Front and Back yard landscape

Priscilla7(9)September 14, 2011

Would like to add some curb appeal to my front and back yard.

Need ideas and suggestions.

Thanks in advance for all the help.


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Develop a plan. Do all the grading, drainage, and hardscape planned for the backyard first.

    Bookmark   September 14, 2011 at 7:27PM
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Can't seem to figure out how to post my pictures. Help!!!

    Bookmark   September 15, 2011 at 8:47AM
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missingtheobvious(Blue Ridge 7a)

To post photos to this forum, your photos will need to be on an Internet site (not your hard drive or your email). Most people use a free photo-hosting site like Photobucket, flickr, etc.

Here is a detailed explanation of posting from Photobucket:

The important thing is to use the html code (not anything with [IMG] in it).

If you get it right, you'll be able to see your photos when you hit the Preview button. If no photos in the Preview, you'll need to try again.

The same is true for any links you post -- the links must work in Preview to be able to work in your final post.

Good luck!

    Bookmark   September 15, 2011 at 10:14AM
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Here are my images of the front and back of our home.

Your suggestions and ideas are greatly appreciated.


    Bookmark   September 15, 2011 at 10:22AM
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What I see is Priscilla working in her garden wearing a tee shirt and shorts suggesting that she is a 'hands on' kind of girl although she offers nothing except the 'curb appeal' meme so that the only response to the question is: throw some bubble gum and stick insects at it.

    Bookmark   September 15, 2011 at 5:50PM
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Thank you for your suggestions. I am thinking of creating back to the left a smaller garden (something like the picture below)since I can see this area from my dining room window. What plants can I use if the back of the house faces southwest?

    Bookmark   September 15, 2011 at 6:12PM
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Very funny.

    Bookmark   September 15, 2011 at 6:16PM
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It's unfortunate that realtors trying to sell or evaluate a piece of property strung two innocuous words together and our lexicon now includes - "curb appeal"

I can't speak for the forum and the feigned horror when a poster couches a thread in terms of wanting something that looks good from the sidewalk. It's been said before on similar threads that there are more ways of looking at a landscape than from the sidewalk.

Pictures are always a plus. (Too much so in the case of the failed attempt at layering giving us the red, orange, and pink crepe myrtle.) What's in the front triangle? Crepe myrtle and a rose bush? Bay windows are low and you don't want anything growing up and over those. What's the plan for the pyramid in the pot? I don't know from palms (?), but will the one in front of the driveway downspout eventually overtake its spot?

Do you use the backyard; any plans to expand the patio; need dedicated play area for kids? Is the one large tree close to the green cart storm damaged or a victim of a really bad topping?

    Bookmark   September 16, 2011 at 12:54PM
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deviant-deziner(Oh zone)

enclosed are a couple of photos of a house that has somewhat the same architecture and layout as your property.

The approach is straight forward. Simple direct paths directing the pedestrian flow of traffic to the front door from the driveway and street.

Layer in a planting scheme with small trees, medium shrubs and perennials that graduate in height and perform with the various seasons to provide color and interest. From Before and After From Before and After From Before and After

    Bookmark   September 16, 2011 at 1:38PM
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What is the shape of your backyard? Is it a triangle. Judging from the way the houses are set up, it looks like it's on a cul-de-sac with the resultant weird angles.

I'm guessing the photos were taken in the afternoon. On the east side of the house with the utilities, do you ever travel or otherwise use that space? It just seems like such a blank spot.

    Bookmark   September 16, 2011 at 2:59PM
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You have to get yourself Photoshop Derviss that looks waay too realistic for this forum and there's no Giant Broccoli.

Other than that, the concept of planting on BOTH sides of a path (in picture two) that lifts the scheme out of its rut into something much more interesting is inspirational. An island bed within the walkway (seen more clearly in picture three) goes even further is way outside the box.

    Bookmark   September 16, 2011 at 3:17PM
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deviant-deziner(Oh zone)

Yeah, we're very cutting edge here at my multi- disciplined international design firm. ... curves in the landscape, planting on both sides of a path and even the occasional light bulb on a stick, otherwise known as landscape lighting.

more riveting out of the box design on the same project : ( photo )
From Before and After

    Bookmark   September 16, 2011 at 4:46PM
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But still no giant broccoli tsk.

    Bookmark   September 16, 2011 at 6:53PM
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That's very appealing, d-d. I especially like the classic way texture and foliage is emphasized rather than pretty flowers and broccoli.
What is the name of the small red-barked tree in the bed between the driveway and front walk?

    Bookmark   September 16, 2011 at 7:20PM
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deviant-deziner(Oh zone)

the red barked tree is an Arbutus 'marina'.
a personal fave for its easy adaptability in my N. Cal climate .
it offers year round interest and is a beautiful tree in the night time landscape due to its sculptural branch work. A great tree to play with in regards to night time lighting.

    Bookmark   September 16, 2011 at 8:26PM
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DEFIANT-DEZINER - this is beautiful. Even though, I like formality and neatness in gardenS, I also like the softness of casual plantings. You have us even thinking of how we can enhance our facade in a future. Thank you.

