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Softening corner of house

Posted by crcash2 SC Zone 7 (My Page) on
Fri, Feb 3, 12 at 8:33

Hi,
I am looking for some type of vertical accent to soften the front corner of my house. I live in upstate SC, in Zone 7 and the soil is acidic, with good drainage. The bed already has a crimson queen japanese maple and autumn embers encore azaleas. The only thing that comes to mind is some type of emerald arborvitae, but I'm sure there are other options.
Thanks!


Follow-Up Postings:

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RE: Softening corner of house

Please post a picture that shows the area. To post it, paste the html code obtained from your photo-hosting site directly into the message you create here. If you used the correct code, it will show up when you preview the message.


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RE: Softening corner of house

I'm a new poster also. Figured how to post a picture after I did my first post wrong. This should help you: http://faq.gardenweb.com/faq/lists/pepper/2002072150000611.html

I used photobucket to host my pics for free.


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RE: Softening corner of house

Fingernail on black board phrases. There are three related to the landscape design forum:this one, foundation planting and curb appeal. All three are imagination killers as far as I am concerned.


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RE: Softening corner of house

Attached is a picture of the area. The tree in front is a lace bark japanese maple. The three shrubs to the right are autumn embers encore azaleas. The small dark green bush in front of the column is a dwarf gardenia and the there are lillies starting to emerge in the front. I am in SC Zone 7. My soil is acidic an the area will receive afternoon sun.

Here is a link that might be useful: Help me soften this corner


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RE: Softening corner of house

What I see in the photo is not a need to soften the house corner, but a problem in scale of the space allotted to the house.

There are two strongly different land uses that meet in almost a straight line very close to the house. The visual effect is that the house has been jammed against a boundary, deprived of the space it needs. I would suggest converting some of the field to a look that identifies with the house to bring a balance to the space of the two land uses as well as planting to erase the hard straight line look between field and yard.


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RE: Softening corner of house

Am reposting your pic here, which by the way, is a little too "close up" for landscape design purposes. It shows your house from the "waist" down and very little of context toward left side of yard.

Very generally, one of the problems with the arbor-vitae-solution is that, ultimately, they grow much too large for the situation. (And people never seem to trim them along the way to prevent this.) "Softening" the corner, to me, implies covering it... which I don't see as necessary as a corner is, or can be, a welcome architectural detail. I think here, it is. The way the shingle siding meets the corner board looks nice. But the way one's view immediately slides right into the back yard and beyond doesn't much help to direct focus on the front entrance, which, usually, is the prime focal point of the front yard. Placing some plant mass at left side of house can limit this. But what about using a plant(s) that gets "X" feet tall and then quits? (I use "X" because I can't see your house size.) Or can reasonably be controlled to a specific height? That seems like a lower maintenance solution than arbor vitae.

Ink, I do not understand your comment about "curb appeal" being an "imagination killer."

To post the picture directly here, since you're using Photobucket, click on the "share" link. Click on "Get code link" and then look for "full size" html code. Copy that code and paste it directly in your message here. Done correctly, it will show up when you preview message.


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RE: Softening corner of house

The house is about 10 ft. off the property line. To the left is an empty field. I just wanted to bring, as you said, the focal point to the front entrance because there is so much empty space around the home. I will take a larger picture and attach later.


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RE: Softening corner of house

Now that crcash is getting some practical advise perhaps I will save your question for another day yard.


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RE: Softening corner of house

  • Posted by whaas 5a SE WI (My Page) on
    Wed, Feb 29, 12 at 13:54

Due to space limitations, I'd suggest Pica glauca 'Pendula' for pendulous branching and Picea abies 'Cupressina' for upright branching.

Ink, whats up with all the talking but no walking?


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RE: Softening corner of house

Love the idea of using a Picea glauca pendula at the corner.
Another possibility for you to furhter research is Cedrus alantica pendula glauca or a semi dwarf Hinoki cypress.

From my perspective an evergreen small tree that has an open habit vs a staunch columnar form would create less of a static look to the corner. An open or cascading form is less of an exclaimation point or an ending point.

attached is a photo of a japanese maple paired with a Hinoki cypress. I think the two forms compliment each other,.. as would the Picea or the Cedrus atlantica pendula .

From Raised Garden Beds


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More humour whaas?


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Yay. I have been coveting so many of whass' trees (chimney fire oak, picea abies cupressina, any japanese maples)
that are unavailable or not hardy in my zone, it's been getting depressing.

But I actually have a picea glauca pendula! It does have great character. And even though mine is still young and looks
rather like Cousin Itt with bad posture, the fact that it has received the whaas "Seal of Approval" has made my day :)


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RE: Softening corner of house

Another thought...presently 3 Autumn Embers Encore azaleas are planted in a tight group in that bed. These grow into large evergreen shrubs which produce lengthy bloom periods spring and fall. Just one of them transplanted to that corner will produce the desired effect. The remaining two azaleas are too large for the bed space provided and should be moved to a different location and freed to grow into their natural form.


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RE: Softening corner of house

  • Posted by bahia SF Bay Area (My Page) on
    Wed, Feb 29, 12 at 15:54

You could also easily soften that corner by planting a couple of Miscanthus sinensis at the corner, or perhaps repeating the maple in a larger widened bed that wraps around the corner, or adding a smaller scaled tree in the side yard closer to your property line to balance/frame the view of the front entry. I think a slower growing dwarfed conifer such as one of the Dwarf Hinoki Cypress cultivars could also work well there. In my view a more exotic specimen such as the Weeping Atlas Cedar would be too much of a focal point and compete with your intended directional focus on the entry.


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RE: Softening corner of house

  • Posted by whaas 5a SE WI (My Page) on
    Wed, Feb 29, 12 at 20:21

Alan,

Nah, just a question. No hidden hidden meaning, deciphering or analogies in that one! I understood what you meant (ie imagination killer) as it was related to your post entitled the INKognito effect. I find it interesting, at least of late while I've been here, that collaboration seems to be a one way street when it comes to game time. Maybe after the peons are done giving their practical advice you can enlightened us with an applied example of imagination. I don't mean to be brash as I'm sure you've helped many GW landscapes over the last decade.

Adrien,
The beauty of that cultivar is that it is incredibly reliable form a habit and size perspective. Soon enough you'll have a beauty on your hands!

My cousin it has an appendage growing on it!
Picea glauca 'Pendula'


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If I was about 3 inches tall, all of this would be quite nice. The azaleas would be well grown magnolias. A park bench could be put under the maple. The lily foliage would be large junipers, and the whole thing would be the grounds for the step shaped apartment building. Beats me what the ginormous thing in the back would be.


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RE: Softening corner of house

Here's a wider picture. The property line stops at the swell on the field and goes back to the cryptomeria in the background (back corner). I am not opposed to extending the bed around the house and adding trees, shrubs, etc. The tree in the left foreground is an allee elm. To me, the house just looks kind of barren.

Here is a link that might be useful: Wider view of corner


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RE: Softening corner of house

Draw us something up, Yard. A nice full evergreen "softening: that corner and highlighting the japanese maple. We are all join in the same direction and it is a pretty simple situation if we stick to the original question.

Curious how some of you would approach it if it was a complete re do instead of a single specimen added to the corner of the house.


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  • Posted by bahia SF Bay Area (My Page) on
    Thu, Mar 1, 12 at 9:48

If this bed is getting afternoon sun, it faces west? Typically things like cutleaf Japanese Maples and most azaleas would struggle with hot afternoon sun here in California, that isn't a problem where you are? I also think Nandina has identified a problem with the azaleas being planted way too close together for their mature size. I'd suggest paying more attention to mature sizes of plants/trees with anything you add at this point, which looks like it's been overlooked with the existing plantings so far.


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Northwest would be more accurate and the side of the house is shaded most of the day due to the shadow the house casts. According to what I read about the azaleas they are 3x3 so I thought I gave them enough room. Do they need to be moved?


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I'm going to try to illustrate the concept I suggested to change the identity of part of the 'field' space to that allotted to the house using a minimum of added elements.


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That's a great idea, unfortunately, neighborhood restrictions would prevent this. What about plants, shrubbery that would accomplish the same effect?


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RE: Space identity

crcash2 said:

"That's a great idea, unfortunately, neighborhood restrictions would prevent this. What about plants, shrubbery that would accomplish the same effect?"

I suppose you mean the fence would not be allowed. There any number of plant arrangements that would give the same effect. If you think larger plants/trees extending over the property line would not likely be cropped, I would do that located in front and behind the house and very near the property line. Just in case the adjoining owner ruins the trees at the property line, I would also plant smaller plants wholly on you side of the line.

What I wanted to point out is the importance of the visual identity of the space as opposed to any need to soften the house corner. Note that my mock-up used nothing additional at the corner.


