Working on Curb Appeal, thoughts?

craftlady07(5b/6a)April 12, 2011

DH and I are planning on overhauling our front yard soon. I've come up with a tentative plant list and have some vague ideas but I'm struggling with what I want to put where and what I really want it to look like. So I'm hoping to lay out everything here and see if anyone can/wants to help.

Okay, for starters, we're definitely DYIers. We have access to a small backhoe. I got into gardening about 3 years ago when we bought our house. I have some very generous co-workers, friends and family and I've been growing my perennial collections with a lot of help from them and very little monetary investment. I'm a plant rescuer...if someone has something they want to get rid of, I'll take it.

I love cottage garden style. I love varying heights, colors, textures, varying bloom times and scents. We do compost, mostly for our veggie garden. I haven't done a whole lot to amend our soil. We have a cement quarry in our back yard and our yard has about 2' of topsoil and then it's all clay under that. But we don't really have a real drainage problem.

When we moved in we had a couple meatball shaped yews, a half dead rhody and a sick azalea around the foundation that all got yanked. We did save (read: not touch) 3 burning bushes (euyonomous) a bridals wreath spirea and 3 super huge maples across the back yard along the Alley in the back, a large silver maple on the east side of the house along another alley and a possible norway maple out front (this will play into my front yard plans) as well as a large cherry tree on the west side of the house. I really do not want to get rid of any of the trees. I know the roots are a problem, but the maturity and the shade/privacy they provide are all very important to us.

Ok, here's the front of the house, it faces north. We have plans to repalce the windows and insulate at which point we'll reside the house (thinking a blue grey color). We also want to replace the concrete path from the main sidewalk along the street to the front stoop and the tempoary brick path to the left side of the porch with a more permanent (small) brick sidewalk with an actual base (the pavers were set right on top soil when the concrete sidewalk slabs were sacrificed when the yews were pulled out).

I hope these following views are self explanitory, any questions, just ask. The pictures were taken at 1pm yesterday, I was documenting the shadows.

We planted 2 shamrock inkberry hollies on either side of the front steps. I also have 2 evergreen azaleas although the leaves are small so they don't really show up. There is a leucothue to the left of the bird bath that is struggling and a macrophylla hydrangea on the right of the bird bath. I'd like to keep that, but possibly replant it if I have to. All of the shrubs are in front of the drip line from the roof. I also have some perennials in there: daylilly, astilbe, 1 fern, waldsternia (barren strawberry = ground cover), poleminium (jacob's ladder).

Here are my thoughts:

#1 Main focus: I want a serviceberry on the left of the porch in the front yard. I have 10 feet from the back edge of the main sidewalk to the front edge of the concrete steps (those are staying). It's another 5' to the corner of the porch (the main front sidewalks are 5'9" from the front of the curb to the back of the sidewalk). This area is full sun (from first light until about 3-4 pm, then the last hour as the sun sets)

#2 Evergreen shrubs: I need some. I want to stay with dwarf conifers so they don't get overgrown. I like chamaecyparis 'gold mop' and cryptomeria japonia 'globosa nana'.

Sidenote: I think maybe I'd move the inkberry holly from the right of the steps over to the left edge of the porch and then putting some sort of taller, perhaps pyramidal conifer in its spot to grow up and cover the blank wall. I'd like something different then a dwarf alberta spruce, but I'm not sure what.

Also: I think I need to keep the evergreens away from the main paths/sidewalks since we can have a lot of snow to shovel and we have to pile it in the yard. If we have smaller pockets of shrubs we'll be able to avoid them but the snow does stick around for weeks at a time as this area does not get a lot sun in the middle of winter.

#3 Decidious shrubs: I like are clethra, caryopteris 'blue mist' and/or divaricata 'snow fairy'.

#4 Free plants: My coworker will be giving me a lacecap hydrangea, a Neon Flash Spirea and a yellow twig dogwood. My mom wants to get rid of a sand cherry that she doesn't have in the right spot.

