landscape advice kindly solicited

cottagerswifeJune 3, 2010

Hi, I'm looking for some guidance on how to finish a particular area of my back yard. Photos, a diagram and some background information can be viewed on my blog at

Thanks in advance for any help you can offer.

Cottager's Wife

Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
missingtheobvious(Blue Ridge 7a)


Very nice garden renovation so far!

I like the way the path, currently, would twist around the split rock, and between it and the single rock in the middle -- though you don't show that rock on your diagram, so perhaps it's no longer there? The path could be composed of rocks from the stream (if your stream has flat rocks), or you could simply use bark mulch for the path. In my limited experience, mulch has a tendency to travel in heavy rain, so you might want to use edging of some kind to keep it where it's supposed to be.

I'd make the right front quadrant some sort of low-ish groundcover, then place several taller plants on the right and rear edges, as well as a cluster of them in front of the rocks at the back center. Add various small creeping plants around all the rocks wherever there's room -- even creeping over some of them.

Starting from the main path, place a few stepping stones through the planted area in a pattern that will allow you to reach everything without stepping on any plants. I'm using cheap 6" x 9" pavers (yes, I have small feet) that wander and twist through a large flower bed; this path is strictly for maintenance, so I place one paver every 2' or so on paths about 4' apart. The pavers are unobtrusive colors (gray and tan, depending what color Lowe's has in stock). You might find flat rocks from the stream that would be a good size for you; they'd look more natural than my pavers.

My experience with shade gardening is in an area which barely gets any sun at all, so I shouldn't suggest any plants for your level of shade. And since the radar shows no rain for a while, I should go out and plant a few more things.

    Bookmark   June 3, 2010 at 6:58PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

Thanks for the great ideas MTO. My feet are huge so I will have to find something a bit bigger. I have picked up some Japanese anenome and a mock orange, several kinds of lavender so far. Since I am on a bit of a budget, I'm going to throw in a bunch of cheap annuals this year, and next spring I will transfer some hostas, lily of the valley, iris etc over from my cottage and keep adding/moving plants until I get it just right. I am counting on my gardens to teach me some patience. Check my blog in a few weeks and I will post another work in progress photo. Cheers!

    Bookmark   June 6, 2010 at 1:19PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
dogridge(7b nc)

what type of tree is on the right in the second photo? Are you planning to keep it?

    Bookmark   June 6, 2010 at 5:28PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

that is a vine maple - a volunteer, but we like it and have it dressed in white lights all year round. It further limits our sun to be sure, though we gave it a hard trim this year. It suppose it could go for the right reason.
Thanks for your interest. I bought shasta daisy and bees balm for the sunniest bits today - so much for my professed patience.

    Bookmark   June 7, 2010 at 3:04AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

Quite a serene view already!
Some questons and comments -
- is it an option to pave the path with landscape timbers? Otherwise, I'd leave it as mulch for now.
- Is the area sunny enough to grow lavender? From the photos, I guess you could grow it in pots on the patio, choosing the sunniest location possible.
- I'm afraid mockorange gets way too big to be inside that little square; also, lily of the valley is hard work to keep within bounds (I have too much of that stuff myself, and it's the main cause I feel like giving up on some flowerbeds)
- a good companion plant for Japanese anemone would be the old-fashioned tall bleeding heart, as one wakes up late, and the other goes to sleep early.
- here's a little mockup - I put Rodgersia aesculifolia in the upper right corner for architectural effect. The groundcover could be moss, or any low-growing thing that likes the conditions. Use flat rocks for stepping stones.

    Bookmark   June 7, 2010 at 7:28AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

Nice trick with the mock-up. Thanks for this Timbu. I especially like the look of the Rodgersia aesculifolia and will look this up today. The mock orange is going in at the back fence - beyond the square - to give us a bit more privacy from the quite well-used nature trail on the other side of the fence. Tall bleeding heart is an excellent idea. I will look into it. As for moss, I've heard of a technique using a blender to make a moss milkshake to pour around cobblestone pathways. But will I want to make a frosty drink in that blender afterwards? I'll have to look into that too. Cheers!

    Bookmark   June 7, 2010 at 12:31PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

great job timbu. can you mock up something for me (see photo)? I have no landscape behind my pool and would like some ideas.
thanks in advance

    Bookmark   June 8, 2010 at 10:56AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

Jvmagic, I think you should start yout own thread. (and if you do, take a pic that shows how wide the pathway to the jumping board is).

    Bookmark   June 8, 2010 at 12:51PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

Check this link for an update, photo of work in progress (not a great one I'm afraid) and to weigh in on my last (yeah, right) dilemma - some small grey beach stones would define the path better than bark mulch, but would it look better to have it blend in more? thanks to everyone who has offered advice and encouragement to date!

Here is a link that might be useful: backyard update

    Bookmark   June 18, 2010 at 5:23PM
Sign Up to comment
More Discussions
Issue with Retainer Wall, fixable or redo?
Hi, first time posting here. I'm looking for advice...
John Turner
Trying to design a border in front of elevated deck
I want to plant several shrubs in front of my elevated...
Help with small retaining wall
I am starting to landscape my yard and am having trouble...
Help with frontyard design changes
Hi, I’m in the process of replacing turf in my front...
Overwhelmed by new homes
I bought a new home just over a year ago in Northwest...
Sponsored Products
Long Grill Cover Step Light by Troy Lighting
$94.50 | Lumens
E27 40W 6600LM 165LED SMD 5730 LED Corn Bulb
Pyramid Illusion Art Print
$26.99 | Dot & Bo
15826AZT Bronze Kichler LED Center Mount Landscape Path Light
Outdoor Lighting. LV41AB Landscape Lighting Well Light Low Voltage Die Cast Bras
$73.00 | Home Depot
Tracery Horizontal LED Step Light White
$63.90 | PLFixtures
People viewed this after searching for:
© 2015 Houzz Inc. Houzz® The new way to design your home™