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Round or square

A common landscaping request is for tall plants to go at the corners of the house and a skirt of so called 'foundation plants' around the base between these two sentinels, the reason most commonly given is to round off the squareness of the house. The result though is that this style has become a cliche so common we think a house looks naked or exposed without it and follow suit without much thought. Probably foundation planting was a cheap fix to hide the ugly concrete apron that most cheap, immediately post war houses had. European houses have neither the concrete apron nor the foundation planting yet strangely foundation planting is still common practice in North America (including Canada) today even when a lot of modern houses don't have the concrete apron to hide!
The "rounding off" of corners also begs the question of why, if the objective is for houses to gel with the landscape, (which is not at all certain,) they are not built round, or some other shape in the first place. Richard Neutra a modernist architect once said that he had made his house white precisely to show that it was not the landscape. It is odd therefore, with the ubiquitous need to disguise the squareness of houses with vegetation that architects continue to build square, even white houses which apparently leaves the occupant with a cliched planting scheme as the only compromise.
There are a number of issues to consider not least being the ease of building a square house compared with a round one the efficacy of stacking squares compared with circles and the difference in space requirements. There may even be a gender bias compounded when men are in control of the house and women the garden. The story goes that a village in central Africa was almost destroyed by an erupting volcano leaving only one square house and one round house standing and the surviving people grey with ash. As a result the chief could not distinguish between male and female so he ordered the men into the square house and the women into the round house. I may be stereotyping but is it true that women can cope with space whereas men need a more reasoned straight forward grounded arrangement? It is also interesting to note that early housing of primitive peoples was almost certainly round, this is true of pre-Roman Britain plains Indians and African huts (still today some round and some square). Could it be that with a different division of who does what, then: men hunting and women taking care of the settlement including making houses and now: men doing the designing and building and women attempting to make it more nest like, both in form and in function.
So back to cliched landscape design: ideally the house should take its design inspiration from the land, the 'genius of the place' and all that so that architect, builder and landscape architect/designer are on the same page. The book, or the big picture in the book, being made, not by developers with both eyes on the bottom line only but by what is best for the people who will live in the houses and on that land and of course the land itself, the dust from whence we came and where we are heading. The alternative seems to be that houses are built as if they had no connection at all with their surroundings and it is left to the home owner to make a silk purse from this pigs ear. A system that creates not only alien houses but alienates the people who live in them.
Another curiosity is that when homeowners seek to improve the situation they often view the front of the house as if it were a picture hence the oft heard cry for 'curb appeal'. It is actually curious to regard the place where you live as a two dimensional picture and is a big reason why there is a fixation on foundation planting and rounding off corners together with the adding of shutters and obsessing about what colour to paint the front door. This way of thinking negates any enjoyment that may be on offer for whoever lives in the house rather than across the street or standing at the curbside. The standard response to my question about this phenomenon is that people live in the back yard and the front is only for show, then there is the Home Owners Association's demand for uniformity all of which may be true but I wonder why we are stuck with such an unimaginative answer.


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RE: Softening corner of house

  • Posted by whaas 5a SE WI (My Page) on
    Thu, Mar 1, 12 at 15:17

I always looked at it as a means to naturally frame (soften the corner) and ground (fondation plantings) the house to the landscape.

Picture is right! Some people are proud of their home and want to showcase it as best they can with what they have. Why not do it with the plants they love.

I like what PLS did as it still frames the home yet opens it up to the side and back to give it more dimension. Sometimes its just difficult to work within the bondaries in which you're tied to.


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Ink, are you saying that foundation plantings and the pursuit of "curb appeal" are largely estrogen dependent? Not disagreeing at all (as I can relate strongly to the nesting instinct), but would that mean that machismo men such as Richard Neustra do no landscaping other than what was required to be functional?


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Ok,
After reading these posts, I think that maybe the best recourse might be to do a planting at the front and back corner of the house. My next question is what trees/plants would be ideal? It gets some afternoon sun, but on the back corner, shade will be pretty dominant. Also, would be a good idea to make a mulch bed right up to the property line? I'm tired of cutting grass anyway. Maybe a stone path and an arbor with trees on the corner and shrubs down the lot line?? The tree in the foreground of the picture is an allee elm and will get large over time.


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Ink, I see how "softening the corners" and "foundation planting" might rub one the wrong way because, as you point out, the solutions to them are usually heavily cliched. But "curb appeal," to me, doesn't mean anything more than finding ways to increase the attractiveness of a property... more from Mr. & Mrs. John Q. Public BUYER'S viewpoint than from an owner's. I think of streetscape as being "Top 40" whereas owners have a tendency to impose whim (hobbies, unrelated interests and uninformed beliefs...copying other bad ideas) which can often work against making a property look better.

crcash2, here's a scheme for making the house look a little more "fit in" with the surroundings. I'd consider this idea general recommendations, not specifics. I like the plants you've already used at the foundation, but think their arrangement won't serve the larger picture the long run. I'd be thinking of making the small tree I'm showing at the house corner out of a shrub that gets 12' - 15' height... so there's not too much to keep it from getting too large over the long haul. While I'm showing it as a single trunk, I'd just as likely consider a multi-trunk tree. The foliage mass below it also helps to prevent one's eye from travelling into the side and back yard. If there were some trees in the back yard your house would look more like it "fits in." I'm showing one larger tree that is closer to the back yard.


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Wow, that's a neat trick. So you would recommend widening the bed to accomodate the new tree? I've already got the Japanese maple there, so I would assume I'd taking the bed to the property line. What about the encore azaleas? Do they need to be moved?


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RE: Softening corner of house

Ink: Best. Post. Ever.

Karin L


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RE: Softening corner of house

  • Posted by whaas 5a SE WI (My Page) on
    Thu, Mar 1, 12 at 19:21

Unless you have a deciduous plant with a strong winter silhouette (for example Acer griseum) I personally would stick with an evergreen.


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follow up

  • Posted by whaas 5a SE WI (My Page) on
    Thu, Mar 1, 12 at 19:34

I don't know how I missed Yard's post but my comment doesn't apply to his suggestion.

If you do swoop out I'd try to have an evergreen somewhere in the back drop behind the deciduous tree. Leave enough space between the bed and your lot line to mow to get through to the back.


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RE: Softening corner of house

So an ornamental decidious tree with an evergreen behind it. I would assume the evergreen would need to be taller? Suggestions?


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So you would recommend widening the bed to accomodate the new tree? The house face needs foliage mass on L. so one's view does not slide into the side yard. To give it a fuller look, I'd widen the bed. In my sketch I create the foliage mass using a small (12 - 15' ht.) tree form shrub with a low shrub mass below it. This does not block entire view to back, but enough to get rid of the "emptiness." An alternate way of creating foliage mass on L. side would be to place larger shrubbery behind the small "tree" (at front, L. side of house) rather than below tree. This method could block entire view to side yard.

...so I would assume I'd be taking the bed to the property line. Not all the way to PL. As whaas says, you need room for maintenance access.

I've already got the Japanese maple there...What about the encore azaleas? Do they need to be moved? It's a little hard to tell from just one picture, but the plants you have in the bed now may not be doing the best to supplement the architecture or hardscape. The Yew next to the step will outlive its welcome first. The Jap maple seems like an art piece occupying room where more important things should be happening in the space. Another view or two from different angles would be helpful to making better comments.

...decidious tree with an evergreen behind it. I would assume the evergreen would need to be taller The larger tree I placed off toward the back yard may just add confusion from my not knowing how to portray this accurately, so forget about it for this thread. It was just to show how foliage located near the back yard still helps the front yard view and the naked look of the house.


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RE: Softening corner of house

  • Posted by bahia SF Bay Area (My Page) on
    Fri, Mar 2, 12 at 3:01

I find it interesting to see the emphasis on how this front elevation of the house and plantings look as seen from the street to the complete exclusion of creating useful spacial uses or alternative views from within the house looking out or addressing how landscaping might be used to make the house more comfortable. This relates to some of INK's points(although I personally think the differences between male/female design approaches are a complete red Herring), and frustrates an approach that is looking at more than mere ornamentation.

It is a given that most suburban garden design is preoccupied with default design issues such as foundation plantings or street views and large lawn areas; these have become the expected customary design approach.

If this is what is expected and desired by the individual client/homeowners as well as the community, there's not much point in complaining about it. It isn't the only way to design, however, and doesn't address functional/spatial layout approach/environmental- sustainability focused design approaches.

Previously I've geared my replies to this and similar threads to a more direct plants functionality type of reply rather than broader design possibilities, but I think it's worth pointing out here that finessing the view from the street isn't necessarily a balanced or thoughtful approach, nor is it what a good designer would prioritize.


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RE: Softening corner of house

First of all,
I want to thank everyone for their input. I didn't realize this forum existed. I have posted in the trees/shrub forum, but the insight I have received regarding this particular issue is priceless. I will take pictures from a different angle and post in another thread since this one is getting long. But one quick question, what tree would be ideal (12-15ft)? I'm thinking of something that flowers in the spring?


