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Need help making a patio garden and need a design

Posted by Jewels2970 CT zone 6 (My Page) on
Thu, Jun 5, 14 at 13:12

Hi everyone, I was so excited when I came across this website i ran out in the rain to take some pictures! I have envisioned a beautiful garden area on the south side of my house for years and now I can see I might make it happen. It has about 6 really tall oak and maple tress that make it super shady. The raised bed area close to the house gets a decent amount of sun, like mid afternoon into the evening. When i moved here this area was filled with some raised beds and tons of apple and plum tress which just made a mess, the fruit was not getting enough sun. It took me a while but i created a patio the best I could on my extremely low budget using flat stone I bought really cheap. As you can see it looks pretty good for someone whose never worked outside before and I'm proud of what I was able to accomplish.

So I know my arbor is junk. That's coming out in the spring next year because I have two throne-less rose bushes there which I want to put right back but I understand the best time is late fall or early spring. i'm hoping to make clippings this fall so I have replacements in case they die when moved. I will put a new arbor in the same spot and want the rose bushes on either side to climb up it. Anyway the stuff in the side bed all needs to be moved or replaced. I would rather not kill any of the plants there, but recycle them and make it look lush and inviting. I do not want the work of any annuals. I don't know all of the names of the plants as many of them existed in this bed when I moved here. There are some Irises, some pretty pink peonys which are about to bloom a hosta I don't know what the other two are one has purple leaves and grows low its next to the bulkhead. the other has little blue flowers starting to open now its in front of the peonies which have not yet opened. There is also a green yellowish leaved plant and I don't think its a weed but will have to wait and see what blooms.

At the end of the patio used to be a raspberry patch. They were going crazy so I took them all out and put up the gazebo thing. I don't know if you can tell but it sits on a down slope. I planted the Variegated Weigela
some hostas, and endless summer hydrainia, there's another flowering bush which I don't recall the name of it I think it speira? to the left if your facing the gazebo behind the endless summer thats starting to get leaves on it, the speira gets tiny pink flowers on it. I also transplanted a piece of it on the opposite side as it roots itself when part of the branch touches the soil. There is a small ground cover its green and yellow leaves, but its a bush type not plant, its small cause I moved it there and had to cut it much smaller but it will spread i think. I want to put a small pond with a waterfall running down the slope in front of the gazebo. Also there is a small Japanese? red maple really close to the pine tree which seeded itself. I cut it back because I'm hoping I can keep it small? Make it into a bush? Not sure but I cant allow it to grow big there. So anyway, I'm hoping someone can help me turn this area into a paradise. I've included some front yard pictures as well cause that needs work to flow into the side I dont know what to do there yet, I used to have a Japanese weeping cherry there but it had to come down last year. So now Its just a big bare spot of mostly much and some stray flowers. I plan to put a porch on the house someday so nothing to extreme in the front. I need serious help if I'm going to get this into shape. Please provide me some ideas. As you can see everything is just thrown there, I think the gazebo area looks kinda nice but the rest really needs help. Thanks! See my patio pictures with the link below there's a ton of pics.

Here is a link that might be useful: My patio and garden pictures

This post was edited by Jewels2970 on Thu, Jun 5, 14 at 16:45

Follow-Up Postings:

RE: Need help making a patio garden and need a design

The aspect of rearranging a multitude of plants (of unknown quantities) you already have into other parts of the yard would be very complex, and therefore, difficult. It's not probable that you could get much comprehensive help by remote. You definitely have a knack for creating, ambition and some stock to work with. Even though certain aspects of the plan are a little funky looking by professional standards, what you've done nevertheless has charm and a certain homespun appeal that many people enjoy immensely. I don't mean any of that in any negative way. There are lots of lovely things around the world that are created like this. I would like to give you some food for thought as you progress with the project.

Essentially, you are creating a functional piece of art. Because the main function is that of being a space that one is able to move through, it is easiest to think of it as a room or series of rooms (as you determine) that just happens to be outdoors. Therefore, it is made primarily of plants, dirt, trees and rocks ... those things that hold up well outdoors. Like inside, the room is made of "floor," "ceiling," "walls," "windows" and "doorways." If you were creating an indoor space, though you might have general ideas about them, you would not begin by dreaming about specific lamps, drapes, tables and chairs. You'd begin by thinking about window and door placements, wall textures and colors, trim and molding, floors and finishes, and how the ceiling will handle light. Later would come objects that go in the room that blend with the room itself: tables, chairs, lamps, rugs etc. For some odd reason, when we are creating outside space, people have the perpetual habit of falling in love with things ... objects (usually plants) that go in the room and start cramming the room full with their "pets" before they give much thought about the and architectural framework of the room itself.

Outdoors, a tree or arbor creates a ceiling. A tree's canopy can not only seems like a roof, but also a very tall wall. Woody plants and vines can creates walls of whatever height one wishes. Sometimes they need extra support. Sometimes only trimming. Low growing, spreading plants create floors (as do rocks and earth.) Before thinking about irises, peonies and daffodils, it would be better to forget entirely about all the plants and concentrate on the forms, arrangements, heights and sizes that will define the room itself. You've all ready got a good start with a floor made of rock. Maybe it should be (visually) extended somewhat larger with a low growing, woolly looking mat of vegetation. It looks like you have begun a low wall already to separate the view into the neighbor's yard. Maybe a higher elevation "floor" (of plant material) should transition form the low floor to that wall. There are some good looking, freestanding "columns" (clean tree trunks ... very nice! ... almost palm tree like) to one side of the patio. Maybe each would look good resting on a circular base. You could begin by envisioning these "architectural" features of a plastic, formless material. (I once liked to think of everything being made of bread dough since it can take on any form.)

