Return to the Landscape Design Forum | Post a Follow-Up

 o
Help my dull/poorly planned front yard!

Posted by pmsmith2032 5b (My Page) on
Wed, Feb 8, 12 at 22:17

After receiving tons of advice on this forum and creating an evolving backyard plan, I've come to realize that our front yard is in just as bad shape as our back is! The trees we currently have planted were poorly planned and now many need to be moved. I am hoping I can get some help making my front yard look as good as the backyard plans are. Below are a couple of pictures to illustrate our current situation:

Front yard from street:
Image and video hosting by TinyPic

Slightly closer view from the steet (tree in middle of front yard is a weeping cherry and parkway tree is a burr oak):
Image and video hosting by TinyPic

Front of house (bed on left contains two knockout rose bushes; bed on right contains three yews, two small bushes with dark red leaves and thorns, and a redbud tree which probably need to be moved)
Image and video hosting by TinyPic

Front right bed again and side bed containing knockout rose bushes:
Image and video hosting by TinyPic

Left side of driveway. Balsam tree probably needs to be moved as it is too close to driveway (7'). Lot line runs back to fence. House next door is corner house so their back faces our side (no trees in their backyard)
Image and video hosting by TinyPic

Thanks everyone for your help! This site has been incredible and I plan on creating a new thread on all that I leaned when these projects are finished!


Follow-Up Postings:

 o
RE: Help my dull/poorly planned front yard!

You need a designer,put tons of advice on this forum into a pic.

Photobucket


 o
RE: Help my dull/poorly planned front yard!

  • Posted by catkim San Diego 10/24 (My Page) on
    Thu, Feb 9, 12 at 1:30

While I would not choose the formality of designonline's example, her mock-up clearly demonstrates that more generously-sized planting beds have more impact. The vast expanse of lawn does not improve your view, it only emphasizes the emptiness.


 o
RE: Help my dull/poorly planned front yard!

OP don't need to accept every ideas. but tons suggests always help him to select easy.


 o
RE:3 Help my dull/poorly planned front yard!

I always need any a chance to show my tons ideas.


 o
RE: Help my dull/poorly planned front yard!

  • Posted by catkim San Diego 10/24 (My Page) on
    Thu, Feb 9, 12 at 11:28

Designonline -- I am not criticizing your design. I am saying you made a very good point with the large planting beds. Your design is very formal and too complicated for an ordinary homeowner. That is all I meant.


 o
RE: Help my dull/poorly planned front yard!

Thanks for the suggestions. I'm attaching a layout showing the dimensions of our front yard:

Image and video hosting by TinyPic


 o
RE: Help my dull/poorly planned front yard!

PM, I think you will find your threads will be less cumbersome if you dial back on the pictures a little. Just a tad!

Also, you might find you pick up a lot of good ideas by browsing other threads. On this forum we've seen a lot of houses with front garages, and if you do a search for the word Garage you might be able to spend a day browsing them. If you are on the trees forum or other plant or region-specific forums, you will also find buckets of info just perusing existing threads. It's fun, and great learning. It means that you learn from questions other people have asked and had answered and don't have to come up with each question, nor rely on a respondent for each of them to come along to your thread.

Your doorway is a real strength relative to many such houses because it is not tucked right into the corner and is not excessively recessed. Don't let your plantings negate that advantage. Leave the doorway open-feeling; don't close it in with plantings right in front of it or beside it. Do your plantings away from the door and your house will look better, more welcoming, and your yard cozier.

Also an excellent advantage that you have a wide sideyard on the left of the driveway. Many people don't! You would be amazed at how much that strip will affect the overall appearance of your yard if you put some serious attention there.

As for design, I have used the word "iterative" before and I'll use it again. The biggest step you can take toward having your design advance is to shop for plants and then actually do some planting. I know your season doesn't allow for much yet, mind you. But just in terms of formatting your expectations: the things that will play into the right design for you include: what kinds of plants do you really enjoy? What is your gardening personality in terms of maintenance? These are things that will become clear as you make, buy for, and install one bed after another, and by what things bug you about what is already there. As Laag, a regular poster here in the past, has previously said, just putting something in the ground gives you something to react to, and so much is obvious from that point forward that 125 responses on a thread can fail to get you to.

So the process tends to be that you sketch a design, buy some plants, plant them, take care of them... and then see where that takes you. Trust the journey!

Karin L


 o
RE: Help my dull/poorly planned front yard!

Let me start by saying that by no means do I think what you have is all that "poorly planned." Actually, it's simple and basic, and needs more to become great, but there's not too much wrong with it. The worst offender is the left of door bed line (eerily reminiscent of others I've seen proposed) but nothing else really is bad. Just needs some tweaking.

I wonder if Karin means the SIZE of the pictures as they are a little large (I usually cut yours by 50 - 60%.) But other than that, your pictures are great in showing the areas clearly. I've made suggestions on several of them so will just get started posting, with comments interleaved.

In your plan view, my yellow dashed lines suggest (I think I'm agreeing with Karin here) that the view should be funneled to the entrance area. Therefore, I would move the weeping cherry to the right. As you'll see also in another photo, I would move spruce to left (as it's going to get very large and eat into the driveway space.) The blue bed lines are suggestions for creating beds and re-configuring beds. (The sides of the house have very large blank spaces that would look better with plantings against them, and from the front view would help keep house from looking naked.) (Hmmmm....I wonder why I drew some canopies in red and some in green... ?)

Image Hosted by ImageShack.us

Image Hosted by ImageShack.us<

I'm leaving the existing redbud as you have it. One the R. side, I'm showing 3--let's call them tree form large shrubs--could be single or multi-trunk--arranged in staggered fashion with two back, one central forward. They're limbed up high (so as not to feel "gloomy" against the house and to allow for growing a hedge of low shrubs behind...something cheerful, relatively low, and loose, with light flowers or foliage. There would be a ground cover below. To fit all this in you either have to widen the bed (reconfigure retaining wall) or add bed in front of it. (I think former solution is better.) As it is, the existing bed is pinched tight--too tight--up against the house. Plants will want to overhang that tight space.

Image Hosted by ImageShack.us

On R side of house there are 3 yews and the third is hanging beyond the foundation. I would put it to good use by relocating it to L side of door in place of roses. Add another one and create a hedge for L. windows. Though it's forward of the right side, it will look same from street. Keep yews trimmed low as there's no reason to hide any stonework. At garage, place something with a little height to balance out the emptiness of the blank wall. Could even be a diminutive "tree form" (just the front half as it's up against the wall.) How about a little color at each side of stoop? But do not crowd entrance area. Where the Yew is now overhanging the corner, need something bright and different. I cannot help thinking of 'Annabelle' hydrangea (cuz I luv her so!) but there would be umpteen more possibilities.
The left bed would be greatly improved by simplifying and smoothing out that bed line/retaining wall. Add a very low groundcover and, done. Almost forgot... someday... somehow, widen the front entry walk. It is way too narrow. Keep the Redbud limbed up 1/2-way--at least yearly--as it grows to its position. Try to do that before it leafs out, if possible.

Image Hosted by ImageShack.us

Karin... you are such a free spirit!


 o
RE: Help my dull/poorly planned front yard!

Thanks as always Yaadvaark and Karin! Just a couple of quick observations/cooments as I skimmed over your post (I will read over in depth tomorrow).

1. All rose are knockout roses (I just have designated them in the plan).

2. I also forgot to add we will be adding a gate on the south side (right) entrance to the backyard.

3. Can I plant the balsam that close to the neighbor's lot line? It's already 7 feet from driveway so that only leaves 4' between it and the neighbors lot line as it is planted today.

4. Isn't the weeping cheery to large to transplant? It's my wife's pride and joy so we can't lose it!

Have a great evening!


 o
RE: Help my dull/poorly planned front yard!