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RE: Softening corner of house

"I find it interesting to see the emphasis on how this front elevation of the house and plantings look as seen from the street to the complete exclusion of creating useful spacial uses or alternative views from within the house looking out or addressing how landscaping might be used to make the house more comfortable."

Seems like you are trying to turn the op's simple request for help at the front corner into a comprehensive design problem that could not be resolved simply by anyone here, including yourself. If you look at the first post, I think you'll see that the design priorities are established there by the op. If you want to offer more, I don't see that you are doing it. Go ahead and offer "spatial uses, alternative views from within and make the house more comfortable."

"I think it's worth pointing out here that finessing the view from the street isn't necessarily a balanced or thoughtful approach, nor is it what a good designer would prioritize. and doesn't address functional/spatial layout approach/environmental- sustainability focused design approaches."

What would a good designer do...?? The first crack at it you took... suggesting "Miscanthus" and "Dwarf Hinoki Cypress" is somehow doing this? How would "more than mere ornamentation" manifest in Bahia's view? There's plenty of opportunity to make positive suggestions on this thread.


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RE: Softening corner of house

Yardvaak: David was replying to my post, I wanted this to be a separate issue for another day but...

The nastiness in your post was totally uncalled for, you asked for clarification of my views on imagination killers which I did, David has some reservation about what I wrote which moves the conversation forward. The original question got lost in this as I knew it would and the OP has already announced that she is bailing out "since this one is getting long."

If you want to challenge what I wrote or Davids views please start a separate thread, if it is couched in the same belligerent tones as above however, I will ignore it.


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RE: Softening corner of house

  • Posted by whaas 5a SE WI (My Page) on
    Fri, Mar 2, 12 at 9:45

Crash,

I was thinking more of a moderate growing evergreen that would be planted off the back corner of the house. Bascially diaganoly out near the lot line. It might look a little less "hollow" this time of year. I'm not sure how that works into your plans for the side and backyard.

The biggest challenge here is the 10' boundary.

What I did with my latest house is stretched the bedline out near the lot line. I put the taller growing tree (yet somewhat columnar and loose growing) out towards the lot line, put a columnar evergreen next the house then put a small horizontal growing tree in front of the evergreen to break up the vertical lines. There would then be a stone path under the canopy of the tall tree and next to the columnar evergreen. Not for everyone but I was finally happy with what I did of the front corner of my third house.

I did what Yard illustrated above at my last house and it looks real nice during the growing season, ecspeically during the fall when the fall colors of red and yellow (maple to the back, witchhazel to the front) overlay eachother. Perhaps you can build off of that with the trees that are far off in the distance.

I'm just a homeowner (on this forum) trying to design for whats best for me. I can only offer advice on plant selections and experience with plant groupings.

You're just going to have to work through and select the golden nuggets that come up throughout the thread.

I'm using IE (which blows) right now so I apologize for misspellings.


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RE: Tree Form Shrubs

"...what tree would be ideal (12-15ft)?"

Here, I would be thinking in terms of what people normally call a "large shrub" simply because they don't grow as tall as "trees" over time. Evergreen examples might be dwarf Burford Holly or Weeping Yaupon Holly (would need a male pollenator for the beautiful berries) but double check with local garden center to see what WILL grow where you are. (I've even seen Rhododendrons that would make nice tree forms.) Here's a picture I came across that shows a form and style that I think would look good there. (I have no idea if Texas Mountain Laurel would be available or work for you, though. It's just illustrating form.)

In terms of deciduous large shrubs, you might consider pollarded crape myrtle (the size can be easily controlled) or Beauty Bush, a clump of lilac, one of the many Viburnums, or even something like PG Hydrangea. You would need to take control of the shape by removing low spreading trunks. There are bucket loads of shrubs that get large and flower. I'm re-posting a picture recently posted by whaas to point out that though it's deciduous, shrubs can maintain a "cloud-like" ability to screen with thier twiggy foliage mass. Though it's just a "shrub," as they grow taller, the wide top tends to shade the narrow bottom, forcing it to lose leaves, turning it into a tree (though helping it along is useful.) This one (Spirea) looks to be only about 8' or so tall so not big enough for your need, but it gives you the idea of how it can happen.


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RE: Softening corner of house

Yardvaak: David was replying to my post...the nastiness in your post...

Gee Ink, if I misinterpreted David's post and he REALLY IS referencing your post (which, by the way, looks like it could be a separate thread) then I'm sure David can set the record straight and confirm that. But to call my comments "nasty" (when they are not) and tell me who can say what on a post is not just presumptuous but rings of that clique-ish tone that persists on this forum. I don't tell anyone else what to say or when they should be through speaking. But others, now including yourself, seem to think that it's their rightful place to do so. You can have whatever opinion of my posts you want, but telling me what I can and cannot say goes too far. I will challenge views in the thread in which those views are presented.


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RE: Softening corner of house

More nastiness. What I wrote was just an opinion (intentionally opinionated) I was not posting it for consideration as an additional chapter in the bible. Since you seem incapable of engaging in a discussion to challenge views in the way that David does without also challenging the person I guess we are finished.


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RE: Softening corner of house

Whaas,
That is exactly what I had in mind. Maybe a small decorative ornamental in the front, broken up with a larger evergreen like a little gem magnolia? What columnar evergreen might look good next to the house? I assume I'd need to plant the decidious tree out from the house and then put the larger tree off the back corner to break up the two. I have a deck in the back and had envisioned a path that went around to the deck.


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RE: Softening corner of house

This discussion seems to have morphed into two different directions. The OP asked a simple question; what plant, where. I may have been the one responsible for starting something else, since my first response was not what the OP wanted or asked for.

The OP received a number of good suggestions on plants. Beyond that, some of us choose to talk about the concepts of landscape design. The OP may not care one wit for what is said along that line. But this is a landscape design forum and such comments are always appropriate, whether some like it or not.

Now about those photo mock-ups. They often are not rooted in reality, leading to an erroneous assumption that the look can be created on the ground.

The OP gave the distance from house to property line as 10 ft. Someone else pointed out the benefit of keeping a walkway around that side of the house. Now look at the mock-up offered by Yard. Notice the bed has been extended to a distance that matches the house to porch distance which is surely a minimum of 10 ft. It leaves no room for a pathway, and if the bed is scaled back to include a path, the look is no longer valid.

A photo mock-up is valid only where it is a true rendering of what can be shown on a scaled plan view drawing.


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RE: Softening corner of house

... to challenge views in the way that David does "

Do you mean how a person points out a supposed oversight... while they're not addressing it either?
Do you mean how someone implies that someone else's suggestion is shallow... while they're making no greater recommendation? Do you mean how a person would suggest that a solution is not "thoughtful," "balanced," or "what a good designer would do"... while they're offering barely a suggestion at all? Is that what you mean, Ink?

Twist it however you like.


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RE: photo

pls8xx, Part of what you refer to has to do with camera angle in the photo that's presented. I'm not offering a scaled plan here and that should be understood by any and everyone. When I offer a suggestion and explicitly state that it's a "scheme"... this means that an op would need to work out the details on a plan or on their property. I think it's pretty obvious that someone could come very close to doing what I suggest. I know I could if I were there... or if the op posted a plan view drawing of this area.


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RE: Softening corner of house

I think that in many situations homeowners who contact landscapers are expecting a foundation planting that softens the corners of the house and increases curb appeal. In my experience, there are some residential clients who are open and sometime eager to take a more designed approach(for lack of a better word) and there are some homeowners who just want the curb appeal approach. I have done both. In this situation it was my impression that the OP wanted a curb appeal answer to a very simple question that really didn't amount to more than plant choice. (No problem with that crcash). Most of our initial answers were right along those lines.

Ink makes a good point about the importance of remembering that we are making a choice to not consider a number of design elements and principles of good design in providing those answers. Given that, we all still have to live in the world we live in, which is one focused on foundation plantings, planting around the edges and curb appeal. Sometimes we have the opportunity to move beyond that; but in favor of making a living, sometimes we don't.

When my son was about 10, lacking a babysitter, I took him on a photo shoot of one of my projects. i gave him a camera and told him to take pictures too. While I was focused on getting that front on shot for a before and after part of my portfolio, he was taking photos laying in the grass, shooting up the bark of a very cool tree, close ups of bugs. When it came down to it; his photos were far better. I still use several of them in promotional materials. I have never used the front on shot of that house- it doesn't give the feel for the landscape we created there.

(Crcash, if you want opinions on the other views, you can post them on this thread- its not really that long and it is more on topic than the discussion we are having!)


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RE: Softening corner of house

Yes, it's generally better to stay on the same thread so that all previous pertinent discussion is there; responders don't need to repeat themselves or cross-reference threads.

