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landscape makeover

Posted by corrine1 7b Pacific Northwest (My Page) on
Thu, May 2, 13 at 15:39

What would you suggest for updates in this rural WA setting? We don't own, but live here as part of our employee benefit. Necessary repairs are paid for by the camp, but the landscaping or cosmetic fixes are our responsibility. We have lived at camp for over 25 years and are just 500' away from this home currently, so have lots of amateur gardening experience in this woodsy setting.

We have our list made:
- remove tall trees & overgrown shrubs (already cut & removed stumps of firs between garage & house as well as diseased cherry tree next to driveway with many more to do.)

- transplant what shrubs we can to screen back of garage side yard area from backyards of 2 other homes through the trees (some shrubs may not be salvageable due to malpruning from recent occupant, but original owner would like them retained if possible)

- redo walkways from driveway to front door & to garage (increase width to doors plus width for foot traffic from passenger side of cars, level & update, maybe reuse the 10 sunken stepping stones elsewhere because they're too small for a front door entry)

- possibly create a patio and connecting walkways between garage & house (include our existing bistro set, bench, and pondless jar fountain)

- replace front windows

- fix sinking front deck footings & add handrail for steps

- create curved foundation beds to accent the house rather than detract. Keep unplanted area at least 3' from home. Add <20' trees to each corner of the house surrounded by medium shrubs plus small under 3' shrubs and perennials or annuals until the shrubs fill out -- focus on evergreens & winter interest.

-paint front door (probably burgundy raisin color) & see if that is enough to offset the brown that I don't like at all

Current backyard patio with red chicken coop in background. Coop will be in backyard, but the furniture and fountains can be in front now. Wood chip paths work fine for the backyard, but probably won't work for a front entry. We have a gravel driveway now that leads right to the front steps, so know that tracks in a lot of forest debris despite a covered porch & entry mats.

From Drop Box

We will move the backyard stuff (small greenhouse, chicken coop, rabbit hutches, and more) when we get the big trees removed & the front yard figured out.

The entry faces south with the right front corner facing east and the back left corner facing west. There are only 3 windows on the other side (small kitchen window, kitchen skylight, and a bedroom window), so the front lighting is important. There is a solid back door in the laundry room off the kitchen. At some point we may remove a built in hutch in the dining room & replace with a sliding glass door for more lighting and views. We currently have great views to our backyard with fountains, small pets of poultry & rabbits, as well as the wild birds in the birdbath & fountains, so want to create a front yard that is pleasing to view.

What would you do here?

From Drop Box

Huge maple in backyard needs professional removal since it's about 25' from the house.

From Drop Box

Took off front shutters to open it up a bit, too.

From Drop Box

From Drop Box

All those huge trees including the stand of big leaf maples are marked for logging.

From Drop Box

from the left side SSW of garage where the shrubs will be moved to screen the front yard from views of 2 other backyards

From Drop Box

another view from further west back toward house & garage (drainfield is further right of where photographer is standing, so will remain grassy area there)

From Drop Box

view from the far right (east) & shows the width between garage & house as well as malpruned blueberry shrubs on left and topped pyracantha at end of house too close to the house

From Drop Box

Thanks in advance for your suggestions !


Follow-Up Postings:

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RE: landscape makeover

That looks like such a lovely setting -- so verdant and lush!

Upgrading the path seems like a high priority. You are right, the stones are just too small.

Have you considered painting the front door a lighter color to brighten the entry area?


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RE: landscape makeover

  • Posted by corrine1 7b Pacific Northwest (My Page) on
    Fri, May 3, 13 at 10:49

Great suggestion to paint a lighter front door. I've thought about painting the trim white so we could install our white picket fence out front. The gutters & downspouts are dark brown vinyl, so probably have to stay that color.


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RE: landscape makeover

Good call Trovesof and Corrine on the lightening/brightening of entrance and trim. (The brown everywhere is oppressive.)

I made a post here last night but see that (as happens from time to time) I forgot to push "submit." Lucky then as that makes the post much shorter than it would have otherwise been. :-) Mainly, I was thinking that the pictures that would be most helpful, are absent, so am suggesting the addition of a couple more. Standing in the same position as the 3rd picture from the top (shows the house entrance and some driveway gravel) I would pan the camera right, with the house centered and take another shot. (If the house won't fit, back up slightly.) Then, from the same position, pan farther right, showing the right end of the house and the yard at right of it. Submit these photos, but don't assemble them into a single panorama as it distorts too much.


