Desperately Need Front Lawn Landscaping Help

redthreaddiy(6a MI)May 2, 2011

I have been attempting to plan a garden for 2 years in the front of my house. I can't seem to get anything to look right. The front of my house is partial shade, getting about 4 hours of sun a day.

Here is what my garden looks like right now:

It's flat, boring, I have no shrubs.

Since it's partial shade, it's tough.

Here are the plants I have in the driveway in pots, that can tolerate shade:

Bleeding Hearts (1 Dwarf, 1 White, 1 Pink)

Azalea 'Girard's Pleasant White'

Various Hostas

Lily of the Valley

Hellebore

Pink Flowering Quince

On the far left of the photo, I would like to get Dogwood 'Isanti'.

Different Columbines

I attempted to place all of these items in my garden planner, but it's still looking off.

Does anyone have any suggestions? I'm going crazy! Feel free to toss out my idea completely, and come up with your own. Any shrubs that would do well in part shade? I really need to fill this garden out. I feel so embarrassed to call it mine. I have a ridiculous amount of plants, but not many for part shade.

The photo below shows my most recent plan. Each square is 1 foot.


To view the photo larger, copy and paste this link into your browser: http://www.flickr.com/photos/redthreaddiy/5681724901/sizes/l/in/photostream/

Thanks so much, I just can't seem to get my layout looking to my liking. I'm willing to buy new plants. We are cutting out more sod next weekend to give it the 'curve'. Thanks again.

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frankielynnsie(7B)

Can you put in a few photos from more of a distance so we can see the surrounding area? Do you not want foundation 'bones'-- the background evergreens/shrubs/dwarf trees that tie the house to the ground and offer year round interest? The large blank wall area in photo 1 needs something larger and more visually permanent than perennials.

What type of gardening do you like? How much upkeep do you want to do? I would suggest cutting out some generic shrub shapes from construction paper and moving them around your blown up photographs of projected beds for a visual idea of what you might like. (Poor man's computer program)

Idea share goes a little off the deep end but he/she? has a great program for mock ups.

    Bookmark   May 3, 2011 at 9:38PM
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gardengal48

You're right - it is flat, boring and without shrubs. But I love those staggered windows on the right side :-)

Part shade is not an issue and I'd encourage you not to consider it a handicap - many plants are happy in and even prefer partial shade conditions. 4 hours of sun is enough to accomodate a wide selection of different plants.

I'd pull out and widen the beds, creating a loose, curving planting area that embraces the walkway. And add something with height to break up the flat plane of the left side. Your plant selection is a good start for accent plants but you need 'bones' - evergreen shrubs that will offer a pleasing and softening look to the facade year round. I am not familiar enough with your colder zone to make appropriate suggestions, but a visit to your local retail nursery (not the box store) should offer many choices.

    Bookmark   May 4, 2011 at 11:36AM
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duluthinbloomz4

Per your thread on the Trees Forum, have you decided against trying to incorporate that lovely magnolia into any planting scheme greater than the desired (shudder) tree ring?

    Bookmark   May 4, 2011 at 12:53PM
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tanowicki

I love the windows on the right also. If that were my house, I would put in some angular large containers and beds and let the plants supply all the curves and softness. The lawn only has 10 ft of depth per the drawing so the grass could be minimized or done away with. I think that would be playing to the strengths of the house's architecture.

    Bookmark   May 4, 2011 at 1:54PM
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missingtheobvious(Blue Ridge 7a)

The lawn only has 10 ft of depth per the drawing so the grass could be minimized or done away with.

Comparing the depth of the porch in the diagram and in the first photo, there is much more than 10' between the house and the public sidewalk (at least 20', I'd think). The 10' deep diagram seems to cover only the proposed bed area, not the entire front yard.

    Bookmark   May 4, 2011 at 9:57PM
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lpinkmountain(5b/6a border PA)

Seems like with the strong angular elements of your home, you'd want to add some "bones" as gardengal suggests, meaning trees and shrubs that compliment and balance the geometric elements of your home. For example, I'd want to plant something tall and evergreen in that front planter, something to decorate that large expanse of brick wall next to the front door. I'd also plant some kind of shrub or small tree next to the driveway, to cover the view of the drainpipe and also soften the view down the driveway. I'd pick something that blooms or smells pretty, so I could enjoy it as I drove in and out, but that's just my taste.

But those suggestions aren't really what you asked about are they! But I think that might help you with your being stuck mentally on this. You need to think "outside the bed." You don't have to stick with a certain bed size or shape just because it was there when you bought the house. Try stepping back and considering the whole vista of your front yard. I also find it very helpful to use MS Paint to draw in colors and shapes over a picture of my house. That helps me get a general idea of what will work and won't work, color and shape wise. I can then use my knowledge of plants to come up with ones that will fit the bill. Here's something I did, and it is NOT what I plan on doing with my yard and I suck at art, design and using the Paint program. I'm including it just to show it as an example of the kind of thing you can do without any talent whatsoever, just go give you an idea of the effect of colors and shapes of plants, paths and other landscape elements . . . how they will interact with the hard elements of your home and yard. BTW, this picture helped me make up my mind about what I DID NOT want to do, lol! If using the computer give you fits, you can do the same thing by printing out the photo of your home and using a pencil or colored markers.

    Bookmark   May 5, 2011 at 9:05AM
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tanowicki

The lawn only has 10 ft of depth per the drawing so the grass could be minimized or done away with.

Comparing the depth of the porch in the diagram and in the first photo, there is much more than 10' between the house and the public sidewalk (at least 20', I'd think). The 10' deep diagram seems to cover only the proposed bed area, not the entire front yard.

It's hard to really say how the plan will look in the yard if half of the yard isn't included. I could draw a gorgeous planting bed but if was completely out of scale with the property, it wouldn't look good in real life. It seems like the plan is only half there. Where does the existing tree fit into the plan?

    Bookmark   May 5, 2011 at 10:51AM
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duluthinbloomz4

I wish the OP would come back and repost the picture here that he/she posted on the Trees Forum - though not quite head on, it shows the yard from the stoop planter box to the left end of the house, available front yard, and walk up to the house, from the sidewalk.

The subject of that post was a desired tree ring for a lovely magnolia... which you have no idea is there from this posting.

The "aesthetics" of tree rings and possible damage to the tree was discussed before derailing a bit, but little about the possibilty of incorporating the tree in a larger bed. I rather like it as a stand alone with no further enhancement in lieu of making the best possible use/expansion of the foundation beds.

    Bookmark   May 5, 2011 at 12:11PM
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redthreaddiy(6a MI)

I am reading all of your comments and appreciate them tremendously! I will post follow-ups and pictures this weekend. We haven't touched the tree - no worries!

    Bookmark   May 5, 2011 at 12:36PM
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