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Front of House

Posted by holly210 7 (My Page) on
Tue, Sep 4, 12 at 11:27

I am redoing the front of my house. I am getting new windows (bay), new shutters and this has started me thinking about plant design. I have gotten rid of the azaelas and am ready to move the hostas too. There is a couple Liropes in there still but they also can go. Actually, it all can go! I now know that I probably need dwarf plants as it will stay more in proportion to the house. Any ideas out there? Thanks.


Follow-Up Postings:

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RE: Front of House

Can you post a picture that zooms out a little? The front yard landscape is more than a bib around your house's neck.


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RE: Front of House

At the moment, this is the only pic that I can locate of the whole yard albeit blocked by the two cars. In any case, you can see the river birch and the japanese maple in the yard. I have ripped out most of the green in the garden by the house except for the boxwood hollies. There are hostas there but I think they should be moved as well. I have a camelia that needs to moved. There are other shrubs as well that can relocated. Any ideas?


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RE: Front of House

Can't help with the shrubs. I'm having my own shrub issues. I was curious though. Do you know what type of grass you have? It's so much darker than your neighbors.


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RE: Front of House

This is a better pic. Took it this morning. It shows how much I ripped out of the bed.


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RE: Front of House

The grass has been taken care of by a professional company. I have no idea what kind it is but I do know they did a good job. It was all weeds before.


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RE: Front of House

Do you have any picture of the future windows? Both sides? Same size as existing windows?


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RE: Front of House

Hi, both sides will be done. The right side will be a bay window and the left will be the same thing except new and all will have grids. They will be the same size. I have a really nice camellia plant and was thinking that could go in the front. I don't even appreciate where it's located now.


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RE: Front of House

The first thing that comes to mind seeing your photos is that people are going to be walking across your lawn from the driveway to your front door. Especially when it's raining. This will cause problems with compaction and wear.

I think it's a great opportunity to put in some sort of walkway while you're redoing the beds. Maybe some sort of crushed stone with pavers.

I don't know your exact dimensions and I just quickly shaped the beds (and I'm not happy with it) but the general idea of the bed going all the way to the walkway from the house on the right with another bed on the other side of the walkway. Fill it with shrubs, perennials, ornamental grasses, etc. Maybe even turn the whole section between driveway and the front door walkway into a garden bed?

GWFront Yard With Walk
picture hosting


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RE: Front of House

Interesting... If I made a walkway from the driveway, it would probably be stepping stones. I have thought of this and do need to do it. There is a door that can't be seen on the side in front of the car that is used quite a bit.


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RE: Front of House

Stepping stones is what I had in mind too. I'm finishing up building a desk and just jumping onto my computer from time to time to look things up and couldn't get a better image up.

I was thinking something like this for the walkway flanked with foliage
http://livingindryden.org/2007/08/stone_walkways.html

If you use the side door frequently (maybe especially if you use the side door frequently) you'll probably still wind up walking across that area to do things like run and grab the mail when you're arriving or heading out.

I'm not a fan of the way the tree on the left is mulched I was thinking you extend the bed and add more plants around it. But with that and the plants on the near side of the walkway that leaves little grass so that's why I thought about turning the whole thing into one giant garden bed. That's if you really like gardening though. It might be too much but I thought it would be nice. You could incorporate a birdbath or small fountain and a small park bench that give to sit if they arrive early.

I was reading a site last night that you might find useful. renegadegardener.com/ Check out the Landscaping 101 and something about creating a beautiful garden articles first.


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RE: Front of House

One more thing you might want to consider. The windows are different sizes and it looks a bit odd in your first picture. I would add a tall cylinder shaped tree on the left corner to balance it out a bit.

GWFront Yard Side Tree
photo hosting


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RE: Front of House

The first picture, having no small trees near the house gives a feeling of windswept Scottish cottage on the moors. If the house had some "hair" framing it's face--instead of all the planting being at ground level--the unprotected look would go away. Two big "boquets" could be the "hair." People often question my multi-trunk approach, but the form of a single trunk would look scrawny by comparison.

