Landscaping ideas please?

hou5egeekJuly 16, 2012

Hi! I hope I post this right :)

Im sorry if this isn't the right place, we're starting from scratch. We have a gorgeous view across the street and don't really have a need for privacy in the front. I thought it was normal to hide the brick, but I was reading that might be controversial so I'd love to hear ideas!

Close up of space

From street

The door and shutters will be black and there will be a white railing.

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Sorry,to add more, I'm looking for something low maintenance and hardy, for a super beginner. Pretty balanced year around, maybe attracts honey bees or butterflies or something good for the environment. The less lawn the better, I'm on an acre of land and have rough grass in the back ill have to work with. It's west facing so lots of sun? That ditch in the front is an easement I have to keep clean for runoff/ flooding, but I was also looking into those gardens that thrive in that kind of setting.

    Bookmark   July 16, 2012 at 12:51AM
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Sorry, last bit, it's 40 from the steps to the road, but it's split by that ditch. There's also 60 feet of property on each side, but 15 of that is considered easement on each side. So I have quite a bit to fill.

    Bookmark   July 16, 2012 at 1:46AM
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"I'm looking for something low maintenance and hardy... maybe attracts honey bees or butterflies... The less lawn the better, I'm on an acre of land.

Attracting bees and butterflies is so easy a by-product that it can be incorporated into any scheme by adding certain plants. At this point, focus on more important design considerations like appearance (form and mass), shade vs. sun, function.

"Less lawn" and "low maintenance" on one acre might be conflicting goals. Mixed garden plantings with a high percentage and variety of perennials will be higher maintenance than simple landscaped beds that consists mainly of shrubs and groundcover.

If it's not already too late, I'm making a suggestion for the walk... mainly hoping you don't place it too close to the house or make it too narrow... at least 4', and maybe 5' wide would be decent.

It would be good if you could post another picture(s) that face your house square-on that has better lighting like your first photo. (From a distance roughly at the near side of the ditch would be good.) Pivot to include photos that show space at sides of house, if needed.

    Bookmark   July 16, 2012 at 9:54AM
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Your edit definitely looks grand, but they've already poured. Maybe that's something I can add on later? I'm actually not in the area, they are building still ( 2 weeks left) and i might not be able to do anything until next spring? But I was thinking something,Ike this-

I like the little hidden lawn and the lack of obstruction. I'll need some trees on the side of the house l
At some point, because my only neighbors are on the sides, but they are pretty far ( to me) so that might be something that can hold off. I was thinking oak trees? I read that they provide support/ homes to the most wildlife.
I'll try to get a new pic or find out how deep that space is between the house and sidewalk :) thanks!!

    Bookmark   July 16, 2012 at 12:45PM
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Your inspiration photo is great but definitely not "low maintenance" for a "super beginner." !!! You will need to become dedicated to gardening or hire out.

    Bookmark   July 16, 2012 at 5:21PM
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Lol it figures!!! Maybe I can start by trimming out the small grass area with mulch or something. I'll have the time to put in, along with a 3 and 4 year old to " help", it's just the know- how I lack and the ability to kill every plant I've ever owned ( including orchid and succulents!!!). I've been reading here for days though, hopefully ill pick up on some of it :)

    Bookmark   July 16, 2012 at 5:47PM
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karinl(BC Z8)

The one word that will enable you to make this work to some degree is "Juniper." There are several groundcover varieties. A similar plant is Microbiota, and there are several other spreading, mounding, conifers, like Taxus baccata 'Repens'. Those will basically cover the ground and prevent weeds (mulch heavily until they grow in). Ask in the conifers forum, or read a bit there.

You can do flowers etc in between, around them, whatever.

Karin L

    Bookmark   July 16, 2012 at 6:05PM
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Your inspiration photo looks to be quite an established yard (many years old) so that takes several years to achieve. It looks to me like they have several herbs and tall grasses (?rosemary, thyme, bee balm?). The herbs work well in full hot sun and attract bees and butterflies. You have to realize that these types of photos are taken during peak of beauty and the yard doesn't look like that in early spring or winter.
I'm just an experienced gardener, not a pro, so just some suggestions. I would NOT plant too close to your brick foundation. Allow some room (put mulch or stones or pavers) to walk behind for (some) maintenance. Make the beds large enough not just a few feet out from the house. The pros here can help with that. The larger the beds, the less lawn to deal with. I have found that flowering shrubs or ones with berries are very low maintenance and also ornamental grasses with interesting foliage. Native plants are very adaptable and usually low maintenance and attract bees, birds, butterflies too. Please note the mature size of the plant. In a sunny spot, plants can get too big too fast and then you will be pruning alot or they will obscure your home. I can definitely recommend that you take a look at The Renegade Gardener website, he is in zone 4, but see his principles and photos on mixed borders. I can suggest a few plants to you: Frances Mason or Canyon Creek abelia, dwarf crape myrtles, cleyera, butterfly bush. Mix in yellowish and purplish foliage if you can, with the green plants. Some people are anti-knockout roses, feeling they are overused, but mine are some of the best performing plants in my garden.
If you have little ones (3 and 4 yr old), you will definitely need low maintenance. Bulbs are very very easy to plant, the kids can help with that. They should be planted in clumps or drifts and where other plantings will be coming up when they are winding down, to hide their dying foliage which must be left to nourish the bulb. A few colorful pots (keep to a color scheme) with annuals will be fun for the kids to pick up a few annuals each season and plant. Well one more suggestion, becoz I've gone on enough already. You might want to pick a flower color scheme, becoz it helps to keep you from buying every pretty plant you see. Some people pick a pastel palette with light pinks, whites, blues. Some pick contrasting colors like reds and yellows. Think about it. Congrats on your beautiful new home!

