Flower bed along this driveway...yay or nay?

glaswegian(5b, Ont)December 14, 2010

I was thinking of making a flower bed along this driveway, what do you guys think? There is gravel underneath and the ground is hard, so I was thinking a raised bed using railway ties?



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missingtheobvious(Blue Ridge 7a)

Link to OP's pic:

Building a raised bed will certainly save you from having to dig out the old gravel. But there are some other issues. (Forgive me if you've already thought about them.)

How tall a raised bed were you thinking of? Consider the width of the driveway and the height and width of your car doors. Will the raised bed be low enough that car doors don't bump into it? Also, when the driveway is full of visitors' cars, will there be room to walk easily between the cars and the raised bed? (I'm thinking of women dressed for a party, trying to keep their good clothes from coming into contact with the wall of the raised bed or the cars which are covered with dirty slush.)

In a heavy snow, would someone using your driveway mistake the location of the edge of the driveway and drive into the wall of the raised bed?

If you plan for the raised bed to extend to the street, would the street end of the raised bed ever be in danger from snowplows or from people turning into the driveway?

I don't know what chemicals are used to preserve wood in Canada, but you might want to read up on creosote- and pressure-treated wood before deciding what materials to use.

Precautions recommended when using creosote-treated timber:

Since there are so many different types of pressure-treated wood and I have no idea what's available in Canada, I'll leave that research to you. At the least, you'll probably have to be careful when cutting and drilling, carefully collect and remove the sawdust, refrain from burning sawdust or scraps, etc.

    Bookmark   December 15, 2010 at 12:22AM
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manda3(8a DFW Texas)

You have a very nice yard. What little I can see, there is a lot of straight lines and perfectly circular mulch ring around your new tree. Railroad ties sound like more straight lines. Sounds a little geometric. If that's what you like, fine. Personally, I would find a way to do a curved bed against the drive way. It can get thicker near the street, then thin beside the tree leaving a grassy area wide enough for whatever lawn mower you use. Then wide again as it reaches the house, possibly even curving into a large bed in front. Lots of short shrubs surrounded by patches of annuals you can change out with the seasons. I'm no expert in landscape design. This is just my opinion. :)

    Bookmark   December 15, 2010 at 12:28AM
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karinl(BC Z8)

My short answer would be "nay."

MTO has given you all the good reasons from a practical standpoint. From a design standpoint, you've got a whole bunch of perfectly good yard there where you could make nicer beds if you want them. Manda has suggested a nice way to do a bed at the driveway, but the question remains, how is this going to improve the function of the driveway? Answer - it's not going to.

Other better question than "here, yes or no" is: where will a bed look nice in this yard? If you post a photo looking at your yard from other angles, maybe some suggestions would turn up.


    Bookmark   December 15, 2010 at 2:46PM
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glaswegian(5b, Ont)

KarinL....you are right, the question should be where would another bed look nice here? Pls look at these other pictures from different angles. If I can't make a bed, then am left with going the container route

    Bookmark   December 15, 2010 at 6:19PM
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manda3(8a DFW Texas)

That is a very welcoming looking porch. :-)

    Bookmark   December 15, 2010 at 9:23PM
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karinl(BC Z8)

From what I can see, I think I would turn that tree circle into a larger more attractively-shaped island bed, wending its way away from the driveway, anchored by the tree but heading off into the grass. I'd look into some nicer edging to go with your porch pavers.


    Bookmark   December 15, 2010 at 10:51PM
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missingtheobvious(Blue Ridge 7a)

I'm not sure how much room there is, but here are two suggestions. You could do either or both.

First, maybe put a large pot where the driveway and walkway meet -- not on either surface but in the corner of the lawn. To avoid mowing problems, put the pot on a large cement stepping stone, gray if you can find that color (or stain one gray; or use some of the gray pavers from your walkway. That would give you some of the height you feel you need in that area. [Since you already have a pot on the other side of the end of the walkway, you might not want a second one.]

The second possibility is to extend the bed in front of the porch along the walk. It could go all the way to the driveway (replacing or including the pot mentioned above) or just to the corner of the walkway, or out to the tree as karinl mentions, or some combination.

    Bookmark   December 16, 2010 at 1:36AM
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glaswegian(5b, Ont)

Looking for advice of perennial/annual suggestions for this bed, after I have widened it come spring. The tree there now is crab apple tree and I need plants added to the bed to give it some punch.

I was thinking coleus, hostas etc

what say you?

    Bookmark   December 27, 2010 at 12:50PM
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    Bookmark   December 27, 2010 at 8:24PM
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glaswegian(5b, Ont)

By nay...you mean what?

    Bookmark   December 28, 2010 at 6:32PM
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manda3(8a DFW Texas)

I think she's referring to your original question. Nay to the drive side flowerbed. :)

Do you get a lot of shade there? My best advice is to search for contrasting textures in shade areas. Try to stay away from several small leafed stiff plants. Things will really look gorgeous if you put bold leafed plants beside frilly plants beside grassy plants, etc.

