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New house and new to landscaping - help please?

Posted by canokie 7a (OK) (My Page) on
Mon, Apr 16, 12 at 22:11

Hello everyone,

I am new to this forum and have been enjoying reading through the posts here. I think I will learn a lot from this group.

I am a fairly new homeowner and have never landscaped anything before. The builder planted three boxwood and two small heavenly bamboo in the front in a row under the window. I didn't like them so last summer I pulled them out and replaced them with some knockout roses like my neighbor had. I also planted three blueberry bushes. As you can see, the roses flourished but the blueberries did not - you can barely see the two surviving ones on either end of the roses (the one between the roses is gone as it croaked in last summer's heat).

Well, over the last year I've been noticing other peoples' landscapes and looking at photos online and in books, and I want something different. I like the more naturalistic look with curving lines and mass plantings rather than rows of alternating shrubs all the same height. I want mostly perennials, and stuff that will thrive (or at least survive!) here in the Oklahoma heat and clay soil. I am partial to blue-green foliage like Colorado blue spruce, and also burgundy foliage and flowers in shades of pink and maroon (I think both look nice with my brick and burgundy shutters/door). I'd also like to add a few rocks. One more thing - if there's anything that meets this criteria and also provides fruit or nuts or something I can eat, or even something to feed the birds, that would be a plus.

I really like the roses, but the space between them bothers me. If I was doing it again, I would have either planted a third one, or moved the bush on the right closer to the other one to create a mass of roses. I'm afraid to dig it up and move it though. Perhaps I could plant something else between/behind the rose bushes, maybe a Globosa blue spruce, or a bush with burgundy foliage? I was also thinking of adding some taller trees on the right - maybe a crape myrtle to the right of the window, some Angelica juniper under the crape myrtle or closer the corner of the house, purple fountain grass, even a Blue Totem blue spruce...

As you can see I have started digging out near the door to make the border bigger and get away from the semi circular bed under the window.

I would love to hear everyone's opinions. Please tell me what you would suggest?

Thank you,
Shelley

Here is a link that might be useful: My front yard


Follow-Up Postings:

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RE: New house and new to landscaping - help please?

Here are a couple more photos. I don't know how to put them directly into the post but would love to learn.

This one gives a better view of the entire front yard and maple tree (at least from the sidwalk to the house). My yard ends about halfway to e neighbor's house - where the two signs are on the fence. I am in the process of leveling the area under the trees to get rid of the volcano-like rings under each one. My plan is to create an island bed around the maple tree in the front yard (not round) and add maybe a second tree, bush, etc., as well as some rocks and sedums on the sloping area closer to the sidewalk.

http://i1207.photobucket.com/albums/bb468/canokie67/2012-04-05frontyard2.jpg

And here's a photo looking from the door towards the street. I would like to also add a few rocks and plant some sedums and maybe dianthus or something low under the tree near the street, and some taller perennials like purple fountain grass, coneflower, catmint, etc. around the mailbox. These are just some ideas I've had - I really would like to hear what everyone else thinks.

http://i1207.photobucket.com/albums/bb468/canokie67/2012-04-05frontyard.jpg


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Some more photos

Here are a couple more photos. I don't know how to put them directly into the post but would love to learn.

This one gives a better view of the entire front yard and maple tree (at least from the sidwalk to the house). My yard ends about halfway to e neighbor's house - where the two signs are on the fence. I am in the process of leveling the area under the trees to get rid of the volcano-like rings under each one. My plan is to create an island bed around the maple tree in the front yard (not round) and add maybe a second tree, bush, etc., as well as some rocks and sedums on the sloping area closer to the sidewalk.

http://i1207.photobucket.com/albums/bb468/canokie67/2012-04-05frontyard2.jpg

And here's a photo looking from the door towards the street. I would like to also add a few rocks and plant some sedums and maybe dianthus or something low under the tree near the street, and some taller perennials like purple fountain grass, coneflower, catmint, etc. around the mailbox. These are just some ideas I've had - I really would like to hear what everyone else thinks.

http://i1207.photobucket.com/albums/bb468/canokie67/2012-04-05frontyard.jpg


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RE: New house and new to landscaping - help please?

I like to also a few rocks and plant some sedums and maybe dianthus.
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RE:4 New house and new to landscaping - help please?

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RE: 9New house and new to landscaping - help please?

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RE: New house and new to landscaping - help please?

Very pretty - thanks for the designs. I really wish it wasn't such a big deal to relocate the front walk and turn it into a winding path. I'd love to have some stuff growing up along the garage wall on the left as you walk towards the door - that's one long expanse of brick. Unfortunately, my budget dictates that it remain as it is for now. I see what you are trying to do though - break up that long expanse of wall.

