New home, pitiful little landscaping...needs help :)

green_thumb_wannabe(7)May 13, 2013

We just moved in and the builder gave us a few, baby shrubs. We are not sure if we should keep some of these or change it up. We definitely want to add some shrubs or small trees along the side of the house where there currently are none. With help from people over in the "name that plant" forum; we have figured out what the builder gave us. In front of the porch, we have a nellie stevens holly on the corner, three japanese hollies of some kind along the front of the porch, three yaupon hollies in front of those and a dwarf buford holly on either side of the front steps. In the small square bed behind the sidewalk, there are more Japanese hollies in back and dwarf yaupon hollies in front. All hollies!
We have some plants that we could possibly try to move from our other house to replace or add to this. From there we could bring as many as:
7 emerald green arborvitae
2 blue point juniper
5 gold mop false cypress
3 dwarf buford holly
2 red knockout roses
4 pink knockout roses

I was thinking that it would look nice to have a small crape myrtle (pink velour maybe) in the little bed in front of the window (its a 12ÃÂ11 foot space) and a matching crape myrtle in a rounded bed coming out on the corner of the house (and taking out the nellie stevens that is there). I was also thinking of putting an arborvitae on either side of the steps in place of the dwarf buford hollies and some more arborvitae on the side of the house here and there mixed with shrubs. We want to stick to mostly evergreens except for the crape myrtles, but would love to have a nice mix of colors of shrubs. We would also like it to be a bit formal and low maintenance. Our front and side of the house get full sun the whole day. We are in the Charlotte, NC area, zone 7. We would love to hear any advice or suggestions you have. I'll post some more pictures, also. Thank you in advance!

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green_thumb_wannabe(7)

Here's another photo :)

    Bookmark   May 13, 2013 at 3:57PM
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green_thumb_wannabe(7)

Here's another photo :)

    Bookmark   May 13, 2013 at 4:00PM
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green_thumb_wannabe(7)

Here's another photo :)

    Bookmark   May 13, 2013 at 4:02PM
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green_thumb_wannabe(7)

Here's another photo :)

    Bookmark   May 13, 2013 at 4:06PM
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yardvaark

A better place for the Nellie Stevens would be as in the pic. It's going to get big.

    Bookmark   May 13, 2013 at 11:24PM
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yardvaark

A few suggestions for the front. If you must have a crape in front of the R window, pull it out farther from the house into a newly created quarter circle bed on the other side of front walk, near drive. Arborvitaes will get very large and have no place at each side of step.

    Bookmark   May 13, 2013 at 11:28PM
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green_thumb_wannabe(7)

Wow, yardvaark, thank you so much for the advice! It really helps to see it drawn in the photos. I will definitely be moving that nellie stevens. Do you recommend any low hedges that might look good along the foundation? Should I stick with the hollies that the builder installed and see how big they get?

Thanks again!

    Bookmark   May 14, 2013 at 7:32AM
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yardvaark

" ... and see how big they get?" ... That's a dangerous strategy! I would use the 3 dwarf yaupon hollies for the right windows as they'll be easy to "size control." Plant so they'll grow together as a single unit/hedge. Find new plants for the left size since it needs to be lower than anything you have.

this is how I was talking about doing the other crape.... (but personally, I would widen the walk--an 8" width of brick strip down each outside edge would do it--and also widen the steps first, so that the walk wouldn't seem pinched between the two beds.

    Bookmark   May 14, 2013 at 8:41AM
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green_thumb_wannabe(7)

Yardvaark, you have some very interesting ideas! I like the idea of adding the brick edging along the sidewalk (if I could match the brick on the house) and it makes me wonder if I should also carry the brick border along the driveway to give us a little more room there. As it is now, we have to step on the grass when we get out of the car. I'll have to think about that placement of the crape myrtle... It helps so much that you drew it out like that! I just really had my heart set on a little crape myrtle in that bed in front of the window. Do you think it might look good if it were a semi dwarf variety of crape like the pink velour? They are supposed to get no more than 10' tall and wide. My bed there is 12x11". I also thought it would look nice to have a square border of a small hedge (something that looks like a boxwood) around the edges of the bed (and maybe coming in diagonally from the corners) and fill the inside with some kind of short monkey grass. I'm wanting something reminiscent of an English formal garden. What do you think? Thanks so much for all your help!

    Bookmark   May 14, 2013 at 5:05PM
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yardvaark

I'm not obsessed with matching, per se, but strive instead for compatibility, thinking it generally offers some more interesting possibilities. So I wouldn't necessarily hunt for the same brick as the house. A stronger color might add more zip to the overall picture. But I don't want to give the impression that matching is "evil." Sometimes it works great. Get samples--a few of each color that appeals--and see what they look like in real life.

I can state with certainty that a crape myrtle that close to the house ... directly in front of a window--at least partially blocking it--is not how you would best display one of the important architectural features of your house. In my book it's verboten. But it's one of the most popular things people shouldn't do. Can't imagine why someone would have their heart so set on a mistake...? And the "dwarfer" it is, the worse. Avoid foliage in front of the window as if you're trying to hide it. Are you wanting this thinking it will increase its appeal from the inside view? It won't ... anymore than having a 4-year-old show you a picture of something that's 3" from your eyes. You'd get a better view of a small tree if it were some distance from the window. The fussy aspect of the English formal garden that you're trying to re-create does not appeal to me personally, If you did it very well, I guess it would be nice, though, wouldn't it? Doing well mean all the right plants. Short Monkey grass ... what plant is that? Liriope or Ophiopogon? I've never seen Liriope that stays as short over the long haul as what you're implying. While Boxwood can be clipped to keep small, I've always found it to be a troublesome (disease prone) plant and because I'm oriented toward low maintenance, it seems too big to clip that small. But go after your vision (except for the crape in that spot!) and research what plants might work best for you.

    Bookmark   May 14, 2013 at 10:06PM
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green_thumb_wannabe(7)

Thanks again, Yardvaark. I appreciate your input. You really made me rethink the idea of the crape myrtle in front of the window. I think even a semi dwarf will block the view out the window too much. I guess what I was really thinking of was some sort of centerpiece to that bed and I see now a crape myrtle wouldn't work well there. Maybe something smaller like an upright rose tree, gazing ball on a pedestal, fountain, sculpture or birdbath would work better. In regards to the monkey grass I mentioned, I obviously am still learning about plants and am not sure of the names of some of them. I've just seen some nice grass looking groundcovers and was thinking something like that would look good around the base of whatever centerpiece I use there. Thanks again for all your advice!

    Bookmark   May 15, 2013 at 10:29AM
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yardvaark

"I guess what I was really thinking of was some sort of centerpiece to that bed ..." Focusing on a centerpiece to the bed and ignoring what the architecture is telling you is more like 'plant arranging' instead of landscaping. Everything in this space should be subordinate, and focused on maximizing the importance of the house. Where the house is not the immediate backdrop, you might focus on what can make the bed more important for its own sake.

    Bookmark   May 15, 2013 at 1:42PM
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