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RE: landscape makeover

  • Posted by corrine1 7b Pacific Northwest (My Page) on
    Sat, May 4, 13 at 1:01

More photos from this evening about 6pm as the sun is backlighting the trees behind the house.

House faces south. Front right corner is east & back left corner is west.

Detached garage front right corner is angled toward the house, so not perpendicular. Driveway curves around back toward the garage, so not straight. The last photo might show that better.

The cable box on right stays, cherry tree was cut down & stump will be cut flush with the ground. The railroad tie is rotten & pulled away to be disposed, but for now marks where the driveway should be widened to stay square with the garage.

From 2013-05-03

From 2013-05-03

From 2013-05-03

closer shot of front door (David's Viburnum on left, with dwarf pine behind it, and a dwarf Alberta spruce to the left of that. If you go back to the 1st photo the spruce & pine are behind my pink chair on the lawn.)

From 2013-05-03

view from the underbrush on the other side of the driveway to get as much of the front as possible since the garage blocks the left side

From 2013-05-03

the approach up the driveway to show the angles

From 2013-05-03

Two more rhodies opened first flowers today, so our moving window is closing quickly since I've read not to move them after bloom. My son & I worked on removing limbs of a 12" diameter maple that is leaning over the garage, so when it is cut down it will be heavier on the side where it should fall. We cut a bit of the underbrush as well so we might be able to get a rhododendron in there on the garage side of the tree if we can't wait for the tree to be removed before moving them out.


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RE: landscape makeover

Thanks for adding photos and I think a couple of these might be more useful for describing where you might go. No time now for me, but try to get back with info. tonight or tomorrow morning. Hopefully, you will get some good suggestions from others today.


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RE: landscape makeover

I am in love with that patio furniture you have


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RE: landscape makeover

  • Posted by corrine1 7b Pacific Northwest (My Page) on
    Sun, May 5, 13 at 11:32

I'm glad you like the bench. It's comfortable & sturdy. We leave it out year round.

We bought it after it was used for staging a house, but I've found it on Amazon from several sellers for less than $100 with shipping. The price went down this spring.

Here is a link that might be useful: DC America SLM106 Vienna Metal Park Bench


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RE: landscape makeover

Here is a mostly self-explanatory approach in pictorial form that you might ponder as a starting point. The small (15' mature height) trees help make the house look connected to the landscape, but without smothering, obliterating and oppressing. (Make them using your favorite, blooming large shrub.) It would be useful to create a uniform edge of some kind to the natural forest area in order to tidy up the look of it. Clean, distinct edges to the lawn and drive would help improve the overall look, too. The shutters you removed seem like they could actually enhance the house IF they and all the trim were painted some nice light color. Dark on dark in a dark forest seems gloomy to me. (By my picture I'm not suggesting other architectural changes though it might look like I'm fiddling with the deck railing or such. It's just that much had to be obliterated to get rid of all the existing plants that were covering the house. And things were not re-drawn very exactly.) The picture is not suggesting any specific plants. But that's what would provide the actual personality of the landscape. So there's plenty of room to create the look and feel one desires. I'm just showing basics.


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Nice transformation from random shrub plantings to a cohesive look.

Crepe myrtle comes to mind a shrubs/small trees with that vase shape. No clue how they do there--they actually don't grow here.


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RE: landscape makeover

  • Posted by corrine1 7b Pacific Northwest (My Page) on
    Mon, May 6, 13 at 22:07

Thanks Yardvaark for the suggestions & nifty photo that helped us see what it could be. What is the program you used? I have anticipated this move for a few years, so have been growing and collecting plants that grow well for us here.

Were you suggesting evergreen flowering shrubs limbed up like trees or might a deciduous tree with good shape surrounded by evergreen shrubs? Rhodies grow well here, but the taller big leaf ones get root weevil damage & yes the root weevils are already there. What other ev.flowering shrubs grow in the suggested vase shape without a lot of pruning? Would a nicely shaped deciduous tree surrounded by a combination of evergreen and some deciduous shrubs work if balanced?