DULUTHINBLOOM4, we have a Crape Myrtle in the front triangle and a rose bush. The pyramid is holding the plastic down, doesn�t have a place yet.. The large tree close to the green cart, not sure what happened, we bought the house two months ago. In the back yard, we were thinking of maybe having a screen or sun room . Kids all grown up.

TANOWICKI, my back yard is kind of a triangle. I�ll be incluing a picture of how it looks from the street Our house is a corner lot. The wall where the utilities are is parrallel to the street.

    Bookmark   September 16, 2011 at 8:49PM
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bahia(SF Bay Area)

Welcome back to posting on the forum Michelle, and you've already got the folks excited with your contributions! Can you believe some of these latest Photoshop/paint contributions? The color combinations just keep getting ever more psychodelic, and the superimposition of large foreground objects doesn't seem to illustrate the overall ideas.

    Bookmark   September 17, 2011 at 2:08AM
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karinl(BC Z8)

Key to the success of planting on both sides of a walkway is a wide walkway. Plants encroach eventually at some level - ankle, shoulder, head.

From your photos you seem to be working on the front triangle at the moment. If I were doing that area a priority would be to enable access to it, so, (after widening the main walkway) I would also put a walkway through the back of the area. Once you plant it up with shrubbery the walkway won't be visible, but you'll appreciate it for maintenance. If you think you'll ever paint,you might want to leave the ground right against the house open.

In the backyard you've got all the plants lined up against the fence. Maybe that's only for protection from sun, but I think the key to success will be to dare to let go of the edge. As per DD's pictures, the open space in the yard is where the action can be.

Also, I'm not sure you need to enhance your facade - there is something to be said for loving the house you have rather than trying to make it into something else; not to say some things couldn't be done. However, to enhance the house you have, you might want to stay with long low lines. I don't like the moustache per se, but for plantings close to the house, that linear look might be the right idea.

Karin L

    Bookmark   September 17, 2011 at 12:10PM
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deviant-deziner(Oh zone)

Priscilla, glad that you saw some inspiration in the photos.

David, Thanks for the welcome. I rather be entertained here on GW than doing my billing .
BTW, I'm looking forward to your lecture at the California Horticultural Society next week on Plants for Winter Bloom that will cover cool season Mediterranean basin plants , South African plants, and cloud forest plants.
There is no reason in our N.Cal mediterranean climate not to have a colorful blooming garden all winter long.
As usual, the local Hortirazzi are talking + looking forward to the upcoming lecture.

Karinl, I'm in agreement that main pedestrian paths should be wide and inviting. I'm not opposed to having some of the ground level plants nip at the edges of the path to soften the edges.

In regards to the back yard, it's a blank space that just begs for some interesting layout . I'd suggest identifying your needs and desires and then play around with some loose forms and shapes.
If you are really stuck, it would be worth the minor investment to have a respected designer come in and collaborate with you to work up some design considerations.
- good design will enhance the value of your property.

    Bookmark   September 17, 2011 at 12:52PM
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woodyoak zone 5 Canada(5b)

D-D Those plantings look great and I think the idea of beds on both sides of the path would work really well for the OP. I have a question though... I don't like the wiggle/curve in the path to the front door in the last picture. That is an unnatural path to walk (unless one is saggeringly drunk, and then the curve might be in the wrong direction:-) I like paths to follow the route that your feet would naturally take from Point A to Point B. On a long path that would have the path curve around corners (depending on the space involved, that could be a relatively short arc or a wide sweeping curve) and obstacles but otherwise in most cases the path would have, at best, only very mild curves if it had any at all. If Point A is close to Point B, one tends to want go straight there and deviations from that direct path can be annoying. In the OP's case, I'd widen the path, curve the angular turn before the door and plant on both sides. To figure out where to put the curve in the path, I'd walk from the driveway to the front door as if there was no existing path and see where my footsteps naturally curved. Do professional designers ever think like I do on this issue or has the 'paths need curves' become so much a part of standard thinking that clients expect them and designers automatically put them in?

    Bookmark   September 19, 2011 at 11:49AM
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deviant-deziner(Oh zone)

Thanks for bringing up a good point in regards to what I call ( a former snow skiier) " the fall line".
Most paths , if serving pure functionality , do well to take the pedestrian from point A to B in the most time efficient direct line .

Wavering out of 'the fall line' can still be effective and efficient , you just have to weight what you might be gaining and might be losing.

In my last photo, the perspective is highly foreshortened. The length of that path is actually 26 feet long and the curve is not that dramatic.
I threw in that curve to add a bit of softness to the layout. It also puts the pedestrian further 'into' the garden rather than just seeing from a straight line.
It might be easier for you to visualize this if I post the site plan ( photo below)

In regards to how designers think about where and where not to put curves in, I think each designer will have their own pt. of perspective.
For me , adding a curve here or there depends on the entirety of the design , function of the space and the relationship to the site/ architecture. It's a three dimensional answer. From Before and After Projects

    Bookmark   September 19, 2011 at 1:57PM
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deviant-deziner(Oh zone)

Exploring how a straight path would work ( and it would ) I marked up this old plan (photo)
To my minds eye the straight path leads you adequately to the front door but there is less of a feeling that you are integrated into the garden.

