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Need help with a landscape design / plan

Posted by sunbum Z7 Atl GA (My Page) on
Tue, Mar 22, 11 at 13:09

I know this is pretty broad and general, but I need some help.

We have just moved into this house and we're looking forward to improving the landscaping. As you can see it wasn't very 'landscaped' by the prior owner.

We are in north-east metro-Atl, GA. I tried in our previous house to install what I thought was a decent landscape design, but I don't know what I'm doing and it didn't turn out great... just ask my wife! Heights were all wrong, I had indian hawthorne shrubs taking over the sidewalk and it just wasn't right.

Here is what we have to work with;

Pretty much anything that's there will come out and we'll start from scratch.

We were thinking some kind of specimen tree to the right (maybe Japanese Maple?).

Not sure what to do in front of the large window. I thought another specimen tree would be the way to go, but I don't think my wife wants to block the window.

This bed is about 5' deep all the way across. I thought some azaleas might work in there somewhere.

Most of these beds will be in partial shade in the summer.

For reference;
Wife doesn't like Junipers
We like Nandinas
We want something as maintenance free as possible
Would like it to be a year round design, not something that dies off in the winter.

Thanks for any help you can offer!


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RE: Need help with a landscape design / plan

I doesn't like Junipers too.but evergreen rock,conifer,hosta,nandinas,azalea...is good.
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RE: Need help with a landscape design / plan

Ideasshare, go away with your stupid pictures, and stop flogging someone's "evergreen rock" whatever the heck that is. Or post your pictures over on the gallery side, not in discussion threads.

Don't worry about responding politely, Sunbum, and I'm sure you'll get some serious input.

KarinL


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RE: Need help with a landscape design / plan

I was, in fact, getting ready to 'respond politely', LOL. Hey, there was some work involved there, so thanks ideashare!

By the way, to clarify my OP. I'm not looking for anyone to layout a precise landscape design for me (although that'd be nice ;) Rather, just looking for some ideas for what kind of plants and trees to use in the beds directly in front of the house given the zone we're in and partial shade.

My wife really wants a 'standout' landscape design eventually and I'd just like to get it started right.

Thanks!


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RE: Need help with a landscape design / plan

If you want a "standout" design, then maybe you should consider bringing in a professional designer from the get-go. You can get professional assistance in varying degrees - from a verbal consultation and list of plant suggestions to a more formalized drafted design plan with plant placement or a full-blown installed landscape. Obviously, the cost will reflect the degree of intensity :-)

I'd be inclined towards the second option. A layout of the garden area with plant selection/placement is something you (and your wife) could work on together, saving a great deal of labor expense and is not a particularly expensive investment. But hiring a designer for at least some sort of consultation can get you started in the right direction without a lot of trial and error. Often your neighbors will be able to direct you to someone qualified or a local nursery will have names you can call.


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RE: Need help with a landscape design / plan

The first observation I'd make is that your pictures suggest that you have limited your definition of "landscape design" to foundation planting. Don't worry, this is a common syndrome! But this doesn't seem necessary or advisable.

The fact is, your house is beautiful and sits well on the lot and would look just peachy with no foundation planting at all.

The other fact is that some of your plant picks - eg specimen tree, Japanese maple or other - would look fabulous, and probably glow better, anywhere other than the foundation (where they get light from one side only). So I'd be planning some plantings out in the yard where they might enhance your view out the window, the appeal of your yard, or block or shape view corridors.

Finally, if not knowing your plants is one of the things limiting your ability to pick the right ones for the right place, then a good nursery is definitely the right place for you to go up the learning curve, rather than an internet forum. As Gardengal says, they often will offer design services. But if you want to DIY, local nurseries also stock plants that look good and do well in your climate. Plant tags or nursery staff will tell you about the plant's eventual growth, its site preferences, and whether it is deciduous or evergreen. You want mostly evergreen at the foundation, usually, both needle and broadleaf, and small and big-leaved broadleaf plants (from boxwood to Rhodo), with some seasonal interest from flowering deciduous shrubs or perennials.

Knowing how to shop for plants is something that can help make a good landscape happen. One thing to know is that although most stock comes in in spring, nurseries bring in new stock all season long, usually the stuff that is looking good at that particular time. Which is why it's good to go often, not fill your whole yard with one shopping trip. That way your landscape ends up with something interesting going on all year round.

And once you have the plants in, then you buy yourself a book on pruning for Christmas next year :-) Keeping it looking nice is not just a matter of letting it grow.