I adore that weeping flowering tree over on the right! It would have to come closer to my house though since my yard only goes halfway to my neighbor's house.

Would you put anything under the windows or leave that bare?

Thanks again - I really appreciate it!

Shelley


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RE: New house and new to landscaping - help please?

Some bulbs or hellebores,agarista,hosta....


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RE: New house and new to landscaping - help please?

If anybody else has any ideas or recommendations, please post them. I'd like to get as many different options as possible. Thanks!

Shelley


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RE: New house and new to landscaping - help please?

Canokie, I think you are very much on the right track with your thoughts about where your plants are, what they are accomplishing there, and where else they could be.

If you want something different, one route to getting there is to plant somewhere different than where most people do, namely not at the foundation. Also, plants tend to grow better when they get light from all sides, and are not in the lee of the house with respect to rain. Plus, to water them you don't have to water your foundation.

One thing I would add is that for landscaping, vs. just randomly planting stuff and maybe making a garden, you are usually trying to accomplish something in terms of how your home presents to the world, or to you as you are coming home. A common objective, for example, with the design of house you have is to make the doorway seem more open and welcoming, and to reduce the impact of the driveway. You might also think about what kind of space you want to "be" in when you are in your front yard. Which plants you use to create that feeling is somewhat irrelevant; it is more about where they are, and what shape they are.

I am linking a thread below that might help you take that approach, it was a long discussion and if you disregard the kvetching, there is a lot of good info there.

Also, you can absolutely dig up and move those roses around, and the blueberries too if they are still alive. It is a matter of timing, among other things. I don't know if it is still early enough in spring to do it in your area - if you are pushing that boundary the key is to get a fairly big root ball and water well at the new location for the first year. Otherwise, wait till fall.

Karin L

Here is a link that might be useful: landscaping example


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RE: New house and new to landscaping - help please?

Shelley, where your photo is on Photobucket, look for a link titled "Share." Then look for "get link code." In order to imbed the picture into your message, copy the code for full size photo and paste it into your message.

Because the front door is tucked so far back from the front of the structure, you might consider creating the sense of "entering" long before you reach it. One way to do this is to create an arbor up near the front (side/corner)of the garage. It would require adding on to the walk so that users are guided through the arbor on their way to the door. Obviously, making this successful would rely on creating a structure that was of the proper proportions and quality. From the street, it should appear that the arbor IS the entrance, though in fact it would be a way-point.

You have some distinct ideas about what it is you're after. It's hard without actually SEEING what you're talking about to perceive if it's a good, or not. Why not consider sketching out a simple plan and get some feedback on it?


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RE: New house and new to landscaping - help please?

Thanks Yardvaark for explaining how to imbed photos. I've been playing around in Showoff.com and here's a rough design. I'd really appreciate everyone's input:

[IMG]http://i1207.photobucket.com/albums/bb468/canokie67/April222012.jpg[/IMG]

An arbor would not be allowed by our HOA unfortunately, but I was thinking about what you said about creating the sense of entering and also looking at the last design by Designoline6, and maybe I could create something similar by adding a bed off the corner of the walkway where the potted cactus is now?

By the way, the cactus is not going to be part of the final design. I need to take an updated picture that is free of clutter like this.

My rough design doesn't show the maple tree out front, but I would like to do something under that tree. Since this is a south facing yard, and its really hot and dry here in Oklahoma City, I was thinking maybe some low growing sedums and other succulents?

A few other notes - I love coleus and hostas but since this is a south facing yard, I don't think they will grow here since they are shade loving plants, right? Also, as you can probably see, I love blue spruce and other blue-green foliage as well as burgundy foliage, natural-looking landscapes, and rocks. The blue-green shrubs in between the roses, etc. are southern highbush blueberries - Sunshine Blue and Bountiful Blue, which get 3' tall. The pink flowers along the walkway are dianthus, and the roses (two of which are already there but may need to be moved) are double pink knockout roses.

Looking forward to everyone's input!

Shelley


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trying again to imbed the photo

Sorry about that - trying again:

[IMG]http://i1207.photobucket.com/albums/bb468/canokie67/April222012.jpg[/IMG]


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success!

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another one

Here is another one with a wider view of my yard, which includes the maple tree in front:

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RE: New house and new to landscaping - help please?

Can I ask what software you are using to produce your pictures? I would love to tinker with this. Thanks!


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RE: New house and new to landscaping - help please?

Yes, its www.showoff.com.


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RE: New house and new to landscaping - help please?

I don't think you are going to make the entrance to the home look more inviting by pinching off, confining and smothering the path to it. The other thing that jumps out to me is the cluttered appearance of the plantings. Too busy I think. And a lack of small/med. size trees. The Blue Spruce, if put there would eat up half your front yard. Placing it would require knowledge of plan view layout.


