Help redesign front of house garden bed

gmcaw85June 7, 2014

Hello! We just moved into our house February, this house had been vacant for about 3 years and so I have inherited very over grown flower beds!
This a poor photo stitched panoramic of my front flower bed. It is 18ft long x 6'9ft deep and the porch height is 19 inches.

I would basically like to almost tear the whole thing out and start over and add some sort of small evergreen shrub, possibly a new tree or shrub where that wedding bouquet tree is on the left.
The front have Irises and two Poppy plants that haven't bloomed yet that I would like to keep
The vast majority of it seems to taken over by what I think are Obedient plants that have not yet bloomed.
The far left has tons of daffodils, some sort of lilies and some white little bell flower. It just looks over grown and chaotic to me!
Any ideas on a design scheme that would allow me to keep the two front poppy plants and maybe dig up and move back the irises would be great.
I am a total beginner and I think a less is more approach would be good for me, I just dont know where to start!

*I live in WI-Zone 5a

This post was edited by gmcaw85 on Sat, Jun 7, 14 at 21:59

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closer up image

    Bookmark   June 7, 2014 at 9:46PM
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middle closer up, poppy plant is in between yellow and white iris, unknown plant to the left of very front left white iris

    Bookmark   June 7, 2014 at 9:49PM
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right of garden, catmint plant far back corner, more daffidols, various iris and second poppy plant

    Bookmark   June 7, 2014 at 9:50PM
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I don't think I'd get rid of the "wedding bouquet" (Spirea "Bridal Wreath) shrub. About two weeks after it stops blooming, you can prune it into shape. I'm just thinking the spirea might be a better fit for the space than another type of tree or shrub. It's just a nice old fashioned shrub that you might miss once gone. Easy enough to relocate the iris (Siberians and bearded) as well as that nepeta peeking out in front of the steps.

I'd probably start by taking out one or two of everything that seems to be duplicated in that bed - make it less dense - just to see if a more open look appeals to you. Remove the plants crowding the steps.

    Bookmark   June 7, 2014 at 10:23PM
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Since you are only interested in this border I think you should have posted this in the Perennials Forum. They know all about updating flower beds.
You could get started digging out a lot of that obedient plant.

    Bookmark   June 8, 2014 at 4:46AM
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Thanks for the suggestions to both! I will try the other forum as well, I posted here because I'm interested in a full change of the large space, not just the perennials and adding possible evergreens or trees, planting grass, adding mulch, really anything at this point. It is a large area and I think it has lots of potential, I'm just so new at this!

    Bookmark   June 8, 2014 at 8:43AM
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Start with going across the street and taking a photo of the whole front of the home and property. Also, measure the flower beds so we know length and width since what you can plant there depends on space available. What direction does this area face? I would plan on doing prep and planning this summer and actually doing the new planting in the early fall, in September. With that amount of concrete, the area will be stressful for new plants in the heat of summer.

What are your goals? Curb appeal? Enjoyment of sights and scents as you sit on the front stoop? Creating separation or privacy between the walk and the house?

How wide is the concrete porch? Wide enough to be useful for sitting? If not, is it a necessary part of the foundation or house? If it isn't useful and necessary, you might want to remove it. If you will be keeping it, I would add a railing for safety and to make it look more finished.

I would also create a holding bed behind your house to plant any plants that you might want to keep unless you want to just leave things are for most of the summer. You can always dispose of plants later if you decide you don't want them, but if you get rid of them now, you won't have that choice later. (The exception would be the obedient plant, which I would just get rid of as it won't stay under control.) That will allow you to work on improving the soil before your fall planting.

I agree with you that right now the spirea is poorly placed. It looks crowded against the house and is poorly pruned right now. I would dig it up, prune it back hard, and plant it in your holding bed. It will regrow. What will be going on in that space between the houses? Is it yours? Do you want to plant it as a shade garden or be able to walk between the houses or hide that space (for instance if you store trash cans there)? Do you need it to get materials into your back yard?

    Bookmark   June 8, 2014 at 9:16AM
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Great ideas for me to think on nhbabs, thank you!

The measurements I originally included are probably lost with in the original post but the bed is...

18ft long by 6'9ft wide
19 inch porch height

The porch itself is 5ft wide so we could put a table out there but its right on a main busy road so Im not sure how much sitting we would do there. When we first moved in my Father immediately wanted to get us to put in a railing on the cement porch. Right now it is truly an eye sore with chipping paint and lots of black roof particles falling on it from out neighbors roof!
My husband wants to (in the Fall) paint the base of the porch black, sorry if this is a silly question but would that potentially harm future plants or soil in any way?

I like the idea of using the space between the homes as a holding bed. Right now it is just swamped with weeds. There is nothing back there and I know our neighbor would care less what we do, the area doesnt connect to our back yard there is a fence back there. I was thinking maybe put a bunch of stones back there or try to plant grass. But between the immense amount of work that needs to be done in the beds in the back yard and this front I was saving it for last!

I agree to wait to do anything and just plan this out thoroughly and smartly now before re doing anything. I was planning on seeing what exactly we had growing in there first before I did major changes.

The house faces West slightly south, our road is on an angle, this bed does get alot of sun.

Ill add an picture from across the street!

Some ideas I was playing around with, maybe adding boxwood evergreen...Original idea was to put hydrangeas right at the base of the porch but my mother in law said it would look bad in winter-dormant periods...

    Bookmark   June 8, 2014 at 10:50AM
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