Oh, and one more thing: no one gets it right the first time, so it's good that plants can be moved or removed. And a landscape installation doesn't last forever no matter how good it is, so plan to evaluate and tweak every year.

KarinL


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RE: Need help with a landscape design / plan

Very pretty home and brick. You have loads of space to create more curb appeal.

For a starter - I would add more dirt - On the right corner to soften and hide the downspout - I would put something evergreen/low maintenance that grows tall and full. I would also make that side alittle deeper than it is right now.

Same side but closer to the sidewalk and corner I would try a Dwarf Japanese Maple. Or you could put the JM on the other side in front of the window. They get nice and full but stay fairly low growing. Then finish that side with small shrubs - maybe azaleas? Or you could put a pretty fountain in front of that window

I would also soften both corners by the garage - use the same type of tall growing, maybe slim evergreen. Fill in again with azaleas or a low growing shrub that is colorful, not all green. I can't remember the names of shrubs, sorry.

The left and right sides by the sidewalk/door area I would leave some space for annuals.

Funny I have a designer coming over tonite w/his finished plans for my house. I did my last house w/o one but the house was very symetrical and fairly easy to do. My new house is not symetrical and I'm having a hard time with it. I have a lot smaller yard and his price ws $600 to do the design.I'm hoping it is money well spent.


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RE: Need help with a landscape design / plan

I was going to post a response and then I reread "just looking for some ideas for what kind of plants and trees to use in the beds directly in front of the house" so I can't be bothered.


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RE: Need help with a landscape design / plan

Wow it this the March grouchies or what??

I was going to suggest a Rustic prehistoric design but that already got me into trouble here ;) (please dont google it its a joke....) In ideashares defense there is a japanese maple in one of the designs :)

Ok in all seriousness, or as serious as I ever am, I think consulting with a designer is a really good suggestion. I also think, as snarky as he sounds, that is what ink is suggesting also...there are some difficulties with the entire layout of the beds in this landscape design that would be difficult to correct with just changing the plants.

There was a thread, probably about 9 months ago, with a similar style house where you cant see the front door from the driveway, in which Laag explained the isssues and presented a complete design. I believe a lot of that applies to this house also, but i am not adept enough at searching this site to find it. Does anyone else remember that thread?

In terms of the japanese maple the OP asked about - I disagree with "dwarf". GO big or go home. And dont waste your time with a $150, 3 foot tree from home depot. They grow very slowly - anything less than a 5 foot specimen is a waste of your time and money.


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RE: Need help with a landscape design / plan

  • Posted by KraB none (My Page) on
    Wed, Mar 23, 11 at 18:04

Looks like you need some turf in the front of the yard lol.


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RE: Need help with a landscape design / plan

"We want something as maintenance free as possible
Would like it to be a year round design, not something that dies off in the winter."

repeat after me

"We want something as maintenance free as possible
Would like it to be a year round design, not something that dies off in the winter."

karin this is exactly how people end up with the ubiquitous 'foundation planting' if only you could buy it by the yard with velcro at the edges.


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RE: Need help with a landscape design / plan

For those of you that offered the helpful advice, thanks so much! For some of the others, I'm not even really sure what you're talking about. I'll assume it's some sort of insider thing.

I did get some helpful ideas though, so thanks again. I am actually looking around for a 'designer' that would come in and draw something up and then I could do the plant shopping and installation. Just haven't found that yet so I figured I pick your brains here a little.

Re: 'foundation planting', does that refer to the idea of planting shrubs, trees and plants around the 'foundation' of the home? What would the alternative be? Around here, that just seems to be the norm... planting 'stuff' at the front of the house.


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RE: Need help with a landscape design / plan

Yes to the question in your last paragraph. The alternative is to use the whole yard. There appears to be a good bit of room there, and it isn't necessary to cram all the plants at the foundation.

And I think it is because your design aspirations are in the "just the norm around here" realm that Inkognito is discouraged. It's hard to explain - the way I see it is: Ink is a professional landscape designer, an artist who uses sites as a canvas. His raison d'etre is to blow past the norm, and so a question about how to achieve the norm is like a... an invitation to Picasso to help paint the house. For me that's no disrespect to either camp, though, because norms often become norms because they suit the most people. And Picassos are worth as much as they are because not everyone does them.

