Help! Front landscaping

fraidycatdesignerSeptember 1, 2013

We want to try and do our own landscaping with our home. Our zone is 6a-MO. This area faces the south. I would like some color and low maintenance. We did our landscaping with our previous home but it was a much smaller area. We used small and large box woods, some roses, Lilly's, and small evergreen type trees. I've read and read on these forums with ideas, but I'm a very visual person and thought someone might want to help! Just can't afford to hire a professional. Also planning on getting rid of the bench and adding some chairs and adding black shutters. Thanks!

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fraidycatdesigner

A close up. I can only add 1 pic at a time to post.

    Bookmark   September 1, 2013 at 12:46PM
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jim_1 Zone 5B Illinois(5b)

Fcat! You pose a good, open slate!

First question I have is, it appears that on the right front there is a garage, yet it also appears that there is one farther back on the right. Can you elaborate a bit?

Master suite on the left side? Why black shutters (facing south)? The bench is neat, if you want to give it away, I'll drive down and get it from you.

OK, let's deal with simple things first. Shade trees, well-placed will add a lot. If you want color, I suggest something like October Glory, nicely shaped and doesn't make a mess; and the fall color is absolutely spectacular! To balance the fall color, consider something that blooms in the spring, lots of options there, some might seem too common to others, but I like red bud or possibly a magnolia. You need to consider placement of trees to balance all the peaks on the roof.

A shade tree, to be practical would offer (in 10+ years) some summer shade for a couple of areas along the front. And then drop the leaves to allow sun to come to your home in the winter.

For a no maintenance addition, consider something like blue spruce, not much to do with that and it would add a certain denseness that you cannot get with the shade trees. All of these will also offer places for birds to hang out.

Provide a bit more input, please. What would you like in the area between the sidewalk and house? Keep some grass, eliminate all the grass, or what? Are you a person who enjoys the colors of perennials? Or would you prefer something that is almost always green?

Let's get started on that and see what others have to offer. This is a good challenge. Thanks for asking.

Jim

    Bookmark   September 1, 2013 at 5:23PM
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jim_1 Zone 5B Illinois(5b)

I thought of another question.

How much lawn do you want to retain? Do you necessarily want the ability to mow in straight lines, or would it be OK to bob and weave a bit?

Jim

    Bookmark   September 1, 2013 at 9:41PM
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jim_1 Zone 5B Illinois(5b)

Ideas to consider for the area between the sidewalk and house.

All the grass is gone. Along the porch, plant either Arcadia or Blue Chip Juniper. Low-growing, spreading, no problem plants. Probably 3 and consider a couple more continuing around the corner to the downspout. Lots of mulch will keep the weeds at bay.

Along the sidewalk, about 10 or 11, evenly spaced Golden Dream Boxwood. They get only 2' tall and don't require lots of pruning. I like the color they have rather than the all-green varieties. This would not be a hedge, but a separation between the solid surface of the sidewalk and the garden.

Gold Flame Spirea centered under the window on the east, that bump out, with another under the other window and a third one farther east (an equal distance based on the distance of the other two). Good color, not too tall and easy to maintain.

Dogwood is the state tree of Missouri, so consider planting one in the area in front of the bench. Choices include red, white or pink flowers. For the first few years, you will need to do some pruning to shape, particularly on the lower branches. This will allow some light to get through and the open spaces between the branches will make it look lacier. First Lady has white flowers and the branches are more horizontal, rather than upright. However, check out Cherokee Princess, Cherokee Chief and Pink Flowering. All are native.

Consider for some June color, Nandina Lily which is basically pink with some touches of yellow. Those should be planted between and behind (about 12") the boxwood.

You can have some pretty spring color in that area, too. Darwin tulips are tough. Galant is yellow with a bit of yellow on the leaves, making it appear much different that other tulips; Gudoshnik is red, streaked with some yellow (sorta funky, but cool!); and my favorite, Pink Impression, which blooms a bit later than the others. Those would be spread out all over that area, somewhat randomly. I like the Darwins because the foliage dies off quickly and they don't leave a mess. Some other tulips take a longer time to have the foliage ready to clean off. And, the Darwins are tall, 18 - 24".