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RE: New house and new to landscaping - help please?

Thank you, Yardvaark. I appreciate your input. Are you suggesting that a tree be planted on the left at the corner of the garage? If yes, do you have any suggestions on what size/kind of tree? Or is that a bed that you are indicating there?

I'm also wondering if it would help if I moved the walkway away from the garage wall and made a gently curving pathway from the driveway to the door? This would allow me to plant some stuff along the garage wall.

I'm going to revise this and repost. Thank you again.

Shelley


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RE: New house and new to landscaping - help please?

I'm saying that it would be better to create a small island (with LOW plantings and a small tree) that you would pass by momentarily on your way to the door... as opposed to hemming you in with a border of plantings all the way along the already-too-confined walkway (by nature of its being next to the garage). The small tree helps to make sense of an island's being there and your yard, in general, needs some small trees... not just bushes at the ground.

I'd be in favor of a wider walk and a different walkway approach to the house if it used quality materials and design. You'd have to decide if it passed the cost vs. benefits test for you. I would not be in favor of a reconfigure if it had a "homespun" quality to it.


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RE: New house and new to landscaping - help please?

Here are a couple of revised sketches... input please?

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RE: New house and new to landscaping - help please?

Here's another option... I looked at Yardvaark's diagram again and tried to expand the bed at the corner of the walkway a bit more. Please give me your opinions - pro or con.

Photobucket

Thanks!
Shelley


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RE: New house and new to landscaping - help please?

A couple more options...

Yardvaark mentioned that the blue spruce would take up half the yard, so I used a blue atlas cedar instead, since those do very well down here.

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a href="http://s1207.photobucket.com/albums/bb468/canokie67/?action=view&current=April222012take5.jpg" target="_blank">Photobucket


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RE: New house and new to landscaping - help please?

Try to remember that the objective should be to open up a view of your doorway (unless it's not, but you haven't said either way), and also take the flowers off of your photoshop because they distract from the effect on your space that the various options have. Working in black and white forces you to concentrate on shape and impact.

I don't have time to examine your suggestions all closely right now but just on a scan I don't like any of them. They are patchy, and a bunch of little beds will just create a constant edging nightmare for you. Make bigger gestures with shapes, not a bunch of small gestures with colour.

Also, don't move your walkway. Read other posts on this forum (search the word "garage" maybe) and see what a nightmare those narrow beds beside the garage are if people have one. Nothing will grow upright (always reaches for the light), there is no natural water there due to rain shadow, it's either brutal sun or eternal shadow, and anything you do constrains the feel of the walkway. If anything, widen your walkway in some way, keep plants away from it, and jazz it up with a couple of containers against the wall once you've made space to walk around them.

Consider whether you can put some more hardscape in your yard - that will give it bones. I don't know if you read the thread I linked earlier, but it can give you a lot of insight to the process of making decisions about your yard, and while the final design suggestion will likely not be your thing, it will give you an idea of how many different ideas there are for "doing something different" with a type of space that is identical to many and inherently somewhat unattractive.

There is so much in this forum already - just the few suggestions in your own thread may not be enough to give you the insight you are looking for, but read many threads, and I think you will start to see the possibilities. Sometimes we see it so much better on other peoples' spaces than on our own which are so familiar to us as they already are.

Karin L


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RE: New house and new to landscaping - help please?

Hi Karin,

Thank you so much for your post. Yes, I did read the thread you posted and actually reread it again just now (amazing how you can get so much more out of something the second time around!) I think I'm getting what everyone is saying, that I need to balance out the very prominent garage with some visual weight on the other side, and avoid clustering plantings near the entrance as that will only make it look smaller and more closed off. I think the www.showoff.com website is fun to play around with, but leaves a lot to be desired when it comes to perspective.

Here is a bird's eye sketch of my front yard and house, which is based on the map of my lot (it is wider at the street than it is at the house). The dashed lines indicate the supposed size of the trees at maturity (looks like my maples are going to shade most of my yard eventually, which is fine by me since the house faces south and it gets really hot here in Oklahoma.) Right now they are still pretty small, as indicated by the much smaller circles with a heavier, solid line. I also drew the mature and probable starting size of a dwarf Blue Atlas Cedar (Hortmans) off the SE corner of the house. Another option I was looking at is Baby Blue Eyes spruce, which gets 15' tall by 10' wide. Would there be enough room for that do you think?

The shrubs I drew at full size - the roses are already there and I will just need to move them. The really thick line indicates the boundary of the bed. And around the mailbox I've indicated some purple fountain grass.

Does this look better, with just one, large bed, and nothing around the entrance or walkway? Should I create a second large bed that includes the maple in the center of the yard plus a smaller tree and some low plantings closer to the corner of the walkway? Should I put anything at all near the door, like a large planter or possibly something on a trellis? Would that accent the entrance or have the opposite effect?

