New home...landscaping 101!

ajc9(5b)August 15, 2012

Hello everyone!

We have an extremely large area to landscape around our home...we moved in about 8 months ago...and are ready to plant! We live in the midst of pines.

Our sod has done well...we have a few simple shrubs...a Japanese maple and another cool tree we purchased...not sure the name of it!

My question for all of the gurus...of which we are not! I'm drawn to clean and angular lines. I had a friend help me shop as she has a background in landscaping design...

Burkwood viburnum

Limelight hydrangeas



Juniper shrubs and tall globe looking junipers

Bergenia (pink in spring). Not sure about this one

Heurchera (sp) - the purpley colored variety - should I hold out for the caramel color variety?

I feel like its all sorta strewn about. I have a front porch with stone pillars (craftsman style)...our house is a deep brown color. I was originally thinking oranges and yellows to play off of our color...but...came home with pinks, blues and purples....

I dunno...any suggestions? More evergreens, perhaps, to bring girth to the wispy looking choices? I do love ground cover too...of which we couldn't find at this time of year...and I've also heard that Japanese bloodgrass is nice?

Thanks for listening and for any advice u may have!

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It seems that you are getting the cart before the horse. Shopping for plants before working out the design features leads to plantings that don't work or and a general lack of harmony. If you proceed this way, the liklihood is that you will be ripping things out in a few years--calling them "overgrown"--and wondering why what remains looks like a hodge podge. Do it right; do the design first... then go plant shopping. You can still get the plants you want, but with assurance that they have a proper place. Use plants to: screen, direct traffic, provide shade & shelter, transitition vertical elements to horizontal spaces, upholster bare earth, etc. And you'll need to work out a pleasing geometry and location for the planting beds. After you determine the needs plants must solve, shop for the plants that best solve them. If you want design help with an area, post a clear, well-lighted photo.

    Bookmark   August 16, 2012 at 10:07AM
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Hello yardvark..! Thank you for your thoughtful reply. I would loooove to post a picture...our MAC is down and I'm borrowing my mom's iPad so we will hopefully have our tech troubles resolved ASAP...

So true...I'm not sure why we didn't draw up some ideas beforehand...after all...that is how we designed our house! Should be the same way for our landscape design.

For now, I'm going to return the plants and start over....and get a picture for advice...

Thank you again!

    Bookmark   August 16, 2012 at 11:40AM
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The hydrangeas and juniper bushes are not planted. The plants to the far left are what we purchased.
Note the jap maple and boxwoods are planted.

    Bookmark   August 16, 2012 at 2:07PM
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Pic #2

    Bookmark   August 16, 2012 at 2:12PM
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Pic #3

    Bookmark   August 16, 2012 at 2:13PM
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Anyway, pardon the pictures being in separate replies...!

My opinion is to have structure up close to the house...such as....where the hydrangeas are now. Shouldn't there be something sturdier there? As far as the rest of the idea where to start;)

    Bookmark   August 16, 2012 at 2:20PM
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Beatufiul home. I agree 100% with yardvark, draw it out on paper first. I think Apaganthus near the house would look nice. You could also use an anual grouncover like sweet potato vine next year until you make up your mind exactly what you want to do with it, just take cuttings and root them in water and spread after the last frost.

I think your house screams Juniper for groundcover giving you some of that nice evergreen you were talking about. That circle bed to me looks like it needs something on the edge and I wouldn't do brick, maybe loriope "monkey grass". Just make sure you do a low grouncover, you don't want anything you pick out to be 2-3 feet tall and blocking the house as it sits low to the ground.

That JM looks like a bloodgood, smart that you pulled it away from the house as they will get 10+ and it should look really good in that spot. After about 4-5 years you can prune it to be more scheer and a little less thick and it would look amazing.

I think you need something framing that front left garage or whatever it is pretty bad on both corners, maybe an emerald or yellow arborvitae.

I think witchhazels grow well in your area and would consider one on the left near the drive as a focal.

The house #'s on the left are really hard to see, I would redo them get some larger ones and put them on the mailbox or near the front door.

I think a weeping redbud would look nice.

I think you need to figure out your groundcover choices, then evergreens, then color scheme. You have a green house so pretty much anything is wide open color wise. What about doing a seasonal color, like cool blues, green, white and purple in the summer with perennials and whites, yellows "daffodils", and either orange/red/pink/purple in the spring.

As always I would also try to incorportate some sort of edible in your front yard, maybe some strawberry.

My 5 year old daughter thinks you should plant a lot of flowers, I think white would look good with the trim.

She also said blackberry bushes lol, I guess you could plant 3 of those where the snowballs are in the pick. That would hide the box and give you some different color/dimension. I would only go thorn less on the blackberry.

