New Homeowner needs help :)

jtarensMay 16, 2012

First off, I want to thank everyone who contributes to this site. It's websites like these that make the internet worth surfing :)

I'm a new homeowner with a nearly empty landscape plot. I've got almost no experience with landscape design and, by nature, am really not a very creative person. I'm really hoping some of you more experienced gardeners can help me generate some ideas. Here are all the pertinent details I can think to include....

I'm in zone 6a.

I've got no gutters so the runoff from my roof drains directly into the timber beds I've created. I've loaded the beds with Compost.

I can't be certain but I believe the plants that currently reside in the beds are 4 Azaleas(not sure the color), Coneflower, lillies, iris', a rose bush, and an unknown tree in the back corner.

I'd like to keep the plants that are already in there if there's a good way to incorporate them into a master plan.

I'm divided on whether or not I'd like privacy on the front porch.

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Change the yard frame.

    Bookmark   May 16, 2012 at 6:17PM
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Can't imagine not having gutters. With two straight rooflines, it would be an easy install and probably not as costly as you might think. Lots of information on the internet as to the cost of seamless gutters per linear foot installed. Upper roofline no problem for downspouts; lower might take some thought since you'd need them at the corners and maybe one somewhere in between.

Anything other than a short, gentle shower is going to wreak havoc with the planter soil and plants - uprooting plants and/or leaving the soil sodden. Lilies and iris like well drained soil - too wet and they'll rot.

Doesn't help you much with plant arrangement, etc.; just something to consider if the budget allows.

    Bookmark   May 16, 2012 at 6:26PM
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I feel these plants are healthy,the house isn't new,so I guess drainage needs be little.The azaleas like the yard shadow.I guess the door don't face north from the pics,the front yard have enough haven't plant limit except some non-cold tolerant(Z6a).

    Bookmark   May 16, 2012 at 7:05PM
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The small and thin bed don't match the long long house.Just some straight line are stumped.Siting in the front porch need relax and nature feeling.We should soft some hard line to improve the curb appeal.

    Bookmark   May 16, 2012 at 7:55PM
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How about some hibiscus syriacus on either side of the window on the left? I know they don't mind being pounded by gutterless eaves, and I also know that they can be trimmed to a very nice tree form that wouldn't encroach on the sidewalk. Underplant with a nice groundcover. I'd go for something with some color in the foliage--perhaps chartreuse liriope.

If you like azaleas, they can go under the windows. You can keep them off the sidewalk without turning them into perfect balls (overly shaped azaleas in bloom still look unattractive to me).

I understand your desire for a clean sidewalk, but I'm not very enthusiastic about the landscaping timbers. They are very rigid, and they reinforce the hard lines of the house instead of helping blend the house into the lawn. Plus, they don't really go with any style of house.

You are REALLY not going to like this...but I'd completely remove the walk on the right, and I'd make the bed there MUCH wider.

I'd but a large shade-loving shrub or a small understory tree on the far right of the house. Since the house is traditional looking, I'd put a single hedge across the front under the windows. An elegant and stupidly simple trick is to make the bed about 3' deeper than the shrubs and put a contrasting groundcover--all one type--in front of it. It makes it took very put together.

    Bookmark   May 16, 2012 at 8:34PM
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designonline6 - Thanks for your input. Seeing the yard framed like that really gave me some ideas. Can you tell me what program you used to create that image?

Reyesuala - I agree, I think I should have expanded that bed on the right to give it some more depth. There is a second driveway on that side of the house so I think I should probably keep some sort of a walkway connected.

I was planning on installing some gutters very soon. I know you can use the gutters to collect rainwater in barrels and then use that to water the lawn.

Those timbers were given to me for free so it's not a big loss if I scrap that idea, but as you can imagine it took me almost a full days work to get the boxes built :(

    Bookmark   May 16, 2012 at 8:49PM
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I use MAYA is great.but you need some time to master it.3dsmax is your select too.They are 3D soft ware.

    Bookmark   May 16, 2012 at 9:43PM
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karinl(BC Z8)

You know, I really like what you've got and I disagree with most of what Reyesuela has suggested.