The weeping cherry is not too large to transplant if you keep the root ball in tact. (Don't transplant bare root.) Transplant as soon as possible while it's dormant... not after it leafs out. (I can give you more detailed instructions later.)

It's already 7 feet from driveway... 7' from the driveway means that when it's canopy is 20' diameter (which it WILL become... whether spruce, fir or whatever) then 3' will be hanging over into the driveway. Unless you intend to limb it up, tree form fashion, from the get-go, it's going to encroach on the driveway. Moving it to the lot line only delays, somewhat, this eventuality. Better for you...give the tree to neighbor and plant 20' from your drive!... I'm just sayin' : ) As a practical maneuver, the best you can do is move it over and delay the conflict. Take a look at a typical neighborhood satellite view. EVERYONE'S plants at the lot line bleed into the neighbors' yards. It's just how it is. And it's not necessarily a bad thing. Often, a neighbor's plants provide positive attributes--screening, beauty, shade, etc--to one's own yard. Though neighbors have the right to cut off what crosses over into their yard, this rarely happens, because they accept or like the positive attributes of the plant. It's likely that your neighbor's maples (back yard) are going to cross into your yard. But they will be contributing to screening for you... and you will have trees competing back. It unlikely that you (or they) would find the way things "blend" to be unsettling.


 o
RE: Help my dull/poorly planned front yard!

Thanks Yardvaark. I should have been more detailed in my initial post, but here are some additional facts:

1. The burr oak on the parkway was planted too deep (by the city). I have a thread on the "Trees" section where a couple of members are helping me fix the problem and also prune the oak for better growth.

2. The grass along the driveway and on both parkways grows poorly. It turns out that there are chunks of asphalt buried a few inches below the surface prohibiting growth. I plan on digging up the areas and replanting grass.

3. We would like to add landscaping around mailbox. Right now we have a clump of grass planted and usually plant annual flowers.

4. I feel like we need to move the balsam and plant it somewhere to the right of the driveway. We really like the tree (it's a transplant from northern Wisconsin) and would like to decorate it at Christmas time.

5. Once we move the spruce we will be really open to the neighbors to the north. While we aren't nearly as worried about privacy in the front as the back, the neighbor to the north is on the corner and their backyard faces our side. It's a great big barren area (see below) They just moved in last summer so we no idea if they will landscape or not.

We are the house on right with temporary pool in backyard:
Image and video hosting by TinyPic

6. The bed to the left of the front door poses problems. It has a 4' overhang roof so anything planted near the foundation does not get rainwater. I would imagine we would need to put some sort of hardscape (fountain, waterfall, statue) etc to make it look correct. I'm not sure how a yew would look in front of it.

7. If we plant trees on the south side of the house, will the knock-out roses still grow?

8. We would like to plant a tree to the north (left of the driveway) on the parkway (the city only supplies one). It would have to be close to the driveway (6' or so). The trees we can choose from, per the city, are as follows:
Northern Catalpa
Hybrid Elm (Varieties: Valley Forge, Princeton, New Harmony, Homestead, Morton, Morton Glossy)
Ginkgo (Varieties: Autumn Gold, Magyar, or 'Princeton Sentry)
Common Hackberry (Varieties: Chicagoland, Windy City)
Kentucky Coffeetree (Varieties: Espresso, Prairie Titan)
Linden (Varieties: American, Silver Shadow, Sterling)
Bur Oak or Swamp White Oak, Chinquapin
Red Maple (Varieties: Autumn Flame, Franksred, October Glory, Red Sunset, Armstrong)
Thornless Honeylocust Varieties: Skyline, Shademaster, Suncole)
Turkish Filbert

Thanks as always and have a great Friday!


 o
RE: Help my dull/poorly planned front yard!

As you already have Burr Oak for street tree, I would keep it consistent and use same.

You mention moving spruce and fir so I guess you're talking about the evergreen at left of drive. I would positively NOT put this in front of the house. Unless your goal is to obliterate the street view to your house, eliminating the possibility of curb appeal in the future.

The roses on S. side do almost nothing for the big blank wall. Resolve the wall in an manner that works, first, and then see if roses fit in. I don't think they do so I'd find another spot for them. Another shrub would work much better.

At the bed left of door with overhang. Plant yews (to match) right at the drip line so they'll get water. They will grow back toward the house. There'll be a vacant space behind them for a while, but eventually, they will fill it in. Especially, since you'll be keeping their height down. They have to grow somewhere and they'll go outward in all directions.

Seeing the satellite view confirms (at least to me) my belief that you need to push the fir/spruce or whatever it is to the lot line. It looks like chances of possible lot line planting conflicts here is extremely low to non-existent.

The city's burr oak planting depth does not look sufficiently troublesome to do much, if anything, about it. My $ say it adjusts and prospers with normal care.

Here's how to transplant the cherry tree (it's kind of like cutting a cookie out of a surrounding sheet of dough) ...

You'll need a tarp to set the tree on once it's out of the ground and for transporting it. Use a SHARPENED "drain spade." Kobalt 16
It's a shovel with a long (16") narrow blade that is slightly curved across its width. You can sharpen its leading edge with a metal file if it needs sharpening. You'll cut straight into the soil around the tree in a 2' diameter (could be a little less) circle using the spade at an angle so that the resulting root ball will be tapered inward. (See my sketch below.) Do not rush this cutting process. Depending on the resistance of the soil and roots you may need to cut around the circle several times in order to completely separate the root ball from the surrounding soil. The goal is to penetrate the shovel to it's full depth... completely around the circle. While doing this, it's very important not to use the shovel in a "prying" kind of motion. It must penetrate straight in, at the angle as shown, and straight out at the same angle. You may have to push hard to cut the larger roots. If you can't penetrate to the full depth, you'll be able to penetrate further with each pass, until eventully you can. I'd say figure on 3 times around completely to do the job.

You'll be able to tell when the root ball is severed from the surrounding soil, as by then, the spade will easily penetrate the cut line and there will be little resistance when you try to remove the tree from the hole. Obviously, you will not be able to cut the very bottom of the rootball. But the tapering root ball minimizes its surface area. This part will break away from the surrounding soil fairly easily as it will likely only have a few smaller roots. If it contains a large root it may require some additional digging. In this case it's best to dig an adjacent hole OUTSIDE OF THE ROOT BALL in order to give the spade (or a pruning saw or loppers) deeper access in order to cut the root. Whatever you do, DO NOT DISTURB, CUT INTO, OR APPLY PRESSURE to the root ball that would cause it to break apart. If the "cookie cutting" process is well done, it will make lifting and moving the tree a breeze.

When the root ball is completely severed it's time to begin the somewhat delicate process of "prying" it out of the ground. It will be useful to have two or three helpers. Using at least two, but better, three shovels uniformly spaced around the cut line, insert them into the cut and with all shovels, simultaneously try to pry the root ball up and out of the ground. Begin this slowly and you can tell if the root ball seems solid and will able to withstand the uniform prying forces. If so, lift it out and lay it on its side on the waiting tarp. Do not manhandle the trunk in the process, but support it throughout the lifting process so that it doesn't shift or move relative to the root ball. (If the root ball shows signs of wanting to break or fall apart, the only solution is to leave it further untouched and excavate a circular channel (about 18" width) completely around it. (Place the excavated dirt on yet another tarp.) This will expose the root ball and allow for it to be tightly wrapped in burlap. Hopefully, this will not happen as it's another process requiring an explanation that's harder to describe than it is to do!

Once the tree is on a tarp, sling fashion, with helpers, lift it and transport it to the new planting location. Do not drag it across the ground as the trip will likely vibrate the root ball apart. Make sure the new hole accommodates the tree to the correct depth as once you place it in the hole, you'll not have the opportunity to remove it. Well, any additional handling will greatly increase the chances for the root ball breaking apart. Once it's in the hole, rotate it so that it's best face is to the street and then backfill and water it in.