    Bookmark   August 17, 2012 at 12:49PM
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Oceandweller...thank your ideas!!! Love that I have help from your 5 year two year old is quite opinionated too;)

You can't see it...but I have a weeping spruce to the left of the garage...I really don't like it there...I need height, right? And then something to frame the house on the the front porch. Can u see the globe juniper over there? It isn't planted...just in a pot. We found a deal on them...but I'm not sure if it works there?

I looked up a few of your ideas! I'm planning on shopping next week...and exchanging a good bit of what I purchased last week!

    Bookmark   August 17, 2012 at 2:03PM
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rosiew(8 GA)

Those are great looking hydrangeas, but remember, they're deciduous - probably not the best choice for that area because of that.

Very attractive home.

You go girl!

    Bookmark   August 17, 2012 at 3:49PM
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It's hard to tell from the photos but how much sun does that area receive? Personally I think, and it is a rule of thumb practiced by a lot of landscape designers, that an entry garden should look well-groomed and lush regardless of time of year. That means a fair representation of evergreen plant material. Broadleaved evergreens hardy for your area are limited but plenty of dwarf conifers available and a few smaller, sub-shrub type plants can help to fill in like Iberis or heaths and heathers.

But it's important to know light conditions before making appropriate suggestions. Although not exactly a 'plant choice', I could certainly see a few well-placed boulders included in that landscape......:-)

Agapanthus in zone 5.......really??

    Bookmark   August 17, 2012 at 6:16PM
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mad_gallica(zone 5 - eastern New York)

Let's talk about snow removal.

Are you planning on having that circle plowed? In that case, be very, very careful about what gets planted anywhere near the edges.

    Bookmark   August 17, 2012 at 7:53PM
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I love it here...not sure why it took me so long to join!

Well, this particular area receives sun from about 2pm until dusk.

Green shrubs year-round...that is the name of the game in these parts! Surely helps with the gloomy winter days.

Snow removal...yep. We moved in this past October and had the circle plowed. I agree that there needs to be something else there...groundcover...just not sure what. Something with a different shade of green...a splash of color...something.

As far as the hydrangeas...I moved them to the back of the house today...I'm headed back tomorrow for all of the returns and am on the fence about those. They are u said Rosie;). Deciduous, yes...but what a pretty pay-off in summer! Aren't the beige-ish flowers all dried kinda pretty in winter?

Boulders? Yes! My dad brought over a couple last weekend. You can't see the side of our house...but there are a good bit of rocks to border the side of the porch...a bonus from our builder I didn't know we were getting. My dad is a nut...he hauled the boulders on his truck...he randomly found them in their woods...(rocky soil).

Anyway...hopefully I'll come home with some muscle to add to the front...evergreens!

    Bookmark   August 17, 2012 at 8:37PM
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There's nothing ugly on your house that needs covering. Your landscaping could consist of the trees you've already installed and grass only, and it would look nice. But additional planting could help the house look nestled in and add some interest to the scene. There isn't much need for a lot of bulk in the planting. Your tree placement seems good. Adding another small tree at the left side might help balance the picture. I'd keep the plantings in the island low (18" and less, though bloom could be much higher.) The shrubs you have there already (even though I can't tell what they are) seem like they would become too tall. Groundcover(s) and low perennials would be useful to you for much of the yard. The pictures are ideas that you can play with. I feel unresolved about the left end of the house, but letting it go for now.

    Bookmark   August 18, 2012 at 10:56AM
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Your right gardengal, thanks for calling me out on that. I don't know what I was thinking with Apaganthus everybody makes mistakes.

I am not from the PNW so I couldn't tell you what all grows up there, I also don't know where they are.

Personally I am not for crowding a bunch of shrubs around the house, but agree you need some height/dimension.

I don't think Globe Junipers get very big but think you need something that would be in the 15 foot max height range on that side of the house. What about a late blooming tree? I am sure a local nursery will have some great ideas. Winter intrest seems to be pretty big I suppose in zone 5. I guess Harry lauders walking stick would look really cool in the winter so would witch hazel.

If you decide to go with yellow in the early spring I think a couple of forsythia would look really good.

I didn't realize you were so cold, You know what would look great, Brocoli, Turnips, Onion, carrots, spinache, in groupings throw in some focal redbor kale and that would be a pretty cool and functional vegtable bed. Ornamental cabbage are pretty.

I also think Hollies are really pretty "nice red berries on some of them in winter if you have a female", I would consider one in place of the globe juni and moving that maybe near the garage?

I saw a really cool thing when the guy mentioned snow melting, I have always wondered why people didn't have a heat type cable and use that vs salting.