    Bookmark   December 28, 2010 at 8:39PM
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Nay means no.

Another thing to take into consideration is driveway salt and how tolerable plants in a bed abutting the driveway will fare (I don't know your zone or whether this is a consideration for you).

I'd also have the planting bed, whichever shape you decide, closer to the house rather than closer to the street. It may look too disconnected to have a large planting bed that far from the house, IMO.

One of my favorite books to reference for design ideas is The Welcoming Garden by Gordon Hayward...nice references for do's and don'ts for the amateur.

    Bookmark   December 28, 2010 at 8:43PM
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glaswegian(5b, Ont)

Kimcoco..I know what nay means....the poster's comment was just random with no supporting text to it.

Manda3....what plants did you have in mind?

I was also thinking of just getting 2 big plantrs, and put things like a red banana plant and something else in the other, with some sprawling vines...what do you guys think?

    Bookmark   December 29, 2010 at 4:35PM
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manda3(8a DFW Texas)

We're in very different zones, so my suggestions would not be helpful to you. Even so, I love to see a large fountain grass beside some sprawling flowers. A big agave or yucca softened by surrounding lantana. For shade, I love to see ferns and lenten roses and acuba. Maybe some posters up north will have better suggestions for you. :) :) :)

    Bookmark   December 29, 2010 at 9:11PM
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karinl(BC Z8)

You haven't made it clear whether you're asking for plant suggestions for the hypothetical driveway bed, which most responders have "voted" against, or for the bed with the tree in it, which you're maybe expanding but it's not clear in what direction.

So most people won't be giving you plant suggestions for a bed they don't think you should make :-)

And for the pots, it's not clear where you're putting them.

And all that aside, plant suggestions are better dealt with at the nursery where you know what plants there are to choose from, than on the internet. We can suggest all we want, but if you can't get it locally, what's the point?

Plant suggestions are tough anyway, as your taste is a huge variable.


    Bookmark   January 1, 2011 at 5:37PM
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I'd love a broader photo. Can you take one from across the street looking at the yard as a whole? Even covered with snow, it would give me a better idea of how current and additional beds fit into the whole picture.


    Bookmark   January 3, 2011 at 6:08PM
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glaswegian(5b, Ont)

Thanks guys,

I was asking for plants for the bed already in place. My intent now is to get tall planters for where the driveway meets the lawn as suggested above by someone

    Bookmark   January 15, 2011 at 4:21PM
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missingtheobvious(Blue Ridge 7a)

My intent now is to get tall planters for where the driveway meets the lawn as suggested above by someone

glaswegian, I believe you're the one who suggested "2 big planters" (in your Dec. 28 post).

I had suggested a single pot in the corner where the walkway and driveway meet -- probably larger than your other pots, but certainly not a long planter, let alone multiple planters. Multiple big planters sounds like the original railroad-ties-along-the-driveway idea.

If it's what you want to do, by all means go ahead. But I believe you will search the thread in vain for any of us suggesting that you put multiple large planters against the driveway.

    Bookmark   January 15, 2011 at 6:48PM
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botann(z8 SEof Seattle)

A raised bed using Railroad ties next to the driveway is not a good idea in my opinion. Several reasons. RR ties smell like a train yard and ooze toxic creosote. You don't want an uneven surface to step out on when getting out of your car. You don't need another edge of your lawn to maintain where it comes up to the bed. The driveway is your edge now and it works. Why break up the lawn more than it is already? You need to keep a flowing shape to the lawn by reshaping the bed where the tree is 'plunked' into the middle of the lawn. Work for cohesiveness in the shape of the lawn rather than a bunch of little cutout flower beds.
You don't want to cut off the lawn right where it meets the driveway. Doesn't make sense in my world. Think flow.

    Bookmark   January 17, 2011 at 6:06AM
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Sorry I didnt mean to be unclear. As Karin said, I was just voting on the original premise of putting a bed next to the driveway. I didnt say more because I thought others had already explained why that was a bad idea.

Without a photo from the curb facing the front of the house I have trouble making alternative suggestions. Or a plan the front yard. I could guess what we are looking at, but I am not sure that would be helpful to you.

What are you trying to accomplish?

    Bookmark   January 18, 2011 at 5:07PM
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I would say no to the flower bed along the driveway as I wouldn't want to step into dirt when getting in or out of the car. You have a nice yard and front entrance!

    Bookmark   January 31, 2011 at 2:16AM
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glaswegian(5b, Ont)

Thanks folks...I ended up getting 3 large pots and plan to put one where the walkway meets the driveway, 1 closer to the front porch and the last one close to the road.

I'll have a plant in the middle, surrounded by cascading vines and flowers

    Bookmark   April 21, 2011 at 6:45PM
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