Landscape Front of House

parkplazaJune 1, 2010

I just tore out overgrown front of home landscaping shrubs that were totally too large. Took me a while to remove the stumps by hand (backbreaking). Now I have a clean slate (just dirt). I cannot afford a landscaper or landscape architect, so it will be a do it yourself project. Any suggestions where to begin? Bit unsure how to proceed other than buy some plants and plant them. Is a landscape architect expensive to lay out and select plants?

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dogridge(7b nc)

If you can post a picture of your home and several inspiration photos ( you might try the Better Homes and Gardens website- they have a variety of looks), that will help. I like doing sketches of homes and simple designs for fun, though I am certainly no professional.

see examples here:

You will also need to check out which plants grow well in your area, so you don't plant something that will just die. Check out plants in your neighborhood that are doing well. If you don't know the name of the plant, take a picture of the entire shrub and the leaf and show it to your local garden center.
Learn about plants that suit your conditions- wet, dry, sun, shade

    Bookmark   June 2, 2010 at 7:02AM
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I'm a newbie when it comes to lawn care, gardening, and landscaping, but there are some nurseries near my place that offer landscape design service for $40. Maybe there are some near your place. All you need are sketches of the area you're going to work on and some pictures.
If you have an Iphone or ITouch, you can download plant apps.

    Bookmark   June 3, 2010 at 4:20PM
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Now is a great time to wait!
What I mean is wait until fall. It's June in North Carolina! Right now you can spend your time doing research. Go to the library, botanical garden, walk the neighborhood, visit plant nurseries cut out photos from magazines. Build a wish/want list a then double check if the plants you have picked will thrive in the conditions you have.
One of the big mistakes people make is falling for plants and putting them in a spot that is too sunny - too shady - too wet - too get the idea. You can actually save money by hiring a garden designer to work with you on selection and placement of plants, but you have time now to do a lot of the research yourself.

    Bookmark   June 6, 2010 at 10:49AM
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Read this:

Right now, kick back, enjoy the summer, and do your research, make your plans. When you have a plan you like, plant the plants when it is the most appropriate season for them. It may be fall, you may have to wait for spring for others.

    Bookmark   June 6, 2010 at 1:36PM
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Sorry for the delay in posting pictures. I had some elderly mother in law issues to help out with. Husbands mom is very ill. The left side of the house has a healthy bed of pacrasandra ( clue) which seems like a challenge to get both sides of the house to go together. I like the balanced structured manicured shrub look (lined up boxwoods) versus a natural look. Two small azelas still exist, but they can be torn out or relocated. Prior to tearing out, it was a bunch of overgrown bushes.

    Bookmark   June 17, 2010 at 9:25PM
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I think it looks wonderful and you have a lot of choices. First of all, where do you live? What zone? THat makes a difference in planting as well as how much sun the area gets. I think you are smart to go with shrubs. That way you actually have some structure there all year long, not just during the spring and summer when perennials are blooming.

Once you post the sun and zones, it will be easier to make suggestions.

    Bookmark   June 18, 2010 at 7:37AM
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dsb22(z7 VA)

Also which way does the house face-east, west, north, south? That also determines how much and the intensity of the sun that the area gets.

    Bookmark   June 18, 2010 at 9:29AM
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New Jersey...northern exposure

    Bookmark   June 18, 2010 at 4:45PM
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MollyDog(6 PA)

Drive around your neighborhood and look at the landscapes that catch your attention. You can get some great ideas from yards that have been professionally landscaped.

    Bookmark   June 20, 2010 at 8:10AM
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karinl(BC Z8)

Interesting how well you know your personal style. That has value - to the extent that just buying a bunch of plants and arranging them, as you originally suggested, might very well work for you.


I don't think it's balance or symmetry you need here, so much as continuity. Plus, I think you need to clarify for yourself just what you want from a foundation planting. It's useful to have the photo of what I presume is the neighbour's house in the background, as that shows (and your previous planting may also have done so) that foundation planting doesn't do much for these houses. Your bed of Pachysandra is one of the nicest treatments of this situation that I've seen.

However, the tree in front of the bed of Pachysandra is very important. If it weren't there, the Pachysandra alone would be intolerably boring. The tree's placement is lovely, as is the shape of the bed. You could well do something similar on the right; something at the foundation that will just cushion the house, and another specimen plant or two further out in the yard that will make the whole thing a nice composition seen from further away.

On the right, I suspect the bed shape reflects the shrubs that were there, and now that the shrubs are gone it is clear that the shape of that bed does not relate to the other side of the house at all. You could make that flow much more nicely, especially if you don't want to put an elaborate, and in my opinion unnecessary, foundation planting in there.