#5: Hostas, I am sure there are some that will do great in my space, but I have no idea where to start.

#6 I would like a loose informal pathway from the path to the front door around to the right of the house.

#7 I like the look of mulched beds, but not formal. I have soaker hoses, I will fertilze, I will prune.

#8 If I can get a sense of what it would look like I'm kind of interested in getting rid of all the grass out front to somewhere near the maple tree. I don't want to go all the way to the neighbor's yard with a garden.

#9 in the same vein I'd really love to see what a fence would look like acros the front of the yard to really set off the cottage look. but I'm not sure I'm brave enough to do that right at the main sidewalk. I have some neighbors with really cute picket fneces but most of them are set back o ntheir property, more in line fron the front edge of the house, not right at the edge of the yard.

Okay, that is a whole boat load of information but I'm sure there is still some information I'm missing. Most importantly I forgot to scan my aerial view sketchs with dimensions so I can add those tomorrow from work.

Thanks for anything you can do to get me started!!


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the place is so small,my suggest is other style,add some shrub,bonsai tree,rock...

    Bookmark   April 13, 2011 at 11:17AM
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not really the look I'm going for, but thanks for trying.

    Bookmark   April 13, 2011 at 2:57PM
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karinl(BC Z8)

The funny thing about designshare, our local crazy photoshopper, is that sometimes, as if by accident, s/he hits on the right answer. So while the photoshop is usually pretty surreal, and completely unrealistic, there is sometimes something helpful buried in the contribution. In this case, it is that in designing your landscape, you should move beyond the details of what plants you are going to choose and consider more substantive changes.

There is a distinction between gardening and landscaping, and you sound as if you're a bit stuck in the crevasse between the two. I should know, I spent a few years stuck in it and am just beginning to climb out! When a gardener tries to design a landscape, we almost always make the mistake of trying to place our plants first. What you really have to do is forget individual plant identity and step back and ask yourself the question: what do I want my landscaping to achieve?

Now I should also say that not every gardener wants to become a landscaper, which is fine. A gardener might say: I don't care about the overall impression or how my garden affects access to the property or whether it suits the house. I garden, and that's all there is to it. Nothing wrong that. Then the garden is the purpose and the landscape is the default outcome. It's just that you won't get a forum dedicated to discussing landscape design to help you decide which plant to put where.

So to the landscaping advice: blessed be that you want to replace those sidewalks/walkways. They are unimaginative and above all too narrow and I am not sure the linearity of the whole arrangement does anything for the house or yard, plus you want to add one. Start with that project, forget plants for now except to the extent that you want room for plants here or there. I'm not really sure if I'd stay with straight lines or go with curves for your walkways... but a nice landing pad with walkways coming off will be the foundation of your whole front yard design and I would absolutely start there.

Next, look at the house and how it presents to the street; also from the driveway. Do you want to offset the asymmetry, or ground the house to the property? Mitigate the busy-ness of the posts and railings? Make the house seem further back from the street? Or do these things not factor in for you?

Turn your attention to the yard as a whole. Do you want to define boundaries, block sightlines either to or from the house? What do you want to see from inside the house, from the porch if you sit there?

With respect to garden style, I would not think "cottage" when I look at this house. You seem torn yourself as you have a lot of evergreen ideas too. And I have to say: picket fence plus that porch railing = ouch, I think.

Finally, it is not a given to me that you need foundation planting. The house is pretty grounded, and since you won't want much tall evergreen material due to the porch, it is bound to look a little monotonous. Granted your porch is concrete, but if you are residing might you want to reside that, or do a stone facing? I think a full-house-width landing pad that also provides the walkways you need might be an option, and you can front that with plants, perhaps - leaving enough room to pile snow.

OK then really finally... start planning your replacement trees if you can. The trees you have are not too big yet but will come down at some point. If you plant trees now in alternate locations, say at front left or back right (not sure if I'm seeing the spaces correctly from the photo), then you will be able to cut the big ones down on a staggered schedule as they become too big (leaves in eaves, root problems, falling hazard, canopy encroachment) without creating a moonscape.

