Help save my front yard!

bradleyheathhaysMay 2, 2014

Just joined the board here and I'm hoping to get some good advice to make the front and sides of my house look really good. I've let it go for too long and even though it's a little late already this season to be planting bushes I want to go ahead and get it done this year once and for all. If I put it off another year who know how long it'll take. Here's some pictures of what's there now... (all pics at the end)

House faces ESE so I'm facing the sun when it comes up. Looking from the front the left side of the house gets sun a lot of the day, filtered until 2P but then full sun for the next 5 hours, then filtered the last 2. The front sees filtered sun until around 2P then it's in the house's shadow for the rest of the day. Right side where's there's just nothing except those really ugly windows that need covering gets practically no sun at all. I'd consider that side 100% shade all day. Central Kentucky Zone 6 so the summers here get up into the mid and sometimes upper nineties in July and August.

Don't know what to say other than that obviously I'm totally new to landscaping and could use some good advice on what I can put around my house that'll make it look good, if not great. Although I'm interested in suggestions for all 3 sides of the place, since the left side has a little something there already (and because I'm in a hurry) for now I'd like to concentrate on just getting something up front, and then on the right side after that. Keeping it simple in the front I'll be installing a new wood bordered raised bed, about 7 inchs on both sides of the front door. Our soil is hard packed and I think fairly nutrient deficient so a raised bed of nutrient rich soil is probably the best bet for establishing anything new out there. Not sure where to source the dirt though. Bags of miracle grow soil would be ideal if they weren't so expensive. I've got a trailer so hopefully that'll open my sources up to maybe some kind of wholesale landscape dealer. I've heard the old rule always plant bushes in odd numbers so I'm thinking about 3 bushes on each side of the front door. I was initially drawn to some of the box woods because they can do well in shady circumstances. But because they'll be shaded much of they day I'm sure that kind of thin leaved evergreen won't grow fast enough to fill the space any time soon. So I'm very open to suggestions as to what might go well and fill out fast in the front. Priorities are that it be green throughout the year, grow fast, and hopefully be as entertaining as possible, with color etc. And as for the right side I am entirely open to your suggestions as well.

Well now ok I've finally done something to get this thing going. I'm all ears.

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    Bookmark   May 2, 2014 at 12:37AM
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    Bookmark   May 2, 2014 at 12:40AM
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    Bookmark   May 2, 2014 at 12:44AM
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ken_adrian Adrian MI cold Z5

Our soil is .... I think fairly nutrient deficient so a raised bed of nutrient rich soil

==>>> based on what??? .. guessing???

lets start basic ... you need to build beds ... first.. understand.. you are HIDING the foundation.. NOT PLANTING ON IT ... which is what was done previously ... and why the measly little beds.. look out of proportion to the height of the house ....

begin.. by understanding.. that 2 to 3 feet AT THE FOUNDATION .... is left bare.. for house maintenance ... for you to walk back there ... as you cruise the hood.. look at well landscaped houses.. and those that bother you .. and see if you can see what i am saying ... if you do.. then you have accomplished step one [... dont you have to clean your gutters a couple times a year with those big trees?? .. or put up xmas lights.. etc ....]

and then.. understand.. that you need a 6 to 8 foot bed ... plus the 2 or 3 feet left empty ... and you are talking about a near 10 foot deep bed ... again.. look around the area ... and see if you can spot this.. and whether it is pleasing to your eye.. as compared to the peeps who planted things two feet form the house 30 years ago ...

and for this season ... right now.. lets focus on the front of the house.. once you perfect that.. the sides will be much easier.. right now.. you are overwhelming yourself.. to think.. you are on this.. in the next 3 months .. you arent.. at your level of knowledge ...

then the issue is.. do you create a bed straight across the front.. or do we undulate it ... that is your choice.. look around the area again.. and determine what is pleasing to your eye ... or SOther if they are actually in charge.. lol ...

there.. thats enough for now ... otherwise.. i will overwhelm you ... define the bed design ... and then we can talk about how to build the bed .... and then ... we can talk about plant decisions.. and actual planting ... and if you think thats all going to be done inside the next 4 to 6 weeks... good luck with that ... if it took me the entire growing season to do this... i would be a happy boy in October ... if you want it done faster.. think about hiring a professional crew ...

