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Design advice needed :)

Posted by gardenboy825 8b (My Page) on
Tue, Aug 7, 12 at 13:55

Hey folks, this is my first post and I hope to contribute as much as possible to the forum, it's a great community!

The house was built in '55 with blocks and when we bought it, had azaleas lined along the front with nandina domestica on the left side of the entrance. It was horrible! We pulled out the shrubs that were there and replaced with a cookie-cutter, maintenance free landscape (quite boring, I know). From left to right we have: Festive red holly, bordeaux holly, kleim's hardy gardenia, two more bordeaux, a shi-shi camellia, and two more bordeaux. There is also a line of six aztec grasses on the right side of the entrance that you can't see in the photo. I couldn't get another gardenia to survive on the other side of the entrance, I believe I have poor soil there, but that's a different day.

It's a small yard and I'm looking to add some texture and color. I'm not opposed to anything, I just need some direction and some design sense. We do live in south Georgia where the summers are brutal and the humidity is sickening. What do you think, ideas, comments?? I can post additional photos if needed.

Thank you!


Follow-Up Postings:

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RE: Design advice needed (new photo)

The house faces west and gets good afternoon sun so there are only a few hours of shade in the morning. I'd like to expand the bed a bit and maybe do some hardscapes? Just looking for some direction...


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RE: Design advice needed :)

How about an overall view from square-on and back a ways that also shows what's to the sides of the house? Even if you need to pivot and take two or three pictures, it would tell a lot more than what we see now.


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RE: Design advice needed :)

Does your front porch just sit out there all alone with no path leading to it? Do people use your front door?


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RE: Design advice needed :)

Thank you for your responses, I will get additional photos this afternoon of square-on and sides of the house. It's kind of embarrassing but that's why I'm here!

The front porch is not used much but I intend on carving a path with some sort of gravel which should make it more inviting. Any other ideas or comments?

Again, thank you for your responses and feedback!


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RE: Design advice needed :)

I like your house - it has cool lines and a great color scheme. I'd advise against gravel for a front walkway. Gravel is not that pleasant in a high traffic area. If you are doing this strictly dyi and don't want to have concrete poured, you might look into large concrete pavers. I have seen them as big as 2 feet by 2 feet and they are quite lovely and a lot less cheesy than most concrete pavers. Another option would be to use natural stone for the walkaway. You could also do smaller pavers set in sand, but I am liking the idea of larger, smoother surfaces to go with the sleekness of your home.

You'll also want some sort of edging to define the edge of the front bed. This material could be similar to what you chose for the front walkway.

I can't advise much on plant selection as I don't know much about warm climates.


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RE: Design advice needed :)

Here are a few additional photos to see the broader spectrum. The sides of the house definitely need some work.

I like the idea of larger pavers or natural stone with the steppables, that sounds like my style! This will be a DIY all the way since I'm on a tight budget and all of the work will be done solo. I have good knowledge of the plant material that thrives in our area however, I lack design sense. Keep the comments coming!


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RE: Design advice needed :)

Another vote for not using gravel as a surface treatment leading up to the front door , even if it was never used.

You have a great opportunity to increase the financial and aesthetic value of your house with good landscaping and well defined minimal hardscaping.

The design layout of your path will have a huge impact on the facelift that you afford your property because it will be a defining hardscape element that can dictate how your planting beds relate to the entire front landscape.

So many times we see missed opportunities due to poorly thought out or no thought put into the path which often sets up the whole cadence for the rest of the landscape.

A small investment with a landscape designer will provide a large ROI ( return on your investment) especially at this point in setting up the curb appeal of your property.

To see some inspirational front entries check out the website Houzz.com and note how a well designed pathway can set up the whole emotional and physical layout for the rest of the front yard.

path design by Suzman and Cole


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RE: Design advice needed :)

The south side of the house has a large treeform holly with hydrangeas and liriope in front. The globe-shaped azalea is beautiful when blooming in the spring.

I park my truck where the eroded grass is and plan to box that in eventually with landscape timbers or railroad ties and some sort of stone.


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RE: Design advice needed :)

The previous photo is the north side, the above photo is the south side and gets sun nearly all day and is very hot! I have a few roses, a crepe myrtle, and a satsuma tree near the back of the fence.


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RE: Design advice needed :)

I agree that there should be a permanent path to the front door. At least 4' width, maybe 5'... wider as it turns to face the porch. Concrete seems fine here.

The main thing that bothers me with the street view is that the house looks to be separate... unconnected with the landscape. This is because there are no small or medium trees adjacent. Looking around the right front corner at the side, there's a blank wall space that would be good for a multi-trunk small tree (15' ht.)... set off the wall a few feet. At the front of the house, centered between the porch and driveway (but forward toward the street... maybe 20' from the house) there could be a small (30' ht.) flowering tree. Because of the windows in the background, I'd keep it single trunk configuration. Limbing up the existing trees at the street for a clearer view of the property would make things look tidier.

With little vacant wall space at the front of the house, I'd keep the foundation planting as just a uniform hedge that cleared the windows with room to spare. A big patch of seasonal color at each side of the porch area would add some interst.


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RE: Design advice needed :)

Michele, I LOVE that photo! Especially the wall - herringbone!
I completely agree that the layout and materials used for a walkway, even if it is diy, will set the whole tone of the landscape- but I really appreciate your use of the word 'cadence'.


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RE: Design advice needed :)

Not landscaping, but how about replacing those iron porch columns with something more appropriate for the house? The current ones look like something that was slapped on when previous ones rotted out. Nice, substantial square columns would match your home's style better and add weight to the front entry.


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RE: Design advice needed :)

I actually like your current garden. It's low maintenance and looks good with the house.

Adding a walkway to the street is a good idea. If you want to add more texture and color, what about a bed along the street? You could tie into the shady bed on the right, or use more perennials and color, if that's what you want. Something like this?

From Cottage house plans


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