If there is any place for a foundation planting, it would be around the little bump-out where you actually do have a foundation. But even there, I would not feel the need to crowd a lot of plants right at the house.

Given the northern exposure at the front, one plant you might consider would be a Microbiota, a low spreading evergreen similar to a juniper, but it will grow well in shade.


    Bookmark   June 20, 2010 at 12:59PM
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missingtheobvious(Blue Ridge 7a)

You have a wonderful, lush bed of pachysandra there. The obvious (and money-saving) thing would be to dig up some of the pachysandra from the bed on the left and use it in front of the rest of the house. Spring and fall are the best times to do this. [But clearly if you've just spent a lot of time eradicating the pachysandra that used to fill the right-side bed, planting more won't appeal to you!]

    Bookmark   June 20, 2010 at 1:47PM
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barbaranh(z4 NH)

Ok, here's what I would suggest, but keep in mind I'm not a landscape designer. However I have been thinking and reading a lot about house fronts lately because I'm re-doing the front of my house too.

First, let me say that your house is very pretty, and it looks to me like you've got a terrific opportunity now to make your dream garden. That gorgeous tree is in the perfect spot and the natural grass pathway between it and the pachysandra bed in front of the house is very nice.

I'd keep the pachysandra (it's a beautiful bed) but mix shrubs right in with it -- some evergreen and some flowering, so you have color in the spring and summer. Just dig the holes for the shrubs right into the pachysandra, and either toss what comes out or transplant it to the other side. (Think how much you'll save on mulch every year!)

Before choosing which specific shrubs to plant though, I'd think about height and placement. Looking at the house straight-on, you want to see some balance, though the two sides of the porch don't have to be mirror images of each other. The tree adds height on one end of the house, so I'd plant something tall and full at the other end too -- something like a lilac, on the corner by the downspout, where you would also see and smell it from the side porch windows.

What comes to mind next is to add height on each side of the front door to frame it and make it look inviting. Since your porch looks wide, you might consider 2 large containers, each with a tall, narrow evergreen, something like 'Green Tower' boxwood. Right next to the porch on each side, you could plant taller shrubs on the pachysandra side than on the other because the windows are higher from the ground there. Just keep in mind different shapes, sizes, and shades of green to make it look interesting, and put smaller bushes in front of the larger ones, varying the height here and there.

Unless you're in the very top west corner of NJ, you're in zone 7, which gives you a lot of choice!

Before considering specific shrubs, though, about how many hours of sun does the front of your house get during the day?

    Bookmark   June 21, 2010 at 8:53AM
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missingtheobvious(Blue Ridge 7a)

barbaranh, there are two downspouts on the right side: one on either side of the chimney (pics 2 and 5). Which one did you see as the location for the lilac-y shrub?

    Bookmark   June 21, 2010 at 10:38AM
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barbaranh(z4 NH)

Missing, I was talking about the one in pic 2. It would soften and fill in that corner with the chimney and the branches would arch in front of the porch windows that face front. The corner where the other downspount is (pic 5) would be a great place for a climbing rose, if it gets enough sun. There would have to be a structure there for it to climb on, but it doesn't have to be complicated -- two nice white trellises at a 90 degree angle with each other right there at the corner (if parkplaza can figure out a way to let the downspout run under one of them).

I think it would be a good idea to continue the flow of the landscaping right around on that side to include the whole porch area.

    Bookmark   June 21, 2010 at 7:14PM
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Don't feel constrained by the old bed lines nor feel you have to simply re-fill these beds. Look into the possiblity of expanding these beds into something greater.

    Bookmark   June 22, 2010 at 2:36PM
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dsb22(z7 VA)

For what it's worth, there is a home in our neighborhood that is the same cream/light yellow color as your's (at least that's how it's rendering on my screen). Recently some shrubs in front of it with began blooming--I think they are lilacs, but not sure. The color of the blooms is mauve and they look really nice against the color of the house.

    Bookmark   June 23, 2010 at 12:21PM
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I like Barbara's suggestion to keep the ground cover and plant other interesting shrubs for height within that bed. I love the look of the pachysandra and would personally repeat it inside the other bed once you've filled it with other plants/shrubs. It will give the entire front landscape a cohesive look. There is a cream colored house in our neighborhood the has purple rhodo's in front. I'm not a huge fan of rhododendron but the purple against the cream/yellow is very striking. Using these complementary colors together might be a nice starting point when choosing your plants.