Your question has prompted a really interesting design discussion... to which I'm going to ask the question, what if the plantings were moved further forward where they could have more than 10' to grow? Would that have the desired effect too?

Karin L


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RE: Softening corner of house

  • Posted by bahia SF Bay Area (My Page) on
    Fri, Mar 2, 12 at 15:25

My last reply WAS more in response to INK'S post than Yardvaark's, but I was also trying to point out that the aesthetics of a "curb appeal" design approach should ideally be balanced against all the other components that affect both site design and planting choices. An equally important consideration for this particular spot in the OP's garden might consider factors such as the view from inside the living room out to the garden, as well as maintenance considerations of too closely planted large growing trees/shrubs as already addressed by several respondents but seemingly overlooked or unacknowledged here, and considerations of tree placement and type along the side yard that don't consider the impact of views from inside the house/preference for year round versus summer shade/etc. I realize that this forum doesn't lend itself to more fully explained rational reasons for what's being proposed, but I'm reacting to responses that give more weight to the aesthetics of a street view than weighting the other equally significant design considerations. If one reads all my replies to this thread, you'll see that there are both simple planting suggestions as to type and considerations to factor in about longer term maintenance; as well as my last response backtracking to larger design issues that I feel are equally important. I've no issues with the graphic photoshopped images that Yardvaark supplies here, and actually fond them appealing as easily grasped solutions that will support his replies. What I find incomplete about them is the way they sometimes emphasize the purely visual over larger concerns. I realize that they are to the point as regards what the OP wants as a response, and are intended as schemes rather than plans. I'm not intending to pick on Yardvaark personally in my replies, but do think it worthwhile to also look at the bigger picture. In that vein, my replies are an attempt to raise the point that designing for curb appeal from a fixed viewpoint can be a rather shortsighted approach that doesn't often allow for a garden layout and design that supports equally important considerations. It kind of gets back to the whole large lawn and foundation shrub plantings around the typical suburban house as being the ideal design. It is customary and a safe way to design that doesn't rock the boat or scandalize the neighborhood sensibilities. It can also be cliched and fail to address other important design factors. I'm not trying to impose my design viewpoint on anyone else here, just saying that primary focus on curb appeal can be limiting and/or counter-productive. Where is the harm in bringing up these sorts of concerns?


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  • Posted by whaas 5a SE WI (My Page) on
    Fri, Mar 2, 12 at 15:51

ccrash, what do you think about the evergreens already mentioned in the thread? Check those out and tell us what you like and perhaps we can expand from there.

Maybe run us through type of plant (evergreen vs. deciduous), height of plant and potential location. I got a little confused when you started talking about a tree in the back and columnar evergreen to the front.

My vote...

In the front:
Small deciduous tree in the front corner (already there)
Columnar evergreen - pull forward and near lot line (what pls drew up)

In the back:
Large deciduous diagonal of the back corner of the house

That could change depending on shade requirements though.
I could easily swap and put a moderate growing evergreen to the back and a columnar tree in the front. If your maple turns a nice red color then maybe look for yellow or orange fall color on the tree. Princeton Sentry Ginkgo is a nice loose growing (as in not tightly branched like a Regal Prince Oak) columnar tree.


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"I'm not intending to pick on Yardvaark personally in my replies, but ... "

I think it's worthwhile to also look at the bigger picture.

Designing for curb appeal from a fixed viewpoint can be a rather shortsighted.

His approach doesn't often allow for a garden layout and design that supports equally important considerations.

His approach is customary and a safe way to design that doesn't rock the boat or scandalize the neighborhood sensibilities.

His approach can also be cliched.

His approach can fail to address other important design factors.

Phew! I'm glad you let me know you weren't trying to "pick on" me, Bahia. How could I have thought that with these very carefully thought out comments...??

You can re-arrange the thread in any way that suits you. Looks to me like you made an earlier recommendation here with no thought of these factors that--after I post--you deem critical. What was wrong with looking at them earlier? As soon as I make a submission you want to come out then, get in a surreptitious dig and split hairs on things you seemingly had no concern for. The fact is that my submission does not come out of thin air, nor is it based just on prettiness. But that's one very critical, and apparently underrated here, factor. "Where is the harm in bringing up these sorts of concerns?" There's no harm in bringing up concerns, but I'd focus on bringing them up as I make my own post. Not wait until someone else makes a contribution and then just start pulling "concerns" out of thin air and acting uppity about it.


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Wow.

A criticism of foundation planting is not a personal attack. Yard, you're trying to help the OP design some nice foundation planting. Others are commenting that some nice foundation planting isn't the end all and be all of design.

Nice edits to the actual post. Glad you didn't quote "I've no issues with the graphic photoshopped images that Yardvaark supplies here, and actually fond them appealing as easily grasped solutions that will support his replies." because that would ruin your story.


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Oh, Yard! I get a great laugh every time you post! You never fail!

Since we�re only allowed to give crcash a tree, I�m channeling the SNL skits with the two big guys talking Chicago sports. "Duh Bears" and "Duh Bulls". Only it�s "Duh tree" or to be really precise "Duh pollarded shrub."

Because John Q. Public homeowners, i.e. homeowners like crcash and me, can�t get beyond Top 40 pap. Throw a new idea at us and our teensy-eensy brains won�t be able to absorb it. We�re likely to get out of line with our "tendency to impose whim (hobbies, unrelated interests and uninformed beliefs."

We live in our homes, so sometimes we have the outrageous notion of doing something that puts us in the landscape rather than just making a pretty picture for John Q. Public home buyer. Of course, we are not intelligent enough to aim for the function we want while addressing what looks attractive.

Strange how I seemed to deeply appreciate answers to posts that went far beyond my original query. I know. I�m selfish. I wanted the straight answers and I wanted the answers that pointed out the 800 pound gorillas in my situation. And I wanted the off-the-wall answers that gave me great food for thought to ask the next question.

But crcash � oh, wait a minute, that was Yard � only wants duh trees.

Give us plebian gardener types too much information and we might get out there and copy some more "other bad ideas which can often work against making a property look better."


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Small tangent alert!

When did the combining of two simple words to make... wait for it... "CURB APPEAL" first appear? Was it originally from real estate then co opted by the likes of HGTV or vice versa?


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M-W says it was first used in 1975 which would make it a real estate -> cable show migration. There's no reference for that 1975 use though.

I lived in the midwest in the 1970s so it wasn't a great time but was there a housing boom or bust going on in California or NYC at that time? Somewhere that the magazines are published and the trends start.


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RE: Softening corner of house

  • Posted by bahia SF Bay Area (My Page) on
    Fri, Mar 2, 12 at 19:00

There's a big difference between saying "his approach" and "this approach", if you're going to make it this personal, try rereading it again without thinking its a personally directed attack on your design approach. I've said that the photoshopped design solutions often present exactly the desired response the OP is requesting in a visual way that makes the point clear. At the same time I still strongly feel that considering the design with the other factors to consider will result in a better ultimate design. Nowhere have I said Yardvaark' design approach may not be taking these into consideration as well; but it isn't obvious as they're being presented.

I also get the strong impression that my full message isn't coming across, as going from the initial specific comments to a more general discussion was again a response to points made by INK. This seems to be turning into an argument that I've no interest in pursuing further so in the interests of civility I'll refrain from any further responses to Yardvaark's replies and quit giving my take on larger design issues as they are perceived as being uppity rather than reasoned.


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Bahia - don't give up on discussing the the larger design issues! That sort of discussion is one of the primary reasons I hang out in this forum...!

I think people new to this forum or casually dropping by to read or post questions might not be aware that this forum has a history/practise of 'hi-jacking' 'mundane' posts to have a discussion on broader issues that can be linked to the routine situation under discussion. Afterall the stated forum purpose is for 'the discussion of the technical and aesthetic issues involved in landscape and garden design' and that's what Ink, Bahia, and others were including in the discussion.

For what it's worth (not much :-)... The advice to the OP to consider the view out from the house as well as the 'curb appeal' view back towards the house is an important general consideration I think. Our front garden has a very obvious orientation to the street - curb appeal - aimed at people walking or driving by; but, less obviously, it is also designed to produce attractive views for people sitting at the dining room table (which faces out to the street), sitting on the chairs on the front porch, or arriving at the top of the driveway and looking back towards the street. Similarly, the views from the south and west windows into the south alley and backyard have been specifically planned. The north side windows are all bathroom windows with frosted glass, so it is rather irrelevant to plan a view from those windows... :-)


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From pictures I have seen of your garden, Woody, it nicely frames many different perspectives, especially those from the house. At my house, since we don't have a curb, there is no point in talking about curb appeal. It is mostly put together to appeal to the view from the house, the porch and possibly the driveway when guests arrive.