Your suggestion of the end shrubs look like they're 5' back from the front & side of house. If I only planted 2 of those tall shrub/trees would I put them in the same position or bring them frontward to align with the front of the house? I understand to plant a good distance away from the house so the mature canopy doesn't touch it.

Were those smaller shrubs under the windows lined up like soldiers or staggered?

I have a good size collection of plants ready to be transplanted from pots or dug from our nursery beds both evergreen & deciduous. Some I have in quantity for repetition & others are specimen types. The taller ones will replace the mature firs in the center of the driveway turnaround not in the photos. That way when they mature at 30' they won't shade the yard like the firs.

Decid trees: Japanese maples, Chinese dogwood, Japanese snowbell trees, orangebark stewartia, eastern redbud, weeping twisted redbud, weeping double cherry in pairs, Magnolia Galaxy in pairs, native hazelnut

Ev. trees: Arbutus Marina, mountain hemlock, subalpine fir, dwarf alberta spruce (there is also one there next to the porch hidden by the rhodie & viburnum), Japanese Cryptomeria

Decid shrubs: dwarf & other lilacs, weigelas, snowball viburnum pair (10' now), flowering quinces, hydrangeas (several types), purple ninebark, purple smoke bush, currant, barberries (3 types), spireas (4+ types, one snowmound), dwarf fothergilla, elderberries (purples & variegated), Kerria, dwarf bluebeards, high bush cranberry, KO rose, mock orange (several types), dwarf butterfly bush, beauty berry Profusion, witchhazel, native serviceberry

Ev. shrubs: Escallonia 2 colors, huckleberry, Japanese holly, dwarf boxwood, a few other boxwoods, camellia, Osmanthus Goshinki (small), heavenly bamboo, Lonicera pilata (2 colors in quantities), euphorbias, David's viburnums, kalmia, variegated Daphne, various azalea & rhodies in smaller pots, golden Euonymus & 14+ variegated groundcover type

Various vines & groundcovers... to fill several gardens either at home or at our camp. It looks like a nursery here.


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RE: landscape makeover

The drawing program I used is Microsoft Paint. It helps to have a touchscreen with stylus.

I am not suggesting any particular plants, nor evergreens vs. deciduous. For the small trees, I'm suggesting what are generally thought of as large shrubs ... something that tops out at the 15' size, or could fairly easily be controlled to that size (or whatever one determines is the best height). I don't know what would grow best like that where you are, Corrine, but you probably have seen many such plants. One of the most common plants used this way where I am is a pollarded crape myrtle. With the annual topping, the ultimate height is easily, automatically controlled. Other examples of plants I've used as small trees are Beauty Bush, Burning Bush, Dwarf and regular Burford Holly, Lilac, PG Hydrangea, Azalea, Jap. Ligustrum, Pittosporum, various Viburnums. The list of what's possible would be enormous.

"Your suggestion of the end shrubs look like they're 5' back from the front & side of house... " I'm thinking you might be talking about the small trees. Maybe showing your question in a plan sketch would help clarify exactly what you're asking.

"Were those smaller shrubs under the windows lined up like soldiers or staggered?" They look more like a single row to me. But staggering a double row would be an option you have, though I'm not sure it's any great advantage to you. Bringing those shrubs farther forward, would provide less contrast with adjacent plant groups that are already farther forward.


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RE: landscape makeover

  • Posted by corrine1 7b Pacific Northwest (My Page) on
    Tue, May 7, 13 at 13:45

Thanks again, Y! I appreciate the experienced suggestions since I've just read about foundation landscaping. Yes, I can figure out what actual plants for our location, but have more questions about creating a balanced formal type design (as compared to my perennial mixed borders).

Of the four 15' tree/shrubs -
Do I need to plant all 4 of the same?
Or could we plant all 4 different -- the left side receives more shade than the right side.
As an example of 4 different trees used with conifers at far corners.
mountain hemlock, upright red Japanese maple between windows, then other side between windows upright green Japanese maple, Japanese cedar Sekkan at corner

Or should we plant symmetrical pairs of same cultivars (one on each side)?