One day, in another thread, I will try to describe the process of moving much larger trees by non-mechanical means. It's the process that professional nurserymen would have used in the old days to hand dig trees even into the 20' to 25' height range. Two guys could do this in two or three hours, including getting the tree out of the hole.


 o
RE: Help my dull/poorly planned front yard!

  • Posted by whaas 5a SE WI (My Page) on
    Fri, Feb 10, 12 at 13:32

I suggest you make that a full bed vs. having any grass in that area left of the doorway.

Not sure how big you are with the color wheel but since your house is more purple and mauve, yellow and green will be the colors that pop.

I'll tell you, I'm no designer but perhaps this might be helpful. I like to figure out my sight lines and bed shapes. Then I determine what my larger specimen plants are going to be (green stars in the pic). Then I fill in the plants later in stages. Whether its right or wrong, I don't know but it works for me.

I just freehanded this in paint so its just a rough view.

Photobucket


 o
Tree Selection

  • Posted by whaas 5a SE WI (My Page) on
    Fri, Feb 10, 12 at 13:43

Select the 'Princeton Sentry' Ginkgo. Smaller (width wise) more refined tree for the front. Sterling Silver Linden would be my second choice if you want the coarse texture.

If fall color isn't that big of deal for you the Espresso Coffeetree sure is a nice one. Male selection that doesn't have the seed pods. Turish Filbert is another interesting selection with very cool bark.


 o
RE: Help my dull/poorly planned front yard!

  • Posted by tibs 5/6 OH (My Page) on
    Fri, Feb 10, 12 at 18:11

I wouldn't put beds right along the driveway unless they are low plantings that can take snow dumped on top of them when you have to shovel. I am thinking that you get quite a bit? I stupidly planted shrubs along the drive. NO where to put snow.


 o
RE: Help my dull/poorly planned front yard!

I've been looking for the 'planning' part of this thread, and decided there isn't any. So far there has been a fair amount of discussion for future inhabitants of a plant zoo, but little discussion about whether or not the OP even wants a plant zoo.

Do you want a plant zoo?

Do you want shade?

Do you want privacy?

Do you want a place to put a flower bed?

Do you want a Christmas light display worthy of a 100,000 views on YouTube?

Do you want a place for a topiary dragon?

Deciding what you want from the space is where the planning starts. If it fulfills those wants, it's properly planned. If it doesn't, it fails.


 o
RE: Help my dull/poorly planned front yard!

MG, I think the main objective is contained in the phrase in the first post: I am hoping I can get some help making my front yard look as good... In my experience, "curb appeal" is almost universally what clients are looking for in a front yard. The second objective usually stated is to have it be "low maintenance." Though that not specifically stated here, based on what the owner said and has already created, it seems to fit. I'm operating under the idea that he's trying to fine tune and improve upon what's there, not create an entirely different approach.

Though many people on the forum seem to like and accept them, personally, I do not care for the "plant zoos." I see them as gardening, not landscaping. If a garden is well maintained (which they are usually not) I can see how people can pull them off in the front yard, if well organized, because plants are just pretty. Most motorcycle manufacturers create an object of beauty by covering all of the ugly "workings" with gorgeous housings and cowlings. Harley Davidson, on the other hand, creates beauty by turning each of the "ugly workings" into jewelry... with lots of chrome. A garden is kind of like that. Each plant is like a piece of jewelry. But it takes someone who has the desire to maintain all that jewelry to keep it looking good. If a person doesn't have that desire, all those pieces of "jewelry" tend to turn quickly into the equivalent of rusty scrap.

A landscaping scheme that became popular in the 1970's (best I can tell) and has not yet run its course is the idea of swamping and engulfing paved areas with beds. In the designers mind they might be quite enthralling (as it's more places to put plants!) but to my thinking it is almost the antithesis of an "invitation." Maybe these beds are not maintained as the designer envisions them. Everywhere I've lived I see them turning, not into "welcome invitations," but into foreboding barricades that deliver the message "stay away." I know I can drive through any neighborhood that is 15 years old and see one after the other of these.


 o
RE: Help my dull/poorly planned front yard!

Whaas--remember he is in japanese beetle territory--no Lindens unless he wants a brown skeleton by July.

Yardvaark--you describe me perfectly! I have the ultimate plant zoo, only specks of grass on 3 acres, and trying hard to rid myself of the last blades. I'm not worried about welcoming--my "compound" is surrounded by an 8' deer fence with gate across the driveway. Nobody is welcome unless we want them to come in :) You are correct--I collect plants, I don't landscape. I am much more interested in what each plant does than how they look together. My only choices are what do I plant and where, with ground/shrub/tall shrub/tree as my "levels" to plant. But that's me. I am just here to give Smitty free plants, while you folks need to take them and make them a landscape!

Welcome to the Jungle!

Photobucket

Photobucket

Photobucket


 o
RE: Help my dull/poorly planned front yard!

Kevin, I love visiting people like you and wish I wasn't 1,000 miles away or I'd be soliciting an invitation! So many great plants to look at, talk about and explore. You (and many others on the forum) really have some really great ones, too. I'm not at all against gardening and plant collecting; I wish I had 3 acres to do some of it! But I'm against gardening and plant collecting being "sold" as landscaping or landscape design, as the two are very different. Sure, they blend, overlap, intermix, but to my way of thinking, if one has landscape design as a goal, gardening must become subordinate to it in order for success of landscape to be guaranteed. Not the other way around. Many people do not have or want landscaping/ landscape design as a goal. More power to them!


 o
RE: Help my dull/poorly planned front yard!

  • Posted by whaas 5a SE WI (My Page) on
    Sat, Feb 11, 12 at 13:49

Kevin, which C. kousa (I assume) is that?

By the way Tilia tomentosa 'Sterling Silver' is resistant to japanese bettles. They have thicker leaves. I had one for 4 years before I moved and it was never touched.


 o
RE: Help my dull/poorly planned front yard!

Yardvaark--yep--what I do is in no way landscaping. If I had the "vision' 8 years ago when we built the house, I would have done a lot more in the way of retaining walls, water features, paths, drainage solutions, etc. That would have made the gardening easier. As it stands, I now have to go back and disturb the plantings to fix my lack of vision. Oh well, at least that gives me some large projects to tear into this summer.

Whaas--that is Cornus controversa 'Variegata'. Also, good to know at least some Tilia are resistant to JB's.

If the city is offering the street trees, I'd go with the Chinkapin Oak. They are very fast growing, with awesome leaves. It makes a great tree for the front yard.


 o
RE: Help my dull/poorly planned front yard!

Thanks everyone for all the suggestions. A couple of follow up thoughts/questions:

1. I am hesitant to put another oak out for a parkway tree as ours and the neighbor on the corner are both oaks (at least I think theirs is an oak = still has last year's dead leaves). Our city has planted the various species listed above throughout our subdivision so neighbors trees are usually varied. I am going to order it myself as the city only pays half and wants over a $100 per tree.

2. Any suggestions on what to plant where the redbud is now (we are going to transplant it to the backyard). Something with fall and spring interest would be great.

3. When I transplant the balsam further away from the driveway, should I plant it closer towards the house (further from the street) also? Should I consider adding another balsam closer to the house (same distsnce from the driveway) to create some privacy and variation between neighbors?

4. I don't think we will be moving the weeping cherry. If it dies my wife will not be happy and she already thinks my landscaping plans are quite ambitious. Hopefully not moving it isn't too big of a deal.

5. Any suggestions on what kind of trees to plant along both sides of the house? Any ideas on what I should do with the knockout roses (we just planted them last summer and we really like them).

