Landscape Plan - New Build - Blank Slate

mlostinsonMay 6, 2013

I built a house last year and it is time for landscaping. I hired a landscaper to put in a paver patio, install trees, and cut and prep the beds. My husband and I will be planting everything else.

I put together a plan yesterday and for the most part I like it...but I have absolutely no experience with I would love someone to take a look and provide simple suggestions to improve it. One thing I am struggling with is what to put around the garbage can on the side of the garage to hide it.

I am in Zone 6 - Rochester, NY.

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Additional photp

    Bookmark   May 6, 2013 at 9:15AM
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Additional photo

    Bookmark   May 6, 2013 at 9:17AM
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catkim(San Diego 10/24)

Your plan is difficult to read as presented, and sketchy to interpret without any photos to provide context. Any chance of some photos of the site? So the house faces north, with the driveway in front, and the curvy thing in back is some sort of patio? Is the negative space all lawn?

It's nice to see some beds and trees away from the house in your sketch. What are the 3 "floating cloud" shapes out front?

I'm not all that familiar with many of the plants on your list, but I question those with only 1 or 2 of smaller plants, such as 1 hosta, 1 blue fescue, or 2 zebra grass. You won't get much impact from a single small plant.

Think of your plants and their arrangement when nothing will be in bloom, and consider if the "bones" are substantial enough to please you. It's a common mistake of beginners to over-emphasize flowers and color at the expense of evergreens or other structural plants, leaving the garden to appear sparse and unsatisfying. There appear to be many such plants on your list, so you may have that aspect covered.

Low fencing to screen garbage cans makes for a very effective long-term, low-maintenance solution.

    Bookmark   May 6, 2013 at 12:04PM
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I have been looking at, studying and designing landscapes for a good number of years. During that time I've acquired many preferences and dislikes. And I've developed some pretty strong opinions about what's good and what's bad. I don't set out to hurt anyone's feeling on this forum, and I know when one works hard on planning their dream yard, they can get pretty wrapped up in what they've created. What you're creating, mlostinson, reminds me of something I might have created during my early attempts at designing. The nice thing about it is that the entire world is filled with similar landscapes and there's probably not a person within 5 miles of you that would look at your yard as anything but a nice landscape and garden. However, if you're trying to elevate your yard into something much greater than average, then you'd need to eliminate some of the plan's drawbacks.

It's obvious that you like curvy, but your curves are out of scale for the size of the yard. Rather than looking sophisticated, they're "cute," like one might find on a miniature-golf course. The small looping curves should be traded in for large, long flowing curves.

Eliminate the pointed ends of beds. This is not a good idea under any circumstances. (If anyone wishes to say it is, please show a picture--any picture of any bed anywhere (with plant material in it)--that demonstrates you are right.) It's much better if bed lines intersect with walks or walls at 90*. (Sure there are exceptions, under certain conditions.)

It looks like that might be a seat wall at the patio. Seems like it could be improved if it was adjacent to one of the planted beds so it wouldn't look like a low wall sticking up in the midst of floor space (hard floor on one side/low green "carpet" on the other. The feel would be better if it was hard floor on one side and raised plantings on the other. Maybe even some overhead shade.

I would look for a way to eliminate the grass paths on the other side of the beds located out in the yard. If your neighbor's have plantings or fence along the lot line (or might have at some future date) it will make your beds appear strangely placed.

I am not looking at any of the plants in particular, but the small numbers of large variety tell me it's going to look fairly busy. If you're a plant collector and that's part of the reason for landscaping, then have fun. But if you're trying to apply the best look possible to the home and the property, I doubt that lot and lots of different plants is going to be the best visual solution. Balance this as best you can to suit your objectives.

    Bookmark   May 7, 2013 at 4:12AM
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Wow, I'm impressed, I'm currently in the same boat. Love to garden and collector of plants however in our front yard but would like to achieve a tidy look. I'm familiar with all your plants (zone 5) and would love if you would post your pics when install is complete. I'm new to forum but finding a lot of us have similar questions and/or concerns. Keep warm , hoping for an early spring:)

    Bookmark   January 29, 2014 at 3:48PM
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mikebotann(8a SE of Seattle)

The problem with your plan, like most drawn up plans, doesn't show the surrounding areas which should affect your design. For example, bad views, good views, etc.
Design your landscape looking out from the house as opposed to looking at it from the street. Design your front yard from the front window looking out. I call it the Captain's seat. That's where you can see the driveway and your TV at the same time. You don't live in the street, so why design from there? Don't worry, the 'curb appeal' will take care of itself if you take care of the basics.
Think privacy on the sides, but don't block your view of the street when pulling out of the driveway. Design large evergreens first, then work down from there. Flowers are your last concern.
I agree your flower bed lines are too curvy. Designing the lawn shape takes precedence over the bed shape, other wise the beds look like cutouts and the lawn doesn't flow. I like a lawn that abuts the driveway and then sweeps around to the other side of the house getting gradually narrower. That leaves plenty of room for planting beds.
I notice that you have designed the beds to go far out at the corners. I like to design the lawn so it hugs the corners a bit so people aren't tempted to take a shortcut through the bed. If you don't, the dog and kids will, and your landscape will suffer because of it. A shortcut path designed in ahead of time, if the bed is wide on the corners, will go a long way to fix the problem.
There's a Captains Seat in back too. That's usually near the back door on the patio or deck. As you look out, note where the bad views and where you need privacy are. Also note what good views you want to maintain. That where the shape of the lawn goes near the property line. Bring the lawn in where the bad views are. By doing that your beds are large enough to screen where needed and you're less likely to obscure your good views.
Think of your back lawn as a pond. Lawn shape should look like it's water, your deck or patio, a dock.
That's some of the basics as I see them. Hope it helps.

    Bookmark   January 31, 2014 at 10:39PM
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This thread has been abandoned. The OP has not returned since the initial post from May 6 or 2013.

    Bookmark   February 1, 2014 at 2:14AM
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mikebotann(8a SE of Seattle)

Well, Heck! A lot of effort for nothing.
Next time I'll look at the dates a little closer.

Here is a link that might be useful: My garden pics

    Bookmark   February 1, 2014 at 7:08AM
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