If you only made one pair matching, which spot --- inner toward the door or the outer ones? I lean toward 2 matching weeping cherry (mature at 15') near the door & conifers at the end corners.

My attempt to draw out the tall tree/shrubs placement positions keeping mature width clearance of 3' from house)
#1 set back more to rear of house so trunks are 5' or how much from that corner)
#2 align parallel with front of house (not parallel with B & C)
#3 align parallel A - D
I was thinking position #2 and maybe a bit further away from house to account for mature widths, but am unsure if that's right. Do A & D need to move closer or further to house?

From Drop Box

some measurements (I'll get my son to help me draw something up & post again in a day or so)
house 63'L x 26'W
Garage 23'W x 21Deep set an angle with R. front pointing toward house & back L. tilted away
Porch width between rails is 4' 10" & length from steps to driveway is about 20'
Back closest corner of garage to front left corner of house is a 45 degree angle with length of 46'
Corner of garage across front of lawn (if straight line) to green cable pole is 49'.
Green pole back from to front R. corner of house is about 15', so front yard is narrower on the right side than left
I measured for fencing, but not exactly the grassy area, so rough figures.


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"If you only made one pair matching, which spot --- inner toward the door or the outer ones?" Definitely the inner ones as they create an outdoor entrance for the indoor entrance. The "opening" is the space between them. The end trees are far from each other and probably won't be seen as a pair in many/most views, so if they are different, it would matter less. If they are the same, it would be fine, too, as long as the plant accepted the varying conditions. Having all 4 match would be OK, but not required. Don't think I would care to see 4 different. These ARE parts of the same house. There need to be some sameness so as not to create a hodge podge.

As far as placement (I know you can't tell where the end trees are in the picture) All trees are centered between window frame pairs. Their trunk silhouettes are the "picture being hung"--in the center--on the otherwise blank wall. So A2 & 3 and D2 & 3 would not fly for me. Also, I would not place the tree too far from the house. Remember, you are landscaping, not gardening or tree farming. You are not growing a full, round specimen, but instead are creating a piece of art for the outside of your house and trying to do what the house is telling you to do. I don't think it wants the tree to be too much distance away for the best look. (Trunk 4' to 7' away from house in most typical similar situations, if you want my interpretation.) The back side of the canopy can conform to whatever you make it conform to. It doesn't need to touch the house and no one will see any cut off portion. There is no law that says you can't cut a lamp in half if you need one attached directly to your wall, and thus, we have wall sconces ... 1/2 lamps. There is no law that says you can't do nearly the same with a small tree. Within reason (of the plants abilities) the tree will be formed much as you demand of it.

Measurements won't mean much by themselves. It is really an accurately drawn "to scale" plan that will show how elements of the site relate.


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RE: landscape makeover

  • Posted by corrine1 7b Pacific Northwest (My Page) on
    Wed, Jan 8, 14 at 0:27

Progress update:
1. Foundation beds
Built wide, so plants will not be in the 3' zone around the house. Some potted plants are in position, but nothing is planted yet. Weeping cherry trees are 11' from house to accomodate mature size. Ground is partially frozen yet & some of the compost will be moved to the grass.

2. House: New front porch & lights. New trim around windows & repaint front door. I favor white trim & front door in a burgundy.

3. Trees
Most of the close to the house tall trees have been removed including the XL shrubs. Still waiting for removal of backyard maple trunk & a few other 100' + trees, so the front yard is a holding area for plants, patio table & more. The loggers are working in exchange for wood, so come between paying jobs and patience is required.

4. Right:
Remove 2 evergreen shrubs & 5 mature blueberry shrubs. Replace with grass between driveway & foundation beds.

5. curved concrete walkway:
Just last week got the concrete poured and the angle determined after parking car in driveway, so pedestrians can walk behind car to enter walk. Plan to add compost to level lawn & overseed grass on both sides of the walkway.

6. Arbor
Temporarily positioned with the pots. Might switch out with a curved gothic arch or have none. Desire is to transition from driveway to walkway. Driveway will be graded & more gravel added once it dries out... maybe July here in the PNWet.