Even if you don't widen the walk, it would be an improvement to move the step rails farther apart and widen the apron to the steps so that two or three people could stand there for a minute. As is is now, the approach to the house must be single file which makes it look less welcoming. It seems that you could also stand to widen the drive near where you park so that there was room to get in and out of the car without stepping on the lawn. A small pad there (I'm not showing it) would be a benefit. Both of these projects would be easy DIY projects if you have a wheelbarrow, hoe and a cheap trowel. If you did end up creating a walk connection between front door and drive, I'd advise against stepping stones you mentioned was a possibility. I think they would look like a cheap afterthought.

I know that bordering the length of an entry walk with a garden (creating a planted barrier between walk and lawn) has become popular, but what it accomplishes seems more of a distraction than an enhancement. If the goal is to have and display plants, it makes sense. But if the goal is to enhance the setting for the house, it seems counterproductive as neither need each other and often, the display garden works against the "invitation" the front entrance could offer.


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RE: Front of House

Thanks so much for the ideas, Yardvaark (love the name). So, yeah, I have always wanted to flank the house with trees but thought because I have the Japanese maple in the center of the yard, I couldn't. I thought it be too close to one another. I also agree re entry garden on walkway. I like the idea of opening up the stair platform area. I will definitely look into it.


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RE: Front of House

Glad you like some of my suggestions. You're welcome. If the small tree and Jap Maple canopies touch, it will not matter and you can always trim the Maple a little if you want separation. It also depends what you use to make the small tree. In Z7 there are many large shrubs that achieve 12' - 15' height that make good small trees. Rose of sharon, PG hydrangea, burning bush, burford holly, Japanese camellia, crape myrtle, several viburnums... that sort of plant .


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RE: Front of House

Well, I can't wait to start the process! Nice to know that you don't think it will be wrong if the two trees touch. This is why I never put a tree there. I think I will be bringing my garden out further into the yard. In other words, to put the trees in, I will have to extend the sides of the garden.


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RE: Front of House

btw, should I remove the fake boxwoods on either side of the door? I need some new ideas for either side of the door, right?


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RE: Front of House

I do have several plants that I want to move. They are a lilac, camellia, holly and an akuba. Could these be worked in some way in the front of the house? I was actually thinking of putting the camellia next to the front door. Would that work? Thanks.


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RE: Front of House

Holly, wholeheartedly give a thumbs up to removing those 'fake boxwoods'. IMO they contribute nothing.

Don't know about moving the plants you mentioned, as I don't know where you are, your zone, and the types of hollies and camellia you're considering moving. This info will help others offer help to you.


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RE: Front of House

Holly, the advice I give is usually in pictorial form. If you take a look at the picture I submitted you'll see that there are no tall plants next to the stoop area. By omission, I'm suggesting that the tall plants you have have there now won't work. (I also doubt you could move them easily but that's up to your skills and interest.) For right next to the stoop, look for a plant that is about the same height as the stoop. Take a look at the other plants and see if anything you have can work for those. For the small tree at the left side, the lilac might work, but keep in mind that it will form a small grove instead of just one multi-trunk tree. To my thinking that's an acceptable, even good, adaptation. The aucuba might work behind it near the corner of the house. It looks like you have some Hosta and those could be good groundcovers below the small trees. I usually think of Camellia better as being a small tree, but you'll need to evaluate the specific one you have to know if it would work for the tree at the right.


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RE: easier to see picture

Holly, I meant to mention, when I post a drawing, Gardenweb automatically shrinks it to smaller than the original. Sometimes quite a bit. If you want to see a larger, clearer. easier-to-read version, send me an "e" (click on name) and I'll get it to you.


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RE: Front of House

I like what Yardvaark did if I cover the house but the symmetry is still an issue.

Symmetrical can be pleasing, as can asymmetrical but almost symmetrical is not. It leaves the viewer with an uneasy feeling. It's one of those things that people will look at and think "something's not right I just can't put my finger on it". Facial symmetry has a strong role as what we perceive as beauty. When you look at the front of your house it almost looks like a face.

Your home is so close to symmetrical, especially since going with bay windows on each side, the best option is to try and balance the symmetry.

If you move the flag a little to the left, and the left tree a little to the right you cover up the extra brick that's on the left side of the house compared to the right hand side. This is because the right hand window is bigger.

My apologies to Yardvaark for butchering his image.