That will provide some color before your dogwood completely leafs out. They are generally done by mid-May. By that time the lilies will be starting to come along, so you would have new growth to keep the eye from getting bored. Likewise, the spirea will be doing its thing with some good color.

All of these things are low, not non-existent, maintenance items. Because of your southern exposure, you will need a good amount of mulch in that area to help retain moisture in the summer. Or you can water often, but that is not really a good option.

This is a first step. Consider this and provide some feedback. Knowing how you feel about this will allow for practical ideas for you to think about. If you want to do something in that area, begin the process now of removing the grass and working the soil so you can get some things in the ground in late September or into October (providing you can locate them in your area garden center).

Need help visualizing? Use plates to substitute for the boxwood, Use drinking glasses to substitute for the lilies. Wastebaskets would work for the spirea. A ladder for the dogwood. You get the idea, right? Then...stand way back. Don't stand 10' away, If you have to, stand in the middle of the street to get a good view of what it might look like.

Feedback?

Jim

    Bookmark   September 2, 2013 at 11:45AM
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fraidycatdesigner

Thanks Jim! I can't wait to go look up the items you suggested and let you know what I think. To answer some of your questions- our house sits in the middle of 6 acres. Yes the garage to the back is a detached garage. The attached garage faces the east. We actually have 2 master suites- one in the southwest corner and northwest corner. I thought black shutters would go nicely with our antiqued black door. I could paint the bench but I feel it hides the windows. Unfortunately, if I decide to get rid of it, I must offer it back to my mother-in-law who gave it to me.
Yes, I thought we should use mulch around everything. I definitely wanted color w perennials w some green. I like that you say these are low maintenance. I'm going to go draw my pic and look them up. I know- I' m pitiful!

    Bookmark   September 2, 2013 at 10:56PM
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bwwind

I think the ideal time of planting lawn is within the next 3 weeks. If I wait 4 weeks, that puts me around September 28th and you never know with our weather here. Frost/freezing etc. I think I'm going to test a patch out next week and see if I can't get it to germinate in a week.

Here is a link that might be useful: landscape pp fabric

    Bookmark   September 3, 2013 at 4:51AM
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jim_1 Zone 5B Illinois(5b)

I am a bit old-fashioned with the shutter thing. I don't believe that shutters (of any color) are appropriate with the style of your home. If you had a 2-story colonial, yes. But not on something this new.

Also, if you do elect to have shutters, do all the windows, not just those few in the front (including the porch). Be consistent throughout. Again, if you insist, consider a forest green or some dark green like that rather than black.

Jim

    Bookmark   September 3, 2013 at 8:42AM
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fraidycatdesigner

So, I'm not too crazy about the blue chip juniper. What about putting the box woods where you suggested that? In place of the boxwood- some ornamental grasses. I like the looks of those. Would a rose bush in front of the pillar look ok? Like a towering variety? What about the west side of the porch? Do we need anything over there to make it cohesive?

    Bookmark   September 3, 2013 at 11:44AM
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jim_1 Zone 5B Illinois(5b)

Depending on what kind you select, roses can be easy to care for, or not! I have backed off on recommending roses due to those rotten Japanese Beetles. Once they get going, you have a lot more work. And the roses can spread out a bit, will anyone be using that walkway?

The boxwood will need more sun that what you will have in the summer due to facing south (if they are close to the house). My thought on the juniper (and there are other varieties) is that they are extremely low maintenance, something you mentioned early. Those low growing junipers were to break up the angles and lines that are involved with the porch and make a decent transition between the porch and the planted area. It was just a suggestion.

Ornamental grasses can work in some spots, but you must realize that they will need to be divided on a regular basis because they spread out. Some low-growing sedges might be OK because they are low and take their time to take over a spot and they are also easy to divide (figure every 4-5 years on grasses needing to be divided).

The porch - how do you intend to use it? If you are going to actually sit there, then you want to ensure that the entire area is pleasing to you from that viewpoint. Or, will that area just add to the "curb appeal" that so many want? Nothing wrong with that, but with 6 acres, that won't impress people much.

