Shed converted into a guest house (landscape ideas needed)!

mastino(7)August 30, 2010

Ok first off its just got primer (thats not going to be the color) & were going to finish the stone work around the entire foundation. I cut down a peach tree that was in the rock circle (peaches weren't good). Anyway I need some help if you have any good ideas, Im ready to work on this project AGAIN. I dont want to use a thick ground cover only because we have allot of snakes & I dont want them next to the little house. The other problem is the Clements plants on the front porch. Its nice looking over the porch when it blooms but its so bushy beside the steps (its messy). How can I control it to look less snaky & managed? Im wanting a natural look because were in the forest. Iv tried, I kinda liked the idea of laying the large rocks in a circle on both side of the house but I need a little help. its just not working for me. Also any ideas on steps to the side porch (Im clueless)? Im ready to do a major overhaul & get my hands dirty!

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Nature should avoid symmetry,curving trunk tree(design tree shape is important) add prehistory style.

Here is a link that might be useful: if need other pic design

    Bookmark   August 30, 2010 at 7:53PM
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It looks like the side with the screened in porch is going to be in more shade than the other side, right? You can use that to your advantage - plant understory shrubs there & put more variety into the sunnier side of the shed/guest house.

If you are open to thoughts on the structure itself:
1 - Paint the posts & beams over the front porch white to match the soffit/gutters around the rest of the structure.
2 - I would be easier (and probably cheaper) to cover the exposed foundation area with white lattice than do the stonework.
3 - What is the overall feel or mood you are looking to create? Cute cottage, rustic hideaway (ignore my inputs on white paint & lattice), or funky artist residence?

If you can answer that last question it will help you design a garden that feels the way you want the guest house to feel. I hope this makes sense.

    Bookmark   August 30, 2010 at 10:36PM
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missingtheobvious(Blue Ridge 7a)

If there are snakes, I'm not sure lattice under the foundation would be a good idea, unless you were to line the lattice with something impervious to snakes. I don't know what that would be, but you might ask someone about using fiberglass window screening: it would allow air circulation, wouldn't be obvious, and if you're lucky, might keep the snakes out. Another possibility is very fine hardware cloth, provided the tiniest snakes wouldn't be able to get through it.

I'd give the edge of the porch the same treatment you gave to the front stoop and its steps. As to where to put the steps on the large porch, how do you want traffic to flow? Which directions are people likely to want to go from that porch?

You might consider installing railings where there are no steps, or at least where the ground is so much lower. You could also use landscaping to prevent people from falling off the edge, but landscaping might hide snakes.

What kind of clematis is it? The large-flowered kind, the fragrant Sweet Autumn, or the fragrance-less small-flowered native clematis, aka Virgin's Bower?

    Bookmark   August 30, 2010 at 11:37PM
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Well Im not sure what "style" but this is kinda what I have had in mind as far as style (maybe but Id like your ideas)! The little ugly shack looks like a mini mansion on the inside (all the extras, hardwood floors, custom cabinets etc.) so Im looking for maybe something sophisticated, rich but with natural/neutral , bare minimal of plants (because of the snakes). The house will be painted a natural lovely rich greenish/tan to blend in with the landscape. I have a huge stack of taxes flat rook stones so I thought Id make a walkway with them? I found a very cute evergreen type small shrub (#2 picture) I just love it! So I wanted to use those on each side. I think I liked the big rocks (mirror image on each side of the walkway in the front). I wanted to use stone work for the rest of the foundation because the rocks are free & it really makes the place look nicer. Can anyone tell me if they make a a-symmetrical conifer tree that doesn't get to large (maybe 12 ft or smaller)? Iv been to a bunch of plant stores & Im having trouble finding interesting small trees. Iv got several large japans maples in pots but everyone uses them now so Im not sure if thats what I want. I really like the look of small pines more so then maples & I think the maples will look out of place? Id set some of them around in pots & see if I can find a spot for 1 or 2 of them. Also any cool looking unique small trees I could put in pots on either side of the front steps? It wouldn't have to live in a pot I could plant it next to the concrete. Im not looking for comen plants. Id like it to be interesting & rich looking (this poor shack needs a BID face lift so I need to spend some on the exterior). We live way out in the woods so low maintenance is a must & Im not big on flowers at all. The Clemet's in the front adds a little (I think but what do I know) it really looks nice when the yellow rose type tiny flowers bloom. There's also another vine in that mass of greenery. Its a white flowering fine, Im sorry but I dont know the names of either? The circle drive way is where Im standing in the 1st picture (Im taking the picture). So the walkway goes to it & then in picture #3 the patch leads up the hill to the chickens coop & the orchard. I visit both areas all day long as you can see from the dirt patch but Im hoping to make a pretty tx. flat rock path soon. Funny thing is the chickens have there 8x8 house completely done, insulated, painted inside & out with an arbor on the side of the house with a nice grape vine on it. Our house isnt done & the guest house looks like this! So if you want to see what color Ill be paining house & all the buildings, I can go out & take pictures of the hens house. LOL
I really like the wide walkway in the picture & I like the idea of the bushes on the left hand side. Also I really like the idea of not having steps on the porch but its used allot but I need to enclose it soon to keep the snakes & the (too friendly) yard bantams off.

