Landscaping Along Sides of Two-story House

pmsmith2032(5b Suburbs of Chicago)February 8, 2013

I am trying to finalize a plan for some modifications to our front yard this spring and am trying to decide what to plant along the two sides of our house. Below are some pictures to provide an idea of what we have to work with:

This is the current layout of our front yard with the exception of the weeping cherry (which we move to the right last spring).

Left side of house (north). There is approximately 10' between our house and the lot line. The house next to this is on a corner so basically our lot line butts up against their backyard. We have a gate on the backyard fence so we will still need a path to access the backyard.

Right side of house (south). There is approximately 15' to the lot line on this side. We plan on adding a gate on this side too so we need a path here too.

Planned layout to be implemented this spring.

Concept of right side of house.

On the right side three matching Japanese lilac trees, large viburnum, saucer magnolias or crabtrees have been suggested. On the left side three matching smaller viburnum, regular lilacs or burning bushes have been suggested. We are open to any and all suggestions. Thanks in advance!

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ken_adrian Adrian MI cold Z5

burning bushes are considered invasive in many areas ...

the JLT's get very large ... see link ..

i am glad to see you will extend the little retaining wall/ foundation planting ...

the gates to the yard.. just for walking.. or to drive in back?? .. maybe riding lawnmower???

you might want to think about putting the plantings out closer to the lot line.. and having your paths near the house ... i am a prime advocate for no planting 3 to 5 feet from the foundation itself ...

this of course.. would be bass-ackwards from your whole concept ...

so now draw out a plan for that contingency ..

and i would bet.. the solution will lie in the third drawing.. taking the best of both..


ps: how far is that redbud from the house.. the one i bought with the house.. was 20 feet tall.. and 20 wide ... just before it died ... of chainsaw disease.. due to prior injury .. being short lived.. and improper siting ....

Here is a link that might be useful: link

    Bookmark   February 8, 2013 at 4:49PM
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I do not have personal knowledge of the Japanese Lilac tree, but I read that depending on the cultivar, it can get between 15 and 25 feet wide.

I read about it here.

It is a beautiful tree!

    Bookmark   February 9, 2013 at 12:46AM
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lola-lemon(5b East WA)

I think dogwoods are smaller than the trees you have listed. They come in a variety of shapes. There are some really amazingly beautiful big flowered ones in commerce now. (There is a variegated yellow one that I think just looks chlorotic and everyone will think it is dieing- so skip that one, if you ask me)

Crabapples and weeping cherries are smaller too.
Flowering Almond too.
Japanese maples come in all kinds of colors and shapes.
I have a standard trained Grace Smoke tree and some blue spruces out front of my house. The 2 colors pair nicely together.
For shrubs there is
Barberry and Privet that look good together

Hydrangea - (limelight etc.)
Otto Luken Laurel
Blue Oat Grass
Karl Forester Grass

for non full sun exposure- a variety of big hostas (not lined up like soldiers) can be very interesting. ( See picture) Some Hydrangeas will bloom in part sun, but in our climate, there are few that will be spectacular. Maybe annabelle.
that's a dogwood in the far left in this pic.

globe spruces-- actually even Lowes was carrying so many cute little spruces last year.

This post was edited by lola-lemon on Sat, Feb 9, 13 at 9:02

    Bookmark   February 9, 2013 at 12:58AM
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pmsmith2032(5b Suburbs of Chicago)

Thanks for the responses.

Ken...the gates will be used strictly for human access and for access with a push mower. Our yard isn't big enough to warrant a ttractor. The redbud is approximately 9' feet from the house. I'll definitely cross the burning bush and lilac tree off my list of possibilities.

Lola...we definitely need something with some height on both sides to breakup the plain sides of our house siding. I like the idea of the dogwood and japanese maple...any suggestions on specific varieties?

Should the bed on the right be raised as it is now if widened?

Thanks again!

    Bookmark   February 10, 2013 at 8:05PM
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I'm all for using native plants but I don't know your area so I can't recommend.

Do consider pulling that bed out even more - no sense giving up all that good sunny space to lawn (unless you're playing games on it or otherwise using it).

    Bookmark   February 12, 2013 at 10:10PM
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pmsmith2032(5b Suburbs of Chicago)

After researching gardenweb, we've decided on three Magnolia Janes on the the right side. We're still stuck on the left side though. I'm leaning toward viburnums or dogwoods but there are so many choices. We've narrowed the criteria to the following:

1. Must have both spring and fall interest. We like "snowball shaped" flowers or something that has larger flowers. Since we already have redbuds and the magnolias on the right side, we would prefer yellow or white flowers (yellow would probably look best against the siding). For fall, orange foilage would be prefered but something that really stands out would be great (the only trees/shrubs we have in front that show fall color are oaks planted along the street). Winter interest would be an added bonus.