There's also the issue that plants are living, dynamic things that have a life cycle and seasons and character. For someone like Ink, they have mastered those attributes and use them to make their landscapes spectacular, designing in both seasonal high points and the capacity to change and evolve in future years. It's a very multi-dimensional process incorporating not only three dimensions but also time! For a non-gardener, those attributes are treated like something that needs to be oppressed - avoiding seasonal changes, limiting growth, limiting the need for maintenance. That's why Ink equates your request to something static, plastic or painted-on plants.
Personally I think that when people take one step at a time into exploring the world of plants, they start to discover and enjoy the dynamic aspects, which is why I thought it worth writing what I did. Everyone who becomes good at gardening and landscaping starts somewhere, like with learning anything.

KarinL


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RE: Need help with a landscape design / plan

A foundation planting is called that not only because it's located next to the foundation of the house, but also because many houses have ugly foundations or foundations which don't match the walls. Your house doesn't have that problem. karinl rightly likes to point out that not every house needs shrubs to hide the foundation.

Your house also has low windows, and nearly everyone agrees that what is planted -- especially if it's shrubs -- shouldn't cover the windows. So most of what you plant should probably be short.

Many people plant evergreens around the house so there will be something green year-round; it's the easy way out, and yes, inkognito was teasing about that. It's up to you whether you use shrubs and/or evergreens around the foundation. (My house, like yours, has brick down to the ground -- on the front, anyway. Most of the plants along the front of the house are evergreens. I'm comfortable with that.)

If I had your house, I'd put tall shrubs (rounded shapes, not cones) at the left and right corners of the house. I wouldn't put a tall shrub at the other corner of the garage, though, because that would hide the (living room?) window. I wouldn't put anything tall on either side of the front door, because the door's too well hidden already (maybe paint it white?).

I might put something tall on the wall of the garage that's perpendicular to the street, as long as it wouldn't stick out far enough from the wall to hide the (living room?) window. I don't know what that would be, in your climate. Choosing something that wouldn't damage the bricks would be a concern.

To me, the garage wall that's parallel to the street looks bare. It's closer to the street and larger than the other sections of the house. Its gable is taller than the other gables, the window shades are white (as opposed to the dark windows in the rest of the front of the house and the darkish door), and it's the only place with a substantial expanse of unrelieved brick (I like brick, and yours is certainly a prettier color than my house, but it's a bit bare). So I'd put a couple of skinny shrubs between the garage windows to minimize the effect of all that brick. Sky pencil holly, perhaps, or one of the fastigiate conifers. When I was a kid in California, we had a narrow podocarpus -- but I've no idea how wide it grew after we moved!


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RE: Need help with a landscape design / plan

You guys (gals?) are great! I'm learning a lot already. I'm not sure how far I can take this this on an internet forum, but I have more questions and am ready to learn.

By the way, I have no intention of stopping at just the 'foundation plantings'. But that's where I'm starting here. There are several other large 'beds' in the front yard that I'm just starting to develop some ideas for. But with 3 little boys under the age of 5, I've only time for one landscape project at a time!

Is it agreed that the areas in front of the house 'foundation' do require some plantings?

Jeannie's suggestion above got me thinking about putting 2 of those tall, skinny evergreen trees (like small Leyland's... not sure what they're called) on either side of the sidewalk leading up to the front door; if for no other reason just to hide those two downspouts (my wife commented on those ugly things as soon as we starting thinking about all this). But, missingtheobvious suggests that might hide the front door. Thoughts?

Also, missingtheobvious talks about the 'bare' garage wall. That also is something we don't like. In fact, I'm going to talk to someone about adding some 'trim' around those windows (maybe stucco - if that's something that can be done after the fact) to dress that wall up a bit. But I guess proper landscaping there could also do the trick.

Do others agree about raising up the ground at the right corner of the house like Jeannie suggests? I hadn't considered it before, but I now see that it drops off there a bit.

Something else that missingtheobvious pointed out concerns the dark front door, the dark windows and the white shades on the garage windows. That's something else we hadn't considered. What's the optimal solution there? My wife plans on shutters (white?) on those other windows eventually. Any other suggestions?

While I'm at it ;) my wife plans on painting the front door black. Good idea or no?

Thanks again (really!) for all the helpful advice. And for Ink, we're cool. I understand now where you're coming from. But remember, there are those of us that just don't know any better. That's why I'm asking!


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RE: Need help with a landscape design / plan

I did this quickly in photoshop. Boxwoods are darkest. Tall junipers between garage windows with nandinas between those. Japanese maple on far right corner. Ornamental grasses all along walkway. And some leafy evergreen on either side of the door. Lavender in the 2 planters. Paint the door a copper color. Just a thought. :) I posted the before/after on my blog because it's the only place I have photo storage. :) Hope you don't mind...I can take it down if you do.

