Looking for advice

stu2900May 21, 2014

The 1st photo is my project this year. It was taken about 2:30 pm, so you can see there is shade on 1 side and sun on the other. There is a bit of a slope from the arborvitae down to the grass. I posted the shade area before and was advised to put azaleas behind the tree and I like that idea a lot. I'm looking for any suggestions for the rest of it.
The second photo is one I found on the internet and saved because I like what they did with the rock. Would it look right to do something like that from the arborvitae down to the bird bath? I'd like to do something interesting with this area. The whirly thing is not going to stay where it is. I'm not sure where it's going at the moment. Any suggestions would be appreciated.

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This is another look I like. The plantings around the house are mulched with river rock, so I would like to use some rock in the other plantings to tie it all in together.

    Bookmark   May 22, 2014 at 2:41PM
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I prefer your garden as it is. The inspirational photo looks messy to me.

    Bookmark   May 22, 2014 at 2:42PM
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It looks like this is at the side of a broad grass path. Could we see the overall path better? (As if the camera were farther to the right and aiming more downhill.)

Zone 5? ... what kind of azaleas?

    Bookmark   May 22, 2014 at 3:20PM
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Does this help?

    Bookmark   May 22, 2014 at 5:46PM
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I don't know which kind of azaleas. I've never planted them before, All I know is I like what I've seen in other peoples yards and they like shade.

To give some perspective I've taken some measurements.

From the back of the crab apple tree to the arborvitae is 16'

From the left side of the tree to the edge of the planting area is 10'

Front of the tree to edge of planting area is 11'

From the white bench to the bird bath is 15'10"

From the arborvitae to the front edge in front of the birdbath is 15'

From the bird bath to the center of the next inside curve (approximately where the dog is) is 14.'

    Bookmark   May 22, 2014 at 6:01PM
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The last picture you provided shows the right 1/2 of what I wanted to see. I want to see the whole grass path and I think what is happening at the left side of it will make a difference in what you do at the right side.

I am disturbed by the shape of the planting bed. Around the tree makes more sense, but the birdbath bloop seems to destroy the overall shape.

    Bookmark   May 22, 2014 at 8:24PM
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I'm the world's worst picture taker, and I'm short, so if this isn't what you're looking for just let me know.

    Bookmark   May 22, 2014 at 9:13PM
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One more.

    Bookmark   May 22, 2014 at 9:23PM
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Sorry to say, I think the bloop of the birdbath interrupts the much larger curve established by the two trees. I would nix the birdbath location, reshape the curve and find another place for it.

    Bookmark   May 22, 2014 at 9:56PM
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I think I understand what you're saying, but the bird bath and feeders are in a position for us to view from the house and deck and need to stay where they are.

    Bookmark   May 22, 2014 at 10:44PM
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I'd consider a pathway--fairly wide, mulched with wood chips-start between white bench and birdbath, go behind birdbath, end at the dip behind the birdbath near the bare patch in the grass. I agree the shape could be nicer if it flowed along with the exisiting plantings, but I also understand about bird viewing. :) I would try to make an intersting focal point in that area that bumps out for the birdbath. Maybe a small tree--I planted two pagoda dogwood last year and they are just charming this spring. Or perhaps a shade tolerant clematis on an obelisk or willow structure.

On the side closer to the trees, a variety of shrubs. Many shrubs enjoy a shady spot. Then on the side closer to the lawn, some perennials/ground covers etc.

Do you have deer in your area? If you do, this may limit what you can plant.

Is your soil acidic? Azaleas like a slightly acidic, moist yet well draining, humusy soil. You also need to be sure you buy ones hardy to your zone.

We recently put in a rock "dry creek" bed to help redirect water. It was incredibly labor intensive and expensive. It collects a lot of tree leaves too. Still am pleased with the results so far although we are still adjusting it this spring. Just commenting that putting in a dry creek as a DYI can be a big undertaking.

I would layer that whole area with cardboard/newpaper and then mulch it heavily. You might be able to get free mulch and or compost from your local landfill. We found renting a small dump truck makes these kinds of jobs much easier! then this fall, you would have a good area for planting.

Here are two blogs with some great pics and ideas for shade gardens:
http://carolynsshadegardens.com/ This is part of a small nursery, but she has fabulous pics of shady areas.

    Bookmark   May 23, 2014 at 8:00PM
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Well, this area is mostly clay, so upon further research azaleas might not be the right plants. I'm curious as to the concern with the shape. Is it because of the curve between the bench and the birdbath? I was actually less concerned with the shape than with what to plant.

phlowerpower--when you talk about a wood chipped pathway, how would that show up if the rest of the bed is mulched with wood chips? We have hauled a lot of rock before and totally know how much work is involved. Also, we're not getting any younger. :( So if we use much rock in this bed we may just pay someone to bring it to us.

Also, the area to the right of the birdbath is approximately 10'wide x 14'deep. I've been thinking a small tree would look good there, but I'm not sure what size I should be looking at. I love the pagoda dogwood, but wonder if something like that would work in this area. I've also considered some type of weeping Japanese maple for the color.

So, once I have all the sod removed, is it a good idea to top dress the area with compost and then mulch on top of that? Should we use weed fabric at all? We didn't use it under the under tree planting area across from this bed, but am curious what you would recommend.

I really appreciate any and all comments.

    Bookmark   May 24, 2014 at 11:11AM
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Maybe it would help if I were more specific about what I want to do. I'd like to use mostly shrubs and fill in with perennials. I'd like to put in tulip bulbs, peony and iris in the sun area. I like hosta and astilbe etc. for the shade area. I like different textures and colors. I may also add a pot of annuals here and there. I would like something for all seasons.

    Bookmark   May 25, 2014 at 3:58PM
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