GWFront Yardvaark Symetry
photo hosting


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RE: Front of House

Thought I'd throw this in to help illustrate the point. The woman in the photo below is considered one of the most beautiful women in the world. I made two small changes to the photo. It's still pretty but not in the "most beautiful" arena.

CCDistorted
photo upload

If you use your hand to cover either the left or right hand side of her face she looks good. When you look at the above picture as a whole there's something off.

You can view the origianl photo here


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RE: Front of House

Tom, I get your point and agree with the essence of it. It's often the nature of landscaping that we're trying to compensate for architectural or site features that aren't quite perfect in one way or another. To some extent, it's what puts the challenge and fun in the design process. Unfortunately, we can't remodel houses (except for that one I turned into a monastery this morning!) so need to work with what's given. I'm usually not keen on crowding house features too much. In this case, I would have liked to push the right tree further right, but that damned driveway was there. We still don't know how the new windows will be, so laboring too much over details now might not matter later. If both our schemes were converted to plans, it would still be best tweaked on installation day once all the details were known.

Make sure you put my drawing back before you leave out of here.
:-)


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RE: Front of House

I misread the "The right side will be a bay window and the left will be the same thing except new and all will have grids" as being both will be bay windows.

The right side will look pretty much like what I added. There's not much variation for a bay window with grids in that size. The soffits don't appear deep enough to cover a bay window (probably not even a bow window). In fact there appears to be hardly any soffit at all and the majority of the overhang is the gutter. So a roof skirt will need to be added to prevent water from entering the building. Most times these are covered with the same roof covering. The only real unknown is whether there will be some type of apron under the window and if so what kind.

Looking at the picture again it doesn't really look like there's all that much space for a proper roof skirt either. I'm curious to see how that gets handled. I can think of a cool way of doing it but it would require adding a gable end to the right side of the roof. On the plus side the front step could turn into a front porch.

The right side of the house is already crowded. It's slightly smaller than the left and it has a larger window opening. By crowding the right hand side further with the plants your design is accentuating that issue.

That can be fine in some cases. In your design the spacing of each side is drastically different but the elements are essentially mirrored. At the same time it's saying both sides are the same and both sides are different. It creates visual disharmony.

One way to deal with it is to treat each side individually and create distinct arrangements. If you want to mirror the landscape design as you have you need to do something to make both sides appear more similar. The easiest way to do that is to reduce the amount of brick that will be seen so it more closely matches the right side.

Since both windows won't be bay windows I might lean more towards trying to come up with a different arrangement on each side but not necessarily.


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RE: Front of House

Well, today we removed the fake boxwoods next to the front door. We also moved the acuba to the far left as was suggested by Yardvaark. Btw, Yardvaark, can you please suggest plants/shrubs for the new area we made today. You said make them the height of the stoop area, but any ideas? This shouldn't be a ground cover right? Thanks.


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RE: Front of House

Regarding the specific area you asked about, whether it's a shrub or groundcover would be up to you. It just needs to fill a space and be something you can keep no more than about 2' tall. Here's a list of possibilities, but you could investigate more groundcover alternatives. (You need to verify that any suggestions will grow in your area.) Also, you should convert the picture to a scale plan (overhead view) so that you can make calculations about the quantities of plants needed and work out the specific shapes/sizes that the plants occupy. In a picture, I can only keep it general. You can be specific and tweak in real life.


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RE: Front of House

Thank you again. I love your suggestions. The house already looks so much better! It looks bigger and brighter. The brick was actually a darker color (slightly), and it was probably the first time EVER that it had been uncovered. The azaela was well over 60 years old. We did put some plants in today. They include ferns, berberis gold ruby, abelia kaleidoscope, green ground cover (can't remember the name). I will incorporate more of your suggestions. They weren't posted by the time I left the a.m. to the nursery. I love this new look--I really do.


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RE: Front of House

Good for you! And you'll really enjoy the abelia kaleidoscope for its wonderful coloration - a great partner to the acuba, I think.


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RE: Front of House

Yes, I actually planted it very near the acuba. It does look nice. I only got to one side of the house. Gee, it's a lot of work to develop a plan, pick out the plants and then plant.


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RE: Front of House

Yardvaark, should both trees match? Is that necessary? It would probably look better--more cohesive, right? Thanks.