Here is a link that might be useful: House before/after


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RE: Need help with a landscape design / plan

"Foundation" plantings are pretty much dictated as required by the placement of the sidewalk. One could think outside the box and consider relocating the sidewalk to expand the possibilities but that may be more than you anticipate doing. But it IS what a designer could bring to the table......something that is just a bit beyond the ordinary. One of the first things I do when called to a new or potential client's home is to reconsider the sidewalk or pathway to the front entry. These are seldom designed by the builder or developer to accentuate or enhance egress to the structure but rather as the most efficient route from point A to point B. They are too often arrow straight and uncomfortably narrow. Repositioning/redesigning the front walk can do amazing things for a front yard landscape.

I tend to side with Ink with many of these posts.....they are almost exclusively questions dealing with plant selection which is really a far cry from 'landscape design' and that's why many of the pros that frequent this forum tend not to weigh in on these questions. If just plant selection is all that is desired, the possibilities are endless and a local nursery may be your best bet. But will they necessarily provide a "standout" landscape?.......not hardly :-) I believe there are design considerations involved here that are truly beyond the scope of just "what plants to use" and this is where the usefulness of an Internet forum declines and the input from an onsite professional designer starts to shine.

Forget the forum, hire a designer, be receptive to some of the more creative suggestions they may offer and take it from there. A standout landscape is not guaranteed by plants alone -- not by a long shot :-)


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RE: Need help with a landscape design / plan

I'm not sure what color you should paint your door but it definitely should not be black. It's already in the shadows and painting it black will make it disappear. You want something that's noticeable and welcoming so the suggestions of light colors is a good idea.

Well, I suppose if you don't want anyone to ever bother you, then you should paint it black.


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RE: Need help with a landscape design / plan

Thanks Decofan for the ideas!

Well put gardengal. I understand completely. I think since we are so busy with so many things right now, I might just stick with the 'plant selection' solution for the immediate future and then bring in a designer for the long term solution.


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RE: Need help with a landscape design / plan

I've linked below to the thread that I think Drtygrl means. It's long and meandering (and some of it will sound familiar!), but I think you'd get a sense of how design can influence how a space looks and feels. They key post is by Laag right near the end, but the discussion explains a lot.

Besides the art of design and the norm, there is also the trend, the identifier, and the kitsch. Norms I find interesting because they only become norms because they somehow work for a lot of people. So I don't fight them as a rule even though I enjoy seeing people challenge and rise above them.

Trends are tough. As in fashion, one is influenced by them whether one wants to be or not (as I recently said on another thread, I really LIKED big shoulder pads in the '80s). The thing that makes it hard sometimes to distinguish a trend from good design is that it is often made trendy by showcasing it in situations where it is the right design solution. For example, let's take the paint-it-black trend that is currently seeing dark cabinetry and dark front doors turn up everywhere. Shown with the right paint or counter colours or on the right kind of front door,and photographed with full light on it, it often looks like design genius. But you have to figure out the effect in your own situation.

Even if it's not ideal for your situation, I don't fault anyone for exploring trends - paint is reversible, we live in our time, and why shouldn't people enjoy trends if they like them, but I think it's true that painting your door black will create a certain cave-like feel to your entrance. But so what, it's your and your wife's house. However, to the question of whether you should plant uprights to hide the downspouts and risk exacerbating that effect, the answer is a resounding NO. Why not just paint the downspouts to blend in better with the brick? Then look at maybe expanding the size of your landing, keeping plantings low near the door or away from the door entirely.

I would put shutters into the category I call "identifier." A design touch that often identifies a homey-looking place, if you look closely they are often just the finishing touch on a place that already has that vibe. To me your place has more of a "stately" vibe and I'm not sure that shutters alone would accomplish what you're after. If it is really just to break up the brick, I think the most effective way to do that is to stand back and look at the composition as a whole with that objective in mind. To me, the answer that springs to mind is putting a specimen tree out further in the yard and letting its branch structure break up the brick for you (not right in the middle by the way). I'm feeling a bit as if I'm eating crow when I say that some of Ideasshare's random-scale pictures will give you a feel for this effect! And hopefully without offending Decofan, I think the photoshop shows how the uprights between the tall windows just exacerbate the vertical linearity of that wall. Not that I don't love plants like that, but I would put them into a bed placed away from the house, in groupings of plant shapes that contrast and complement each other. Then they would increase cohesion across the site by echoing the window shapes. I think.