    Bookmark   August 31, 2010 at 11:33AM
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woodyoak zone 5 Canada(5b)

Snakes?! [shudder!] I have no idea what is the best material to enclose the underpart of your shed/guesthouse, but, where I grew up, snakes liked rocks (our snakes were non-venomous - I assume yours are nastier...) I'd be wary of putting 'rock piles' in the landscape because one of the places we could always find snakes was in and around the rock foundations of the barns...

Is there enough light to grow grass? - your mock-up with the green on the ground looks good. If there's light enough for grass, I'd be inclined to just use grass, with packed gravel paths, and ornamental small trees or shrubs that can be limbed up to keep the ground clear. I'd add interest by paying attention to the shape of the lawn and paths so they are interesting features on their own. If grass doesn't grow, maybe using different textures/colors of packed gravel and flat rocks could be used as a substitute...? [Although I don't like some of the features in ideasshare' mock-up, I think she might be in the right ballpark here...] But since snakes like to warm themselves on rocks (or at least the ones I knew did...) you'd have to think about that too and avoid making resting places for them - at least where they'd be hidden from view and could be startled. A tricky landscaping probeim indeed...!

Since I spent a fair bit of time this spring and early summer trying to find the 'sight' greens to paint our shed, I'm interested in what your solution was - so I'd love to see your chicken coop :-) You can see our green solution in the link below - skip to the botttom to ignore all the agnst of the selection process :-) We're quite happy with it and I think your shed/guest house would look great green.

Here is a link that might be useful: green shed

    Bookmark   August 31, 2010 at 12:17PM
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Hi Woodyoaks,
Heres the hen house, the color didnt come thru at all, its alot darker in person. I checked out your thread & your building is too cute! I love the it! About my yard, I think I can grow grass? We built in the millde of the woods (oaks)& havent planted grass yet (but we have a VERY nice yard of healthy weeds)!

    Bookmark   August 31, 2010 at 4:56PM
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woodyoak zone 5 Canada(5b)

It looks ike your hens are well accomodated! Green seems to be one of those colors that the camera distorts easily - I think the camera must pick up conflicting greens around it and get confused! If you want the shed/cottage to nestle into the landscape, maybe consider doing something like we did - e.g. use the chicken coop light green on the trim and a darker olivey green on the walls to pick up the greens of the trees in the background...?

I've been thinking more about the snake problem (which creeps me out a lot! :-) I think you need to check on what sort of conditions the snakes you are dealing with like for nesting and winter hibernation. I'm concerend that walling in that under-space with rocks might make a perfect cozy nesting site for them! Although I don't know specifically what they like or need, the thought occurs to me that maybe what would deter them is to fill all that enpty space with a sharp gravel, well rammed in; then surround it with panels of fine mesh in a strong material with the top attached to the structre and the bottom buried down a foot or so. Then compact the ground and build the decorative dry stacked stone wall. But you'd have to check with a snake expert if that would work.

    Bookmark   August 31, 2010 at 5:22PM
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Hi Woodyoaks,
The chickens are very well looked after :) Yes the color looks grey? UHG We looked at colors for 3 years before we found the perfect color for us (wasn't easy to find the right green)! Im not real happy with the browns & white trim Iv used but I do like the use of stain not painted wood. The front pillars are 6x6 oak beams we cut off our land so thats why we used the stained wood trim. BUT I could have stained them a green color, I didnt think to use a "color stain" when we started it. Ill ask & see if I could use an opaque stain & cover the brown (good idea) THANKS! As far as the snakes, we live between 2 ponds so nothing I can do but watch my step & put up a snake crossing sign. LOL Iv walked out several time to see a poisonous snake 2 feet from the porch! Its just the price I pay to live in the woods I guess not really a problem we just are really carful when we go out at night. Im just not wanting to make the house any more attractive to snakes then it already is. I dont mind having them around to much they were here before me I guess & they keep down the mice. I just cant use a thick ground cover like I wanted to, that would have been my first choice.

    Bookmark   August 31, 2010 at 5:46PM
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Hey, if you're still looking for ideas I will trade you a fabulous plan for that AWESOME looking mastiff :) Just kidding (sort of .. he/she is a beautiful dog).

But seriously, I did have a thought. Are there any natural snake predators in your area? If so ... is there anything else they like to eat that you can plant near the guest house to encourage the predators to frequent the area? We don't have snakes, except for garter snakes, so I don't know what kills them aside from mongooses and they also kill chickens so they aren't a good solution (and they live in the desert).

Is Mountain Laurel native to your area? For a pretty woodland look it is really attractive in the spring, I've been coveting it lately & the shaggy look would be casual in this garden.

    Bookmark   September 6, 2010 at 1:29AM
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Hi Pam,
The Mountain Laurel is a GREAT idea & I think it will grow here too! Ill Google & see what verities & colors they have (I think Iv seen them flower before)? Sorry but cant swap my Neapolitan Mastiff, he really makes the porch look fantastic however it dose make it smell a little doggy :P

    Bookmark   September 6, 2010 at 1:04PM
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