out and set partially into the ground.
Sinobambusa tootsik Albostriata,
Hibanobambusa transquillans Shiroshima
Sasa tessalata

All have all have been in pots for several years. Some will need to be repotted into larger containers within the year or so.

As mentioned above, check with your local nurseryman to see if these varieties do well in your climate.

In photo attached : Hibanobambusa tranquillans Shiroshima in a pot behind reclining Buddha. It is hardy to about 0 degree F. - Its a runner with cream striped leaves.
From Pina Colada

In photo below : Mexican weeping bamboo Otatea acuminata aztecroum - hardy to about 22 degrees F . in the upper right hand corner of photo
From Pina Colada

    Bookmark   April 18, 2012 at 8:33PM
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elixir75

Sorry for the double post earlier.

I shall check with my nurseryman for screening options for the entire length of back fence.

On the more narrower right-side I'm planning for a bed for succlents,and some sort of rocks filling the rest- (Diagram in the first sketch)

Any ideas on ground materials covering the ground on larger area adjacent to the stamped concrete on the left? rocks, pebbles, monkey grass?

    Bookmark   April 19, 2012 at 12:05AM
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elixir75

OK I've got the privacy screen covered. 6 arborvitae crowned by 2 Italian cypress will be going along the back fence.

Now I need way to frame my planting beds. I'm using the stones below as a border installed on the perimeter of the stamped concrete patio. The goal is to keep the river rocks, which I'm using as significant amount of ground cover, off the patio.

I'm going to use the material to also create a couple of flower beds, and I could use some ideas on how to frame them. I want to use the material to surround a tree somewhere on the left side among the river rock on that side. How should I frame other planting beds using this stone? In the two back corners should I do half moons, framing the cypress against the fence corners? Also a half moon against the right side fence?

The right side space is ~5ft wide, and the left is ~8 ft wide. Refer to my sketch in the original post.

This is the stone I'm using for the borders:

    Bookmark   April 26, 2012 at 11:45PM
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reyesuela(z7a)

The pictures are...bleak. I'd go lush, lush, lush, with lots of big pots to create interest. I also like the bamboo idea much better than the arbs. The arbs are going to take some serious real estate when they get mature. Sure, they're "vertical"--compared to most shrubs.

Also, are you SURE you have the sun for arbs? There is nothing sadder than a mangy arb.

    Bookmark   April 29, 2012 at 12:19AM
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