In summary, landscaping is not all about plants, in fact, other than trees, plant decisions are made last!

PS cruise around this forum a little, do some searches for issues you're working on, and you might find some new insights. eg search "porch" or "walkway" or "meet and greet".

PPS I don't meant to say the house isn't attractive; it is. People often have things that bug them though that they want to emphasize or de-emphasize - I'm just guessing what yours might be.

    Bookmark   April 17, 2011 at 11:01AM
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KarinL - Thank you very much for your very thoughtful and informative response.

I figured I must've done something wrong since no one was realy answering my post. I do appreciate that designshare takes the time to try to come up with some ideas. I also realized I forgot to post my sketch with dimensions.

You're very right about the fact that I am stuck between lanscaping and gardening. Gardening I can do, landscaping, not so much :) I brought up the cottage garden info to give an idea of what the rest of my landscape looks like (no worries, there will be no picket fence out front). I don't want to have the same riot of plants in the front yard and that's why I'm struggling. I don't know what to put where. I want it to look good all year round and I want it to look like there was some thought put into it, not a hodge podge or plants I like.

I already have the path locations set. The one from the front main sidewalk to the porch will be straight (I love curves but they don't makes sense in my space.) Likewise, the path from the front porch to the left (facing the house like in the 1st pic), where the temporary brick path is will also be straight. Again, curves don't make sense. But the path to the right (again, looking at it from the front of the house, 1st pic.) will be slightly curved. I kind of want it hidden from the main sidwalk, kind of like a secret path that you don't see until you're close to the porch. It'll like just be stepping stones with some ground cover that doesn't need mowing.

I didn't realize just how barren the front of my house looks until I took these pictures. I actually took them to post on the smaller homes forum to get some ideas for siding. Speaking of which, the porch foundation will be painted and the top will be overlayed with flagstone. Same goes for the stairs. I forgot to mention in the first post that the railings and the posts will be replaced. They will be beefier, craftsman style wooden end posts with thicker/chunkier railings/balasters.

I don't want to hide the front of my house. I don't want a bunch of meatballs standing in a row to hide the concrete forming a tutu around my house. I don't care if some of the foundation shows through. I don't want to stick to the "rule" of tall against the house, medium in the middle and short up front. I was thinking some sort of "spine" with lower perennials on either side. Something for the public to see from the street but for us to enjoy from the front porch. The asymmetry doesn't really bother me. I have no idea how to ground my house to the property. As far as boundaries, to the left is an alley so I can go right up to that and I don't want to take my bed all the way to the right property line. I do want it to curve down the side of the house (tie into a future shade garden) to the backyard.

I don't know how to arrange decidious and evergreen shrubs together. I don't want straight rows of plants. I want it to look good from the from the porch looking out and facing the house. I don't know where to use a single shrub or to plant 2 or 3.

I do agree with the idea of adding trees now to replace the ones we'll have to take down eventually. Any suggestions?

I'll continue to search around the site. I mostly post on the cottage garden forum and I was very active on the kitchen forum a few months ago. But I poke around all over so I'll see what other ideas I can come up with.
Thanks again for the perspective and the direction. I do appreciate it.

But I'm not really sure where to go from here.


    Bookmark   April 17, 2011 at 8:01PM
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you lock your pics size.I can only answer your size , black and,I unlock it.your place is so limit,so small.I add some cottage garden style, colors, textures.bush is evergreen colors.curl step,rock fence increase nature prehistory cottage feeling,rock made by perlite,you can plant vegetable on it.right?
I am crazy, I post many pics everyday in many forum.but I am not a photoshopper,photoshop is not a 3d soft ware,it only is 2d software as CAD.I use cad draw size,3dsmax create model,maya change it,photoshop increase colors.

    Bookmark   April 17, 2011 at 9:50PM
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You keep your fence style,don't change it.