Thanks so much for all the help and ideas. I am learning a lot.

Shelley

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RE: New house and new to landscaping - help please?

Canokie, first I just want to acknowledge that Yardvaark and I have pretty much completely opposite taste and approach to landscaping, and though we try to live and let live, you will have to navigate or combine what might be opposing advice! I will grant that Yard has done professional design and I have not.

I love the fact that you posted a photo of your view from the door. Your neighbours aren't exactly inspiring in the gardening department, are they?? If it were me, this is the view I would want to improve. It may be less important what things look like from the outside in if you can make the space feel good from inside it.

Also, the best planting space in your yard, long term, is what will frame this view.... up the property line and across the front, perhaps right at the sidewalk, because there will be no (or few) tree roots to contend with, and plants will get light from all sides (vs at the foundation, where they will lean for the light). Are you allowed to plant in those areas by the HOA? Tall shrubs along the public sidewalk would give you some privacy in the yard while you are gardening.

If you plant up the property line, the edging against the neighbour has to be considered... maybe keep a strip of grass on your side up the back of the bed, which of course you'd have to mow, but which would avoid making mowing difficult for them. That would also be a place for some pavers, to make a mowing strip for your mower wheel.

You could put a blue spruce in the outside corner of the yard or nearer the house close to the property line. In both cases, it would create some shade behind it to protect vulnerable plants like your blueberries. You might find useful in more than one spot the strategy of using tall plants to create shade, and then putting vulnerable plants in that shade area. Thus another good planting area might be in the afternoon shade of the maple - not right at its base.

I'd give some consideration to widening your walkway. Caution, that this is not a small job, because it looks like you'd have to level the ground to do it. And while in my climate I could do it by just putting some 24" square slabs on the ground, in Oklahoma you might have to consider a better base for slabs, or even concrete. But give it some thought. Alone the lighter surface at the stoop (where there is now grass) would brighten up your entrance a bit. Also, it's not landscaping, but I might consider a lighter colour on the door. THEN a container of bright plants or something similar would highlight rather than further close in the entrance.

I've attached a sketch on your plan view of the area that just highlights the areas you could look at starting a garden in. (I've just learned how to use Paintbrush and I'm very proud of myself so don't bruise my self-esteem here... and it's just to convey the idea).

You can actually go closer to the tree... root competition won't be that big a deal if your other plants are established by the time the maple roots get there.

How and whether you connect that area with the foundation planting (if you have one) and also how far across the the yard you go depends on your preference and what you want the effect to be from inside and outside. The blue circles are the possible blue spruce locations.

You can add details like a casual walkway to the beds or along the bed edge, somewhere to sit (maybe in the shade of the tree), a birdbath or birdhouse, a bit more hard surface near the door or by the sidewalk, or all kinds of things as you develop your ideas and preferences. Your plant selection will depend on your preference and plant availability, but could certainly include berries for humans and birds! I suspect just grass at the walkway will be a little stark, so maybe a very low floral planting along it, or some pots, to brighten that up. But if you do the big gestures first, those little ones will fit in better.

You'll want to mulch the beds to keep weeds down, I imagine. In fact, before you put in this big a bed, a book on gardening basics for your area would be a great idea.

Finally, it is probably getting a little late to plant this much area heading into a hot summer. Only do as much as you think you can keep watered this summer, and plant the rest in fall, or earlier next spring.

Karin L

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RE: New house and new to landscaping - help please?

I'm remain fascinated that Karin and I "analyze out" landscape almost point-for-point the same... and then solve it in nearly (not always) opposite ways.

Actually, here might be a case where widening the sidewalk with 2' square patio tiles would make sense. It keeps the cost low and makes it DIY possible. When using something like standard brick size pavers, unless you compact them with a rented machine, getting everything uniformly even can be a challenge. But with a 2' patio tile, you're only concerned with evening out 1 row. So doing it manually is not that bad. Plus, a year later after it settles out, you could tweak the ones that need it without too much aggravation. If you don't use a gravel sub-base, use at least 2" of sand setting base. After excavating, I'd tamp the soil (a 4" x 4" post used as a hammer will work.) Then, tamp in a layer of sand, and then set the tile on an un-tamped layer of sand. You can't hammer on it so probably will have to figure out a way to use body weight to "tamp" it down. It will probably require some experimentation. In fact, I'd buy one tile and one bag of sand and experiment with the process before committing to it. If a day comes where one wants to remove the tiles, there is no great mess left behind. Just some sand which could be easily covered.

Shelley, on the day that you place that 3' x 6' boulder, please take a video of the process and post a link. I want to see it!