I have had a few run ins with yard, also ;) My decision was just to not respond and discuss with him directly, but just "parallel" post. For awhile I didn't post on any threads that he posted on first. That helped until things "settled down". David, as you know from my 'stalking' of your posts, your commentary is one of things I value the most about the landscape forum, so please don't give up on us. I know its hard to be targeted when your intention was not to be argumentative.

At the same time, I have empathy for yard. Its not easy to have a whole thread started discussing your participation. If that doesn't justify a little paranoia about what people are implying with their posts, I really don't know what does. I have seen yard come around a bit when it comes to my posts, so I am hoping he can read David's posts in a different light and come to value David's perspectives as I do.

Wellspring, I was thinking of you and your sense of humor as I have been following this thread. LOL

I agree that I recall the 'curb appeal' label as beginning in real-estate and then transitioning to HGTV and the like. It actually is a pretty good catch all phrase - I like phrases that can bring with them a good deal of information. If a customer said to me, "my goal is to improve the curb appeal of my house so I can sell it"- that would tell me almost exactly what I need to do. It also might tell me that Ink would turn down that job.


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Drtygrl, you mustn't assume that I am a Prima Donna from what I write here, I have bills to pay just like you.

The three concepts that I talked about earlier all work as answers to a particular problem, my concern is over having a filing cabinet with only three folders in it. If we jump to the conclusion that either softening corners, foundation planting or curb appeal are the answers regardless of what the problem really is then we are in trouble.

To try to answer this particular question I think it is necessary to discover what the REAL problem is even though the OP has stated its cure to be "softening the corners of house" with some kind of tall conifer. If we don't do this then we are perpetuating the cliche that houses need their corners softened with a tall conifer, this would be my approach but it wouldn't/shouldn't stop others from offering tree suggestions.

The photograph of the house crcash shows us suggests that it is exposed to open fields on one side, is this the problem? If that is the problem is the tall conifer on the corner the answer? The OP goes on to say that there are other plans afoot arbour, path etc) so doesn't this open up more possibilities? What does the other side of the house look like? Is this relevant?


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I wasn't assuming, just teasing, ink :)


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  • Posted by whaas 5a SE WI (My Page) on
    Sat, Mar 3, 12 at 11:39

The whole point of the street view or curb appeal (from my perspective) is not for the neighbors or potential future buyers but a sense of pride.

When I come home after a hard day work, I can pull into the driveway, knowing its home. The landscape welcomes me in the door and gives me that sense of pride. Its as equally important to the inside views.


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saying, "My wife, she's the greatest!...if she wasn't so fat, stupid & a lousy housekeeper." If people want to see that type of statement as some sort of compliment, let them. If slightly more concealed, I see it as cunning and underhanded. Speaking specifically about my "images" that's how David clarifies his "appreciation" of them. That's his prerogative. But a duck is a duck.

Some are telling me to go back a re-read David's post. OK. I'll take another look at it. "Previously I've geared my replies to this and similar threads to a more direct plants functionality type of reply rather than broader design possibilities, but I think it's worth pointing out here that finessing the view from the street isn't necessarily a balanced or thoughtful approach, nor is it what a good designer would prioritize."

What is he saying here? He's admitting that his prior posts were about "plants functionality"... not the broader design issues that must now come front and center! And then he makes the point that "finessing the view from the street" isn't what a good designer would prioritize (do.) Hmmm... I just submitted a view of this property where I "finessed the view from the street." Therefore, I am not a good designer, according to David. ?? I don't think I missed anything here. But what, exactly, prevented him from ACTUALLY discussing those broader design issues that he, and apparently others here, so yearn to talk about... at this point or any point before or after and APPLYING THEM directly to this property? The only talk about them he offers is the vague complaint that I'M NOT ADDRESSING THEM! Does he make a specific, direct challenge to my "image" that would invite discussion of broader design issues? No. Does he offer a specific solution to address any of those broader issues? NO. Only the complaint--somewhat concealed--about my offering. There's a big hard drive waiting--not for general talk--but for his specific application of those broader landscape design issues to this particular piece of property.

Dtrtygrl is somewhat correct in that after a post is started that specifically singles a person out, said person might be on guard for future pitfalls. However, this is not paranoia. It's happened. It's fear based on ACTUAL likelihood of an attempt to harm. And it's not the first time I've received one of these sly digs from David.


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Whoa, someone is off their meds.


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whaas: your expressed desire speaks directly to the point I made in my last post. What you want to achieve is a welcoming entrance that enhances your sense of pride. The way to achieve this is to examine what would make you proud and what emotions that welcoming stirs up can be acheived in the garden: clean crisp lines, overflowing colour, rare specimen plants, your children playing safely around a pond, a pristine lawn and so on...The way to cut this process off at the knees is to go to your filing cabinet and browse the three folders there. The thing comes before the name.


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I was thinking along the same lines, Ink. I think Whaas makes a good point that a welcoming and inviting entrance is an important part of landscape design. Its not the only part, however, because you can achieve that, and at the same time achieve beautiful and inviting views from the windows, and create a garden that invites you to spend more time outdoors, whether it be sitting or walking.

( I hesitate to add fuel to the fire, but i really would like to say that we ALL offered practical answers to the OP. I really don't think David was singling you out Yard. He himself offered practical suggestions, as he admitted. I choose to view it as him reminding us in a peer capacity that we all need to raise the level of our game, and not give into the demands of popular culture while sacrificing the integrity of design.)


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In other words, if we'd all just bow to a yardvaark-centric perspective of the universe, the world would be a lovelier place.


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DD, no one makes pills to ward off wolves.

"we ALL offered practical answers..." And in giving those answers no one tried to attach responsibility for failure to address "the larger" issues to anyone. Until David did. I'm just saying, it's a little hypocritical for someone to come in and try to attach the responsibility for that "failure" to me. I'm just offering what the OP asked for and trying to give as much as I dare without overstepping the request. No one else offers it either. There's plenty of suggestion of what plants to go here or there. Pls8xx tries to step out of the box, but that's about it. The rest is about plants... or very general discussion about principles, but not how those principles relate or apply to this situation.

Obviously, philosophically, my views differ from many people who inhabit this forum. I see the strong thread of resentment that runs against the same ideas I fervently believe in. The answer to this, though, is not to chastise me for failure to solve problems according to others' views. It's their job to answer those issues in the way that support the ideas they believe in. It's my job to solve problems here according to what I believe in. And if I believe that the front yard is not so much about individual expression as it is about contributing to the streetscape, then that's how I'll choose to solve the problems. There is no obligation for me to offer a comprehensive view based on other people's ideas.

Wellspring, I understand that our ideas differ. I don't see how you think I'm trying to force an idea on you. It's my intention to express my ideas for those who are interested in hearing them. I feel like you think I shouldn't do that. I only want to offer my ideas without being whacked from sideways and behind.


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Charlotte you know that the 'INKognito effect' is the opposite to what is going on here, that is to be inclusive rather than elitist. This doesn't mean that I can't defend my position incidentally because you know I can. Being genuine and open is as important in my job as it is in yours and this is what we have in common in fact this leads from your end.

Now that I have said that and in spite of my agreement with your assessment of yardvark I, perhaps naively. looked to you for some wisdom rather that playing to the peanut gallery.


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I thought about commenting on the new thread, but I think it is beyond my ability to be able to frame a polite response. So i have decided to stick with the snarky thread. Was there not an answer here as to what to plant? I thought there were lots of answers, lots of suggestions. And then we tried to take the conversation to a different level to see if the Op would respond, and he/she wasn't interested, but we were. So the OP starts a new thread asking the SAME question? But now graduating to the 'curb appeal' phrase also?

All the disagreement may cloud the issues here, but I was actually enjoying the tangent this took, and the discussion of design issues arising from a, dare I say, pedestrian question. Especially if you have developed an ability to ignore the sarcasm.


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Ink, my friend, I hear you.
There was sort of a method in my madness, but clearly not working here. And, yes, I was drawing on a side of myself that isn't natural to me.

I apologize to Yard and even more to crcash. My input here was not helpful.

Peace- Ink ... Off to prepare for tomorrow.


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  • Posted by natal Louisiana 8b (My Page) on
    Sat, Mar 3, 12 at 22:22

Is it any wonder people label this forum a snarkfest?


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Wow, I would rather shard myself than read that again.


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You have a choice, you know. Just don't read it.


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From time to time I post on the things I know. I feel no real need to do so, except that I may play a small part in adding to the value of the forum. I don't need this forum as a place to spout off my knowledge, my ego is healthy enough as is and doesn't need stroking.

I hang around this forum to read the comments on the things I don't know which is often those made by Ink, bahia, and a whole host of others, many having posted to this discussion. Sometimes these people get off in a corner to talk of the more abstract concepts of landscape design. Often I find it difficult to fully understand what they are saying. When they post on a thread relative to a real and particular site, I have a much better chance of understanding.