Thus, trying to shape the foundation plantings independent of the bigger picture of the whole yard may lead you in the wrong direction for both. Whatever your design aspirations, I think you should take the whole picture into account with whatever decisions you make. Take a photo of the whole lot to start with, whether you post it here or not, but just for your own thought process. If nothing else, this will help you talk with the designer more productively.

KarinL

Here is a link that might be useful: Design thread


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RE: Need help with a landscape design / plan

Thank you Karin! That is the one I meant, but I did not remember how long that discussion went on! I just remember the "BAM" part!

The similarity is the "here is my garage" style of house, which many of us have. Balancing the garage with a statement of where the actual entrance to the house is not only creates a more inviting landscape it eliminates the "landscape around the edges tendency."

Does that make any sense? I need to go have lunch if I am going to be able to communicate. the hungries are distracting me.


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RE: Need help with a landscape design / plan

Wow I was a grouch in that earlier thread too so I can't claim that it is temporary.


Let me state what I think the problem is that we are attempting to solve with with a bit of cosmetics(paint the door, install shutters)and some landscaping: the location of the house. If the garage was on the other side of the house or built into the slope it would not be so dominant. I understand the position on the flat part of the property but... If you look at the house from the angle in the third picture you will not how much more interesting it is.

Obviously there is nothing to be done about this now but it may be possible to create the desired effect in some other way so that the garage looks like it belongs and not like a growth clinging on. You could add one of Andrews well hung sculptures above the three window or with a little more expense make them into one big bay window with a roof like on the other side. Now the objective is to create the illusion that the house is not standing four square to the street de-emphasizing the garage and putting the accent on the front door. This can be done with landscaping but it would need to be more than a line of boxwoods under the windows.


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RE: Need help with a landscape design / plan

for a specimen tree, go with a river birch, it will compliment the brick house.


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RE: Need help with a landscape design / plan

Sunbum,

Your house is so beautiful that I had to try landscaping it for fun. I'm no expert but I like to visualize how I would do it.


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RE: Need help with a landscape design / plan

  • Posted by tibs 5/6 OH (My Page) on
    Sun, Mar 27, 11 at 10:05

Minor point, but this jumped out at me. Remove the bricks placed at an angle edging the sidewalk! Some of them are already coming out and they are an ankle breaker wating to happen. Don't get rid of them, stock pile them for another and better use, you can never have too many bricks or stones.


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RE: Need help with a landscape design / plan

On another concurrent thread, Laag mentions that making the whole front yard of a small city lot into a foundation bed would actually make the house look closer to the street, and it's been mentioned before that shape and amount of lawn - or perhaps more accurately the lines of the lawn - influence the amount of visual setback of the house. Someone else used the term "negative space" to explain that although we often shape the bed and leave the lawn to shape itself by default, the shape of the lawn may actually make more of an impact and is worth considering on its own.

In case you can't tell, I'm one of a bunch of amateurs on the forum who try to make sense of the advice that our resident landscape artists do occasionally share about why and how they think about spaces.

Goldie's photoshop, above, is pretty in photoshop but I'm not sure I'd want to live with it, and I wonder if it accomplishes what Ink is describing as the objective of landscaping on the site. I think those upright evergreens might crowd the existing walkway a bit. Certainly the tool of photoshop is making it look different than it would in real life given that we see the sidewalk as if it were on a hillside - a real change in perspective that could lead a person astray! The bed/lawn line too, would not really be as visible on your site.

KarinL


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RE: Need help with a landscape design / plan

Ha Ha. I did get carried away with that sidewalk. I changed it back to their existing sidewalk.


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How I did it

I redid sidewalk with reasonable pavers : )

When we were landscaping our newly constructed house, I went to nurseries and took pictures of plants that I liked and knew would grow in our region. I then photoshopped the plants on a photo of my house.

I then worked with a landscaper who gave me a design. I photoshopped his design too. I then took some of his ideas and incorporated into mine.

Of course when they were finally planted they had to be moved around a bit. It was a lot of work but it was such a high to see it completed.


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RE: Need help with a landscape design / plan

Gotta get me one o' them ideashare soft ware thingamejigs that is exactly the kind of lawn I have been sweating for. Am I mistaken in thinking that goldie 50 is a reincarnation of our Chinese friend or just under the influence?


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RE: inkognito

Ha ha. I'd like to see you do better Inko.

What's the problem? It's just to give a person a general idea. Obviously the lawn and all are not going to look that perfect.