    Bookmark   April 18, 2011 at 10:14PM
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What about something like this. Lots of flowering evergreens (azaleas) and some color and height with a japanese maple. I like the texture the porch rails add but maybe a flower box and some solid columns to break up some of those vertical lines. I also like your wide steps and think widening your walkway would really show them off. Painting or staining the steps a dark color would look really nice but would add maintenance. I'm obviously not a landscaper. Just thought I would throw in my 2 cents.

    Bookmark   April 19, 2011 at 4:15PM
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missingtheobvious(Blue Ridge 7a)

putting some sort of taller, perhaps pyramidal conifer ... to grow up and cover the blank wall

Rather than put a tall conifer there (I'd keep all shrubs below the porch railing), how about adding some sort of white medallion or other piece of art in that area of the wall? (I'm assuming you'll keep the white trim after residing the house.) Center it between the columns, as opposed to between the window and the front door. I'm thinking about something roughly 3-4' wide and tall. Perhaps something that gives the effect of an unusually shaped small window: circle, oval, diamond, etc. Or, since you're going to replace the windows, perhaps add an actual window in that location.

Kudos to swoodard23 for those wider columns and the wide walkway!

    Bookmark   April 19, 2011 at 9:52PM
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woodyoak zone 5 Canada(5b)

swoodard's version is a big improvement re the steps and columns in particular. But it also drew my attention to one thing that looks 'off'. If you look at the three columns by the steps in relation to the dormer section on the roof above, the column on the right is too far to the right in comparison to the column under the left side of the dormer. If you are redoing the railings and columns, consider how those colums align with the dormer above and adjust the column placement to align consistently with the dormer.

I think a generally green and white/pale cool colors planting theme would look nice as most of swoodard's version shows - the red tree sticks out as 'wrong' to me as does, to a lesser extent, the reddish things in the pots. A plain green tree or a white-flowering or variegated one would look better I think. Those pointy evergreens look nice in the picture but would undoubtedly soon get too big and dominate the house and garden.

I think your property and house are quite nice and have a lot of potential to be very attractive indeed.

    Bookmark   April 20, 2011 at 9:55AM
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karinl(BC Z8)

OK, I have looked myself silly and I can't see the offset that Woody can in the columns.

I have a couple of other questions... that lane to the left, do you have "corner" issues with it? Such as people walking across the lawn? And also, what is your porch made of... is there a basement underneath the porch, or is that a solid block of concrete? And if so, it's continuous with the stairs, right? Also, do you like rocks?

And this looks like a busy street. Is that an issue?

I must tell you about one of the most striking landscapes I see along a busy road that I travel often. This is a corner house with maybe a bit of inconsequential foundation planting but the thing that absolutely rivets me every time is a single Japanese maple near the outside corner that has been trimmed into the shape of a pedestal coffee table about 2 feet high. Further up the side street is a single poodled juniper. These two plants are immaculately maintained and they catch both my imagination and my admiration every time; I look for them on my drive! It is just so striking to me that with a biggish yard a person would choose to have just these two plants, and then could make such an impact just with those.

All that to say you can avoid being cookie-cutter without being elaborate.


    Bookmark   April 21, 2011 at 1:22PM
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missingtheobvious(Blue Ridge 7a)

the column on the right is too far to the right in comparison to the column under the left side of the dormer.

I can't see the offset that Woody can in the columns.

I think woodyoak sees an offset because the dormer isn't centered in the roof -- it's a bit closer to the left edge of the roof. Or perhaps it's the slight angle of the photo.

Another bit of asymmetry is that the columns on either side of the stairs are a bit closer together than the other three sections; that means the center column isn't really centered -- though because of the dormer offset, that column might be centered under the dormer window....

There's also some sort of optical illusion -- caused, perhaps, by the lack of window/door in the one section -- which makes that section seem (to me, at least) narrower than it really is.