Now most of these knowledgeable people are very nice. I suspect they are like me in that they are not highly motivated to speak at all. And when someone jumps up and claims their comments are offensive and a personal attack, I think there is a good chance they will stop posting. That result would deny me the benefit I seek at this forum, and I plain don't like it.

Me, I'm an old redneck. I don't place a lot of value in being nice. Listen up Yard, you are being a problem child. If you feel you are being hit upon, it's not because you use photoshop, promote simplistic cliched solutions, or even bad design. The real problem is the chip you're carrying on your shoulder.

OK, you think you are being singled out. So I'll take some time to critique your proposals to this thread. You may not like what I have to say, but I doubt you'll call me sly.

I think you defined the concept you gave with the words "The house face needs foliage mass ..... , I'd widen the bed." You demonstrated that with a photo mock up. I don't find your suggestion to be totally without merit. A street photo of any stark house corner might have it's curb appeal enhanced by this one-sized-fits-all solution. And it's one that any homeowner can do in a weekend; buy a dozen 2ft shrubs, a small tree, and plant them in an extended bed. But there are a great number of other solutions that could achieve the same result. And the overwhelming odds are that one of the other solutions would give the homeowner more pleasing views from other angles, better serve his need to move about the landscape, and be more harmonious with the adjoining property, to name a few. While the solution you offer may be just what the OP seeks, there are likely going to be many readers of this discussion with a similar situation. I think it's appropriate that they be warned that a quick acceptance of the trite one size fits all solution will lead them away from a better landscape.

You said:
pls8xx, Part of what you refer to has to do with camera angle in the photo that's presented. I'm not offering a scaled plan here and that should be understood by any and everyone. When I offer a suggestion and explicitly state that it's a "scheme"... this means that an op would need to work out the details on a plan or on their property. I think it's pretty obvious that someone could come very close to doing what I suggest. I know I could if I were there... or if the op posted a plan view drawing of this area.

Although you state the suggestion represents a "scheme", and I have no problem with that, you go on to imply that your photo mock-up can be realistically applied to this site. When considering the two constraints (a 10ft property line and a need for a path) your mock-up becomes a physical impossibility.

Consider the usual development of a residential property and it's practical use. A house normally has two sides; a garage side and a "occupied" side. People don't often spend a lot of time in the garage and it seldom has windows. Where a lot has a width to allow shifting of the house from side to side on the lot, the garage side is placed closer to the property line because land on the occupied side has a greater value than on the other side. Part of that is because the elements such as patios and decks tend to be clustered at the back of the occupied side.

Every homeowner will want a route from the back to the front; who wants to take the lawn mower through the house? And almost every homeowner will prefer the shorter pathway from the back occupied side to the front rather than the long way around the garage side.

Those knowledgeable in landscape understand the importance of this pathway before the thought even occurs to the homeowner.

About making good on your statement:
"I think it's pretty obvious that someone could come very close to doing what I suggest. I know I could if I were there... or if the op posted a plan view drawing of this area.

Let me give a bit of help. I'll put a ruler up on the face of the house so you can see where the property line is.


Where is the path? You need a plan view to detail your concept?



Go ahead, draw it up. Show us where the plants would really go. Then we can render it and see if it's a match to your photo mock-up.

ps Those that go around with a chip on their shoulder get a lot of attention.


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Pss8xx, now that I read your post I see you don't have any ego problem.

And I see that I made an error in the photo I submitted. I used the wrong bush. It should look more like this:


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Mr Plsxxx,

Why do you think there was value in critiquing Yardvark in such a matter?

I think he had already mentioned that the view would need to be scaled appropriately and have a path for maintenance access. In fact wasn't the point of the photo to show the layering effect of a small tree to the front and larger tree in the distance?

Its quite possible you missed it with all the other BS in this thread.

At the end of the day some of you bring snipets of brilliance but spoil it with your incompetence to interact with people.

As a newer member just checking out this forum I have nothing against or for Yard but some of you just need to give it a break already!

As Karen put it so eloquently, Yard...BEST. POST. EVER! I'm sure it was meant for a few of you. Although that childish move just fuels the fire of the other hot heads on here.


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leftontheinside,
I cannot answer your question directed to Mr. Plsxx but as a long time on and off member of this forum I can see educational value in a well thought out critique such as the one that was offered by Mr. Plsxx.
Through his assessment we were visually educated to the working dimensions of the site, which illustrates that extending the bed out and planting a small tree in that extended bed would not allow for passage to the rear yard, a poignant point that most homeowner would find helpful for safety and utilitarian measures.


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Um, I believe that Karin's remark was aptly directed towards ink's discussion about "round or square"...


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leftontheinside said:
"Why do you think there was value in critiquing Yardvark in such a matter?"

In the over 10 years I have been here, I don't ever recall making a post of that nature. But I thought I was clear at the beginning what motivated me to do so. Some may see a certain humor in bringing his claim of being picked on to reality. But humor was not a part of my motive.

"I think he had already mentioned that the view would need to be scaled appropriately and have a path for maintenance access. In fact wasn't the point of the photo to show the layering effect of a small tree to the front and larger tree in the distance?

Its quite possible you missed it with all the other BS in this thread.

Around my location in Arkansas, there are many so called professional landscapers now using photo mock-ups, with out any additional plan, to sell clients on hiring them. The end results are seldom anything like what the client was shown. Some clients feel like they didn't get what they paid for. You can get an idea of what I'm saying by looking at the first mock-up that Yard did compared with the one he can actually build.

"At the end of the day some of you bring snipets of brilliance but spoil it with your incompetence to interact with people."

Yep. Every once in a while the real pros here say something brilliant and it penetrates my thick skull. But as you say, it comes in snippets. Though I am something different from most of the other posters, I have never felt any animosity directed toward me by the regulars to the forum. You're welcome to review the years of discussions; maybe you will see something I didn't. It is true that when I step outside my knowledge base, I am sometimes corrected. It is then that I am most likely to learn something.

"As Karen put it so eloquently, Yard...BEST. POST. EVER!

You should go back and look. Karin's post "BEST. POST. EVER." was directed at Ink, not Yard. While I don't see it as the best post Ink ever made, it certainly gave me much to study.


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I'll tell you one thing, that was a diplomatic response on your behalf. Kudos to you. Its tough to not respect that.

I should have said "to quote Karin".


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O.M.G!

nothing changes huh? unbelievable....


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"as a long time on and off member of this forum I can see educational value in a well thought out critique such as the one that was offered by Mr. Plsxx. Through his assessment we were visually educated to the working dimensions of the site, which illustrates that extending the bed out and planting a small tree in that extended bed would not allow for passage to the rear yard, a poignant point that most homeowner would find helpful for safety and utilitarian measures." ...if one believes any of it.

I see curious statements that run in these threads... The brilliance of all the contributors, but me. How long everyone has been on the forum...implying that they belong, I guess, and I don't or my words don't weigh as much. How nice everyone is, but me. The depth of value in everyone's statements, but mine. That I have a chip on my shoulder, but no else does. There's no ego problems here, but mine. We just normal folk, but Yard he need meds. (That was nice.) And he need some lessons in how that landscape arkitecture stuff do work!

But when a story unfolds, sometimes what's missing says more about it than what's said. I find myself repeatedly wondering, in a forum that's years old, international in reach and open to anyone, where are ALL the people who SHOULD be here? I've heard others say there is a current of unfriendliness that runs in this forum. I've seen it. And I've felt. (On behalf of others, too.) Since, my first coming here (which was last August I believe) I've been warned several times that I will get "no free pass." Well, I never asked for one. But other people seem to get the free pass. Especially, if they're one of the 1/2 dozen dominating repeat contributors that like to say they've been here for years. I've heard people say they've abandoned this forum on account of the unfriendly tone and it seems like a real possibility.

Regarding pls8xx's recent post... his challenge to me... do I need to remark about its hot-headed, condescending tone? Or generally, what a glaringly juvenile approach it is? Deviant deziner has already praised it. Pls' earlier post has been there for four days. While people want to split hairs about my drawing--or watch or encourage others to do so--not a single person seems to have noticed that what he's in a rage about over my drawing, well, he easily exceeds those limits in his own first submittal! But let's nevermind that. Of all the learned professional minds here who aren't giving out "free passes"... well, has anyone noticed that you can't use a perspective drawing as though it's an elevation? And HE WANTS TO "RENDER" MY DRAWING AND MAKE A DETERMINATION ABOUT MY SUBMITTAL? Is Jamie Kennedy going to pop out from the other side of a hidden camera here? That is so far over the top it's beyond comprehension really.


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RE: Softening corner of house

Wow. Another thread turned into a battlefield and it is a shame. Yardvaark I have agreed with a lot of your advice on a lot of different threads and felt you have tried to be helpful but your attitude is baffling to me. You seem to think that you are being picked on because you are the new guy but in my 7-8 years lurking and occasionally posting here I have never seen that kind of thing going on here.