Thanks as always!


 o
RE: Help my dull/poorly planned front yard!

Ok, let's start all over again.

What do you want from your front yard?

Not what do the people in the Tree forum want from your front yard, or the other people in this forum, but *you*. You are the one who is going to be spending the money, doing the work, and living with the results. Yes, there are things that are not going to work because the plants get too big, or aren't suited to the spot. So once they die, or become massive, you deal with it.

Years ago, there was a brokerage commercial that started out with dead silence. Then the announcer talked about how their brokers start by listening to the client. What does the client want from their money? What are the client's dreams about what they can do if they had more money? It seems we skipped that step here. Besides a home somewhere for the current plant collection, what else should this yard be doing?


 o
RE: Help my dull/poorly planned front yard!

Some trees don't lose their old dead leaves until the following spring just before the new leaves begin to grow. (It's an advantage if screening is desired.)

Possibilities of a tree to replace the redbud include star magnolia or corneliancherry dogwood, kousa dogwood.

Possibilities of trees for the sides include tree lilac, saucer magnolia, crab, redbud. There are more possibilities for either of these locations, but that's a start.

Because the balsam will get very large, I don't think I'd move it closer to the house.

Re-evaluate the cherry in 10 or 15 years. Or mark out a 20' diameter circle around the trunk. (Because it's weeping, chances are that you'd want the foliage to hang somewhat low.) Stand back and visualize how this 25' ht. x 20' spread tree will make the approach to the house look. I'm thinking that it will "eat" the portion of the house right of the entry thereby making the garage appear as 60% of the house instead of 40%.

Roses could go in back below one of the sets of windows, near the deck, or as a shrub group somewhere along the border.

On the left, if you want small trees to be further from house consider a scheme where bed is bumped out further and a pathway crosses it.



 o
RE: Help my dull/poorly planned front yard!

Thanks Yardvaark. What's the difference between the star magnolia and the saucer magnolia?


 o
RE: Help my dull/poorly planned front yard!

Both plants are deciduous and can be grown in shrub form (with branches and foliage to the ground) or tree form (limbed up.) As they are sizable, the tree form is usually the preferred form. The saucer magnolia has a larger, cup or tulip-like flower that is usually pink or lavender-pink, often differently colored on the outside than the inside. The star magnolia has many-petaled, flatter flowers that are white or sometimes pink. The star magnolia grows slower than the saucer magnolia and would be easier to keep confined to a smaller size, if desired. As trees, they both tend to be multi-trunk and rather wide spreading, with a rounded canopy as they mature. Each has many cultivars with their unique personality traits. Both bloom on bare branches in early spring before the leaves appear. Check Google images to see the overall form and the botanical details.


 o
RE: Help my dull/poorly planned front yard!

I just did some research on our weeping cherry and I believe it is a snow fountain weeping cherry (we bought if from Lowes I think and it hasn't grown very little in 5 years). Assuming it is, it looks like it only gets 8-12' wide. If this is the case, does it still need to be moved? Would it be better placed where the redbud is now (see above) and something else in its place? Any suggestions if this is the case? Thanks!


 o
RE: Help my dull/poorly planned front yard!

I don't think the cherry would be better in the redbud's place because it's going to have low hanging foliage (at least for quite a while.)

Since I'm not in the zone where it lives, I don't have personal knowledge of this cultivar so can't speak to its ultimate size. If the size information is coming from an arboretum, horticulturalist, arborist or source like that, it might be accurate. My experience has it that whatever size information is stated in the nursery marketing information is almost always understated. (And this information tends to be repeated verbatim forever.) Everyone wants smaller plants as there is less trimming to do. Growers tend to say their plants will grow to half the size they really will become. Telling people what they want to hear sells more plants. Until a plant becomes well known and can be observed over some years, it's speculation about the ultimate size.

As long as the plant has not leafed out I wouldn't consider a move high risk.

This is just a guess, but if the cherry has not grown much in 5 years and the redbud has not performed as well as you think it should, I'm wondering if these plants are getting sufficient water during dry periods while they are in the first two years of becoming established. This can make a big difference. This is not an accusation as I have no idea. I'm just speculating as to a possible cause. But making a concerted effort to see that dryness does not endure for any new plant for any length of time might get them to perform better. If so, this does not mean go overboard in the opposite direction and keep the soil wet. It just means don't let it get too dry.


 o
RE: Help my dull/poorly planned front yard!

Thanks Yardvaark. I've been researching more and see varying sizes so I am definitely going to move it to the right this evening. You are correct, we have no been as diligent as we should be in watering new trees. I definitely plan on doing a better job going forward. Have a great Friday!


 o
RE: Help my dull/poorly planned front yard!

Yardvaark....one more quick question. In your opinion should we bother moving the redbud in the front bed to the backyard and replace with a star magnolia, or leave it where it is, stake, and trim?


 o
RE: Help my dull/poorly planned front yard!

Personally, I prefer the Redbud at that location because it is more tree-like.... easier to keep limbed up and avoid covering too much of the front of house. (Saucer Magnolias tend toward being wide-spreading multi-trunk trees... as below.) Even though I'd be fine with the Redbud being a multi-trunk (not as wide) it looks like it's on the way to being a single. I'm fine with that, too. But it looks like you're going to have to do some serious pruning after it blooms in order to re-develop a central leader. Otherwise, you'll be left with a low-branching trunk system that's uncooperative later.

Typical Saucer Mag....


 o
RE: Help my dull/poorly planned front yard!

I moved the weeping cherry over the weekend. Here's what the frontyard looks like now:

Image and video hosting by TinyPic


 o
RE: Help my dull/poorly planned front yard!

Hopefully, the move went more smoothly than with the Serviceberry. The end result looks good. This seems like a much better placement to me. Please, post a follow-up picture here in 10 years!


 o
RE: Help my dull/poorly planned front yard!

I was at a friend's house who had an amazing garden that he noted always has something in bloom down to the week. I'd like to do the same with my boring garden. What is the easiest way to plan a new garden that has flowers planned to bloom throughout the seasons and within the seasons?


 o
RE: Help my dull/poorly planned front yard!

It would probably be best to start a new thread with your question. Also best if you tell us what kind of climate you live in and describe what kind of space you have to work with.

Karin L


 o
RE: Help my dull/poorly planned front yard!

Thanks! I was able to create some shape to the redbud by staking it (I will post pictures this weekend). I plan on moving the balsam on the left side this weekend. If I move one of the yews from the right bed (far right one) to the left bed, do I need to also move the two remaining yews on the right bed to be better spaced (one under each window)? Is there a location in the front yard where I could move the two knockout rose bushes that are in the left bed (we like the color they create during summer)? Any ideas on what we can plant in front of the yews? We're still stuck on what to plant along both sides of the house. I'm afraid that whatever we plant will grow to be too big to allow a path on each side (only 10' on left side and 16' on right).


 o
RE: Help my dull/poorly planned front yard!

You're sounding a little braver about moving plants. After relocating one yew, I'd adjust the two remaining. You'll probably want to keep them trimmed low so as not to cover up stone at front of house. This will force them sideways faster. What about soapwort (Saponaria ocymoides) in front of yews. Consider a solid circular bed of stella de Oro daylilies around the redbud... about 15 plants to start.

On the right side of the house, Japanese tree lilac would work well. Or maybe a matched set of larger viburnums. On left side, not so big of viburnums or regular lilacs. Or compact Burning Bush grown in the tree form are some possibilities (all matched sets, of course.) I don't know where to suggest for moving roses. You might leave until later when some spot calls out to you.


 o
RE: Help my dull/poorly planned front yard!

