Ideas for my front yard w pic

goh2005September 2, 2012

Particularly in front of my porch. It looks overgrown but the reason I have left it is I live in a city neighborhood and I *love* being able to sit on my front porch and no one can see me... or stare at me :)

However I don't like the holly bushes and the rhododendron needs to be trimmed. Any ideas for more attractive easily maintained foliage that will still provide some privacy... hopefully that wouldn't take too long to grow. Zone 5. Thanks in advance.

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Screen for privacy away from the porch rather than right in front of it.

Start a tall "hedge" of columnar trees set back sufficiently from the front edge of the property (sidewalk? road?) to be clear of winter snow piles. You could plant the ubiquitous cedar, aspen or maybe try one of the new crabapples like Purple Spire, which gets 16' high and 6'wide. Lots of other small trees/bushes to research too. Then remove that oppressively tall holly by the porch and trim the rhododendron.

    Bookmark   September 2, 2012 at 10:02PM
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Hi! Thanks for the response. I understand what you're suggesting but I don't think it would work well here. The location you're suggesting is actually the forefront of the photo - thats the extent of the depth of the front yard. It is a city neighborhood so a wall of trees in the middle of the block would be out of place. I was thinking more of a replacement for the holly bushes; something with sort of a similar amount of privacy but more attractive. I just have no idea what fits the bill.

    Bookmark   September 2, 2012 at 10:18PM
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Depending on if you have carpentry skills, you could create a framed lattice screen (preferably not of pre-fab lattice) on which you could grow vines. Heavenly blue morning glories or moonvine could cover very quickly. You could also transition to a vine that was more permanent or a scrambling plant like climbing roses which would be tied on as it grows. To get some screen ideas, search Google images for "lattice screen." You can even build "windows" into it for more interest.

Another possibility, though it would be a bit more involved and take more time would be to grow a woody plant in an espalier fashion. It would be more or less like a living lattice creation. It would provide its own leaves.

The tree with hosta below could use more hosta for a fuller look.

    Bookmark   September 3, 2012 at 10:18AM
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catkim(San Diego 10/24)

I wonder if you could train the existing Rhodies to a more tidy, espalier-like habit? With or without an actual espalier?

I'm ignorant of these plants, but I wonder if you could you chop the blocky holly bushes way, way back and allow them to grow in a more natural form? The way they obscure your front door so completely is a security risk, and not so attractive.

    Bookmark   September 3, 2012 at 11:06AM
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I don't think those are Rhododendron at the porch, but agree that's another good possibility... just trimming and training them tighter, espalier fashion, so they would not be so bulky. The only problem in doing that after they've been allowed to grow wild with bulk is that often the branching won't be where it's needed. Then it requires cutting them back quite far and regrowing properly while they are "trained" (meaning that the shape of their growth is specific and directed by the owner.) The wait is not that bad as they regrow quite quickly because of the already established root system. Early spring would be the time to do major cutting in Z5, not now.

Likewise, I don't think the blocky shrubs are Holly. My guess is Yew but either way, they could likewise be trimmed as severely as one wishes. Again, the time to do it in Z5 would be in early spring.

    Bookmark   September 3, 2012 at 11:23AM
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cyn427 (zone 7)

You wouldn't need a wall of trees actually. Just a couple of small understory trees strategically placed and offset from one another. Then, trim the shrubs on the right to open them up a little and either get rid of those pruned shrubs or cut them way back and as others have said, let them come back more naturally. Can you grow lilacs there? One would be nice in place of one of the boxy shrubs and the scent will be heavenly when you are on the porch.

I think it would be lovely to extend the bed all the way out and add smaller shrubs, bulbs, and perennials, too. It would be an oasis and I bet others would follow your lead. I envy you your porch-bet it is just wonderful sitting there hidden from view!

    Bookmark   September 3, 2012 at 5:51PM
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If I were you, I would make the changes in stages, because you already have a gorgeous rhododendron that is doing the job you want it to. - - If you totally remove everything, it will be years before you will be able to enjoy your privacy again.

Only remove the hollies that are squared off around the door and then step back and see what you've got. (Leave whatever is growing on the far end of the porch for now.)Then take a picture and post it back on this board. You may then only need to tweak instead of a full renovation. I am guessing that with the "boxes" gone the doorway will be more open and welcoming. Also you will then have a kind of natural look to the area and maybe cyn's idea of extending the beds a little as you approach the walkway will be all you need.

    Bookmark   September 4, 2012 at 7:50AM
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Goh2005, you should confirm identity of the main existing plants soon as you're getting a lot of advice based on their being something other than what they might really be.

One solution that has been proposed would only require a few weeks to regain privacy. Not years.

    Bookmark   September 4, 2012 at 10:12AM
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Thanks for the ideas! There is no doubt on the identity - definitely holly and rhododendron and a dogwood on the end. The espalier idea was interesting but beyond my skill level I think. If i cut down the two hollies i was wondering if there might be some viable alternate plants or bushes etc that might make for a more attractive replacement. Adding much else to the yard - or expanding the bed - is out as i don't have much flat area as is... and I also don't want additional maintenance. Sadly I just need enough to look decent but beyond that I just don't have the time or interest to maintain extra. Probably anathema in a gardening forum :)

    Bookmark   September 4, 2012 at 9:11PM
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So you think trimming these things into better, more usable shape is not a possibility?

What type of holly?

    Bookmark   September 4, 2012 at 10:01PM
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I like adriennemb's idea. From the photo it looks like the level part of your front yard is 2'3 up from the sidewalk. You have 2-3 steps on the left of the photo that aren't shown right?

That means you only have to go up a few more feet to get privacy from the public access and you get to enjoy your front yard from your porch.

I'd remove the grass from the grass from the slope and put an evergreen ground cover instead. Can't imagine it's easy to mow.

Hedges in more urban neighborhoods aren't that out of character. I would put one in if I had a front porch.

    Bookmark   September 4, 2012 at 11:28PM
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Threw together a quick photo. This is what it would look like from camera angle. Why make the porch your private getaway when you can make it your whole front yard :) Plus, when they can't see you you can't see THEM. If there ever is a zombie apocalypse those extra few seconds you'll have by being able to see past your porch will come in handy :)

free image hosting

    Bookmark   September 4, 2012 at 11:50PM
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I agree with Yardvaark -- why not prune the hollies into a gentler, more rounded shape? They would be much more attractive then.

    Bookmark   September 9, 2012 at 10:56PM
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Chibimimi, just to be clear, I didn't suggest pruning into "gentler, rounder" shape, but just way down in size and into "better" shape. Exactly what shape/style, it would need to eminate from, and work with the architecture. I could see crisp and square working, but the single view photo doesn't give enough info to make the call.(for me.)

    Bookmark   September 10, 2012 at 11:02AM
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botann(z8 SEof Seattle)

I would prune the rhododendron as if it were a tree rather than try to reduce it's size as an overgrown bush. You can open it up a lot, or as little, as you want. I would also trim the side of the Holly back away a bit from the rhododendron. The Dogwood could be opened up some also.
Treated this way, you can see out better than people can see in.

    Bookmark   September 17, 2012 at 12:41PM
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