Small things like that bother me, subconsciously; it's just the way my mind works, and maybe woody has the same sort of mind! I imagine there are ways to downplay it, though I haven't a clue how.

Japanese maple ... trimmed into the shape of a pedestal coffee table

A mile from me is a house with two 3' pedestal table pines where the driveway meets the road. I've seen the owner pruning them; I don't know if they're kept that low so they don't block sightlines at the street, or for whimsy. I watch for those pines also, karin. Haven't seen a poodle yet ... several thousand apple trees, though, and an increasing number of vineyards.

    Bookmark   April 21, 2011 at 3:44PM
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woodyoak zone 5 Canada(5b)

Karin - does this help?

Interestingly, when I drew the lines up, it's actually the left side that is farther away from the dormer. I think it's the center pillar that was throwing me off - the space between the center pillar and the right one is wider than the space between it and the left pillar. I think the skewed alignment with the dormer may just be an artifact of the photoshopping of the picture, because it's a little less obvious when I try the same thing on the original picture, although the space is still wider between the center plallar and the right one. My basic point is that if the OP is going to change the pillars and railings, pay attention to the relationship between where the pillars are placed and other key lines in the view - e.g. the dormer, its windows, its peak, and the front door. The way they are all placed, the pillars will be out of line with something and it seems to me that a misalignment with the outer edges of the dormer is going to make things feel the most skewed.

    Bookmark   April 21, 2011 at 4:06PM
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Wow, I had all but given up on this thread and checked back fully expecting no other comments, but you folks have really surprised me, thank you!
so, I'm sorry it took so long to respond.

swoodard, thank you VERY much for that mock up. That is very similar to what I'm going for and its very helpful to see it!
Where you show the jp maple is roughly where the serviceberry will go. And the wider walkway looks great! And the columns are similar to what we have in mind. I still feel that the railings should be more substantial the front face of the steps will be painted as will the foundation.

missingtheobvious, I agree that something needs to cover that blank spot and I think I like the idea of an art-type pieces rather then a pyramidal conifer. mostly because any conifer I put there would likely be slow growing and I don't want to spend a fortune on a 6'-7' high shrub right now. I'm okay with starting smaller with my chrubs and waiting for them to grow up, but I'd be waiting forever for that one to grow up and look the way I envision it.

Woodoak, you have certainly pointed something out I'm not sure I ever would've caught, thank you!! I also want to be sure to get a more direct, head-on photo to really sheck the symmetry but either way, it's definitely something to think about, that's for sure! Thank you!

karinL, the alley to the left does give me a corner to deal with. But No one walks across the lawn or anything. I just have to watch how close I put thing to the corner as the snow can really get piled up there. I have a sheffield pink geranium that grows around the street sign pole.
The porch is solid concrete, no basement underneath. The steps are attached I do believe. I love rocks and we're actually installing a locally quarried slate floor in the kitchen this weekend and would like to have some sort of pa blue stone or slate flagstone installed on the porch and step treds.

The street is somewhat busy, the speed limit is 35 mph so people go by fairly fast. I wouldn't consider it an issue aside from the fact that I want people to have something to look at as they drive by :) But we also have people walk by on the sidewalk so I'd like to have something really cool for them to enjoy as they walk past.

Ultimately my goal is orderly (not overgrown or messy) but natural and varied and even slightly unexpected.

It's raining cats and dogs here today so I doubt I'll get any pictures and with tomorrow being Easter I'm not sure how much time I'll have to get on here. But I'd say by monday I'll post a stright-on picture to see how the posts and dormer all line up.

Thank you all for your insight, suggestions and comemnts. I really do aprpeciate it!

    Bookmark   April 23, 2011 at 9:48AM
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missingtheobvious(Blue Ridge 7a)

That's weird that woody and I came up with contradictory measurements!

I held a piece of paper along the bottom of the dormer and measured the distance to the roof on either side. The roof to the right of the dormer is noticeably wider in the photo (36 vs. 32 mm.). Maybe it's because the photo is taken at a slight angle. Maybe the eaves are different widths (the four sides of my rectangular house have eaves of three different widths). Houses can be very strange!