2. Must thrive in shade. This side of the house faces mostly north so really only receives late afternoon sun.

3. Ideally it would be around 6' to 12' tall and 3' to 7' wide. Staggering the shrubs is an option where a path would go between two planted closer to the house and one to the outside.

Any and all suggestions will be greatly appreciated!

    Bookmark   February 21, 2013 at 2:39PM
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I'll try not to add to the confusion, others have given better advice than I could. I love the diagrams of the yard you've done. How/what program did you use?



    Bookmark   March 8, 2013 at 11:28PM
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pmsmith2032(5b Suburbs of Chicago)

I actually just used graph paper. I had a copy of our survey so I was able to resize the house and transpose it onto the graph paper. I know it's rather primitive but it worked for me. Let me know if you have any other questions. By the way, I have other posts where I did the same thing with our backyard.

    Bookmark   March 10, 2013 at 6:49PM
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Interesting, thanks! I was wanting to figure out a way to do that on a computer, possibly using Excel.

    Bookmark   March 10, 2013 at 9:34PM
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Do you have any windows on that side of the house? Fragrance is an often over-looked attribute. I would suggest lilacs or mock orange bushes be considered for this reason, nothing dwarf if your objective is to break up the large expanse of wall.

    Bookmark   March 17, 2013 at 6:02PM
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pmsmith2032(5b Suburbs of Chicago)

It looks like we are back to the drawing board. We were planning on magnolia 'Jane' on one side but after receiving feedback on the "Tree" forum, it sounds like they may not be suited for either side. I do have three viburnum blackhaws on order so I would like to plant them on one of the two sides (not sure if they would be better suited to the north (late afternoon sun) or south (all day sun) sides). We still need some sort of tree/shrub for the other side. Would love japense maples, but don't think they are suitable either (north side-no protection from north wind; south-all day sun). Ideally we would like something with spring/summer/fall interest. I would like to order in the next few days (suppose to be 50s here this weekend) so any suggestions would be appreciated. Any more suggestions?

    Bookmark   March 25, 2013 at 1:29PM
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mad_gallica(zone 5 - eastern New York)

This is what I think you need to do.

Go to the grocery store, and get a bag of all-purpose flour. Go outside, and use the flour to mark a path in the grass. Make a point of using this path for a couple of days. If it isn't comfortable, mark a new path. Then see how much space you really have leftover.

My guess is that you need to take a good look at large hostas for the north side. They will handle the conditions, and are a good size for the space.

    Bookmark   March 25, 2013 at 4:12PM
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pmsmith2032(5b Suburbs of Chicago)

I know I haven't posted in almost a year but I did plant three ninebark and four hydrangeas on the north side of our house last spring. Now I want to fill in the areas in between with hostas and other shade plants. How far from the foundation should I plant the hostas? What other perennials would be good to fill in in between? Thanks!

    Bookmark   March 30, 2014 at 11:35PM
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ken_adrian Adrian MI cold Z5

is this duplicate to one in the hosta forum??? if so.. what they said.. lol ...

for these peeps sake.. i think .. trying to recall what i read at 630 am .... it would depend on the ultimate size of the hosta .. eh???

but do understand.. as the decades pass ... shrubs can become very aggressive underground in claiming the area ... the issue being.. that they might out compete a very water dependent hosta ..

but.. you will have decades to worry about that ... lol .. and you can always move a hosta .. if you start to note its decline ... in 5 or 10 years ...


    Bookmark   March 31, 2014 at 1:06PM
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I feel like the use of a conical evergreen or two on each side would help break up the space. Besides fall color and spring flowers, consider the different shapes of the shrubs (conical, weeping, cascading, fountain, etc.).

I agree with the people from the Trees forum that it would be poor siting for those magnolias so close to the house.

Have you considered tri-color willow? I think it would look nice on the side with the redbud.

For the north side, rhododendrons and hydrangeas bloom pretty reliably in shade, although may be a bit leggy. Viburnum work well, too, but don't have the leaf density of the others. Itea are smaller but reliable, with nice fall color. Don't forget about the oakleaf hydrangeas, although they tend to be really ugly in winter.

    Bookmark   April 1, 2014 at 11:27AM
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