IF a Colorado Blue Spruce were incorporated, here's a picture that gives an idea of the size you'll be needing to accommodate. (According to the website, it is 40' tall.) I could only see it in your yard if pushed close to the lot line. Not that this is a deal-breaker, but as it grows into the neighbor's yard, they will have the right to cut off whatever they don't want encroaching. Sometimes neighbors are pleased to have a pretty plant there. But if they weren't you'd still have your untrimmed side to look at. Where you get close to the city sidewalk, you could pretty much guarantee that the skirt would need to be limbed up so that the Spruce was in the tree form (with a clear trunk.) The Maple in close proximity will produce enough shade that the Spruce's lower canopy will not be so pretty, too, so there'll be two reasons to limb it up.

Karin, because of my refusal to read directions, it's taken me months to figure out many of the tools of MS Paint. I don't know Paintbrush, but it seems most of the programs have similar basic tools. One tip that may make it easier for you to use since you probably aren't controlling it with a stylus--or even if you were--is the line tool. If you use the line tool (which can be various colors and thicknesses) to create the edge of whatever shape you're working on, you can get a crisp edge. Color it in after with paintbrush or paint bucket.) With MS Paint, the curved line tool works that you establish the end points of the line and then you have two opportunities to push the curve where you want it. It takes some playing with to understand it as you have to use the two opportunities in the correct order at their respective ends of the line. (I've just recently figured it out and "Undo" is my favorite tool!) The circle drawing tool is useful for drawing plants in plan view.


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RE: New house and new to landscaping - help please?

Hi Karin, thanks so much for your helpful reply. I appreciate you taking so much time to help me. I really like your suggestion about widening the walkway - I never thought about what that could do to help make the entrance more prominent. I think that is something my son and I could handle. He does have experience pouring concrete - would it be feasible to just add on to the walkway we have, or does that not work? I will also price some of those tiles. In the meantime, just thinking out loud here, if I was to dig up that strip and plant a few low succulents then 'mulch' them with a light gray gravel or river rock, do you think that might help?

I just read through my HOA's landscaping restrictions and they are pretty strict. Looks like anything planted closer to the sidewalk area would have to be really low as to not interfere with the neighbors' views, etc. No hedges or anything. I like your sketch however, and it has given me more to ponder. I am glad to hear that you think some shade from a tree will make it easier to grow blueberries, as that is something I really want to grow if at all possible. It looks like I will probably be planting closer to the house/fence due to the restrictions, but hopefully the fact that my house faces south will help, as the plants should still get plenty of light.

Yardvaark, I appreciate your input also. I did notice the differences between your advice and Karin's :) but I wanted as many different perspectives as possible, so this is great. You make a very good point about the boulder - certainly there are some scale problems with my drawing and I will tweak that. I certainly don't want a boulder that big, and even if I did I would have no way to get it into position.

As far as the trees - I am not even considering a standard size blue spruce, as my lot is not big enough. However, what is your opinion of the semi dwarf cultivars, such as Baby Blue Eyes, which gets about 10'-15' tall and only 8'-10' across?

http://conservationgardenpark.org/plants/115/baby-blue-eyes-blue-spruce/

or even the Blue Totem cultivar which is only 15' tall and 3' wide (but a little too narrow for my tastes I think).

http://www.coloradotreefarmnursery.com/stock/evergreen-trees/8217225

Also, I wanted to make sure I understood what you were suggesting about the small tree at the corner of the walkway. Is the intent to minimize the corner of the garage? What size tree were you thinking? In looking at your drawings again, it seems that you were indicating closer to the driveway than what my attempted interpretation shows...

Thank you both again for the time you have taken to help me - I really appreciate it!

Shelley


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RE: New house and new to landscaping - help please?

Shelley, Looking again at your first post, I see that I missed the word "Globosa." All along I thought you were talking regular Blue Spruce. I am not up on the dwarf blue Spruce cultivars. However, it's common in nursery marketing to tell people what they want to hear and everyone wants plants that don't get so darn big. Often, plants grow twice the size that's claimed. And the word "dwarf" is misleading. Half of 80' ht. is still a dwarf if it only gets 40'. One of those cultivars you referenced looks like it could be a good solution for you and at least take a long time before it gets too big... if it does.

Just kidding you about the boulder. That's the trouble with computer programs... they don't have right sizes and shapes.

"...Is the intent to minimize the corner of the garage?" The purpose of small tree was to "connect" the garage structure to the ground (maybe that's minimizing...?) and to give a purpose for there being a bed there. A bed without the little tree would look like it was put there just to trip someone. The tree would be something limbed up that you look through, right on to the door.

If you have a son who can handle concrete, that would be a great way to widen the walk. It would be a good idea to bump the walk a little longer by the drive to help with the turn, too.

