Please help with front landscape!

jasonkAugust 18, 2013

First of all thanks for checking out our post! We would like some recommendations from the members here on what we can do to add some curb appeal to our home. The first two pics were taken spring 2013, the last two were taken summer 2012. The house faces the SW. Willing to make major changes if needed. There is about a 15% down slope from the street to the front of the house. The front bed by the sidewalk isn't full enough, and we don't like the bricks they used on the sidewalk side, nor the gravel. I think mulch would look better. For the area around the trees, we are thinking of a mulch bed. Up at the top of the slope, maybe some ground cover on the ditch? Any recommendations would be appreciated!

I don't know how to link these, but if you copy and paste them the links do work.

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Hm I don't know which one is the best but maybe you can call some experts for advice. I've used Gardeners Melbourne and I think they are professionals.

Here is a link that might be useful: Gardeners in Melbourne

    Bookmark   August 19, 2013 at 7:34AM
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The walkway to the front entrance seems narrow and confined. I would widen it and delete the garden strip that divides it from the lawn. The lawn is a carpet-like grass path. The concrete walk is a floor-like path. It seems counterproductive to place any barrier between the two, even if it's low or "broken." At left and right sides of the lawn, you might consider growing groundcover instead of grass in areas where it doesn't grow well or is difficult to maintain, and simultaneously beef up the plantings by adding shade tolerant, flowering shrubs in those side areas.

I don't care for the stone mulch.

Would like to see some annuals near the entrance or somewhere in front for color interest.

Picture added before I saved it with shrubs and text so am editing to get it in. Then I realized I forgot one other idea. The view of house seems a little wide open. Some street trees that frame the view of the house would be nice.

This post was edited by Yardvaark on Mon, Aug 19, 13 at 13:30

    Bookmark   August 19, 2013 at 9:48AM
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jim_1 Zone 5B Illinois(5b)

My first impression is the you need to compensate for all the straight lines that your home shows. Whatever you do, please make sure that you don't do more right angles and straight lines.

The hostas can be divided and moved to another spot. You should be able to get 6 good plants with only a little prepping and sweating. I really hate trying to mow around mail boxes. A quarter circle from the road, behind the mail box and around to the drive would make a good spot for the hostas.

Are those are barberry bushes on the right? Those can be moved, too (heavy duty gloves and long sleeves) during your cold months. The red color is good and they don't demand a lot of attention.

Leave the 4 shrubs immediately in front of the porch. And, I agree that you should eliminate that area in front of the walk.

I know that I will get some disagreement on this next part, but I like to reuse things. Take those brick/retaining wall things and create an oval berm in the front yard (not necessarily in the straight line between the front steps and road), using them to set the border. Build it up so that you don't have that flat slope from the road to your front walk. Visually, that should break up that open space. There, you can be creative with color.

Now what to do with all that gravel! Can it be used somewhere else on the property? Possibly at the bottom of the ditch where it is probably difficult to mow. If you remove the grass in the dish and plant some ground cover there, there might be a bit of erosion, and the gravel will help mitigate that situation.


    Bookmark   August 19, 2013 at 11:29AM
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Thanks for the responses! I like what I'm seeing so far. Quick question...if we eliminate the area in front of the sidewalk, what stops that rainwater and dirt from washing down onto the sidewalk during heavy downpours?

    Bookmark   August 19, 2013 at 8:55PM
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A swale (does not need to be pronounced ... can be gentle and subtle) should be coming from the right-hand side of the lot. The swale would intercept any water coming off of the slope. If it does not exist, then you should alter the grade to create it as a little curbing and gravel would not be the way to handle a lot of water coming from the slope.

    Bookmark   August 20, 2013 at 12:56PM
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jim_1 Zone 5B Illinois(5b)

The slope will always be an issue when you get LOTS of rain. You cannot fix that completely. When you get just a simple shower or a 2 hour thunderstorm, what you have should be able to take it without a big deal. If you have been counting on that gravel bed to slow the rain, then you have me stumped!

I just saw a typo in my earlier post about the ditch (I typed dish - well they almost sound alike!). My guess is that the ditch will handle most water from the road. It is what will happen to all the water between that and the house. Yardvaark's idea of the swale will take a bit of work, but it would help the problem.


    Bookmark   August 20, 2013 at 4:17PM
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Please describe (or draw) where you think a swale should be. Going right to left seems like it would empty out into the driveway. Jim, by the oval berm, do you mean something like a terrance with plants to break up the slope? Here is a picture taken at noon today that gives a good angle.

    Bookmark   August 21, 2013 at 12:59PM
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Based on the pictures you've offered, I'm sketching what I think might ought to be happening with the drainage. While I understand my drawing, I'm not sure that you will, or that I can explain it properly. I'm hoping!

It looks to me like there is already a swale designed into the property and that its high point (where water decides to go left or right) seems to be roughly where I'm showing a red and white star on the ground. The yellow lines represent elevation lines (a uniform level) but they are figurative, with no established differential or great accuracy between them. The yellow line next to the star would be the highest and then each line farther away would be at some (non-specific) lower elevation. Collectively, the yellow lines form the swale (trough) and through it's center moves the little river of water, represented by the dark blue line. The light blue lines show generally how water is moving toward the swale, where it will be collected and guided toward the sides and then back of the house. It looks to me that the raised, retained area in front of the right half of the house has encroached into the swale, diminishing its water-carrying capacity. It would be fine to have that retained area in order to level out the ground in front of the house, but the swale should have been extended outside of it in order to protect its capacity. If the swale was extended toward the "teenage" tree, it's capacity could be regained. The tree would probably not like it, but I would say there's no assurance it would croak and it's less of a price to pay than living with diminished stormwater runoff capacity ... especially if you've seen evidence in the past where it appears to be needed.

Left of the red and white star, it looks as if the swale is built into the driveway such that water moves away from the garage doors and then toward the edge of the drive and onto the grass. Nothing needs to happen there. (If my appraisal is correct. It's just based on pictures.)

I hope that helps, but I'm not sure it will.

    Bookmark   August 21, 2013 at 6:51PM
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