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Backyard design ideas.

Posted by amanda2826 CA, Zone 9 (My Page) on
Tue, Feb 7, 12 at 15:44

Here is the satellite view of my lot to show the yard I have to work with. The image was taken from two angles and spliced together, so my house looks kind of odd in this image.

Overall, I want a backyard full of color and flowers that will attract butterflies and hummingbirds. I love curved and winding beds. I don't need much lawn, but I do want to keep a section of lawn for my nephews to kick around a ball. :) There will be a round fire pit in the back left corner of the yard that I would like to have surrounded by plants so that you can't tell there is a firepit back there when you are standing on the patio. I would love to have a winding path through flowers to get to the fire pit. I made up a sketch to get my own idea of how this would be done but I will probably be changing this depending on suggestions.. The patio in my sketch is the extended version and the whole bottom right side is now cemented.. the satellite view just isn't as current.

I am just having issues with where to put all of my flower beds throughout the yard. I want it to be my own personal paradise where I can go back there to relax. And I have plenty of time for upkeep, I enjoy it. The square in the back right corner is a shed that we will be putting up. And the three boxes on the left side are my garden beds that will need to still have sun accessable to them.
Here are some pictures that I really like.

If anyone has any suggestions or ideas, that would be great. So far I have found a lot of advice on this forum that I love. :)

Follow-Up Postings:

RE: Backyard design ideas.

  • Posted by jkom51 Z9 CA/Sunset 17 (My Page) on
    Tue, Feb 7, 12 at 19:14

Ummm....actual dimensions would help. You should also specify more precisely where you are; the number of microclimates in CA is staggering.

And it's fine to say you have a lot of time, but what's your level of expertise? Those are tightly-packed landscapes, with photos taken at an ephemeral moment in time. If you want such beds to look good all year round, that's not so easy.

What are your budget considerations? What watering system are you going to use? The traditional cottage gardens shown in most of your photos use a fair amount of water.

RE: Backyard design ideas.

Sorry about that, I didn't even realize that I forgot dimensions!

I've added the cement pad and the extended patio..
The far back wall is 88ft. The left wall all the way to the front fence is 116ft. The right wall to the cement is 67ft. The porch is 36ft wide with the extra space on the right being 14ft wide. The patio goes out 14ft as well. The very front fence on both sides are 20ft each.

I live in the central valley, between fresno and bakersfield.

As for my level of expertise, I am in no way a pro but neither am I a beginner. I have a green thumb, I can keep all of my plants alive and if someone has one that is starting to look, shall we say, sad, I can bring it back to life. I know proper pruning techniques and have had successful beautiful gardens in the past. It's just that this is my new home so I am starting from scratch again. I understand that to have a bed look good all year round is not an easy task; I also know that in the winter they can sometimes look drastically different than in the spring and summer.

As for right now, I don't have a super tight budget. I get discounts at local nurseries so that is a plus. But I do always try and find the best deal around. I don't want to just go throwing money around. If I can only get a few plants here and there, I am okay with that. As long as I already have a design plan set out and I know for the most part what will eventually be going where.

As for watering system, I'd love to have some suggestions. I haven't set my foot down on any one system yet.

RE: Backyard design ideas.

I'm from Michigan, so I can't help you with California plants, but I want to suggest that you don't forget shrubs and small trees. If it was me, I'd also add some big trees, but you might not want to block the sun for your flowers. When I first started gardening, I just wanted bright flowers. I still like bright flowers, but I've learned the value of shrubs and trees in the beds with the flowers. Most of the pictures you posted have lots of shrubs in them. The trees and shrubs will give you height to make the fire pit area feel more enclosed and cozy. Just don't plant them too close to the fire pit.

I also pay more attention to the leaves of everything than the flowers since the leaves are there all the time (except winter) but the flowers are usually very short-lived.

RE: Backyard design ideas.

Thanks for the advice! :)
Yeah, I am definitely not forgetting about shrubs. I haven't thought about small trees though, I will have to look into that. I have three Liriodendron tulipiferas planted along the back. There is redbud planted in the very far right corner that will eventually be slightly hanging over the fire pit area (but not so close as to be a danger). I also have a galaxy magnolia planted outside my bedroom window kind of next to the patio in that 14x14 area to the right. I would love to have some more trees, but I don't want too much shade in my yard since the back wall faces North, I already get less light during the winter months with the sun being lower towards the front of my house. Even though your from Michigan and can't help with ideas on what plants, do you have any ideas for a layout idea? Thanks for the help! :)

RE: Backyard design ideas.

I think it looks pretty good, but then again, I don't really plan on paper. I usually just go out and look at my yard from a bunch of different angles. I lay hoses out to visualize the outline of beds. I also have a much larger yard with woods behind the house, so I'm not experienced with working right up to the lot line. With all those disclaimers, if there's room to put some shrubs between your fire pit and the fence, I'd do that to hide the fence (if there is one) and to give privacy from the neighbors.

RE: Backyard design ideas.

  • Posted by catkim San Diego 10/24 (My Page) on
    Wed, Feb 8, 12 at 13:03

I think your general concept is workable, from the limited information given. I would only caution you'll need something more than flowers to hide the fire pit from view -- larger, taller, denser evergreen shrubs? That may take more space than you have accounted for in the sketch. In summer one appreciates the shade of a tree in Fresno. In your photos, the trees provide the leafy green backdrop; think how different the photos would be if you were to see a two story house as the backdrop. You are working from idealized photos, but I would not discourage you from trying. Select plants that will appreciate your climate and you will succeed. (I love the curving grass paths in the pix.)

RE: Backyard design ideas.

  • Posted by bboy USDA 8 Sunset 5 WA (My Page) on
    Wed, Feb 8, 12 at 15:46

If you are going to have a curve on one side of the garden put a corresponding curve on the other side. Think in terms of the lawn (or paved area) looking like a lake or river flowing through the scene, with the beds being the adjacent hills. For best effect the sides will never come together to produce constrictions at any point, rather where one side comes over the other will move away, as it would with a paved path with a minimum width requirement.

With mixed planting a good balance is a few trees, some shrubs and a lot of non-woody plants. This assumes a willingness and ability to design, install and maintain substantial herbaceous plantings. Where this is not present shrubs and shrubby groundcovers should make up the bulk of the planting. For extreme simplicity of design and maintenance sheared hedges and mown grass should be dominant, with maybe one small bed of flowers near the house for added interest.

Think of a mixed bed or border as a stage, with evergreen shrubs providing enclosing structure within which non-woody plants are the featured players. Deciduous shrubs provide intermediate, transitional elements between these two groups. Climbing plants can function as drapery on any fencing or hedging that may be behind.

RE: Backyard design ideas.

I'm making a guess here, but if it's intended that the firepit is surrounded by plants, it's a little close to the fences. The walk is a little too close to the firepit as it approaches it. I think the walk would be improved if the extent of the curves were reigned in somewhat.

RE: Backyard design ideas.

Thank you for the advice everyone. I have the basic layout of how I want everything set up now. I have moved the garden beds to the other side of the yard with a flower bed curving around it. I am soon to be digging up sprinklers so they can be moved to where they need to go. I'll will add pictures once more progress has been done. :)

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