Landscape Design help for front yard!

erinf83(6)May 9, 2013

HI everyone,

I posted last year along with some photos regarding this garden. We moved in at the end of summer so I wasn't able to do much but I did make note of some of the things said.

I'm in the process of ripping up the existing gardens and trucking in some new fresh soil, redesigning (if needed) and planting.

The island shown in the photos is in the process of being returned to grass. I've cut down the dead tree but the roots from the trees and shrubs have grown together so we are going to be pulling them out via truck. I'm sorry for the inconvenience for this getting in the way of the photos but its all I can do right now.

The gardens by the house only had about 2 inches of topsoil ontop of clay and house building debris. I would like to get plants and soil as soon as I can. Please note that the boxwood and other shrub in these gardens are ones I don't necessarily plan on keeping. I just didn't want a big pile of dirt until I had a plan to plant!

I'm wondering if I should extend the garden out to come past and run along the pouch and walkway or if I should just leave them the size they are. I'm also clueless on if I should be trees in or shrubs and what kinds I should be putting in.

These gardens get mostly sun (about 9am to 1pm) they are partially blocked by wind. I previously mentioned I have lots of clay but I am adding about 8-10 inches of good double screened soil. I would LOVE any help anyone can provide. I am not a big fan of formal gardens so would like to aim to a more informal approach. I also really like foiliage as opposed to flowers. Ornamental grasses are fun. Maintainance isn't an issue. I think that covers everything...

Please help!!

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catkim(San Diego 10/24)

Is it important to you to have a finished design now? Why not go with your impulses, buy multiples of the ornamental grasses and other foliage plants you like, put them in the amended soil, and (this is important) mulch heavily. Then you can relax and enjoy what you've done, knowing you won't have empty holes in the garden and you can plot your next moves at your leisure. A garden is never "done" anyway. It's a lifelong journey.

    Bookmark   May 10, 2013 at 12:55AM
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This is true. I guess what I need help with is deciding on what shrubs I should include since they are not easily moved. I'm also not sure if I should put in a small tree at the corner of the garden. I think I will likely plant in the existing foundation garden this year but next year I think I would like to extend it out but I guess I will make a new post when that time comes.

    Bookmark   May 10, 2013 at 8:07AM
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Here are some general suggestions of bed layout and plant forms you might put in it. I see a possible need for screening some of the neighboring property at the left. A weeping tree form with shrub or perennial mass below might be enough to help with that. For example, weeping crab w/ 'Incrediball' Hydrangea--or a bed of Hosta--below. But you could come up with many possible alternatives. The colors used are not suggestions of actual, but are only used to show differentiation between masses.

Before I think "I like a certain plant so will use it" I ask what plant forms are needed and will work to take care of any problems, will fit in the allotted space and accept the physical conditions that are presented by the site. It helps to keep plants that aren't the best solutions out of the picture.

    Bookmark   May 10, 2013 at 11:07AM
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Yardvaark, I love what you have done! In fact...I'm 99% sure it was you that suggested removing the island garden and limbing up the red maple at the curb.

I was obviously considering a tree there but to see it in these photos and to get an idea of what it will actually (somewhat) look like, I'm definitely being sold on putting one in. The only problem is that our lot is pie shaped and cannot extend the garden out to the side much at all. I'm wondering if extending it forward and incorporating the tree is still a good idea since it will likely cover a majority of the window.

I've included a photo to show the property line (My neighbour had just cut his grass and I find the line to be very obvious). I measured and the grass area from the corner of the house to the property line is about 5 feet but if I ever want to have access to that side I feel I need to leave room or at least create some kind of path or stepping stone.

    Bookmark   May 12, 2013 at 4:47PM
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If you decide to use Incrediballs (which I love), know that they seem to want to be BIG. I have some in my front yard, eastern exposure, that were planted in 2010.

Last year I left them unpruned (just deadheaded in spring and cleaned up a bit) to see what they'd do. It ended up that I had to cut back some of the new stems (the new growth from the base) at 36" and sacrifice their flowers just to keep the shrubs somewhat symmetrical. Some new branches looked to be heading toward 5', but they weren't spread evenly over the Incrediballs I have planted together.

Love your house - it's really very attractive!

And Yardvaark, I've been lurking here a lot lately, and always appreciate your designs. You've helped me see things in my own yard differently. Unfortunately, that means that a couple things leftover from my 30-year-old landscaping bug me even more than they used to, but hey, when I'm ready to replace them, I'll be better prepared. :-)

    Bookmark   May 12, 2013 at 7:25PM
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Well, that is a predicament about the lot line and if it was my predicament, I'd hope to be on good terms with those neighbors and ask them if they, also, thought a tree would work well for them in that location. Especially if I bought, planted & gave to them as a gift. Of course, the plan is fraught with potential difficulties down the road if friendship cools or unfriendly neighbors move to there later. But what are the alternatives?

I don't remember the yard from before, but can believe it would be me who'd say remove the island and limb up a tree. Totally believable.

@ruth_mi, "You've helped me see things in my own yard differently." .... then my plan is working :-) Thanks.

    Bookmark   May 12, 2013 at 11:55PM
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