You are being singled out because of the personal attacks you launch into at the drop of a hat. If you catch any kind of whif of anything you deem as criticism of what you have posted whether it was meant that way or not you go into attack mode.

It's like the guy who is going to pound anyone for saying anything against him so no one will ever dare because of the 'punishment' he will heap on them. I've seen it in thread after thread and it makes me sad on two levels. One is that it is difficult to read all the animosity coming from you to those you feel have disagreed with you and the other is that you may drive others who for years have been making great contributions to this forum.

I really hope that you can stop thinking that every time someone has an idea that is at odds with yours it is an attack on you. It's really just a different opinion, maybe superier maybe not but that is for those reading it to decide. You are welcome to attack me for saying this as I know you like to have the last word but I hope you can lighten up and maybe even start liking the regulars here, they have always seemed mostly nice, helpful and at times have quite a bit of fun.

Maria


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RE: Softening corner of house

Maria, I appreciate your comments, but respectfully, must disagree. When someone says, "doing xyz (what Yard proposes) is not what a good designer would do" ... are they critizing my proposal? Or making it personal by criticizing and trying to weaken professional credibility? I think it's clearly the latter. It would be one thing to come out and make such a personal criticism directly. It's more insidious to slip it in surreptitiousness. And that's how it's done. It will slip right by some people, but yet it lingers and the effect is cumulative when it's done here and there over time (which has been the case.) . Allowing it to go un-addressed is not really an option. I can rustle up another example of it if you need to see it.

Are you against the concept of self defense? In this thread, I didn't start this scuffle by lobbing an insult at anyone. The insult was lobbed at me. It's not the first time. It's asking too much of me if you think I should accept the insult and the resulting injury to credibility with no attempt to self defend. Maria, I think you are seeing this problem skewed. I've not tried to control what anyone says on this forum, but the attempt to control what I say is made in various ways, some open and straightforward, and in other cases, a backhanded manner.

Would you use that recent thread "the Yardvaark effect" as one example of a way in which regulars here "are mostly nice"?

I hear what you say, but I don't believe that your eyes are fully open to the bigger picture of how the attempt is made to discredit and control others here. Respectfully, again, I must disagree with you. And claiming that one "must always have the last word" is just another backhanded way of trying to manage what someone else says. If there's a point to be made on a public forum, anyone is within their right to make it. Readers always have the option of not reading or addressing it.


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RE: Softening corner of house

i said it in another thread...will say it again... i find yard's post to be very helpful in understanding what "could be done". honestly... all the ideas of others just get lost in the words. keep it simple folks!

i lurk here...as one so nicely put, when a few of us posted on the other heated thread...a fly coming to sh*T(BHAHAHAHA) whatever. honestly, all i have seen is attacks on what yard has offered. i certainly do expect him to shoot back.

i had really hoped this would have been over and done with by now.... but the nose bleeds from the high horse many are on sadly continues.

chris...a.k.a the fly ;)


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RE: Softening corner of house

Maria nicely nails the issue, as she so often does.

The story starts before "the Yardvaark effect" thread with the Yardviser threads, which should still be available for anyone to study, especially the lurkers/drop-ins who have never involved themselves in any discussion here nor asked for landscape help and maybe don't even garden but seem to deem themselves judge and jury here... because their usual forum is so "nice" that no one dares to say anything critical at all.

Please keep in mind, Yard, that my thread was a RESPONSE to my experiences trying to dialogue with you, and trying to co-advise OPs with you. It was DIFFERENT from the experiences I have had working here with others - THAT is why I started that thread - and its intention was to discuss, not to attack. It only became polarized when the Home Dec people piled on despite their complete ignorance of the situation and began to attack ME. I think that affected how you responded. They got so hot under the collar that it would have been hard for you not to be.

Yard, may I suggest you go back and reread the Yardvisor threads and see if you can pinpoint the genesis of these conflicts. I'm open to you pointing out that others were the problem, even if you think it's me.

But what I would also suggest you do is go back and read threads from before you were involved. Look at situations where people have disagreed with each other before - yup, it happened. See how it played out. See how people who got hammered came back and contributed again. Analyze what each of us brings, or doesn't, to the forum.

Ironically, I do think all these discussions have had a positive effect in that the fundamental nature of the disagreement has surfaced and thus can be explained to OPs and debated openly among respondents if necessary for the improvement of the advice being given. It was just swimming below the surface before and disrupting discussions without anyone understanding quite what it was.

Karin L


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RE: Softening corner of house

This may add nothing to the conversation but I have writer's block regarding work stuff so...

From what I've observed, there are a few people in this forum who currently are looking for an insult. Note that this is the plural form.

Yard, I agree with Maria but I understand where you're coming from. The attack Yard thread was truly an attack and unnecessary. However, you're now reading that into every response.

You stated "I appreciate your comments, but respectfully, must disagree. When someone says, "doing xyz (what Yard proposes) is not what a good designer would do" ... are they critizing my proposal? Or making it personal by criticizing and trying to weaken professional credibility? I think it's clearly the latter." Others will read it as the former. I think what I read is that several people tried to directly address the OP's question and then started to drift. Where you inferred (what Yard proposes), I inferred (what has been proposed and the specific issue we've been looking at).

Tell me if I'm wrong but, Yard seems to be coming at this forum from a different perspective than others. He's trying to look at the OP's question and answer it without much straying from the original problem as defined in the first post. He uses figures to illustrate his answers and I think a lot of the OPs who wander in wanting to know if they should plant a shrub or a tree X ft away from their door find it helpful. He also helps to show, in a broad, schematic sense, what that X should be.

A lot of the other long time posters would look at that question and maybe answer that a magnolia or some such could grow there but then continue on as to whether a plant in the front yard would help and be good design and what is the true, unstated goal of the question. Yard having already suggested planting Y in the general area of X, seems to be reading the questioning of that suggestion as an insult when it's more intended to be a diversion.

Personally, I appreciate the mock-ups - particularly when they come with an explanation for why a specific shaped plant in the position drawn would do what the question asks.

But, I really enjoy the deeper wanderings. They help me look at the landscape from a different perspective, particularly when there is more than one vantage point. And they help me view how I look at my yard and how I want it to play out.


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RE: Softening corner of house

Given what's there - I might move the Crimson Queen Japanese Maple a little more to the front left edge of the existing bed. Even if this variety is supposed to be a relatively slow grower, it would eventually "fluff" over what is thought to be the offending corner.

I just think ten feet of space limits what one can do as far as adding more shrubbery and a path, etc. are concerned.

Being visual, I don't find the mock-ups get in the way of any discussion. But I never understood the need for "right fighting"... that does have a tendency to get in the way as does coming out of lurkdom from other forums simply to pile on.


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RE: Softening corner of house

If you can�t explain it simply, you don�t understand it well enough.
Albert Einstein


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RE: Softening corner of house

Well sure, but did you ever see Einstein's yard? Horrible.


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RE: Softening corner of house

  • Posted by bahia SF Bay Area (My Page) on
    Mon, Mar 5, 12 at 16:48

Time to offer a mea culpa here, and present an olive branch. I am guilty as inferred by Yard, of winding him up with some of my replies. Mostly in my perception of his sometimes rather formulaic responses to others, and my sense that he seems a bit intellectually rigid about validity of opposing viewpoints. I wouldn't actually come out and say I doubt his professional talents and skill set, particularly with regard to computer graphics and photoshopping design responses which are often quick and to the point. I agree with Plss that they can be a tool which misleeds at times, but being visual are more often preferred by OP's because they ARE visual. Where I have issues with some of Yard's responses are the emphasis on the aesthetic at the expense of broader analysis of equally important design considerations, and the broad brush categorization of landscape design at the residential scale as being in opposition to an emphasis on planting design and/or more individualized front yard design. I can
understand this sort of approach if one is designing front yard landscapes for an H.O.A. maintained subdivision, but feel it is stifling of individuality at the single residence scale. I've spent a decade of professional landscape design doing that as the bread and butter of the office practice, but it ultimately seemed somewhat soul-less to me, and I decided to switch my design efforts to private residential work because it typically allows for less formulaic design solutions. This is where I am coming from with my posts here, and I'd be interested in pursuing a less heated discussion of the merits/differences in philosophy, etc without getting into a battle. Over the past half year I've made more of an effort to include actual photos of built gardens I have designed that illustrate the points I've been trying to make, and I think they can work as well as a photoshopped post when responding here. I'll offer up a challenge to Yard, maybe you can show us some real world installed examples of your design work to supplement your approach as many of the other professionals and gardening nonprofessionals have done in the past. I've seen enough garden photos of completed installations by pros here to get a very good sense of their work supporting their design sensibilities. Of course you're under no obligation to post photos of your own work, there are certainly other pros here that seldom if never post photo's of their work, and there's no obligation to do so. I've also noticed that Yard seldom comments on any threads with photo examples of installed work, again no reason that he should, but curious none the less.