    Bookmark   April 24, 2011 at 1:46AM
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woodyoak zone 5 Canada(5b)

mto - as I said in my last post, the real issue is not what we see - or not - in the pictures above, but that the OP needs to be aware of the relationship between the vertical lines of the porch pillars and the vertical lines of the dormer elements. If there is obvious misalignment between the two, it will cause discomfort - the feeling that something is 'off' - when looking at the house. The strongest/tallest verticals are the outer edges of the dormer and the pillars directly beneath them, so those lines are probably the most important ones to make sure are aligned when replacing the pillars. The OP, and whoever does the replacement pillars, needs to pay attention to the whole house, not just the front porch, when making changes to the front porch verticals.

    Bookmark   April 24, 2011 at 11:58AM
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I read over all the comments and you all have some great information to add. I'm also looking for a little curb appeal for the front of my house. I thought about adding a tree and some more plants but I'm a little uncertain what kind and where to plant them. Any help would be much appreciated. I'm not quite sure howw to submit a photo any help. Thanks in advance....

    Bookmark   April 24, 2011 at 4:29PM
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karinl(BC Z8)

VJL, you're best off to start your own thread. To post photos, try it on the gallery side and link to that posting with a message here on the discussion board, or open an account on a free photohosting website such as photobucket and post the HTML tag of your photo in your message here.

OK, back to you, Craftlady! So I can now see the offsets in the dormer, but am going to keep my feet firmly on the ground :-) The reason I asked about your porch construction is that you have an interesting opportunity there. You don't have to use it, but you might give it some thought.

Because you can pile dirt against it, you have the option of building raised beds against it - you can do anything from building planter boxes of brick or wood or a stone wall, to a rock garden. I did the latter at my house, which has a similar porch/stairs arrangement except the steps are wood so I had to taper down to ground at the steps. I like it because when I sit on the steps in summer I'm close to the plants and can enjoy the bees and buds and such. It also adds some topography, of which I have as little as you do. But you probably use your yard differently.

Other than that, or in addition to that, I would go back to your walkway design. If you post a plan view of your yard, it might be fun for some people to do some sketches of possible walkway layouts. I don't see curves or diagonal lines being ruled out at all.

By the way, to allude to SWoodard's mock-up, this is a house that does look good with foundation planting, in contrast to his own! Getting stuff to grow as well as in the mock-up will be the challenge, given the exposure. Yours may be the rare case where the best design really is the fairly conventional one of foundation planting fronted by lawn. Not sure, but maybe.


    Bookmark   April 24, 2011 at 9:58PM
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I will try that. Thanks for your help:)

    Bookmark   April 25, 2011 at 10:52AM
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hlechat(5 (the colder edge of 5 :-))

Yes, do the oolumns. They do NOT have to 'match' the dormers. They need to match and emphasize your front door. Here are some columns that architecturally match your house (I also have a bungalow!)

Consider a strong color for the front door, and make sure it coordinates with your plantings. Colors such as oxblood or periwinkle or strong deep blue will work with most plantings. Get a storm door that is mostly glass, to show off the color and draw the eye to the door. Consider new lighting, too.

Planting only, will help, yes, but the items above will sell the house, if that is why you want curb appeal.

Lots of great advice above -- smart folks here, for sure!

Try to paint your porch a color that is nuetral but ties everything together, too. :-)

Think about putting in smaller windows in the dormers, to reduce their prsensce. They are a bit overwhelming, and should not be.

Think on it this way, too, when you have updgraded the house itself,the landscaping will be simple and easier to find. I am a huge fan of blue hollies and understatement. You'll want landscaping that helps your house 'pop' without taking the eye away from the great front door, lighting, drop dead columns and other updates. the landscaping should then be a support role, not the main attraction.

Also, if selling, keep in mind a complicated landscape could turn away non-gardening buyers.

Think elegant, serene, clean lines.

