Backyard Design Help (pic)

Paula MillerMay 9, 2010


We'd like to add more interest to our backyard landscaping, to make it a more easy & relaxing feeling. There is artificial turf in the middle. And lots of rocks all around the edges. We'd like to add some trees/shrubs/flowers around the edges, and get rid of the "rock" feel. the turf needs to stay for our dogs. There is a walking path that runs behind our yard. We live in CO, and the yard faces south so lots and lots of sun. We already have a couple evergreens, a autumn purple ash, and a another tree that I don't know what it is.

We like VERY LOW MAINTENANCE. We are not gardners, just starting out.

We went to a nursury today and liked:

Hicks Yew

Austian Pine (for the far corner maybe)

Cistena Plum

Radient Crabapple

Canada Red Clump

Chanticleer Pear (probably too big for the yard)

Here are my quesitons:

1) are those good choices, and are any better than others?

2) can i make a row of mulch linking one tree/shrub to the next? if so, any advice on doing this?

3) Is there any ground cover or something else I could link between plantings?

4) I'd like to grow clemantis on the back fence, is there anything else I should consider.

Thank you for any suggestions or advice you have. I appreciate your time!

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Paula Miller

Well ... I can't figure out how to upload my photo and I cannot find instructions anywhere - can anyone help me?

    Bookmark   May 9, 2010 at 6:54PM
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Paula Miller

Trying to see if I can get my photo out there ...

Here is a link that might be useful: photo of backyard

    Bookmark   May 9, 2010 at 7:05PM
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Paula Miller

Trying to load my pics again ....

Here is a link that might be useful:

    Bookmark   May 12, 2010 at 4:02PM
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How did you build that post and rail fence? In other parts of the country it may be called a horse fence, but it looks really great. I want to build one for my yard, as I like the open design and ease of construction.

    Bookmark   May 14, 2010 at 6:30AM
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karinl(BC Z8)

Clematis should do well on the fence with their roots under those rocks, as they like their roots cool. If you get types A or B, you can train their main stems along the fence and thus have a nice spread-out look; if you don't do that you'll have clumps of vine in some places and bare fence in others. Either look works, it depends on your preference.

I'm not familiar enough with your tree choices, and what I know of them they're not my style (that red clump is some sort of chokecherry, apparently, I looked it up), so I would go with whatever appeals to you most and is best suited to the growing conditions. Trees can be removed and replaced if you don't like them, and have to be replaced from time to time anyway, and don't cost all THAT much, so don't feel this is a decision like getting married.

One thing I would ask is whether you have either landscape fabric or plastic under the rocks. Yes, people, plastic. A friend recently consulted me about the care of a yard her mother had had landscaped years earlier, and the plants were in agony - the whole yard was covered in plastic below the mulch. Fascinatingly, the roots had come right to the surface, where I conjecture moisture tended to condense under the plastic. The roots must also have gone out to the perimeter - fortunately the yard was small. And hey, it's the pacific northwest, so moisture was seeping in for most of the year. Landscape fabric is also not as moisture permeable as people would think, and I have no idea about artificial turf, though I assume it must let water and air through and thus provide OK ground for tree roots to extend beneath it.

All this toward your question about a ribbon of mulch in the rocks. If there is fabric below the rocks, then yes, by all means, give the trees some open ground to grow in. But unless you edge well and keep the dogs out (also any other forces of nature), you will forever be sorting out rocks from the mulch and vice versa. You might be the kind of person who can do this - I just have to look at a setup like that and stuff starts getting messy.

A ground cover might work but will also need to be contained to keep it out of the rocks. Some are more invasive than others. Something like Stachys spreads well but I think can be limited relatively well. Vinca, on the other hand, is harder to keep in bounds (not to mention ugly). Another alternative is repeated use of a clumping perennial that you like. There is even a hosta that could do that in sun - Hosta plantaginea. Irises might look kind of amazing. It all depends on the look you want and what kind of maintenance you want to do.


    Bookmark   May 14, 2010 at 12:45PM
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Paula Miller

Thank you for your insight Karinl, I will sure review your feedbacky with my hubby and we'll consider these points when planning. I appreciate your time!

    Bookmark   May 14, 2010 at 6:20PM
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