I know this is an old post but I will be implementing some of the suggestions this spring and have a few follow-up questions:

1. Right now I am planning Nannyberry (viburnum) on one of the sides of the house (group of three). Which side would be better for these (left side is north.....so shady, and narrower; right side is sunny (south) and a little wider)? Is these a different viburnum better suited? Can I limb up viburnums to make them more tree like and allow more room underneath to walk?

2. One of the plans above proposed widening the bed on the left side. Right now the bed is built up and is edged with retaining block. Should I make the entire wider bed raised? What about on the left side?

Thanks in advance!


 o
RE: Help my dull/poorly planned front yard!

While I don't know nannyberry personally, I see that it is used in the tree form, but also that it suckers, which might mean a bit of work to keep the tree limited to the number of trunks you wish. (Kind of like raising a child, you must keep after some plants to get them to behave the way you want.) When the base of the plant is in shade from its developed canopy, sucker formation will probably be less and easier to control. It seems to take sun or shade so it wouldn't matter which side of the house it's on. I see pictures of it limbed up so you can walk below so it must be do-able.

"Should I make the entire wider bed raised? What about on the left side?" I would make the entire bed wider because typical landscape plants don't generally grow in such tight confinement. (And a skinny bed doesn't set off a big house as the best fit.) They will ignore your skinny space and bulge over the top. It would look better if the bed were sized for the plants that were designed into it. Reviewing the picture where I revamped the bed, my re-do looks more realistically sized, I think. One could even make it wider (but then, there's the lot line to not forget about.) As far as left side of house, the grade seems to be making no request for a raised bed. Better not to impose something that's not called for.

(As a side note, I was in your region a couple of weeks ago. It's surprising how pretty the Illinois winter countryside can look to someone who doesn't see it much. Compared to Florida, the winter cold does an amazing job of making things look CLEAN. Here, old looking leaves hang on all winter and the Spanish moss and other things can look pretty ragged. By comparison, Illinois looked sparkling to me. It makes me wish I had the opportunity to design landscapes especially FOR winter in a deciduous environment. Though I don't want to live there because of the cold!)


 o
RE: Help my dull/poorly planned front yard!

Thanks for the advice Yardvaark. Should I actually raise the bed like I did previously with the retaining wall block? I would need a lot of dirt to build the bed up that high as there is a slight slope. I feel like I'm kind of stuck since the bed is already built up and wraps all the way around the front of the house.

What are your thoughts on three dogwoods or japanese maples on one or both of the sides? I've been researching shrubs/trees and it looks like these two might be possible too.

Glad you got to see the midwest recently! I know we're sick of the cold are ready for Spring!!!


 o
RE: Help my dull/poorly planned front yard!

It's my opinion that you should extend the bed, raised as you have it now, if you want the best look. A wide bed would be more in scale for the size of your house and is what is needed to accommodate plants. It would look classy. An extended/widened bed in which the soil is not raised so that the "container" (bed) appears empty or sunken is not a look to consider. I would not call what you need all that much dirt, but I guess its relative. Maybe you could use craigslist to your advantage in seeking dirt from others who are wishing for a place to dispose it... or maybe for a free source if you need to go get it. Last year I needed a similar amount of dirt for a small project. I drove around the near countryside looking for any dirt that looked unwanted. Within 20 minutes I found a good size pile. Within another twenty minutes I tracked down the owner who told me to load up, no charge. (It belonged to the owner of a company who excavated for septic tanks. You might search out some similar operation if you don't want to buy dirt and have it delivered.) If you don't have access to a pick-up truck that wouldn't work for you. Maybe someone else has another suggestion.

On another subject... I was going to post a couple of pictures with information of how you go about converting the thickets of birch into multi-trunk trees. My effort is dragging because I swapped computers and pictures like that are on the old computer (that I've become afraid to turn on as it's so on its last legs.) I guess don't hold your breath waiting, but someday I will try to pass on information about creating and cleaning up multi-trunk trees. If you want it.


 o
RE: Help my dull/poorly planned front yard!

Thanks Yardvaark. I would most certainly appreciate any guidance you can provide on the river birch area but only when and if you have the time. I've been doing a lot of research on shrubs and now am trying to decide between serviceberries, viburnum, dogwoods, lilacs, magnolias and japaneses maples on the two sides of the house. Seems like the more I read, the more my list expands!


 o
RE: Help my dull/poorly planned front yard!

"Seems like the more I read, the more my list expands!"That's always a danger one must watch out for. Beautiful plants can be like dangerous, addictive drugs for landscapes. Too much and your yard ends up like someone who used to sing real good but now is dead and can't sing at all.


 o
RE: Help my dull/poorly planned front yard!

When I widen the right side bed, should I possibly move the redbud tree to the right? I've been told by a number of people it is too close to the house (it's approximately 9') and I could probably increase that distance a couple of feet by moving it.


 o
RE: Help my dull/poorly planned front yard!

It's harder to give advice about things that don't yet exist as there are many possible variables. Keep in mind that advice you've gotten about the location of the redbud has probably been from a horticultural perspective (how to grow a nice tree as if on a pedestal like it would be viewed from all directions and as if it's the most important thing at the time the advice is given.) More important than that, I'd consider advice from the viewpoint of the comprehensive art picture you are trying to create ... using horticulture. If anything, I'd be inclined to move the redbud to the right so it doesn't become something that blocks many of the architectural features of the face of the house. And I'd be inclined to position it somewhere not too far from--within reason--the center of the planter area that it's in (as if it were in a giant flower pot.) You wouldn't want it so close to the edge that it appeared as if it would prefer to leave and go somewhere else. Landscaping is flexible and full of trade-offs so strive for balance. Since it's a redbud and since it's already there and you like it, you could resolve to control it's size if it leaned toward getting out of bounds. Redbuds are not rapacious so cutting could take care of it's size so long as you don't let it get crazy wild first. I'm not worried about it being 9' from the house as you can cut the back and since the house is a producer of shade, not light, where the two meet, or near meet, it will not encourage growth in that direction at the expense of growth elsewhere. It will be manageable. I hope that helps.


 o
RE: Help my dull/poorly planned front yard!

Wow lots of great ideas. I'm by no means a professional landscaper but my husband and I bought a cd based on landscaping ideas and were able to come up with something to improve our home. I've attached the link to the site below.

Here is a link that might be useful: landscaping


 o
RE: Help my dull/poorly planned front yard!

Thanks! When I extend the bed along the left side of the house, how do I handle the transition from raised bed on the side to level mulch bed in back (fence in between)? With the current bed I just put a piece of plywood between, but I don't really like this fix and the grade difference will be greater the further I extend the bed out. By the way, I will be rebuidling the fence on this side (taller and adding a gate) and burying the downspout.

Image and video hosting by TinyPic

Image and video hosting by TinyPic

Image and video hosting by TinyPic


 o
RE: Help my dull/poorly planned front yard!

Smitherson, your photos look distorted so it's hard to get a good feel for the grade. Since you're re-doing the fence there, let's forget for the time being that it exists. The "stone" wall of the raised bed you're widening should return ("L"-shaped) to the foundation wall so that the raised bed is completely enclosed at all outside (not at the house) walls by the masonry "stone" blocks. I'm presuming you're not altering grade (so no issues with AC, etc. ... good, it would be to expensive, a hassle and probably not feasible after researching.) After you return the retaining wall to the foundation, your fence would adapt to it. It depends entirely on what fence scheme you're working out, but likely where it terminated at the house, it would sit on top, inside of the retained/raised area. If you give me an idea of what sort of scheme you're cooking up with the fence, then perhaps I could give you a little more direction. Will the side of the house be a passageway area, such as where folks might walk in order to enter the back yard if you didn't want them to go through the house? If that were the case, an arbor would be an excellent gateway enclosure. Charming and cool looking. (And only piling a little more work and expense on you. :-)

Also, as you expand the raised bed area, I presume you'll be needing a few more block...? In that case, if it were me, for the expansion I'd use the top row of block that you are using currently for the expansion. Then I'd find some cap block that would work with what you have and use that for the top course. A solid cap block would look much classier than just ending the top layer as it currently is. It's as though by looking at the top of the block, we can peek into the guts of the wall (and it's not that pretty.) A cap would dress and finish it.


 o
RE: Help my dull/poorly planned front yard!