Thanks for letting me post some ideas!

Here's something to think about:
the upstairs windows are 'smaller, due to window boxes" (always a FABULOUS idea if you can get to them to water them) and the front porch colums are more open. YOu'll need to talk to an engineer to see how many columns you may or may not need. )
and the columns here a scrumptious.

Thought -- a drop dead green lawn can sometimes be the best landscaping decision there is.

    Bookmark   April 25, 2011 at 1:22PM
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So - I think you have received some great advice here! I would just like to say that for the first time ever I agree with designshare aka ideashare regarding the size of your front yard. I think you should consider landscaping the entire area and not having a lawn in front of the house.

I also agree with Japanese Maple in SWoodward's photoshop. It really provides nice balance on that side of the house where the ground drops off and to the large tree on the other side. Obviously we all agree the sidewalk should be the width of the front steps. I would also consider changing the walkway from the driveway - either curve it or move it away from the house.

KarinL has given you excellent advice, as had missing the obvious.
Sorry if I repeated all the stuff that everyone else has stated - I just dont really have the time this time of year to read all of the advice!

Oh yea - the advice about the porch is excellent - that alone will make a tremendous difference. If you are working on the porch you might consider adding steps on the driveway side and then you can eliminate the path from the drive to the front steps.

    Bookmark   April 25, 2011 at 3:59PM
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Thanks again for all the great responses!! Perhaps I should've mentioned that we just bought the house 3 years ago and we're not planning on selling for a very long time. It may be small, but we're fixing it up to enjoy it ourselves and while we don't have kids yet we can certainly make it work with the size.

Let me start by posting the picture that someone on the Smaller Homes Forum mocked up for me as this is very similar to what we're thinking as far as the house itself (not the landscaping so much).

And also a close up of the front door (the current screen door will be repalced with a full/nearly full glass door eventually, it's a special size)

You know what KarinL, I hadn't even really thought about the idea of raised boxes against the foundation. That is a very interesting prospect that I'll have to mull over a while. To be honest we don't use the porch very much, or I should say, as much as we should. But there's really not much to look at out there...right now anyway ;)

hlechat - Thanks for the wonderful comments and search suggestions. I'll definitely take a peek at them! I love a thick dark green lawn as much as the next person but I don't use chemicals and I haven't taken the time to really investigate how to acheive that look without chemicals. To be honest, my goal is to reduce the amount of grass to mow, not only because it's a pain in the neck and time consuming, but I'm also trying to reduce the amount of gas we use (I know in the grand scheme of things its not really going to matter, but I like to think it helps just a litte bit).
Much like drtygrl posted, that's one thing designshare got right. I'm really thinking my best course of action is to plant the whole front yard, at least the part in front of the house. I'm not going to turn the entire sideyard into a garden, I think I'll leave some grass there to blend into the neightbor's yard.

Regarding the Japanese Maple, I think that will be the replacement tree type that I use on the right side of the house for when we remove the norway maple. It'll provide nice dappled to full shade from the late afternoon sun and I can get a larger one for that side then I could if I planted it on the left where I need something smaller. Plus I think it'll add some nice color to that side of the house.

I never did get around to getting a better picture of the house this weekend, I'll try to get it posted today.
But here's the site plan I sketched up. There is a slight scale to it, it was done on grap paper where 1 square equaled 2" but through copying and scanning the squares were lost, sorry!

    Bookmark   April 26, 2011 at 2:24PM
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Need help please. I looking to give my home a little curb appeal. I'm not very good in this department. Any help or suggestions would greatly be appreciated. I'm thinking about adding a tree (not sure which kind) and also maybe some more perennials. Any ideas would be much appreciated. Thanks in advance.

Here is a link that might be useful:

    Bookmark   April 26, 2011 at 10:14PM
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Cute little house.

BEFORE you start putting permanent plants in the ground ... two things to take care of in the infrastructure.