Good luck!


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RE: New house and new to landscaping - help please?

Well, I just got some bad news over on the tree forum. Looks like both of my maples will have to come out, to be replaced this fall with something better adapted to my climate/soil. Since I will now be starting with a clean slate landscaping-wise, do you think I should make any changes as to where the replacement trees are located? You can see where the maples are located now on the diagram up above. One is at the corner of the driveway and the street west of the mailbox, and the other is in the middle of the lawn. I'm open to planting elsewhere if it would help the overall design, as long as it provides shade for the house, which faces south.

Thanks again,
Shelley


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RE: New house and new to landscaping - help please?

I'd call that a blessing and a good opportunity, myself :-)

The first thing to look at again is your HOA rules. If what you said about plants in general also applies to trees, that would be unfortunate, but bearable, since you did say that your objective is partly to shade the house.

Now, different people and different HOAs will function differently around a set of rules. In my opinion, twenty years out in the average subdivision, people will start to rebel, and somehow the pressure will be on for those rules to relax or change. Some people will push the boundaries, while others will wait for them to change. So how closely you choose to comply is something that will depend on you, if the rules don't work for your hopes and dreams.

By the way, is the HOA like a strata council of owners, ie democratic, or is it a developer thing, ie corporate? That's a digression, but I'm curious.

What you want to sketch on your planning diagram is not so much the canopy of the tree, but the shadow the tree casts. So if you have a tall narrow tree, that will give you different shade distribution from a short wide tree or a tall spreading one. It would be your decision where you want the shade to fall at what time of day and what time of year.

Once you draw the shade you want on your plan view (the last diagram you posted), then you convert the thing to 3D in your head and think about things like view corridors to/from the yard itself, the front door, upstairs windows (not sure if that is one on your photo?), etc. That may lead you to tweak the placement or tree shape you want a bit. Your other considerations are where the debris will fall (my car is covered with pink cherry blossoms as I write), and what will be happening underground - I think you mentioned sewer line issues in your tree forum thread - and also overhead if there are wires.

One thing you haven't mentioned is whether you have planting space on the other side of the driveway. It looks like you do, from your plan view, and if so, it's a nice spot for a tree - shady parking is nice in summer. Of course, you get the debris trade-off.

For widening the sidewalk, the process Yardvaark described with pavers is eminently do-able, and might be what I would choose just for flexibility. But if you have a concrete artist in residence you could make the walkway into a really nice amenity, square or with curves, flares, a nice overall shape in any case, a stamped pattern, or what have you. As Yardvaark said it can come further down the driveway too. Just watch that the pitch is away from the house :-)

Karin L


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RE: New house and new to landscaping - help please?

Hi Karin,

I'm attaching a map/diagram of my lot, so you can see the big picture. There is only 6' or 7' feet on the other side of the driveway, but I would love to have a tree or trees on that side as well, to shade the driveway and garage from the late afternoon sun. What would you suggest for that area?

As far as the HOA, it appears to be democratic in the sense that each homeowner has a vote, but nothing has been put up for vote in the last three years. I highly doubt that the landscaping rules will be changing anytime soon. And the current rules require that any changes I want to make to the front yard landscaping be submitted to the HOA for approval first. The main thing that is puzzling me is this:

"Taller plantings and recreation equipment should not be placed in the neighbor's view line. Existing vegetation will be allowed to remain in the view line. the view line is defined by staffing at the left and right rear property corners and proceeding 20 feet towards the front corners and 20 feet toward the center across the rear property line. These two new points, near each corner, when connected form trianges that should remain free of obstructions for neighbor's view corridors."

I am not very visual I guess... I just can't seem to apply that to my lot in a way that helps me to figure out where I can and can't plant.

I've been getting some advice over on the Trees forum about replacement trees, and some of the best ones for my soil/climate are Caddo maple (John Pair), shantung maple (Fire Dragon), chinese pistache, and burr oak. For smaller trees, I know crape myrtles do really well here. My main goal, besides of course making my home and yard look nice, is shade, since my house faces south and its really hot here in the summer. I was wondering if it might be a better idea to plant something closer to the house for shade, at least temporarily while other trees fill in. Thoughts?

Shelley (diagram below):

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RE: New house and new to landscaping - help please?

OK, so your HOA rules seem to require that you basically lop the back corners off your back yard and keep your tall things in a triangle that has the house wall as its base and the centre of the back fence as its peak. I wonder if the same requirements apply to the front. If so, you basically draw a diamond shape (or maybe more accurate, an octagon) inside your whole property line and that is your creative space.

Shade-wise, there is a lot that can be done with that. As far as I can see, you have some nice opportunity for tree-planting in your side yards. And that can do a lot to keep the house cool. I have a N-S oriented house as well and find that blocking the east/southeast exposure, keeping the house cool until noon, is a really good way to start the day.