I don't mean I would add all this to the front of your house, just that I would consider certain elements of these and would really look into the witch hazels as I think it would be really pretty having a yellow witch hazel bloom followed by forstyhia followed by daffodils from the winter to spring.

    Bookmark   August 18, 2012 at 1:24PM
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Ok...I'm not sure what happened! I posted a reply yesterday..or the day before (?) and now I'm not seeing it! Ah! It was forever long too!

Anyway, basically I said how helpful this is! Yardvaark...thank you for plugging in some ideas for us! It's amazing how different it looks...nestled as you said. The shrubs in the island are just boring are the three by the garage. our plant suggestions. I hadn't thought of yellow....and pairing it with daffodils in the spring...magic! My parents have holly trees...dwarf variety. They look really pretty lining their front walkway...I'm going to look up a few of your other ideas. I hadn't thought of kale or ornamental cabbage...sounds unique and fun....

I'm still pretty stumped. My nature is to not be so great at decision making! I did plant the juni's around the maple. I took back everything but those and the hydrangeas.

I came home with three each dwarf spruce and more junipers...a different shape a color bush than the low profile variety I chose for around the maple. My plan for those, however, is most likely going to be for the easier planing around the sides and back of the house ( which is a whole other story! Tons of room!).

In keeping this simple for you...the juni's I bought today are more round and lush. Do you thinking planting two in between the pillars and then a small grouping over by the garage window is a good idea (I would pull out the too spaced boxwoods, of course). Or does that sound too chopped up? Lastly,my hubby and dad think the limelights look great under that laundry room window. Do u think that is a good choice? I like the thought of lots of evergreens for yr round color...but maybe those r ok there? Otherwise, one of the dwarf spruce there...or the idea of the forsythia?

Ok...pardon my babble! Thanks for listening!

    Bookmark   August 19, 2012 at 8:47PM
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Pardon my grammatical errors...rushing to type..on an iPad;)

    Bookmark   August 19, 2012 at 9:06PM
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Late to the party here but add my vote to those endorsing a few more selected evergreens (have you checked out the conifer forum?) and accent boulders. I would also include some shrubbery and ground cover with bronze foliage accented with eye-popping chartreuse.

Lovely house.

    Bookmark   August 19, 2012 at 10:33PM
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Thanks Adrienne! I agree...

I have a good assortment of evergreens now and am just working on placement...I'll work my way forward from there!

I'm having a couple of people over today....will get their opinion on the hydrangeas as well. I seem to be in the minority in thinking I don't want them up front...but perhaps it softens the corner...

Whew...this is harder than I thought it would be!

    Bookmark   August 20, 2012 at 12:33PM
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If you incorporate evergreen or other winter interest somewhere, and there are various opportunities, there is no reason you can't include deciduous, too. As deciduous age and develop, they acquire greater winter interest. IMO the Hydrangea offer such a great summer show, it's worth the trade-off. (However, in the long run I think you would do better with two plants instead of the three you have.)

    Bookmark   August 20, 2012 at 12:50PM
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All about patience, eh? Two hydrangeas vs three it is....;). After fiddling with them, I agree, two looks like plenty and they will fill out in no time!

I purchased some beautiful ground cover today...I went with your suggestion Adrienne...a bright chartreuse color. Sedum repestre, I believe it's called?

I'm either going to put it on the far right (I didn't include pics of this area...a terraced rock area...) or in front somewhere. It pops more in front, though...just not sure how or where it would look best. Any suggestions?

I'm going to post a pic again show my progress! I ripped out the boxwoods by the garage and planted junipers in between both pillars to bring the look together. Still shopping for an interesting tall/thinnish tree for over by the garage...

I also have some beautiful heuchera...A purplish black. 5 large plants. I have a spot for them in back...but also am open to up front too...if you gurus think that would look nice. I really don't want a big variety of stuff up there, though. Keeping it simple is best as you said, yardvaark...

For now...I'm on the hunt for more low growing ground cover...might have to wait till spring...picked over greenhouses around here!

    Bookmark   August 22, 2012 at 1:34PM
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Ok folks, I need a quick opinion...

I have three hinoki is conical shaped of which will go by the garage to add height. One is called fernspray gold...a shrub but with fern-like branches. The third is the same as the shrub, but on a small trunk. All three are a great size. The plain shrub would go I place of the hydrangeas (decided against those)...and the shrub with the trunk would go to the far right. Both of the shrubs bring some chartreuse into the them!

My question: Should the Laundry room (center spot) and far right be conical shaped as well? Or does the fact that they are all cypress sound ok?

Thanks again all!

    Bookmark   August 30, 2012 at 3:57PM
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