Your straight beds are consistent with the style of the house, they are tidy and the choice of edging makes sense and is well installed. You've made a commitment to a style and have applied it consistently - that is harder and more rare than you'd think. I think from what you've described about yourself is that you've done these beds and the half-installed walkway in a manner that really expresses who you are: maybe not wildly creative, but functional, tidy, self-contained, and conventional but not a slavish copier. It's quite original, but not eye-popping. I wouldn't change a thing about what you've done.

Wildly creative is highly overrated, by the way. You've kept the scope of your project to within your boundaries, and gotten it done. I could use some of that!

The way you've taken the pictures reveals, however, that your scope is currently limited to the very small details - what plant where, and so on. What you should be doing at this stage is stepping back and looking at how your whole property can contribute to further enhancing the feel and look of the place. Note, emphasis on "feel" because your further landscaping will determine what it is like to be in the yard, what kind of maintenance work you are doing out there, and what else you can do out there, if you want to use the space for anything.

Map out your shade needs, plan where you might put any more trees, and work your way down from there to smaller material. Spend lots of time in nurseries and garden centres reading plant tags, write stuff down and look it up, buy some gardening books and magazines (used is good). All of that will take you to ideas that strangers off-site can't do for you.

It is getting a bit late in the season to plant, except where you can water really consistently. But ironically, the nurseries are best stocked right now. So by all means buy stuff, but maybe keep it in a shady place (we call these "plant ghettoes) until fall, when it is safe to plant. Otherwise it will all too likely die. Once you have plants you like, arrange them in a way that pleases you and seems to meet their needs. That's a way better way for a novice to design than on paper - with plants in hand.

But first, gutters. If you want those beds to remain looking as nice as they do. Heck, you can buy your own guttering at HD and install it yourself on the lower roofline.

Karin L

    Bookmark   May 16, 2012 at 10:21PM
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If you haven't any budget issue,you could a patio.

    Bookmark   May 17, 2012 at 1:10AM
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>There is a second driveway on that side of the house so I think I should probably keep some sort of a walkway connected.

Oh, sorry, didn't realize that was yours!

In that case, I'd move them back out to where you had them before. To make the porch feel porchlike and not like a slightly raised patio, it needs some enclosure, and that height (at least 2.5', better 3') requires equal or greater width. You can either leave it at that or add 3' for a groundcover.

I just don't see the lack of gutters as THAT big of an issue. Our first house when I was a kid was a ranch house without gutters (and the original 1950s aluminum edging), and it didn't bother the shrubs any. No one in the entire neighborhood had gutters, and we had all kinds of front flower beds, even the year of the century flood. A 2 story drop with the roof pitched that direction would be a real issue, but with that porch, it might not be so bad.

I can't get on board with the landscaping timbers not because of snobbery--I've got some very cheap edging materials where the verge meets the road because there are no curbs and the garden would try to grow a 6" over the asphalt of the cul-de-sac every year if the edging wasn't there. I also used to get in fights with a few professional landscapers on this board who believed that everyone should use natural stone and never, under any circumstances, the retaining wall blocks.

I don't like the timbered sides of the bed simply because the material calls attention to itself and at the same time, it has nothing to add to the house. How do landscaping timbers relate to the house? They don't really have a connection.

A thin brown metal edger could be almost as tall, but it would not call attention to itself in the same way. A very low matching brick or coordinating stone was would draw attention to itself and add something special. Landscaping timbers draw attention but do not add anything of value--though they might look cool on, say, a log cabin!

Basically, they're architectural in form but the material doesn't hold up to that role here. I'm not saying that you even have to change the shape of the beds. But if the edger is going to be architectural, it ought to be able to carry the weight of what it's doing with its material.

I hope that makes sense.

If you leave it, it won't look really bad or terribly incongruous, and the look will improve as the timbers age and become a less obvious color.

BTW, the daylilies could be used as a groundcover in front of the shrubs, and the irises could surround the anchoring element on the right as long as they get enough sun.

    Bookmark   May 17, 2012 at 3:33AM
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In 6a with a good amount of shade, you'll be fine planting this late.

    Bookmark   May 17, 2012 at 3:37AM
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