The nice thing on your east side, which is the only one you've shown so far, is that the neighbour there doesn't have gutters on that part of their roof. This means that your leaf debris won't create a headache for them (which can, in turn lead to them creating a headache for you :-)). Plus, they will get the cooling effect as well.

I would also use the west side yard, front and back, for the same purpose; perhaps with columnar trees. In addition to cooling the house you could create a bit of evening shade for your back yard as well as for your driveway (although you may want to prioritize sun for the potager).

In the front yard, I would put a nice heritage-quality tree as far to the sidewalk and east side as you are allowed. You can use the idea of putting a faster-growing tree closer to the house now that you can cut down as the heritage tree gets to size. I suspect that the south-west exposure is the least of your worries since the garage probably keeps your house somewhat cool.

One thing I suspect is that it would be best not to be in a rush, since it's late to plant trees in a hot climate. Spend the summer thinking about just where you want your trees, and plant in fall or early next spring (spring is often when you can get the best selection, unless you special order. A friend of mine got a motto from her mother, that the best planting months are the ones that have an "r" in their names.

I will try to do some scribbling in paintbrush. If there are any HOA guidelines about the front yard, it would help to know those.

Karin L
PS - nothing up for a vote in 3 years???? wow. People are either really really busy or, banish the thought, compliant? Or maybe the rules are already so good that they work for everyone. I live in a neighbourhood where we argue about EVERYTHING and we aren't even an HOA!


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RE: New house and new to landscaping - help please?

Hi Karin,

I wish our HOA was more specific about what is and isn't allowed in terms of landscaping. They definitely require that I submit a plan for review before doing anything, but it would help to have some idea what is allowed first. Other than a statement that at least one tree is required per 45' of street frontage, and lawns must be mowed, there isn't much. I found it amusing that there is a reference to a simple row of same-sized shrubs at the front of the house being 'unacceptable', when that's what my house came with and pretty much every other new house here comes with.

It's possible that some voting has taken place without my knowledge. They do have an annual get together at the park, but when it is 100 degrees out its going to take more than a free hot dog to lure me out of my air conditioned house! :) I thought these were just opportunities to mingle and ask questions maybe, but its possible there is more to them. I know they do a bid process every year to determine what company will mow the common areas. As you can see, the status quo around here is a little bleak. There are a few nicely landscaped homes, but they are the minority.

Thanks again for all your help,
Shelley


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RE: New house and new to landscaping - help please?

Shelley, the way I interpret what you said about "taller plantings" being in the neighbor's "view line" is shown in the illustration below.

The reality of dealing with some of the agencies that make rules and regulation, such as HOA, is that often they have a hard time interpreting their own rules. Different people you talk to might give you different answers. But usually, the bottom line is that they're trying to impose the "Golden Rule" so that no one suffers because of an act resulting from another person's creation. They don't want you causing conflicts with your neighbor because of what you might do with the landscape in your own yard. If you've ever seen someone's landscape creation that you wouldn't want to live next door to and feel like it would drag your property value down, that an example of what they're trying to prevent. (I've seen stone "waterfall" creations that looked like a truck backed up and dumped a load of rock, fitting into this category.) Because much of the good or bad of landscaping is subjective, the controlling authority creates rules where they approve what a person does ahead of time to eliminate future conflicts between neighbors. This makes most people, but not everyone, happy. If you are trying to design something that you feel is an asset to the neighborhood, but that the "rules" are confusing, it's easy enough to design what you want, just keeping in mind as you go along, the notion of not doing something that someone else will likely find offensive. Then, submit it for approval. If it's rejected, you will be told why or you can inquire... especially of a small group like HOA. If it's rejected, it might just need a little tweaking, not a major change. The general feeling one gets as they read "the rules" is that they're up against an impossible obstacle. The actual result is that getting something approved--as long as it is reasonably sensible and thoughtful of others--is usually not that difficult. So don't despair too much, too soon.


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RE: New house and new to landscaping - help please?

Canockie, this is just a quick basic diagram with the outline of an idea. The darker tree is the proposed blue spruce, and the others are intended to be deciduous, flowering or not, which would cool in summer, and let sun through in winter. Specific identity is best determined locally, but along the sides they should be something that grows fairly tall and narrow.