The post was set where it is so that the view out from the windows would not be partially obscured. You don't really need anything on the west side to balance because of the wall that is there. If you are considering planting something tall in front of the pillar, then consider clematis. Have something there for it to cling to, an arbor of some sort and you will have color that is good and low maintenance at the same time.

Jim

    Bookmark   September 3, 2013 at 7:40PM
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fraidycatdesigner

You're right about the roses spreading out. I won't put those in ftont of the pillar.Yes, I want the view to be pleasing as well as great curb appeal. I was wanting something a little taller and softer directly in front of the porch. That is why I did not care for the juniper. I will google them to see if there are other varieties I might like. So when looking for something to put there do I need to look for partial sun? Will the tree in that area block the view? What about a big landscaping rock? When I sit on the front porch and look out - the brick wall to the left seems so bare. Is there anything that you can think of that might look good there?

    Bookmark   September 3, 2013 at 8:58PM
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jim_1 Zone 5B Illinois(5b)

On that wall, you want something great to look at? How about a BIG picture of me?

    Bookmark   September 3, 2013 at 10:44PM
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jim_1 Zone 5B Illinois(5b)

The sun immediately in front of the porch will be limited between early June and late August. You have an advantage in that the afternoon sun (much hotter) won't be too bad there due to the garage. The rest of the year, you will have sufficient sun.

However, if you were to plant a dogwood (and prune it correctly), that will offer you a bit of dappled shade on the porch from Labor Day until close to Thanksgiving. The leaves drop and you get more sun. Dappled is the key word, This would not be like the thick canopy of a very mature tree, enough sun should be able to get through to keep everything going, but to also reduce the heat on those plants.

In front of the porch, ideally you would have one kind of plant that would soften that sharp edge at the front of the concrete. It can be almost anything, but things like those juniper are no problem. Plant them and let them go. Where you are they will retain color and keep 'the look' all the time.

Landscape rocks are OK, keep the number small and make it an odd number. One or three and no more. The thing about a rock is that it is solid and you have enough solid stuff there now. Brick all over the place. You need to consider softening the look a bit.

If you want to have a landscape rock/boulder, then it might work well as a part of a perennial bed in farther out in front somewhere. The rest of the front is still a big project that needs to be developed. I just began with the area between the walk and your home. Does the drive go straight to the house, or is there a curve to it?

    Bookmark   September 3, 2013 at 10:58PM
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fraidycatdesigner

I agree with you after thinking about it - no rock:)
Still not sure about the juniper. But still looking in to it. Thx again Jim.

    Bookmark   September 5, 2013 at 9:21AM
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yardvaark

I am coming to the party late, but here are a FEW, basic suggestions that you might consider. Each needs refining and working out the details. To my thinking, what seems a deficiency of sorts to the architecture is the way that the front entrance seems almost hidden instead of featured (a common state of today's garage-front house.) The entrance is a fair distance from where one would park ... is at the end of a long, skinny walk, and is obscured in deep shade. I'm suggesting that you create a courtyard effect using the space in front of the entrance ... which is essentially extending the entrance experience forward where it can be seen and noticed and reached more quickly. It could be as minimal as corner-markers and paving effects. Or it could be more complete with the creation of a portico-like arbor around it's perimeter (which I'm not showing.) As a central feature of the courtyard, it could use a small, well behaved multi-trunk tree to extend the sense of sheltering and protection outward of the house proper. If you hired a capable designer to help you resolve the details, you could have something nice and quite special. If improved paving is not incorporated, the existing walk needs to be widened at the minimum. It seems skimpy for the size of the house. The other suggestions are self-explanatory.

    Bookmark   September 5, 2013 at 11:17AM
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jim_1 Zone 5B Illinois(5b)

Yardvaark, I wondered where you had been hiding. Thanks for more input! I was just starting in that one front area, I believe, since the house faces south that more trees are needed. 6 acres is a lot of space!

Jim

    Bookmark   September 5, 2013 at 12:33PM
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yardvaark

The view of the house is tight -- with blinders on -- so how many trees could go where and how the yard is apportioned is anyone's guess at this point. It looks like the OP is primarily concerned with plantings around the house.

    Bookmark   September 5, 2013 at 6:07PM
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