7. Left:
Location of potted dwarf Alberta spruce may be replaced with a shorter transplanted laceleaf weeping Japanese maple (9' wide x 3' tall) along with our burgundy pondless fountain and some clumping grasses. May locate bistro set on grassy side if space allows. Potted plants on left will be moved out and grass or path to enter shop.

Any other suggestions?

From Drop Box

view from road as you enter circular driveway

My blue car on lawn is not in a parking spot, but shows the scale of the yard after our son moved it to take photo of house for me.
Stumps will be cut down closer & far left one removed to widen driveway entrance & exit. Cedar greenhouse is on the trailer & other temporary storage of garden material waiting for vegetable garden area on far right to be ready. Loggers doing job for the wood, so come between other paying jobs.
This was previously forest & is the sunniest location.
White picket fence next to house will probably be used for the front of the vegetable garden along the driveway.

From Drop Box


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RE: landscape makeover

One more photo from driveway that shows the shrubs to be removed near the green cable box and view toward entrance walkway. Back right side green roofing panels are the goat's hay manger shelter. Yes, we have 3 Nubian does on lease helping us with the underbrush control to reduce fire danger & mosquito habitat as well as increase air circulation around the yard. Leaning mature fir & hemlocks near goat pen will also be taken down since they're too close to the house.

From


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The walk is a decent width and the curve pleasant so it looks nice. I wish the arbor was 2' wider. When plants cover it, it will appear less wide than the walk, which will give a pinched look to the entrance. It would be better if the vines did not encroach into the walk space. A foot taller wouldn't hurt either.


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RE: landscape makeover

  • Posted by corrine1 7b Pacific Northwest (My Page) on
    Wed, Jan 8, 14 at 10:40

We agree about the arbor being barely wide enough for the 4' 2" path and certainly don't want much on it to catch you when walking through.

We were thinking we'd leave the arbor fairly empty or entirely bare with just potted plants on the sides or very small shrubs.

Our plant ideas were a small clematis or an evergreen like Euonymus fortunei 'Emerald Gaiety' or 'Emerald & Gold' because it grows slowly & can easily be kept to the outside of the arbor.

We may use a gothic arch with the point at the top or build something larger with wood. Still thinking & looking at it for awhile. Then we'll take a photo with the gothic arch in place.


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"... it ...can easily be kept to the outside of the arbor." ...which makes it acceptable! Fortunately, many vines are fairly easy to maintain like this.


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  • Posted by corrine1 7b Pacific Northwest (My Page) on
    Sat, Jan 11, 14 at 22:55

We're sticking with the arbor in the photo since the curved gothic arch didn't look good.


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RE: landscape makeover

Good time of day corrine1!
Just a wee suggestion.
It looks like you know what are you doing.
If it was my project I would start with hedge, to divide road from the house. It will frame,embrace all your plantings and give a clean line to all your plantings. Build retaining walls if you have an access to stone. Build all Garden structures first. Then you will see how it will affect Sun exposure (shade) which may affect plants you have to plant.
And yet. I have noticed (on a couple of pictures) that area looks a little mossy. Do you have wet area? Or it is just drainage and shade issue? If so, before you plant anything, do some research on culture of plants you want to grow. Especially, I would be very careful with Lilacs. They DO NOT tolerate any water issues
Speaking of Lilacs? You do know, that Lilacs need an extending cold period, in case to bloom heavenly? There,on a market, are a few Cultivars which have been bred for warmer climates. And try to find Lilacs on their own roots
(not grafted ones).

Good luck! It would be nice if you would post updates.

p.s. Do you have a deer or rabbit issue in your area?


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RE: landscape makeover

  • Posted by corrine1 7b Pacific Northwest (My Page) on
    Sun, Jan 12, 14 at 11:31

Yes to critters -- elk, deer, rabbits & more. We've lived just a short distance away for 25 years, so I know the growing conditions well and have many plants nearby that thrive.

Yes, the soil favors moss -- acidic, compacted glatial till with clay, no topsoil, 65+ inches of rain yearly (with little rain 4th of July - early Sept sometimes October), & shade (removed a lot of trees close to house already). Grass will grow again when we correct those things.

We already notice the increased light & air circulation, so the area isn't as damp & cool. I'll post updates after more completion.


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