Once the overall forms shape up, one could begin thinking about the specific character that will make up the forms. One might turn a ball of bread dough into a big leaf hydrangea, or a hedge of them. A pizza form that has been rolled out and placed next to the patio might become a bed of wild ginger or vinca minor ... it depends on what you like, what you have, the light and moisture conditions, and what you're willing to put up with. (Some plants have bad habits but they are so beautiful they must be tolerated!) You call the shots.

I've gone on enough, but I think you get the general idea. Fall in love with the plants AFTER you know what you need and get those that can fill the bill. Sometimes a hedge can be a single plant material ... or it can be mixture of similar-sized plants, depending on the character that is desired. Usually, plant lovers can find a way to squeeze in -- in a sensible, artistic way -- most of the things they love. But if you don't do the architectural exercise first, you run the risk of creating something with a hodgepodge, cemetery-ish appearance ... with things sitting all over the place.

It's good that you recognize the faults of the arbor. If it was at least 2' wider, a foot taller and made of beefier wood -- and painted! -- it would work better.

I'll return with a hardscape suggestion when I get more time.

RE: Need help making a patio garden and need a design

There is a geometric theme that exists in the patio layout, but it seems disturbed by the uncharacteristic structure that I've circled in red, which is out of sync with the rest of the patio. If it's purpose is grade retention, it would be better to lay it out in a configuration somewhat similar to what I'm showing in the bottom picture, in magenta. If you have that retention, you could make a curve out of the blocks you used for the fire pit, large natural stones that you carefully fit together, or create form work and pour concrete ... whatever best suits your skill level and available materials.

The stone patio being a pathway, the arrowhead portion I've circled in blue is actually an unspoken suggesting to the viewer that he may walk that way ... when there is no real possibility of it happening. So it seems like a serious contradiction and would be better for it to go away. A straight line patio edge (reflecting the wall of the house) is more attractive, "in theme" and makes for a better, more usable planting bed.

Hopefully, you can see how an enlarged arbor seems more inviting. I would make it large enough for two people to walk through at the same time (5' min. width.)

(Still loving those tree trunks!)

RE: Need help making a patio garden and need a design

Hi Yardvaark,
Sorry I haven't responded sooner, I haven't had time to get online until now. Thanks for taking the time to write to me, I appreciate your input and see you have some interesting ideas. I never thought about the curve leading people to think this was a walk way that they could take that didn't go anywhere I can see that now. Good point, I was just trying to mirror the fire pit circle for some symmetry and to make it unique. This area will be level with the stone patio when I fill it in with decorative stone and place a fountain in the center against the flower bed wall so this is a walk able area, just trying to break things up for some eye pleasing effects. Then a nice potted plant on each side of the fountain. The same stone will line the fire pit, inside and out. Outside is level with the patio as well.

As for those columns that you like so much, I get so many weeds under the trees and not much else ( I did a big weed pulling a few days before the picutres.) so I plan on planting some ground cover, I think variegated pachysandra around the trees and then black scallop bugleweed to carpet in between them. Just not sure if the bugleweed and pachysandra can live together or if the bugleweed will be too aggressive and choke out the pachysandra. This will be an experiment as I have no idea if this will look good or not. But the bugleweed is absolutely beautiful, i fell in love with them, I just purchased some and I haven't planted them yet cause its been a rainy week, but I keep looking out my window and admiring the beautiful colors on the leaves. I'm very open to suggestions of what I can do so the bugle weed doesn't get lost in the shadows under the trees. I have not purchased an pachysandra yet as I'm still debating this color scheme.

The wider arbor certainly is appealing, and the one I replace it with will be made of ceder, my uncle created a beautiful one for his wife with a swing under it. I plan on having him make one for me, (less the swing) it will be very nice. Also I want to place a small pond behind that arbor with a small stream coming down from the top near the patio and running between the plants. It will start at the clearing to the right (when looking at the picture) of that ugly wooden arbor and run down to behind it. Ill try to post some more pictures later but I don't think that arbor will happen until sometime next year if I'm lucky, I don't know how far I will get with pond and plantings this year but I hope It will happen.

Again thanks so very much for taking time out of your day to give me some pointers. I like the arbor being wide that's a go! As for adjusting the patio lines, I'm debating if I want to put flat rock inside the half circle shape, or remove it completely and use the flat rock to match the rest of the patio, or just leave my original idea of putting decorative stone inside, i figure if once i'm done and I hate it I just scoop out the rocks, and change it. Either way, when things come together more I will post pictures. I hope to accomplish so much this summer, next summer i will not have so much time on my hands so I want to be able to do spring clean up and then lounge and enjoy! Of course I'll always be trying to work on something to improve it.

RE: Need help making a patio garden and need a design

I sense your enthusiasm and that if something doesn't work out, you will persevere and fix it. What more could one hope for??

While many posters here rail against simplicity in favor of complexity, I am not one of them. I think it often is the simple statement that is the stronger, more attractive one. So, in regard to those trees (that were formerly surrounded with weeds) I see two likely possibilities: one is a single groundcover that spans the entire space, creating a green glade. The other is the same thing, but with the "columns" each having a base of taller plant material surrounding them.... a little more decorative and formal-ish (where formal is not used as a bad word.)

I would advise you NOT to mix different groundcovers together. This usually ends up looking like a weedy mess. It would be better to create distinct, purposeful areas for each ... or just use one. BTW, the way plants control each other is often by height. The taller will dominate because it shades the lower. But there may be a big fat fight before the dust settles.

Do come back to show more as you accomplish it.

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