You know what they say, a picture is worth a thousand words.
I do this with all my projects from designing and building a deck, to changing the color of my walls in the house to landscaping. I would much rather see a general idea of how it would look in a picture than have no idea.

I also do it for many friends and neighbors. They love it when I take a designer's layout and transpose the circles with numbers in it into something they can visualize. You may not like it but many do.


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RE: Need help with a landscape design / plan

Goldie you cracked me up! I just hope your friends who are planning laparoscopic surgery don't figure that a mock-up done by you is the same thing :-) Actually I guess if you're normally just mocking-up designs done professionally the outcome may be a sketch of a good design, and an untrained eye (like mine) often won't pick up things like the topographical inconsistencies.

Many things seem to differentiate landscape photoshop from indoor photoshop, and thus so readily make a landscape photoshop a caricature. Primary among these may be items like perspective and context, but also, there is the matter of the dynamic nature of plant material. Not only will that pink tree, for example, not always be pink, but also, it will grow to totally obscure a window that already, as Ink points out, doesn't have enough prominence. And I suspect that from inside, as this is a shady exposure, it will considerably darken the room. The place for trees that give shade is generally on the sunny side of a house.

Ink, your preference for the socratic role here on the forum does leave me at a loss to visualize how you approach design challenges. At least in this case you clearly stated what that challenge is, a truly enlightening bit of input. Novices like me have honestly not got the capacity to see it, though we may spend a lifetime moving plants around, on a screen or in the ground, and we certainly can't begin to picture the fix, as you can see by Goldie's design. Actually you remind me of my husband who has the habit, when a song from the 60s comes on the car radio, of asking me and the kids who we think it is, and if we don't know, thinks that withholding the answer, and expressing astonishment at our ignorance, is somehow going to bring it to mind - Honey, it's not in there, so I can't scare it up!! Similarly, the thread I linked to above would never have gotten to its BAM moment if Laag had not come through with his sketch. Someone should bump that thread up, by the way.
On a positive note, Goldie, I see you took out the middle two uprights in the later pictures. And I actually do think it should be a wider sidewalk, especially at the door as the OP's scorpion thread suggests might be a good idea, I just wanted to point out that no one is ever going to see it in that profile.

KarinL


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RE: Need help with a landscape design / plan

Karin, you may call it Socratic and I take that as a valid observation but I happen to think that the best results come when there is a rapport between participants. The same applies here as in 'real life' incidentally and for me the most difficult and least satisfying projects begin with "Hey, you are the designer so why don't you design". A lot of people need a visual to help things along but that is more of an investment of time than I am prepared to give here.


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RE: Need help with a landscape design / plan

I hate to do it - but I have to agree with Ink; the OP is asking the wrong questions so its hard to give the right answers.
INK said "I was going to post a response and then I reread "just looking for some ideas for what kind of plants and trees to use in the beds directly in front of the house" so I can't be bothered."
I mentioned the other thread as a litmus of whether the OP would be interested enough to search it. Even when Karin provided the link, sunbum hasn't commented on the discussion.

I always communicate my design ideas in various ways so my customers can visualize what I am talking about; but I dont find photoshop to be a valuable tool because of its limitations. Inaccurate plant size, everything blooming at once that are not representative of any landscape really dont go very far to communicate design ideas.


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RE: Inko2

If I had a landscaper that photoshopped his plan onto a picture of my house I would be thrilled. I know it is time consuming to do that and not completely accurate.

When I have worked with landscapers previously, they showed me pictures of the plants and guess what. They showed the plant in bloom. Of course I knew it wasn't always going to be in bloom. So showing it in bloom in the photo is really no different.

Again, the photo mockup is not perfect but it gives me a better feel for how it will look. Yes the perspective is way off. But then again when you are looking at a drawing with a circle in it, how accurate is that? It's really no different.

Below is an example of a photo mockup of a house and than the results after planting and a year later. Perfect no, but it gave me the general idea of how it would look.

Mockup:

Right after shrubs were planted:

About a year later:

Interesting debate. But you are the professionals and I am not. I'm not going to beat a dead horse. I get it. You don't want me to do any more photo mockups : (

But please do not think I am ideasshare. Mine might not be good but at least they are not scary : )


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RE: Need help with a landscape design / plan

Goldie - I think one of the issues with your mock-ups is the flexibility in topography and perspective that is so easy in photoshop. If you look at your first photo of the before/after house, it looks like it's on a decent rise. In the real life photos, it's not on a rise. Similarly, the right side of the brick house falls off quite a bit but your mock-ups show it rather flat.

