Landscape Design

AnthonyJuly2013July 13, 2013

I have a 4 unit building in a smaller downtown area that has a couple offices and two residences. I've been here for 14 years and done little improvement, just some maintenance.
First time doing this, I need some input on design. My goal is bang for the buck for curb appeal and added value. I don't mind a few bells and whistles but I want to be practical. I'd prefer it lower maintenance.
The front left had a mulberry bush that died and I had pulled. I planted three arbs thinking I wanted to hide the piping and the weatherhead line. Now I realize I can just remove the weatherhed line. Someone suggested building a curving retainer wall from the front of the building to the porch. The bushes on the side of the porch are overgrown and out of control (remove and replace with dwarf bushes? someone suggested a waterfall....?) What colors should I use for the retainer wall and rock? Do I use a beige that complements the roof, or do I even want to do that? Do I reuse a light colored riverrock like I have now? Or another? What types of plants do I have installed. I'd like some color splash.
Do I then use the same color rock on the border of the property on the center and right? Do I use some similar plants to "tie" it all in together? I'm looking for a sharp look that is practical when you walk up. THANKS

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Heres a closer view of the area most in need of design.

    Bookmark   July 13, 2013 at 12:06AM
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You ought to provide a wide photo taken from the street that shows the overall building (or half of it at one side of the wall) and some space at the sides. While you can limit the project to any size you wish, you're not going to achieve a "sharp look" for the building by focusing on one spot and ignoring other places in need of attention.

And say where you're located.

Yes. Remove the unneeded wiring.

This post was edited by Yardvaark on Sat, Jul 13, 13 at 11:09

    Bookmark   July 13, 2013 at 3:04AM
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deviant-deziner(Oh zone)

I'm looking for a sharp look that is practical when you walk up.
If that's the look you want to achieve then think like a sculptor : use that wall as a tableau or a picture frame to play off of.

You could invest in one absolutely drop dead gorgeous sculptural tree and place it infront of the wall.
Under plant it with either a ground cover of moss, mondo grass, or gravel . Perhaps place a few nice tastefully chosen placement boulders and accent plants and you could create a WOW statement.

We're working on a project that has somewhat the same set up as you : a large expanse of white wall.

We chose a contorted black japanese pine and are underplanting it with mondo grass and a few elongated granite stones.

It's quiet and contemplative look that offers a sublte WOW, especially at night time when the solitary sculptural tree is lit.

    Bookmark   July 13, 2013 at 4:40PM
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Aardvark, the first picture I posted WAS of the whole building. I think the picture you were looking at was the second closeup.
Deviant Designer: I do like the idea of a "wow" plant maybe as a focal point. I could almost make that wall like a "picture" frame...? Didn't think of it that way before. Could be interesting.
Here is the third picture of the middle/right that never made it on.

    Bookmark   July 13, 2013 at 11:59PM
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What I meant about the "from the street" and "with some space at the sides" was if you SQUARE THE CAMERA UP MORE IN LINE WITH THE ENTRANCE and then take a picture. If you're back far enough that we can see space to the right of the building, great. If not, from the same position, PIVOT (not relocate) right a little and take another shot that shows us the space to the right of the building AS VIEWED FROM THE SAME POINT as the first shot. Your first picture, above, while it shows the whole building, it is taken from such a far right position that it obscures the actual entrance to the building. The front door cannot be seen.

This post was edited by Yardvaark on Sun, Jul 14, 13 at 8:16

    Bookmark   July 14, 2013 at 8:13AM
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Are you saying that this little bungalow houses four units?

    Bookmark   July 15, 2013 at 1:52AM
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bahia(SF Bay Area)

It looks like that blank wall facade contains the two offices added on to the duplex house. It would be helpful to know the location/zone before making specific planting recommendations.

    Bookmark   July 15, 2013 at 10:54AM
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It's going to be difficult to create a WOW statement with any plant --regardless of how sculptural -- if its size is confined to the size of the wall. In the example given above, the overhead architectural canopy at the foreground limits the view. Here at this property, without the upward view limited, such a plant would seem underwhelming for the space. This place, with its wide open sky, needs some trees ... that are at least double the height of the walls. (Without the face-on picture, it's hard to offer more than a vague suggestion.)

    Bookmark   July 16, 2013 at 9:24AM
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An interesting question. How to introduce "WOW" into the exterior of a ho-hum, but well maintained property, that would require minimal maintenance.

After playing with and discarding several quick sketch ideas I am going to suggest my first thought when viewing this question. If zoning/planning board will approve the concept and design, hire a faux artist to paint a pleasing scene on the wall. Quiet, understated view such as a garden and garden arch that "walks" the viewer
into the distance. Or a faux painted stone wall along the bottom with garden behind. Or, there may be a local scene such as a park, waterfall, river, etc. suitable for the situation.

    Bookmark   July 17, 2013 at 12:33PM
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IMO the two yews(?) crowd the front steps and should be removed. I would like to see them under the window. The bed there now is too small and inconsequential. Actually, it's the width you want all of your plantings to be outside of for air flow and building maintenance. Is this where you want the raised bed? Sounds expensive, but if you go that route, I would match the building material as closely as possible and make the wall substantial enough to create an impact. Something small and of mismatched material would be detrimental to your property value. I think the same effect could be created without the raised bed.

Along the brick wall, perhaps a row or two of something fountain shaped such as ornamental grasses or red twig dog wood for year round interest.

    Bookmark   July 18, 2013 at 1:00PM
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