1 - Widen those walkways. Skinny walks leading to wide steps are useless and they look strange. Make the front walkway at wide as the steps, and the one coming in from the side wide enough so you don't have to worry about stepping off it.

2 - Beef up the porch supports and railings. That delicate wrought iron looks like the upper story could crush it.

For this summer, landscape with annuals, putting hollyhocks or sunflowers where you think you want tall things, and something spreading where you want bushes. You can't keep moving shrubs around because they'll die on you.

Carefully calculate what the final sizes of the shrubs will be. Pruning is a nuisance task.

I'd get rid of the lawn and go for a full-up cottage garden from sidewalk to house with some flowering shrubs (lilacs? roses? forsythia?) or small flowering trees (dogwood? magnolia?)), some with bright winter berries or bark, and the rest in perennials like peonies, daylilies, delphiniums, some perennial decorative grasses and ground covers, and some annuals for variety. I have no clue what will grow in your area - those plants are what I remember from my cold climate life.

The bare chunk of wall is not a flaw. Use it for seasonal decor, and put a bright-colored bench in front of it to use for boot removal.

    Bookmark   April 28, 2011 at 7:20AM
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karinl(BC Z8)

Until you posted the grey paint mock-up and the plan view, I hadn't noticed that block of concrete stairs off to the side. That is the oddest side stair placement ever, and does severely constrain walkway design... if you let it. You've also got a significant slope on that side that wasn't apparent from the front view.

I'd be inclined to make something of that slope, almost to landscape for curb appeal from that angle more than from the front. Rocks or a small wall? And I have to say that I am liking the mock-ups that show substantial short shrubs (meatballs or other) around the house - and they do not have to be at the foundation. In fact, better if they're not - that last mock-up is not bad, barring plant selection. You do need bulk to counterweigh the house. Wispy flowers alone will not cut it here.

I toyed around with some walkway sketches on your plan view, some incorporating the side steps, some bypassing them. I tried, for instance, a diagonal line from the back corner of the side yard steps to the left corner of the front steps, and then a square attached to that... so you end up with a square patio off to the left of the stairs with a corner cut off it. You can continue that square all across the front of the house, across the base of the steps, so your front yard is basically a patio with plantings all around... perhaps a small grass apron at the front. Then your actual front walkway need only be a short peninsula off that patio toward the street. Hope you follow this, I'll scan and post it if it's not clear.

Not that this is the holy grail... Just to suggest you give yourself permission to do something other than lines parallel to the walls of the house. And while you may not want to sledgehammer those side steps, you can design around them... put pots on them if they are not in the right place, and put new steps where you actually want some.


    Bookmark   April 29, 2011 at 10:46PM
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Ok, as promised, here's a better picture taken head on

Things are finally starting to get greener! :)

Lazygardner - I like the way you think! I promise, the sidewalk will be widened before a plant goes in the ground, but I can't promise the support beams will be in beforehand. But I can Promise they will be in soon because they're certainly NOT holding up the second floor which already appears to be tettering on the brink of falling down (I'm exaggerating, but not by much)

I don't usually spend money on annuals, mostly I start them from seed. But you have a good point about using them to my advantage this year, thanks for the thought!
And I think you're right, full on cottage garden is probably the way to go here.

KarinL, I'm sorry the concrete steps weren't more visible before. And I do actually use them a lot, especially when carrying the groceries in where the shortest distance is imperative.

I have the whole blank mulch area filled to the brim with perennials and have been slowly moving them down the hill to make room for shrubs. We're going to have a retaining wall in the back of the house for our patio and didn't want one on this side too. I have no problem holding the dirt back as is but I plan on adding some evergreens to this area soon. Any thoughts would be helpful!

    Bookmark   May 4, 2011 at 3:58PM
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craftlady -
I would also get rid of the whole front lawn (you have that lovely park area in the back for lawn) and convert it to a mixed flower and vegetable area with some perennials. Start the landscaping at the sidewalk.

    Bookmark   May 4, 2011 at 10:34PM
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