I don't think people are dissing you in particular but rather the use of computer generated programs in the hands of us non-pros and the programs ability to skew reality but make it look lifelike.

And no, you're not ideasshare - you don't have giant broccoli in your photos.


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RE: Need help with a landscape design / plan

goldie 50: I owe you an apology. In fact what you are offering is the genuine article but this has been a problem since this forum began,there are those who try to make a living from something others consider a hobby.As a representative of those others the picture you show is the result that is an end of a process. If you have the time and the interest you could look back over here and find the Michelle Dervish item on the design process.


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RE: Need help with a landscape design / plan

Really ink? The mich item on the design process? Can you find that??? There were 100s of them. can you be more specific?

You got into a lot of difficulty in the forum because all you ever do is throw bombs and rarely offer anything constructive. I guess you cant teach an old dog new tricks. I really would love to see a photo, plan or photoshop of any of your designs. Can you give us anything?

I think I have the march grouchies now. but for real.


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RE: Need help with a landscape design / plan

drtygirl yours is the kind of challenge that I find easy to rise to. Look back over ten years and tell me about constructive perhaps yours compared to mine eh? There was a time when Michelle/David Feix/Asha/Laag etc. gave from the heart and you doubt that. Here's a bomb; if you can use your expertise to bring this forum back to what it once was, that is people participating rather than a question and answer thing I will support you. Until then.. read my lips.


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RE: Need help with a landscape design / plan

I dont think thats going to happen. And its too bad. I wish i had participated more then, but it was so enjoyable to just read the discussion at that time.


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RE: Need help with a landscape design / plan

Hey you know what? We're actually getting somewhere.

As Ink says, Photoshop and plant selection are the end of the process of design. Ink throws bombs at the photoshopping, and at people who ask other end-stage questions like "what plants do I use." We all miss people who used to be able to have discussions about the process of design. But if you actually go back and look at the discussions of that day - and I just did - those people did not start threads about theoretical questions to get those discussions going. As often as not, those revered people, from Miss Rumphius Rules to Illima and including Mich in Zonal Denial and Ironbelly and Saypoint, ENGAGED ON THE PROCESS OF DESIGN EVEN WHEN THE OPENING QUESTION WAS NOT GEARED THAT WAY!

Ink used to start theoretical threads in those days, and those people contributed to them. But the best discussions on the forum HAVE ALWAYS BEEN the ones that evolve organically from an interesting challenge that comes in from a lay person struggling with a real-world application, who often begins with the wrong question. True, we didn't used to have photoshoppers. But I think contributions like Goldie's can provide stimulus for discussion on their own, and can even, if looked at with an open mind, be a tool to illustrate ideas or points made by people with expertise in the design process.

Here's the thing. Those remembered people made their own opportunities to discuss design out of the questions that came their way. And the questions then were no different, no smarter, no more designerish, than the questions that come by today.

Ink is quite correct in saying that it requires the OP to be engaged in the process and open-minded to really make the conversation take off. But in this thread that we've hijacked, that exact thing did happen - the OP was having fun learning, and expressed that, even through some bombs. So why did Ink not follow up and engage? Got too tempted to throw a bomb at Goldie. But really, a good discussion can occur whether the OP engages or not. As we see from Ideasshare, no one can stop you from posting your ideas! If they aren't enjoyed by the OP, others can and will engage if you put them out there.

Ink, you keep complaining that there is something wrong with the people who are posting, or with the rest of the regulars who are now here. I don't think that's true, although there are certainly annoyances, and always have been (I've posted on some of those myself). I think that if you change your own behaviour - instead of bombs, toss in your analysis or ideas - you might find the glory days are closer than you think.

KarinL


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RE: Need help with a landscape design / plan

Well said Karin. I like you more every time you post. I wish I was as eloquent.

On the photoshop issue: I guess I believe that a certain point in the design process you have to take a leap of faith. If you commission a painting from an artist you really dont know how its going to look until its actually finished. You might see sketches the artist may present his/her ideas but at some point you just need to say, I like your work, I trust you, you get what I am looking for, your ideas are great so just go and paint.

Before anyone jumps on me - I dont consider myself a landscape "artist"; but what I do is artistic. And it comes with a leap of faith. (I also sell art in a gallery in winter so I do consider myself an artist in that way.)

The issue with the photoshop is that it is just another way of presenting an idea and if works to help you visualize and make that leap thats great. I personally don't think it is the most representative way of communicating ideas and I choose other methods in my own work. just sayin.


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and also...