finally .. reviewing the pix... my ideal bed would probably reach 3 to 4 feet BEYOND the porch ... curving into the walkway ... and go straight across the front of the house ... yeah.. what can i say.. lol ... i dont think the facade is wide enough to have some nice flowing curves .... without making it look hoaky ....

if you are interested in making this a conversation... then lets go for it ....

as for buying soil... you havent told us what your base native soil is.. so its hard to advise in that regard ... compaction can be uncompacted ... its clay i am worried about... and layering good soil above ... more facts ...

and finally??? ... lol ... i dont have soil touching my brick.. so we may need to deal with that ... but not slope new soil toward the house .. etc ... and before anything... get rid of those landscape timbers... crikey.. they look one foot from the house ...

double finally.. the best way to start.. and not look back.. is to rip everything out .. and get rid of it ... i dont know what inside the timbers.. but i dont like it.. and get rid of that big tub.. its ruining the natural elegance of the house and porch ... but i was thinking about some type of vines up those columns ...

BTW.. what are the trees .. ?? ... we have to figure out if we need to deal with their roots .... in the new beds ...

can we talk??? ... does the above.. in any way.. help you understand.. how to start ...????


ps:everything is too green and lush.. to presume your soil is nutrient deficient ... lets not start by making presumptions ... have your soil tested.. if you think there really is a problem.. and do understand.. plants are not children.. they will never need to be fed... you need a good soil ... and you dont make that by throwing fertilizer around .. and i think you probably have a decent soil.. but plants to not need to be fed ... i think.. at your level of understanding.. its a non-issue.. which you are spending too much time thinking about ... so focus on the ramblings above ... soil will be issue 37.. not where you start .... [thank God.. i came full circle and remembered to finish on the topic i started with ... i hate when that doenst happen .. lol]

    Bookmark   May 2, 2014 at 11:25AM
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Hmmmm........many might take some exceptions to the above. Soil should always be the TOP of the list - it is the foundation of a good, healthy garden and is often overlooked. In my profession as a designer and horticultural consultant, I continue to urge clients to invest time and energy and even dollars in improving their soil condition. The better the soil you have, the better the plants will thrive, grow and bloom and fewer issues with insects and diseases you will have to contend with.

Get a good professional soil test done. It is a great benchmark from which to proceed and may surprise you. In many cases, the soil will benefit just from the addition of a quantity of organic matter, aka compost. This will loosen and lighten clay soils, improve drainage, contribute to the nutrient levels and help to retain moisture.

Make sure your planting beds are generously sized. Too often I see these tiny, narrow little borders around the base of house than cannot accommodate more than a single small plant, if that. Depth is important. You want to achieve some degree of layering so figure out what plants you want to include and plan accordingly. Typically you would place larger shrubs in back and smaller shrubs/plants in the foreground, alternating the placement Try not to be too soldierly or regimented in this placement - looser, free-flowing formations are best.

There is a landscape design rough rule of thumb that states that the front or entry garden should look uniformly welcoming year round. That means a preponderance - not necessarily all - of the plantings should be evergreen. And evergreen plants lower the maintenance issues significantly as well :-))

It is unreasonable to state that one never needs to fertilize. Nutrients can be depleted over time and need to be replenished periodically for the best health and appearance of the plants. The better you mulch, the less often this needs to be addressed but it is still a consideration going forward.

As to plant choices, now is a great time to visit your local garden center or independent nursery to see what they have on offer and what you like. My zone 8 suggestions won't make any sense for your area :-) You may also want to visit any local public gardens in the area as well. Often these places have things that are just a tad out of the ordinary and commonplace that will provide your home a unique character.

    Bookmark   May 2, 2014 at 2:01PM
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Dave in NoVA • 7a • Northern VA

Hardscape first:

For starters, put up a handsome privacy fence to hide that patio from the street. Too much clutter. The fence should extend from house to the driveway. You could add a nice garden gate so access is easier.

Then you have a cleaner slate to begin with, visually speaking.

    Bookmark   May 5, 2014 at 9:26AM
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