Sorry about the picture quality....it was cold out yesterday. I will try to get some better pictures this weekend if it doesn't snow too much tonight.

The fence I am planning will be a foot taller (5'), will have wider boards with rounded or squared tops, and will have slightly narrower spaces in between. I think this fence will provide more privacy yet still allow some airflow and openness. I'll try to find a picture of what i am thinking tomorrow and post it. The gate will be located at the southwest corner (further away from the house). I am still undecided if I will build it out of cedar or pressure treated lumber. I really like the arbor idea but it may have to wait until later depending on price. Is this something we could add later? I would imagine the gate on the other side of the house will get more use as it is already being used.

There is already a cap on the top of the retaining wall (far left of pictures....last cap on right is missing). The caps are trapezoid and I do not like the way they look at all but not sure what else to do (I am not even that big a fan of the color and style of the retaining wall itself but it was not that expensive when I built it a couple of years ago).

As always I am appreciative of any and all suggestions.


 o
RE: Help my dull/poorly planned front yard!

Here are some pictures of the general fence style I would like to build:

Image and video hosting by TinyPic

Image and video hosting by TinyPic

Image and video hosting by TinyPic

I plan on building one or two sections at a time, starting with the fence in the pictures above seperating the back and side yards.


 o
RE: Help my dull/poorly planned front yard!

Here are some pictures of the general fence style I would like to build:

Image and video hosting by TinyPic

Image and video hosting by TinyPic

Image and video hosting by TinyPic

I plan on building one or two sections at a time, starting with the fence in the pictures above seperating the back and side yards.


 o
RE: Help my dull/poorly planned front yard!

They look good. The beefy 6" x 6" posts and lattice in the center pic. look especially good. Caps, finials and picket details in all pics help, too. If you desire privacy from the street, you could have the section that divides the side yard from back yard be taller (like the lattice in the picture.) You would only need to wrap the tall section around the corner and extend it about 4' (at least ... or as much as you wish) down the side lot line. If you had a swagged gate and later incorporated an arbor, the gateway would appear window-like within the fence. Of course, the drawing is only a general scheme; you'd work out details to your liking and to suit conditions. It's just an idea.


 o
RE: Help my dull/poorly planned front yard!

Great ideas. I actually was just at Meijer and picked up three Annabelle Hydrageas. They are bareroot by DeGroot so not sure if they were a good buy or not. I'm going to plant one on each side of the front door and one in the back corner of the backyard (behind swingset around the oaks). Should I pick up a couple more to plant back there? They don't look like they've budded out yet (I see a bit of green on one of them). Should I store them in the garage until the ground thaws? They also had tree peonies (Ronkaku and Taiyo), Pink Diamond Hydrangea, various Clematis, Lily of the Vally, Sand Cherry, Mockingbird Vine, Common Lilac, and Blue Wisteria. Any of these worth taking buying (they are between $5 and $14 each) and would work in my front or back designs?


 o
RE: Help my dull/poorly planned front yard!

The fence ideas ...I'm just looking for ways for your yard to cost you more. :-)

I know you have a lot of empty space in the yard. As a reminder, I'm not keeping track of what ended up where or what has lived and died. I recall some of the earlier conversation where I was encouraging you to "keep it simple" and some others were encouraging you to add a lot of variety. To be sure, there is a balance that will suit you and it is probably somewhere in between. I'd say that if the basis of the design keeps the geometry strong, simple and bold, there will be plenty of places where you can "sprinkle some spice" and a lot of it can be added any time later without detriment to the overall geometry. While there are some exceptions, most of the plants in a landscape will be multiples of something ... not one-of-a-kinds.Since the packaged plants are inexpensive, I would get them so that you could get to know them. Anything you really like and want to fit in somewhere, you may need more of it later. You may be able to use the initial plant as a source to produce more. On that list, you could try everything with the exception of the Wisteria. It needs a stout structure to grow on so would require planning ahead and construction. (I'm not sure how it does there. It's probably much less rambunctious than in the South.) The Clematis will need something to grow on, too, but it would be modest compared to what the Wisteria requires. It helps to know how the plants appear and behave in order to pick good spots for them. You might make your best guess as to where they should go, but keeping in mind that you might later be using them to hone and polish your transplanting skills. Keeping them in the garage until ground thaw is fine.

Lily of the valley did very well on the north side of our house in DeKalb. It was a nice groundcover, though non-existent in winter. Tree peonies ... a must have. Wasn't there some place near your back deck that would be good for Lilac ... another "must have" for Illinois. The 'Pink Diamond' Hydrangea seems like it would be worth trying. The 'Annabelle' would be good in the back yard where you spoke, but probably several ... whatever fits the space. I think it might be a little large for either side of the front door unless you push it off to each side, as such...


 o
RE: Help my dull/poorly planned front yard!

I worked on our plan and refined it a bit. Currently we are planning on planting three Blackhaw Viburnum (Viburnum prunifolium) on the right side (south) of the house and extending the bed out to approximately 10' (leaving a 5' path to the back fence). We're going to leave the knock out roses on the side until next year and move and replace next year. On the left side (north) we are planning on planting three Magnolia Janes (they are a small hybrid that is listed at 10'x10'). We decided to put them on the left side because of their height and because they won't bloom as early on the north, hoping to protect them from frost.

In the front we will rearrange the yews as previously suggested. The two knockout roses to the left of the front door will be transplanted to the back of the house, one of the yews will be moved from the right side to left, and a fourth yew will be purchased for the left. The bed on the left will be redone so that the retaining wall mirrors the curve of the sidewalk. We are still trying to decide if annabelle hydrangeas should be added or placed elsewhere (maybe on the left side of house by gate?). We still need to pick a shrub/perennial to "frame" the front door.
Image and video hosting by TinyPic

We are planning on planting a red oak to the left of the driveway along the parkway. I was able to prune the redbud like this:

Image and video hosting by TinyPic

Image and video hosting by TinyPic

After looking closer at the retaining wall cap, I think that ever other one should be flipped so that the angles "fit together". I know I tried this when I installed it, but it didn't work so well on the curved sections. Not sure how to handle these sections.
Image and video hosting by TinyPic
Image and video hosting by TinyPic

Thanks as always for advice/help!


 o
RE: Help my dull/poorly planned front yard!

After you said in a previous message about the cap block being trapezoidal, I understood what I was looking at. I don't think you can do anything about that (because of the curves) other than find a rectangular block/stone that will serve as a better cap for the straight runs and cutting and fitting (breaking...I've used a dull ax before and it worked well) block as needed. (In general, caps look better it they're of thicker material than the rest of the wall.) But then, it might not be worth the bother. From the street view, it's okay as is. It's only when you get close the the gaps become noticeable. It might be best to resolve with patience and groundcover. If you can establish a groundcover in the raised bed that would lean over a little (not hard to do at all) I think it would hide all the gaps satisfactorily. Could be a good place for that lily of the valley mentioned earlier. Or you may have other "groundcover" plants already scheduled for places there.

I could not sleep at night if I had a bed line like yours at the left of the entrance. It is wiggly worm homely! I've commented on it before and maybe I can persuade you to change it since you seem to be warming into a garden makeover mood. If you don't like either of my prior suggestions, come up with something clean and simple, integrated with the right side as if it all were a single retaining wall that happens to be penetrated by a walk and stoop.

We're having a late cold snap. 60* today. Brrrr!


 o
RE: Help my dull/poorly planned front yard!