There is nothing like a good thread hijack. sorry sunbum.


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RE: Need help with a landscape design / plan

Interesting hijack... It's nice to see Ink chiming in. I agree that it would be nice if you could chime in with more analysis type comments. It's always interesting to read those sorts of comments from the pros on here.

On the Photoshop issue, I think it is a tool that is most useful to look at very specific issues rather than trying to show/mock-up a larger landscape. I found it really useful, for example, on trying out colors for my shed project. Laag has used it quite effectively at times to show the effect of adding certain things to balance some feature or direct the eyes to - or away from - something in particular. So I think it's something that has a place but is often used beyond its capabilities so to speak.


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RE: Need help with a landscape design / plan

Checking back in. Sorry I had to be away from the thread for a little while. You guys went right on without me!

By the way, I'm an educated person, open-minded... but I don't know what the Hades ya'll are talking about sometimes! Some of this discussion has gone right over my head... and I'm not one to admit often that anything is over my head!

drtygrl - I will go back through the thread and check out the linked discussions. I really do want to learn (to some degree) about what I'm trying to do here.

And to all - Thanks a ton for your input and if nothing else, I've quickly come to realize that I was, in fact, asking the wrong question in the OP. Now I just got to figure out what the right questions are!


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RE: Need help with a landscape design / plan

Its okay sunbum - I dont think anyone understands all of what we are talking about here. I find Ink especially cryptic. Please ask us whatever, after we hijacked your thread we do owe you some help.

Woody - good to hear from you! I like your point about the areas that photoshop is particularly useful for.


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RE: Need help with a landscape design / plan

Sunbum, one of the best ways to get to the right question is to ask yourself "what do I want this landscaping to achieve?" It's actually a question that suits design decisions in general, from paint colours to fashion.

Ink has provided the clue to getting there with his observation that the garage is the prominent feature of your house, visually dominating the house itself, and that this is exacerbated by it being built at the high end of the lot. People with a design sensibility do tend to have an aversion to the "welcome to my garage look." The flip side of "welcome to my garage" is "where the heck is the front door?" and probably (I don't have a house like that so don't know) kind of an unpleasant feeling for people who approach the house, especially after dark. Of course, if you enter through the garage and never order pizza, perhaps this is not an issue :-)

So the question you could start with is "does that bother me?"

By chance, the sample photoshop that Goldie has provided also has that design feature; actually even more so, where the house is subsidiary to the garage. Of course, the contrast with yours is that your garage at least has a side entry. And you know, maybe people don't mind this look so much, now that millions of people have it. But still, there seems to be some effort being made to make the house attractive, so it does make sense that the landscaping would try to de-emphasize the garage and give the house more prominence.

Now, my amateur design skills fall down at the question of "just how do we accomplish that?" but there Goldie's design actually provides a hint... at least, I think shows the effect that landscape design can have. While it is a pretty layout and very tidily done and maintained, I think it exacerbates rather than solves the problem. I stand to be corrected, but here's my rationale.

A couple of months ago, someone posted a house for suggestions that was very different from this, but with an instructive element. The house was very close to the street and the lawn was an inverted U shape, with the bottom of the U being closest to the house. I don't remember what the OP question was, but Laag made the point that the lawn shape functioned to visually elongate the yard and thus to make the front yard seem as big as it was going to. Goldie's design puts a similar lawn shape - with a dominant line paralleling the driveway, thus more or less forming the U - in front of the already receding house. It is unfortunate that the photo angle of the later pictures is lower, but it almost seems in the actual installation that the house appears if anything further away from the street than in the photoshop.

You may be somewhat protected from the full force of this effect by the line of your sidewalk, but the point remains that the lawn shape is a design element that will have an effect on how the two parts of the building are perceived.

My expertise is sorely exceeded by the task of compensating for the fact that the house is on the downhill side, but hopefully you get the point that landscape can affect how the building is perceived - and decide whether you want to play with this element (vs just saying, "yeah, that's how the house is, so what?"). I do hope others with more expertise can chime in to at least explain what principles might be applied.

KarinL

PS: DrtyGrl, see what happens when you encourage me: I keep talking :-)
PPS: Sunbum, you should also read the two threads by v1rtu0s1ty, you might enjoy them. Copy and paste his name into the search field to make a bunch of his threads come up, they are always instructive.

PPPS: Or if all you still want is shrub suggestions for the existing beds, you can just sneak off to the local nursery to ask for advice, and ignore us all :-)

Here is a link that might be useful: Virtuosity's thread on shape of planting bed


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