At this point, it is all about the perception of emotion : Feeling in the garden rather than viewing it from a separate space.

Of course, both paths are providing the same tangible function but are emoting differently.

I'll also show you the plans for the full front yard so that you can see how the curviness of the paths relate to one another.

and a glimpse into the back yard.

Thanks for indulging me. From Before and After

The front yard plan - both sides of driveway - showing how curved paths relate to one another From Before and After

entry to the side garden on left side
From Before and After

glimpse into the back yard
From Alexander Valley

    Bookmark   September 19, 2011 at 2:50PM
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woodyoak zone 5 Canada(5b)

I really like the curve on the left branch of the path, including how it continues/relates to the path on the other side of the driveway. The plan view of the curve on the right branch of the path does indeed look less extreme than in the photo. But I still prefer a straight path there. I find that plants along each side do a good job of adding the softness element and I like the constrast between the softness/roundess of plants' foliage and the sharp lines of a straight path. The path then seems to be a beacon leading you directly to the destination. It's probably one of those things that is a personal preference - I grew up on a property with lots of straight paths through woods and fields so that's still what feels 'right' to me :-)

Other than that path, the rest of it looks like something I'd be very happy with!

    Bookmark   September 19, 2011 at 5:46PM
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deviant-deziner(Oh zone)

personal preference rules the roost.
thanks for your feedback.

    Bookmark   September 19, 2011 at 6:28PM
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karinl(BC Z8)

I like the curve. But I appreciate that Woody questioned it, since that elicited the concept of "fall line." That's very helpful for me. I have a short straight (and ugly) path that goes to steps leading straight to the centered front door, and am at a loss, short of totally reconstructing the porch and stairs with a sideways entry which I'm not even going to mention to my husband lest he have me committed, as to how to make it more interesting, attractive, but not stupidly inconvenient (fountain-in-the-middle type of inconvenient).

So thank you, Michelle!

Karin L

    Bookmark   September 20, 2011 at 1:40PM
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Thanks for sharing your designs, Michele. And thanks for asking such a great question woody.

My thought is that if you are walking from the front gate to the front door, you can actually walk in a straight line. The path curves, but unless you are daydreaming( and who wouldn't in that beautiful garden) or drunk:) you would probably walk the direct route, even though the path curves. And the curve of the path is in harmony with the character of the plantings. So best of both worlds.

It doesn't have to be a straight path for a pedestrian to walk directly from point a to point b, there just has to be a line that can be drawn between the points.

    Bookmark   September 20, 2011 at 4:19PM
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missingtheobvious(Blue Ridge 7a)

karinl, about your uninteresting stairs and path....

In the city of Chicago, there is a station for a part of the elevated train system which is actually elevated (much of it is underground or ground level). This particular station is in Pilsen, the most Mexican of Chicago's Mexican neighborhoods. To deter vandalism, in the 1990s (?) the station was decorated with traditional Mexican motifs (mostly Aztec or Mayan, some more recent). I'm sure it was a student project, as some of the art is less successful than other parts.

Anyway, there is a looooong series of flights of stairs up to the platforms -- more than in this photo -- and the risers are painted with Mexican designs:

So how about decorating your stair risers with paint or tile? If possible (I don't know what the path is made of) add some of the paint or tile on the path leading to the stairs. It doesn't have to be bright Mexican colors: surprise is the key; a variety of monochromatic designs would work as well. People will be too busy looking at the designs to think the path and stairs boring!

[If anyone would like to see more, I searched "Pilsen station stairs" in Google Images. But note that some of the photos are from the Pilsen in Bohemia, and others are from other 'L' stations in Chicago. The Pilsen station is actually named "18th St." and is on the Pink Line.]

    Bookmark   September 20, 2011 at 4:22PM
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woodyoak zone 5 Canada(5b)

d-d - I don't think a straight path necessarily lessens the perception/feeling of being IN the garden. In fact, one of the reasons I didn't like the curved path on the right in that photo was that it seemed to lead away from the garden (the plants in the bed on the left) towards the more blank-feeling grass on the right and then gave me the feeling of a lurch back to the garden and the front door. Once again, that feeling is evoked more by the photo than the drawing, but it was a strong feeling.

drtygrl - yes, the straight path to the door can still be walked on the curved path but that just makes you focus on the curve being an anomaly - a deviation from the straight path that your feet expect to follow.

Karin - are there plantings on both sides of the path to your stairs/door? I think that a straight path to a door looks most awkward/bleak if it has nothing to soften it - the most common example beig a concrete path across a bare lawn, from sidewalk to front door. Line that path (most likely need to widen the path...) on both sides with a wide mixed border of plantings (not a ribbon of annuals!) and it will become a much softer, interesting introduction to the home.

    Bookmark   September 20, 2011 at 5:56PM
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