I am still trying to finalize my plans for the two sides of the house and have narrowed it down to the following:

1. Plant three viburnums 'Blackhaws' (I already ordered and received these three) on the south side of the house (right side) and plant a mixture of azeleas/rhododendrons, hydrangeas and hostas on the north side (left). In this case, maybe plant a magnolia 'Jane' tree at the northwest corner of the garage?

2. Plant the viburnum 'Blackhaws' on the north side (I'm a bit concerned about their size) and plant three magnolia 'Janes' on the south side.

Any feedback is appreciated!


 o
RE: Help my dull/poorly planned front yard!

It would be much better if you show a to-scale plan sketch of your intentions as, in theory, it sounds fine, but arrangement is a big part of what makes or breaks landscaping. The proposed "mixture" at the left side could be great ... or horrible.


 o
RE: Help my dull/poorly planned front yard!

I did some work on the south (right) bed today but I am not sure I extended it out far enough (it is 8 feet from the house at the furthest point) or the angle is right. I figured I would post some pictures before I go any further.

Image and video hosting by TinyPic
Image and video hosting by TinyPic

This post was edited by pmsmith2032 on Sat, Mar 30, 13 at 20:01


 o
RE: Help my dull/poorly planned front yard!

If the wall is sitting on top of the lawn, it stands a good chance of developing uneven--wavy--elevation in the future. But you had it pretty good looking before so suit yourself if you want to install a tamped, granular setting base for it. If I was doing this, I'd first use marking paint to spray a paint line on the ground, to follow, so that the curve ends up exactly how you want it ... fluid. A major advantage to using marking paint is that it helps you visualize the end result so that you can see if any adjustments are necessary. (One note about using paint: it's greatly more useful if the marking paint can is loaded into a marking wand. If trying to bend over and spray it, it's not possible to get smooth, accurate curves. If I was only doing my own yard, I'd still get a marking wand because it helps with every single thing that's laid out. Of course, I should have told you that last year! :-o) It looks like there might be a slight "flat spot" in the curve. If there is, you could probably adjust it by tapping the base brick into better position with a 2" x 4" or something very heavy ... another block, maybe. You also could lay just the first course and make sure the curve is right before you build any of the upper courses.

I don't have the advantage of knowing what you're using for a final plan, but you should have some plan drawn to scale that shows what your going to put in the bed and how you're going to arrange it. (Here, I think we only have words.) The widest part of the bed should be sized to accommodate the trees you're planning on using. In other words, you wouldn't want to squeeze trees into a narrow portion of the bed and use the wide part only for perennials. The bed should look like a properly sized tree container. (We know that you're probably growing "half" trees ... where the back side is cut off because the house is there. So the container is not trying to contain full 360* specimens.) So far, I think it looks good and is a marked improvement over the pinched planting bed that used to be there. Make sure to view it from the street, also, as you establish the layout. Overall, it's a big improvement!


 o
RE: Help my dull/poorly planned front yard!

Thanks Yardvaark. The large majority of the retaining wall is buried at least half a block down with a thin layer of paver base underneath. I didn't bury the wall at the lowest point of the curve (where I left off in the last picture) though.

Below is an updated plan showing how I plan on laying out the two sides of the house.
Image and video hosting by TinyPic


 o
RE: Help my dull/poorly planned front yard!

You might tighten up the like groups of like plants and bunch them a little closer together. You're not trying to display 3 separate individuals but using 3 individuals to create a larger specimen. Bringing them a little closer together helps to turn them into one large element.

The bed shape at the left could be refined to look more like it is in the same curve family as the curve on the right. Don't pinch the Rhodo/Azalea bed to tightly. Give it a little more space from the house. Maybe this is just the drawing and in real life you'd adjust. I'm just saying in case.


 o
RE: Help my dull/poorly planned front yard!

Thanks Yaardvark! We really wanted a magnolia tree(s) somewhere but can't seem to find a home for it. We were going to plant three on the southside, but were advised against it because of the size, the fact they would bloom too early, and the fact that they would be susceptible to early morning damage from sun on frost. Any ideas?


 o
RE: Help my dull/poorly planned front yard!

A Magnolia would be too big for the bed you're creating on the S. side. I'd watch for an appropriately sized spot in the back yard where something else you've planned doesn't pan out. Maybe you can make a swap. (I can't keep in my head all of what you have planned out. As some plants grow and get larger, you'll be able to see better how things are shaping up and it will become easier to know what things will fit where.)


 o
RE: Help my dull/poorly planned front yard!

I planted the viburnums Blackhaws on the southside this past weekend (as Yardvaark proposed) and have almost finished the retaining wall. I will post photos when finished. Do you think anything should be planted on the southwest corner of the house (between the viburnums and the redbud)?

Also, I plan on making the bed to the left of the front door (between the door and garage wall) to mirror the sidewalk. Any suggestions on what to plant in this bed (we currently have knockout roses which could be moved to back of the house)? Thanks!


 o
RE: Help my dull/poorly planned front yard!

SW corner, probably no more tall things., But wherever you have ground, something needs to be covering it. So what are you doing for groundcover in the raised bed?

One tip for re-do of retaining wall at left of walk. It looks like there's not much grade change to retain ... as if the purpose of the "wall" is more of an attempt to keep the theme going that was started with the retaining wall at the right of walk. Both walls seem to meet the walk at the same elevation, but at the left side, that wall seems to climb one more course as it approaches the garage ... yet the grade is not climbing. I would not try to create fake grade by having a retaining wall that is basically "empty" of what it's supposed to be retaining. It's better to have that left retaining wall just be an "edging" if that's all the grade there is to retain. Creating "fake" grade makes it look gimmicky. It will look fine to stay basically level.


 o
RE: Help my dull/poorly planned front yard!

Thanks Yardvaark! On the south bed I haven't really decided on a ground cover yet. I know you mentioned previously to move the knockout roses along the foundation and replace with a low-growing shrub/bush, but I think that will be a project for next year. I planted over 150 containers of various perennials using the winter sowing method this past winter, so I will probably use some of these as groundcover. Any specific suggestions on what might look nice, contrast well with the house and viburnums, and handle the all day sun/heat?

On the bed to the left of the front door, I should keep the height of the retaining wall level with that on the right side, correct? Should the retaining wall block be right against the edge concrete of the sidewalk (no more grass). Any suggestions on what might look good in this corner? It gets extrememly hot in summer because of the afternoon summer sun. I do plan on running drip tubing for irrigation in the next month or so to this bed so water shouldn't be an issue anymore.

Thanks again!


 o
RE: Help my dull/poorly planned front yard!

The 150 containers of perennials will surely be a helpful learning experience. By the end of the summer you'll have favorites and have learned a lot about different plants. Some of them will take another year to be fully appreciated so be patient with the laggards. Some of them may become favorites, too. If something doesn't perform well where you put it, research it's likes and dislikes and adjust it's location if you can find one that seems more suitable. As far as planting at the wall, keep in mind the idea of taller toward the back of the bed and shorter toward the front. Some of the short perennials may make good groundcovers. You'll see what shakes out, but it'll take a year of observation.

Earlier, I made A suggestion of how you might rebuild the "retaining wall" at left of walk. In contradiction to that suggestion, it could be carried straight across instead, or a variation of that. Since it's a relatively minor "wall," you might lay it out it any of the possible ways and appraise which you think is best.


 o
RE: Help my dull/poorly planned front yard!

