Moving into new home, new at lanscaping

chloenkittyMay 5, 2014

Hello everyone. I live in northeast, PA and am building a home on 5 acres that has a lot of tall pine trees.I am attaching a picture of what I'd like to do and would like suggestions as I am quite the novice to this. I will also post below a picture of the actual property. My husband and I recently cleared the small trees and brush and the bottom, dead branches off the pine trees. Does anyone know what kind of pines these are (in the next photo of our actual property?) I'm assuming since there are a lot of pine trees, I will never have grass, so I would like to mulch I guess like in the first inspiration photo. The question is will the azaleas, mountain laurel (I think there is another name for this too) and the other plant all do well in shade? Also, it just hit me that I bet we run into problems trying to plant them because of the tree roots. Is this design a possibility for us? I'd like to attempt it ourselves because the build itself is so costly. If anyone has any other suggestions, I'd appreciate it. I also love hydrangeas, they are my favorite. I'm guessing they need more sun so perhaps I can put those along the areas of the house that get sun. I appreciate any words of wisdom as I am very much the novice. Thank you.

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Here is the actual picture of the front of our yard. I am looking at the yard from the house. Anyone know what kind of pines these are? It is a work in progress. The small trees and brush have all been cleared, but it has a ton of leaves, twigs, etc., on the ground that will probably take forever to rake up before we mulch. The other side of the driveway, right across from these pines are non pine trees, but up further, closer to the house, there is another cluster of pine trees. I look forward to adding some up lighting on these beauties :)

    Bookmark   May 5, 2014 at 10:40AM
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These are not pines.

If you want to grow plants below the trees, as in the first picture, you'll not only need to remove many more lower limbs and let some light below, but you're going to need to thin the crop. Note the spacing of trees. In the second picture, it looks like they're apart every three or four feet.

"... it has a ton of leaves, twigs, etc., on the ground that will probably take forever to rake up before we mulch." What would be the purpose in raking up all of the organic matter from the forest floor so that you can cover bare ground with new organic matter (mulch)? There would be no point at all! Remove only debris that would stick up and disturb the view (rocks and logs) and then sprinkle mulch directly over the existing OM. You will not see the leaves and twigs and they will contribute to improving the soil.

    Bookmark   May 5, 2014 at 4:46PM
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Yardvaark, regarding your question "what would be the purpose of raking up" remember, I think I mentioned a few times that I'm quite the novice, which means I don't know much about landscaping. Therefore, I assumed I needed to get the area cleaned up. Hence why I came here asking for help. Thsnks

    Bookmark   May 5, 2014 at 8:09PM
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dekeoboe(7B NC)

Do you have a deer problem? If so, that will limit the types of plants you will want to plant.

    Bookmark   May 5, 2014 at 9:54PM
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Hopefully, soon, or eventually, you'll be glad you don't need to do all that work.

    Bookmark   May 5, 2014 at 10:04PM
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The conifer front and center is a Norway Spruce, based on the trunks alone it appears that most of them are the same, except for the big one at the top left of the photo where the driveway curves. The looks like an Eastern White Pine.

I think agree that you need to thin out as many of those thinner trees as possible while its still a DIY job. I actually like the concept of a "pine grove" better... with this I think you could start by doing as you said and raking up all the debris and adding mulch, but that would be a one time event, then plant lots of ferns in the core. I am not that knowledgeable about all the varieties of ferns, but there are tons and they thrive in shade.

That would leave you a small section around the outer edge of the grove to plant hydrangea (which would do great here)...something like Oakleaf Hydrangea, mountain Laural, Japanese Andromeda, and lots of Hosta... I also wouldn't go wild with colors, I think it would look much nicer if you focused on textures and different shades of green, whites, ect...

    Bookmark   May 5, 2014 at 11:52PM
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beautiful surroundings.

    Bookmark   May 5, 2014 at 11:55PM
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Yes there are deer and fox and coyotes and bears oh my! Needless to say, this city girl will be quite scared the first time she sees a bear lol. The deer are gorgeous. I noticed in the area that a lot of arbovite (sp?) trees were dead on the bottom and my husband, growing up on farmland said the deer eat the bottoms! Oh my! Being an animal lover, I'm sure I'll want to feed them in the winter. So yes there are all kinds of animals around. It's their land too, right!?

SC77, I was shocked when I scrolled down and saw how you photoshopped the pic. Thank you, that was cool. I'm sure we will thin this area out soon. That was 2 weekends of work and only 2 of us doing it (me having a heart condition) so I have to take it slow, but I think we did a darn good job so far :) I love the look of my inspiration pic and hopefully we can get something close to it. Oh and Hosta! Thank you, lol. That name has been on the tip of my tongue. I know what the heck it is because we have it now, but it just wouldn't surface in my brain.
So, the consensus is that if we thin it a bit more, we can do the azalea, mountain laurel an hosta? Will the deer eat them? Thanks all, I appreciate the help :)

    Bookmark   May 6, 2014 at 12:02PM
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woodyoak zone 5 Canada(5b)

A limiting factor may be water - is the normal rainfall distribution through the growing season sufficient to support the plants you want? If not, make sure you plant them within easy reach to water by hose! The most common plants at ground level in a spruce or fir forest are often mosses. Club mosses are particularly attractive (and we used to use one kind to make wreaths at Christmas!) I would not use mulch because that would likely smother the plants that naturally grow there. Removing the small trees would definitely help with opening the look, making access easier, and allowing rainfall to reach the ground more evenly. You might want to leave a few fallen logs to act as 'nurse' logs for plantings, removing any clutter of smaller sticks etc. I'd be inclined to then watch and see what - if anything - grows under there naturally to guide you in determining what will have the best chance of surviving under the trees. The margins (along the driveway etc.) are the easy place to start planting ornamentals such as the Rhodos, hydrangeas etc. I grew up in an area of the east coast of Canada where the forest trees are predominately spruce and fir with hardwoods mixed in. The forest floor had lots of interesting vegetation that would be a shame to bury under mulch. Rhododendron canadense (a short, deciduous shrub) grew wild in open areas of the woods so, in the right conditions of light and moisture, I'd expect that Rhododenrons and Azaleas should do well. Is there a park or garden nearby with the same sort of conditions so you can see what is normal for the local ecology?

    Bookmark   May 6, 2014 at 2:03PM
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dekeoboe(7B NC)

So, the consensus is that if we thin it a bit more, we can do the azalea, mountain laurel an hosta? Will the deer eat them?
Yes, those are all on the list of favorites for deer. I would not plant any of those in an area the deer can get to. Check with your county extension agent for a list of plants the deer are less likely to eat. Ferns usually work well.

    Bookmark   May 7, 2014 at 8:52PM
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missingtheobvious(Blue Ridge 7a)

Here's where your find your county's Cooperative Extension office:

    Bookmark   May 7, 2014 at 10:47PM
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