Ideas for front yard?

kittens(Zone 5)May 3, 2012

Does anyone have any ideas for me here in NY zone 5? I'd like to give my yard a makeover. I got a great suggestion for starting out with a short fence up front and was going to work my way toward the house. However, I just had the utilities marked and they run across the width of the property (covering about 4 feet of frontage, there's 3 lines and they end between the tree and the light post in the front). Now I'm stumped again. The sun comes from the street. It's full sun up to the oak tree by the house. About 1/3-1/2 of in front of the deck is shade (side the tree is on) and the rest is sunny. I started taking out the boxwoods (the one in the middle has greened up again) and realized I didn't know what I was going to replace with. It was recommended not to plant in front of the deck (since it's so small) and that sounded like sound advice. Another suggestion was to block the view of one door which I liked if do-able. I got an id of the tree up front - it's a choke cherry tree. The light post needs some immediate attention but we'd like to leave it. We're contemplating moving our mailboxes up in front. This is a duplex but just my family lives here.

A couple of other things, I have to leave room for snow clearing around the driveways. Also, that oak tree drops a considerable amount of leaves so I have to be mindful about planting things I can clean around in the fall.

I don't have experience with shrubs yet (but have a nice collection started on my trade list). I'm trying to convert over most of my perennials gardens, hence the large collection. I have a pretty casual style and I like color. I don't mind yard work at all but not a fan of having to water everyday once things are established.

A couple of things I really like are my dappled willow if it can really take my zone (made it this winter) and my diablo ninebark. I think I might have to put some hydrangea out there so I don't have flower withdrawal. I prefer more of a carefree, eclectic that's kept in color. I was originally going to start with peony up front (not sure if they'll be a problem now with those utility lines) along with those low yellow "mop" yews and some crimson barberry to keep that area in color. Now I'm kinda stuck because I won't have a fence drop.

Any ideas come to mind?

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I soft the straight line.Do you have any drainage and irrigation problem?
I prefer to add some ideas on the intention is to avoid the result is very different from your image and
wordy suggests,help you easy read and visual understand a couple of examples of how to tie it all together and
great planting combinations and contrast and shrubs nice mix and coordinate colors

    Bookmark   May 4, 2012 at 12:43AM
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    Bookmark   May 4, 2012 at 4:08AM
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This is just an idea of how you might build on to what you already have by placing beds of groundcover around the two trees. More interest could be added by incorporating a "donut" of shrubs or perennials around the trees ("donuts" would not need to match each other.) Something variegated or flowering would be nice. The circles of groundcover could be expanded to whatever degree desired... or connected to form a swath of groundcover that runs from front to back of the lawn. See my various lines.

The overall view would look better if you remove the low-hanging branches from the trees so that a clear, unobstructed view of the house from the street can be maintained.

You don't mention what utilities are running through the area, but usually, most would be enclosed in some kind of conduit to protect them against hand digging and/or be of a depth that discourages your running into them. Something added later, like cable TV, might be shallow, so be careful and do a little light exploratory hand digging in the vicinity to see if you have buried obstacles.

    Bookmark   May 4, 2012 at 1:33PM
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kittens(Zone 5)

Oh, this is really great to have a visual. I don't have any drainage issues whatsoever. I have sandy soil. I missed soil-testing day but I have quite a bit of moss growing which might be a ph indicator. I like the moss and want to replace any grass with it. I might have to patch it in this year (have great clumps of it in the backyard) but it's spreading rather quickly :) I plan on doing my tests before I put anything in, though. Oh and I also forgot dimensions of the yard if that helps - about 34' x 48'

I get what you mean with the pic on breaking up the lines. I liked the first photo because it took up most of the lawn. I'd like to have a yard that maintains as much color as possible with the shrub selections and pairing. However, the second photo looks good too because you can see a dividing line between the front & back bed. Flowering ground cover up front? That's probably the most sane choice given the utility lines :) I have some in bloom right now and I'll go check the rake-ability but that's probably a great one to use. If I put in something like that, I'd never have to dig in that area and no concern if they have to do any wiring work.

    Bookmark   May 4, 2012 at 1:40PM
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kittens(Zone 5)

We were posting about the same time, Yardvaark. There's a natural gas line that's very close to the curb. An electric line runs next and then the cable vision line goes in between the pole and tree. There's also a water line that runs toward the house about where your ground cover ends. The water guy said it's 3 feet under and copper. He said just be mindful of the valve shut off which he circled for me. I can carefully hand dig in the area. I just don't want anything with roots to disturb the lines. Using ground cover as you guys are recommending sounds like the way to go. It will spread on it's own and I have enough space between wires that I could maneuver around.

I must have google-searched a thousand photos to get some ideas. I think I'm more of a cottage-style gardener - less those little trolls and having to replant a boatload of annuals each year. I wish I could achieve that with shrubs somehow. I like all season color and variety but want to keep it a little more airy so I can rake. The really well-done professional styled gardens tend to lean on the foo-foo side with everything perfectly manicured. Beautiful but not really me. I've seen some photos where they were able to get a nice look mainly using shrubs but none seemed to fit into my yard. I think I'm going to inevitably end up having to do some trial and error. (I hate the thought of that in my front yard). I'm getting some good ideas here and help with lay-out ideas; I really appreciate the input!

    Bookmark   May 5, 2012 at 10:43AM
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One possible pitfall of doing "cottage" gardening in lieu of conventional landscaping in the front yard is the inadvertent creation of an unkempt appearance... even if you're keeping up with the maintenance. (The disparity of plants types invites this.) One way you might consider minimizing the possibility of this is by bordering the garden area with a (relatively) uniform swath (30" width or greater) of a single type groundcover (which could be a low, flowering perennial if you can find one you like that's appropriate for the conditions.) This way, regardless of what you do in the garden area proper, its edge can always look tidy and organized. It would help create linking and continuity as a transition between lawn and a wilder looking cottage garden space. This idea is no different than placing a frame on a picture... which "civilizes" the artist's work regardless of how "wild and crazy" it might otherwise be. If you established this edge at the onset of your project, it would allow you more freedom to take your time discovering what plants you wish to use in the cottage garden area.

    Bookmark   May 5, 2012 at 11:51AM
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kittens(Zone 5)

That's perfect advice! I know exactly what you are talking about, too. I actually did that with my perennial beds with a few various types edging plants and it seemed to tuck everything in perfectly. Now I see that's what you guys are doing in your pictures, too. Ya, you know I was worried I was going to end up with helter-skelter out there but I wasn't sure how to prevent that. I just thought I was going to have to pair things very, very carefully. With my perennials, I stuff them into the gardens but I can't do that with shrubs. If I inter-plant the way you describe that should cure my urge to fill in every nook and cranny while things are growing.

It's a really nice 'dig' day and I went out and transplanted my Diablo Ninebark about in the center of the left door a few feet away from the driveway & tree. Just the one shrubs has already made a world of difference. Perhaps I won't need to get as carried away as I want to :) Such valuable input, thank you very much!

    Bookmark   May 5, 2012 at 1:01PM
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de nada!

    Bookmark   May 5, 2012 at 8:06PM
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