Thanks Yardvaark. We are currently debating what to plant in this corner bed. I imagine this will have some bearing on the shape of the retaining wall. Here are our current options:

1. Plant a small magnolia ('Jane' or 'Susan'). The location is ideal as it is protected from both north winds and early morning sun. It would also be a nice focal tree in spring (I've seen them planted in similiar locations in surrounding neighborhoods). However, I'm afraid it might be too big for this area (especially with the overhang) and might take away from our stone work on our house.
2. Leave the two knockout roses and plant perennials in front of them.
3. Plant two yews to match those to the right of the front door and plant short perennials in front.
4. Plant hydrangea bushes in the back and perennials in front.

This area gets VERY hot in summer as it faces the west and the afternoon sun reflecting off the house really bakes the area. I will be running a drip line here so watering shouldn't be an issues. Any suggestions are welcome!

Image and video hosting by TinyPic

Image and video hosting by TinyPic

Image and video hosting by TinyPic


 o
RE: Help my dull/poorly planned front yard!

I revamped an earlier sketch with a bed line that seems better suited. Those look like yews below the window and it looks like a hydrangea @ the left, but I don't think the hydrangea would work very well because of the heat. There's not as much room as my sketch suggests so maybe you don't need more than the yews and a little low perennials or groundcover in front of them.

This post was edited by Yardvaark on Tue, Apr 23, 13 at 0:58


 o
RE: Help my dull/poorly planned front yard!

I've been working on the bed to the left of the front door and wanted to post some pictures before I finished:

Image and video hosting by TinyPic

Image and video hosting by TinyPic

Image and video hosting by TinyPic

Image and video hosting by TinyPic

Image and video hosting by TinyPic

I am not really happy with the layout (it doesn't really mirror the right side) but it's difficult with the shrubs. I'm in the process of running the downspout under the sidewalk so I can still change the contour if need be. Thanks in advance!


 o
RE: Help my dull/poorly planned front yard!

I would avoid doing the turning in like you have by the front entry which creates that little narrow triangle of grass. Can you just go straight into the walkway there and plant a smaller plant in that space instead. Make the bed look like it crosses over with just a break for the side walk in between.


 o
RE: Help my dull/poorly planned front yard!

Thanks lyfia! I missed that part in one of Yardvaark's posts earlier. Otherwise it looks okay?

Also, not sure if I need to dig under the sidewalk to run downspout or if I can leave it. I'm running 4" PVC underground to a pop-up emitter. My options are:
1. Run it under sidewalk ( a lot of work and I'm worried about sidewalk sagging in the future.
2. Running it to middle of mulch bed (between the two yews).
3. Running it to the middle of the grassy patch just in front of the retaining wall.

Thanks!

This post was edited by pmsmith2032 on Tue, Jun 4, 13 at 15:31


 o
RE: Help my dull/poorly planned front yard!

I think Lyfia hit it on the mark as to what is wrong with the bed line.

Why are you running the downspouts into an underground pipe? It seems like you are asking for trouble ... especially when combined with a pop-up emitter. An above grade splash block (which usually becomes hidden by plants) combined with proper grading is so much simpler and trouble free.

This post was edited by Yardvaark on Tue, Jun 4, 13 at 22:08


 o
RE: Help my dull/poorly planned front yard!

Attached are a couple of new pictures of the front bed after I reworked it last night.

Image and video hosting by TinyPic

Image and video hosting by TinyPic

Image and video hosting by TinyPic

Image and video hosting by TinyPic

I have chosen to bury the downspouts because I was having issues with washouts in certain areas. For example, along the fence on both sides I was having issues and the retaining wall in this front bed was sagging from washouts. I buried the gutters as follows:
1. Attached a black plastic adapter from the downspout to solid 4" PVC.
2. Ran 4" PVC 7-14' feet away from house making sure it sloped properly.
3. Attached a pop-up emitter at the end. Pea gravel was placed directly under the elbow of the emitter and there is a weep hole in the bottom of the elbow. If the pop-up become blocked, the weep hole serves as a secondary drain. Also, the weep hole insures water doesn't sit in the pipe causing mosquito issues.

I am worried now though that maybe this wasn't the best idea. I've already installed three of these to the downspouts. Maybe I should replace the pop-up emitter with a grate instead?

Thanks for all the help!


 o
RE: Help my dull/poorly planned front yard!

The usual fix to "washouts" that Nature uses is covering the ground with plants. This holds the soil in place in spite of what water does at the surface. (It's the solution you're using at the lawn area.) I'm speculating that your landscape has not evolved enough to accomplish this or it has not specifically been addressed. The buried pipe & emitters--while they will work now and for some time--will likely become a maintenance issue or be subject to some type of failure at some point. I would not fret about them, but I would not add more. The other solution is simpler.

It still bugs me the way the left side of " retaining wall" dips in at the walk. It adds a "busy," contrived quality to the scene. I think you would be better off going straight to the walk at 90*. Ideally, you would match the right side, but I can see why you didn't. I would have brought the right side out farther so this could happen. But if they are out of line with one another, I think it is preferable to the left side inward curve.

Also, adding work for the future, your walk could stand to be widened, especially where it meets the stoop. An eight-inch wide strip of brick or pavers at each side would help.

Whatever is planted adjacent to the walk should be low (6")


 o
RE: Help my dull/poorly planned front yard!

Thanks! I agree with your assessment of the retaining wall. It looks better but still not "right". I think I'm going to extend the right side out too so both sides are equal. The barberry bushes (I think that's what the dark red bushes are) on the right need more space so I'll be killing two birds with one stone.
I was wondering if you have any suggestions on what to plant on the left side against the garage wall (where the daylilies in the pots are sitting in the pics above). I know you had mentioned something with some height but I am not sure what won't get too wide. This area does get very hot and sunny (faces west). I have planted some clemantis along the base of the trellis.

Thanks again!


 o
RE: Help my dull/poorly planned front yard!

If you moved the trellis left about 15" to 18," it would be that vertical element. You could probably leave the Clematis where is and train onto trellis. Maybe those daylilies could go in front of the trellis (unless you have another place for them.)

The kill-two-birds-with-one-stone retaining wall solution sounds good.

On a different subject, I notice that your threads take quite a while to finish downloading as compared to others. The last time I copied one of your picture to draw on, I noticed (when I pasted it into paint) that it was huge. You might reduce the size of the pictures you upload onto your threads in order to get them to load faster. (Since I apparently forgot to upload the picture with my last post, I am including it here.)

This post was edited by Yardvaark on Thu, Jun 6, 13 at 14:48


 o
RE: Help my dull/poorly planned front yard!

I truely think you need a larger focal point in the left planting area instead of that trellis. You need something there that makes a bigger statement.

A wooden wheel barrow full of annual plants for summer (reds/whites) - full of pumkins and mums for fall. http://www.mygofer.com/shc/s/p_10175_27151_028W004682864001P?sid=MDx20122301x0001gpla&srccode=cii_17588969&cpncode=30-195843056-2

Or a nice bench.
http://www.benches.com/outdoor-benches/garden-benches/richmonddeluxearchedbackbench.cfm
No path needed foot traffic. It would not be used to sit on. Just to hold decor like mentioned above.

Just my 2c worth...........cheryl


 o Post a Follow-Up

Please Note: Only registered members are able to post messages to this forum.

    If you are a member, please log in.

    If you aren't yet a member, join now!


Return to the Landscape Design Forum

Information about Posting

  • You must be logged in to post a message. Once you are logged in, a posting window will appear at the bottom of the messages. If you are not a member, please register for an account.
  • Please review our Rules of Play before posting.
  • Posting is a two-step process. Once you have composed your message, you will be taken to the preview page. You will then have a chance to review your post, make changes and upload photos.
  • After posting your message, you may need to refresh the forum page in order to see it.
  • Before posting copyrighted material, please read about Copyright and Fair Use.
  • We have a strict no-advertising policy!
  • If you would like to practice posting or uploading photos, please visit our Test forum.
  • If you need assistance, please Contact Us and we will be happy to help.


Learn more about in-text links on this page here