Your HOA seems like it might not be too big an obstacle, at least to keeping your house cool. So the basic bones of your plan would be about shade, pathways, and sightlines. Since I can't help you with either the left side or with sightlines from various points on the property, you could start by imagining trees where I've sketched them, and move (or remove them) around to work in real life. It can help to stick a garden tool in the ground at the point you might put a tree, and imagine how that will look from the door, from the window, as you drive home, etc. I've not put a tree very close to the house, but there is clearly an option to put another one closer for faster, more significant shade. That has to be balanced off by whether you want to live in a little forest :-) I put the front yard trees more so they would shade the yard, which will give you some sheltered area for other plants, since side yard trees will do morning and afternoon cooling. The blueberries might be happier in the back, but if you want them in the front, the shelter of the trees should work (but just remember I write from the rainforest! so I don't know for sure).

This will leave you exposed to afternoon sun, which could be mitigated with one more tree right were your curb tree now is or across the sidewalk from it. That will block the door a fair bit, so is a matter of taste.

Tree placement being decision 1, decision 2 is how you move around the property. Are there gates through to either side yard? If so, pathways can be put in - two options are dotted in. Many people find it easier to place beds for flowering plants with reference to pathways - I do, because I like to plant things that have up-close interest and then I enjoy walking over to see them. How do you get the mower from front to back yard?

And then decision 3 is what you want to see/be seen, or have blocked from different points of view.

These bones are important to get right - and "right" is not something anyone but you can determine. Of course even trees can always be moved or replaced, but it's nice if they don't have to. Placement of flower beds and flowering plants is easy to work around your trees once the tree locations are chosen. Beds can be around tree bases, or completely separate from them - sun-loving plants to the sunny side, less tolerant ones on the shadier side.

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I hope this gives you something to start doodling with and imagining in 3d.

Karin L


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RE: New house and new to landscaping - help please?

Thank you, Yardvaark, for explaining the neighbor's view line issue. I guess this talks only about the back yard, but it would seem reasonable that this would apply to the front yard too. If so, that does give me a lot of flexibility with where I can plant. Thank you also for your advice about the HOA. I will try not to assume the worst and will keep an open mind.

Karin, thank you for your design - I like it! I absolutely love trees, so the more the merrier as far as I am concerned :) You have given me a lot to think about. I am also getting some good advice on the best trees for my climate and soil over on the Trees forum.

I also liked your pathways idea. I was already thinking about a mowing strip because they make maintenance easier, but when you suggested pathways I realized that a mowing strip just a bit wider than normal would make a pathway too.

I was thinking tonight on my way home that widening the walkway is not going to be feasible in the immediate future, but if I made a bed about a foot wide alongside the walkway, and planted some very low growing sedums, succulents, etc. and mulched that strip with a light colored mulch or pebbles or something, that might create the illusion that the walkway is wider and help to open up that space. What do you think?

Thanks again very much!
Shelley


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RE: New house and new to landscaping - help please?

I am hoping that someone else gives some input to what I drew since my experience is with such a different site and climate, but either way I hope it's a start, esp with input from the tree people. I was going to add that there is some "it depends" based on what kind of roof eaves (yours and neighbours') there are on the left of the house.

I like your suggestion about the border along the side walk. That will be a nice way to test the concept before pouring concrete - always a good idea! And it may be a long term solution in itself - I think the sedum/succulent concept would be fun to do. Bit of a weeding challenge as it grows in, like all beds, but with mulch and vigilance, should be manageable.

Edging is really the hardest thing about beds, and edging with something you can both walk on and mow along is an idea that I like.

I see much digging in your future :-)

Karin L


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RE: New house and new to landscaping - help please?

I can probably do Oklahoma.... Sort of like a colder central Texas or a dryer Maryland, right? ;-) Haven't read everything here--but I like KarinL's first suggestion, minus the bed right against the sidewalk, the best of all. I love the big sweeping circle with the pane of lawn in the center, framed by it. Not nearly as enthusiastic about the more divided look, and I really don't like the paths in your subdivision.

Now, people on the forum are APPALLED when I talk about the kinds of things I can do with my yard, but that's because we have EVERY kind of house and EVERY kind of yard here, from cottage gardens to formal attempts at Italianate, from golf course lawns to woodland gardens to completely screened from the street to kitchy garden junk paradises to shrubs-and-tree-and-lawn to formal potagers to just plain woods, hold the garden. One out of every ten houses doesn't even have a lawn of any sort. I can't really think of anything I could do other than nuke the landscape and put down rock that would look out of place. Even a xeriscaped succulent garden would just be a "huh, that's interesting" along a walk.

Your subdivision, though, is just that--a true subdivision, with a fairly uniform look and feel. You can and should do something that will blow the neighbors out of the water. But it should still be very consistent with the look and feel of the neighborhood. I just don't see charming, wandering paths working here--not with the neighborhood or the house.

A birdbath will be fine, but it should not under any circumstances be centered between the front windows. :-) And I'd recommend something that is very simple and modern in style--NOT modernIST, but please not your typical bird bath of white or black concrete with fluting or Italianate detailing.


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