    Bookmark   July 17, 2012 at 10:46AM
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Thank you so much! I'll look into juniper and that website, and great tips!! I love the idea of having a few each season my girls can plant, that's brilliant, and maybe I can get some edible berry bushes? I'll definitely be posting more when it comes time to buy and plant :)

    Bookmark   July 18, 2012 at 12:08AM
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bahia(SF Bay Area)

That sort of loose jumble of plants is actually completely doable and doesn't have to be high maintenance if appropriate plants are chosen for your location. On the other hand, as a complete newbie gardener and confirmed plant killer, you either need some targeted professional help, and/or more research and reading about successful gardening and design. Don't underestimate the value of analyzing/copying designs/planting combinations that you like in your town. Successful growing means paying more attention to giving plants the conditions they prefer, or only selecting plants which will accept what you can give them. Starting with common easy to grow plants will boost your confidence level, as will consistent watering, regularly adding compost and generous mulching to control weeds and conserve soil moisture. Making friends with local skilled neighbor gardeners never hurts either.

    Bookmark   July 22, 2012 at 2:22AM
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If you like edibles and design those are two things I love. With around 1 acre and you being in zone 7 if I am not mistaken "where are you"? I could recommend a lot.

You could do rabbit eye blueberries in 2-3 varieties, even 6 bushes 2 early, 2 mid season, and 2 late coupled with 2 southern highbush would give you yeilds from late April to August in cool summers. They would go well on the back of the lot and just require periodic watering/do best in full sun. Just be sure to figure out your PH and adjust with using pine bark, pine straw mulch, and possibly adding sulphur as Blueberries like a low PH.

I 2nd the grasses and yardvarks design for the entry although I tend to like circular flowing patterns wide at the front near the steps and thin at the middle forcing you to slow down.

I think knock out roses would look really good in a straight bed that goes across the front where the sign is. In the fall you can get them for much cheaper at times, last year I found them for 3$ in gallon pots that looked amazing. That would add depth to the home and give you something to look at from the front, you could do a fence in front of them and run clemantis/climbing rose up it.

I would frame the porch with arborvitae which would hide that silver box on the side.

Normally I don't recommend a full size magnolia due to leaf shedding, but if that doesn't bother you I think two on each side of your home, about 20 feet away would look amazing. Just trim the inside branches that face your house, and leave the backside branches facing outward to touch the ground. I have seen some that are beatufiul, that way, when they drop leaves, it stays underneath and is less maintenance "also a great place to put a hammock".

I think your house would look really good with some 15-20 foot shade trees as well, personally I think 2 redbuds would look great on the front and woudl put those next to my wall of knock out roses "though you could use any bush you like". Knock outs are easy because they self dead head.

If you make beds use groupings of plants, not just well this is pretty and that is pretty. Like buy a large clump of monkey grass. Try and avoid the big box stores, unless its on sale and looks good and is a tree or focal point.

A small herb garden in the front between the driveway to me would look good, I would fill it with rosemary, basil, and whatever culinary herbs you like "many can be grown from seed in peat moss".

You have pretty neutral grey, brown brick, and white colors on the home so I think year round color would make your house look great. I would also check out some of the newer crape myrtles but personally I don't like them as focals, but tucked out of the way they can really pull in that summer color. They just look crappy in winter but don't prune them, saving maintenance.

Sweet potato vine is a low maintenance annual and can be propogated inside the house in glass jars and transplanted outside, just water the 1st week. It handles summer well and comes in black, chartreuse green, bronze, and dark red. It is a very fast grower and can take over a bed, but thats great if you like me don't like to weed.

I would most certainly not cover the brick up, its really pretty. Also be sure to not plant too close to your foundation. Those arborvitaes I mentioned should be about 5 feet minimum away so you don't have to cut out the bottom backside.

I would splurge heavily, like 100$ a piece, on two large concrete pots that are roughly the height of your porch for each side of the entry steps. I would then use sweetpotato, supertunia, etc and group pot. Check out Better homes and gardens container pots to see what you like, or the potting on here. All that would create depth, sesonal color, year round interest, focal, mystery, and low maintenance.

You could also add in a witch hazel if you like winter color. I like harry lauders walking stick as well.

You probably should try and get 2 large framing trees but could probably skip on the rest as far as height, in the summer if your willing you can find trees often 1/2+ off.

Sense you have so many trees nearby, I would check out the woods for good dirt and mulch. A chipper might be a good investment, or if you have pine trees then you could get free pine straw mulch every fall. Also with all of this, invest a couple hundred $ into some decent garden soil, preferably composted manure/and loam/with a little peat. It is kind of hard to go wrong with that. It will make everything look 10x better, reduce watering, and improve growth and color.

You definitely need to mulch heavy if you are planning on not doing a ton of weed pulling/trying to keep grass out of the beds. I hope those economical ideas helped you out.

    Bookmark   July 25, 2012 at 12:05PM
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Oh and I know with 1 acre I would have a killer vegtable garden "you can get heirloom seeds on ebay for cheap", just be sure what every you plant its pretty deer resistant, most of what I said is minus the sweet potato vine if you don't have a fence.

    Bookmark   July 25, 2012 at 12:07PM
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