So to sum up, I'll lay off the subtle digs and not get drawn into contributing to on-line wars of words, as I've responded here without ant intended digs. Coming from a fine arts as well as a horticultural background and a life long fascination with plants and an overlay of landscape architecture training, has influenced my views and design alproach. Any advice I give here reflects that background, and I hope better explains the conflict I have with design approaches which I feel fail to appreciate that growing things aren't mere interchangeable furniture or objects subservient to assumed standards of residential design approach.


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RE: Softening corner of house

Do you mean this one, marcinde?

Not exactly farshtunken, but with Einstein everything was relative.

Here is a link that might be useful: It really is nice to know where posters are coming from


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RE: Softening corner of house

Popcorn time. Again :)


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RE: Softening corner of house

duluth - see what I mean? No use of color!


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RE: Softening corner of house

  • Posted by whaas 5a SE WI (My Page) on
    Mon, Mar 5, 12 at 17:16

John, your last post is money (re visuals). The visual element was the missing ingredient when trying to interpret everyone's suggestions in my threads.

Every situation is dynamic but there has to be an example of a soultion that was provided at some point to help the conversation along. Even referencing older threads is like gold.

Anyone that owns a home and is seeking design advice should be intelligent enough to read through the lines and select what is applicable to their situation.
In this type of format more is better.

I remember posting this to get a flavor of how others designed. I was a little disappointed to get lackluster responses but I can understand why others may not want to share. Perhaps I have to visit more often to see others designs.

http://forums2.gardenweb.com/forums/load/design/msg1017490126369.html


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RE: Softening corner of house

Tanowicki, I appreciate your analysis. It occurs to me, too. If a "dig" is not aimed at someone, they're likely to pass over it and not notice. However, the intended recipient will not miss it.

Maybe you could look at this and see if I'm interpreting it wrong... or if it's meant to be uncomplimentary: "No doubt Yardvaarks opinions are locally influenced by what he sees as the majority around him. It probably also reflects client's tastes and budgets which are less concerned with broader design issues and more about simpler issues such as curb appeal or foundation shrub plantings. No slight intended towards these sorts of design problems, but they tend to limit more diverse design responses."

I think that second guessing what influences someone else (unknown to the speaker) is presumptuous, at best. To imply that the influence is only what's local, is a coded way of saying that someone doesn't have much depth of experience. They're not as sophisticated about the issues. Then to go on and say "It probably reflects..." (the "It," referring to my clients) don't have tastes or budgets where they would be concerned with the "broader design issues. The coded message here is that I can only have simple thoughts and ideas because that's all I work with because my clients are simple people with not much money... not those sophisticated people who understand deeper concepts (which will remain unidentified.) To me, the three sentences I'm quoting above have an distinct air of superiority and reek of haughtiness ... so much so that I don't see how it could be missed by anyone who takes a careful look. Of course, no one will care about it like myself as I am the mentioned person. The statement I'm quoting has no purpose other than than to discredit.

It wasn't all that long ago when "the Yardvaark effect" thread was in full swing. The quote from above was only 10 ago. Then the one that got under my skin here was only one week later. My experience is that if one "takes it," it will keep coming.


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RE: Softening corner of house

"Where I have issues with some of Yard's responses are the emphasis on the aesthetic at the expense of broader analysis of equally important design considerations..." I'll take issue with the idea that anything I offer is "at the expense of" anything else. Offering someone a dollar does not mean that someone else cannot offer them five, ten or twenty dollars. Nothing I do precludes anyone from jumping in where, and as, they wish. The other issue I take is that someone else can't determine for me what the design priorities should be. If someone want to put a lower value on aesthetics, I'm OK with that. But to me, it ranks high and I'm OK with keeping it there. I know people won't necessarily agree with what my idea of beauty is. I'm OK with that, too. And, surely, it should be OK to defend one's ideas on a forum. In spite of what some people seem to think, I'm not trying to win converts by pressuring them. I'm trying to win them by defending my ideas. If I can't win them... oh, well. I'm OK with that, too.

"I'll lay off the subtle digs..." Your digs are not really all that subtle!! : ) If one should slip through in the future, I'll see if I can't use some of my corn-fed humor to deal with it. I appreciate that you'll let me be me, and you can be you. Olive branch accepted!


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RE: Softening corner of house

I for one, completely understood Einstein's theory of relativity, because he was SUCH a genius at explaining it simply.


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RE: Softening corner of house

Olive branch accepted

THE END


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RE: Softening corner of house

"Nothing I do precludes anyone from jumping in where, and as, they wish."
This was not how I was experiencing co-posting with you at all. I did find I was being precluded from contributing in a couple of different ways, which I expressed at the time and then explained in aggregate on the thread I started.

I would, again, suggest you go back and read your previous contributions and conversations that took place when you posted as "Yardvisor," and the long PMSmith thread under your current one.

I would be very interested in hearing how you view those threads now, both your own contributions and the contributions of others. Perhaps I can learn something; perhaps I should have been doing something different. Please feel free to tell me what that might have been.

Karin L


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RE: Softening corner of house

Karin, sincerely and honestly, I have no grudge against you. I'm aware of how things can go wacky in the world of print and people can misinterpret other people's motives. I think I somewhat understand what you were feeling a few weeks ago. Truthfully, I was wondering why some people--yourself included--seemed to be holding back. When I present what I believe in, I look at it as though I'm presenting my side of the story... what's most important to me. But I'm not trying to say that I'm the only voice. Or that other people can't talk about what's important to them. But it's up to others to present their viewpoint. It's not for me to do. While I would just love to have OPs kiss me up one side and down the other for what I contribute, I see that there are plenty who don't want to do that. They want to kiss you instead! While I believe, oh well, their loss, I'm happy for you! When I sense the OP wants to get "gardeny" I don't want to compete. I'm happy to give up and move on. I only want to help those who want the help I have to offer. It might seem that I push a little as I feel out the thread, but that's because I recognize that so many of them don't understand enough to actually describe where it is they want to go. They only have a feeling. I want them to want what I have to offer. But if they don't, I'm content to clear out. I see all of this as nothing more than the great phenomenon of varied interests, competition and selection. There' room for many more people on the forum. I have no hard feelings nor wishes of malice toward you. We just disagree on some landscape things. That's all. Maybe it's taken a while, but I'm sure we can learn to get along.


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RE: Softening corner of house

Well, good intentions will be a good start, thank you. That, and whatever you've been drinking, maybe I'll have some...

Karin L


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RE: Pictures

Bahia, I was in a hurry to post and forgot to say anything about your "challenge" of photos of my work. I have posted a couple photos previously but did not advertise them as being my work. I'm not opposed to posting photos, but the reality is that it's difficult to obtain decent ones of finished projects. (I don't get those big budget jobs!) I've never been satisfied with fresh work photos and getting ones of grown work is about an impossibility, especially since I have relocated a couple times in recent years and for some of that time been involved in undertakings unrelated to landscape design. Most of my pics are snippets of things under construction so not very glam. With some time I'm sure I can find something. Just don't hold your breath!


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RE: Softening corner of house

Karin, that's what I'm sayin'... are there hidden spy cameras here or what??

My intentions are good. I'm sorry that they came across as anything else. I'll try to make an extra effort. I'm sorry that you suffered. I don't wish you discomfort or, for sure, not misery. Don't worry, Karin. It'll be fine. We'll make it work. (Sorry, I don't mean to be making this sound like an arranged Russian marriage.)


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RE: Softening corner of house

  • Posted by bahia SF Bay Area (My Page) on
    Mon, Mar 5, 12 at 22:37

Getting back to the original topic of softening that corner, given the element of time the existing maple(?) Framing the street view on the left hand side will accomplish that without doing another thing. I'd suggest possibly repeating that tree choice a bit closer to the left corner of the house right along the property line, which as they mature would nicely frame the street view in a simple clean way. As to wrap around access from the front to the back along this left side of the house, I'm going to assume easy access is available around the garage side of the house, and through access may not even be necessary for a lawn mower or garden maintenance purposes. Supporting this view is the O.P.'s thoughts onwrapping this side with low shrubs with perhaps a stepping stone path through it. In my view, balancing the mass of the house against the void of the adjacent empty field is better accomplished with larger trees rather than smaller. For what it is worth from an elitist left coast perspective. We've had our karmic comeuppances for our effete ways, at 5:43 am this morning there was a fairly strong earthquake at 4.0 and close/strong enough to get one's attention. Only mother nature's reminder not to sweat the small stuff, and I'll take it over tornadoes or hurricanes any day, (as in the devil you know...) it sometimes really does seem there is local earthquake weather, it was 72*F the day before and gorgeously blue skied.


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