I am drawn to the same formal style and just designed the
front of my home. Like you, I ripped everything out in front and started from scratch.

I started by gathering what I knew:
I knew I wanted a formal english garden feel.
I knew I wanted a boxwood hedge
I knew I wanted it to be an all white garden.

Once I gathered what I knew, I then found plants that I LOVED. I'd take walks and ask home owners, "What is that lovely flower growing there?" Home owners love to talk about their landscaping--they were always eager to tell me about it! Or I'd go online and google "White tall perennials." and look through the pictures. Once I had a list of flowers, plants and shrubs that I absolutely adored, I found places for them within the bones of my design.

It took lots of time but I am so happy with the results this year....seeing it all start to grow in and come together. Yes, it would have been easier to just hire a landscaper, but there is such a feeling of satisfaction creating it yourself, AND your landscape will be filled with flowers and plants that you personally hand picked because they are your personal favorites. Good luck!

    Bookmark   June 27, 2010 at 10:05AM
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"One of the big mistakes people make is falling for plants and putting them in a spot that is too sunny - too shady - too wet - too get the idea. You can actually save money by hiring a garden designer to work with you on selection and placement of plants, but you have time now to do a lot of the research yourself."

This is such an important piece of advice. Really consider this when you choose your plants. HOWEVER, don't be afraid to take a risk and try a plant you absolutely love in less than ideal conditions. Just realize that it may or may not work out. Example: I really wanted to plant a limelight hydrangea hedge along the north side of my house. Limelights should get FULL sun, but my north side gets only bright light and maybe 2-3 hours top. I decided to give it a go, and they are beautiful. Tons and tons of flower buds and blooms right now--they have doubled in size since Spring and are thriving in that spot. Example 2: I wanted to try Globemaster Allium in a part-sun spot. They take full sun. Gave it a go, and they were beautiful this Spring. Example 3: Tried lamium in a full sun spot, knowing it may be a bit too much, and it ended up being just that. They did alright, but I liked the way the plant 'looks' in part shade so much better---in full sun it looses the varigation that makes it so elegant. So, I ripped it out and put it in the back yard.

I guess what I'm saying is definitely research the proper placement for each plant, but don't be afraid to experiment a bit---especially if you have your heart set on one---you might find that it will do fine in a less than ideal setting.

    Bookmark   June 27, 2010 at 10:25AM
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Just my $0.02. because the house has such a broad flat vertical plane, I would break that wall-look with a pergola or trellis arbor at the entrance. A vine plant cascading on the entry trellis would be a nice inviting touch. The reason the tree looks so nice on the left front-side is that it hides the angularity of the left side of the house. A tree on the right side but not symmetrical with the left, nor similar size, nor color would be pleasing to the eye. I know that this may not fit your general plan type but it gives the house front more than two dimension. Any comments. JMHO Aloha

    Bookmark   June 27, 2010 at 12:17PM
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Like others have mentioned, please take your time. Do your homework over the next 6-9 months and if you do use a professional, take time to research them.

I have been an gardening addict for over 30 years and didn't have the internet when i started gardening. It was all books and trial and error. Alot of error, I must say.

I too am a "do it yourselfer" and have never hired help. I have gone as far as gathering all my boulders by hand over the years from local farmers fields and hauling them home in a variety of vehicles including the 600 pounds of rock i purchased at a landscape supply company and hauled home in the back seat of my 2005 chevy cobalt.

Needless to say that I am not afraid to try anything, but have learned that not all professionals actually know the important things about their plants and placement. Time restraints forced my parents to hire a local and supposedly knowlegeable firm to design their back yard. Upon reviewing their suggestions, I was shocked at the placement of shade plants in full sun and placements that did not take into consideration the mature sizes of most of the material not to mention the anchor trees being sun loving pines that they wanted to put into full shade.

I suggest to people that they should drive around and stop to talk to people who have the look you want. They will usually be happy to tell you who did it and how much it costs and takes to keep looking nice.

Make lists of what you like and in the dead of winter, draw a few sketches at breakfast time , this doesn't cost anything and will save you alot of money and time in the long run.

Use what you like and decide how much time or money you have for weekly, monthly or yearly upkeep such as trimming, dividing, pruning and weeding. Like all of us garden addicts, i have always bit off more than i can handle and spent my life paying for this.

As i get older, I know my physical and time limitations and try to stay within reasonable sizes and upkeep needs when i make a new bed etc.

Speaking of upkeep, I need to go out into the 90% humidity and temps right now.

    Bookmark   June 27, 2010 at 4:07PM
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