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RE: Front of House

Holly, I am glad to hear that you are happy with what you've done so far. Congratulations.

Since the two trees create a gateway opening that frames the house and approach, I would want them to match in a GENERAL form and size. But I think there is leeway that allows their specifics to different... especially since there is not perfect symmetry in the house. I would have them both be smallish (12-15'), multi-trunk and the bottom of their canopies trimmed at the equivalent height. I think it would be okay for them to be different species, but the more closely they correlate to one another, the stronger a cohesive theme throughout the view.


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RE: Front of House

Well, thanks to all of your help, it's easy! Kinda. So, do you have any ideas for a tree for these spots? I don't think I am going to move the lilac. I just may buy two new ones similiar in size or something else. Any ideas? Thank you.


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RE: Front of House

Many large shrubs make good small, multi-trunk trees. Some are: Hydrangea paniculata 'Grandiflora', Viburnum carlcephalum & other large Viburnums, Kolkwitzia amabilis, Euonymus alatus, Philadelphus coronarius, Cotinus coggygria, Lagerstroemia cultivars especially 'Catawba' or 'Purple Magic' (any pollarded @ 9 - 10' ht. best), Osmanthus fragrans, Ilex cornuta 'Burfordii' or I. cornuta 'Burfordii nana' (wait longer), various Camellia Japonica, Photinia fraseri, Lorapetalum chinensis (no dwarf cultivars). Any of these would do well for you, but whatever you consider, check its local suitability to make sure it will prosper in your conditions and that there are not particular problems with disease or such.


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RE: Front of House

Thank you so much for the list of suitable choices. I will look each one over and decide. Of course, I will let you know.


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RE: Front of House

Fantasmagoric!


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RE: Front of House

Don't you mean Plantasmagoric ;)


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RE: Front of House

Yes. That's EXACTLY what I meant!


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RE: Front of House

Okay, so I purchased two trees today for the front of my new design. They are Kousa Dogwoods. What do you think of those multi trunked trees? Good, bad? Thanks.


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RE: Front of House

That they will get too big. Kousa are fine flowering trees, but they will get big enough to touch and obscure the whole roof. If that's your goal, you're on your way. The bloom and form of some of the large "shrubs" seems more exciting to me. I would be leaning more toward a canopy form that is somewhere between heaping and weeping.


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RE: Front of House

Yipes! This is what I thought too. Well, I can always change which is what I will do. I was looking at the shrubs you suggested and some of them are not available. I might just have to go with a viburnum. There seem to be plenty of those available.


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RE: Front of House

Something in the 12-16' (ultimately) ht. range. V. opulus 'Sterile' or V. macrocephalum would have nice bloom. All the plants I mentioned are pretty fast growers (with a little extra water and fertilizer) so I wouldn't be put off that you can only find a 3-gallon version of it.


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RE: Front of House

Well, I went to a different nursery today that had exactly what I wanted. It was Lagerstroemia cultivars 'Purple Magic'. What a beautiful color of purple. They had just gotten in about a dozen this past week. Now, what do ya think?


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RE: Front of House

It's a great color ... barely indistinguishable from 'Catawba', which is also very nice. Same size--not too big--so will be perfect whether you want to pollard, or let grow natural. I put some in earlier this year and am pleased with their growth and how much they've bloomed. I think you'll be happy with these over the long term.


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RE: Front of House

Excellent! I thought you would approve. This weekend was my better half's birthday so we didn't do a lot of heavy labor. Hopefully the gardens will be done by the end of this week. I called a landscaping company to help with the rest of the yard clean up. I will keep everyone posted.
Thanks, as always, Yardvaark.


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RE: Front of House

Well, it looks really good. I moved a lot of my plants around and will have to post pics. The gardeners worked really hard today. I tried to tell them how I wanted the new bed cut and unfortunately, they cut it too straight. There is a curve on the very end of both sides which will have the new crape myrtle. I think I may have to add some sod back in to erase the straight line. This may not be too much of an issue when the plants fill in the space. Who knows...


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RE: Front of House

That you say it looks good is promising. Cutting the bed too straight sounds like a tweakable offense. I look forward to seeing your photos. Don't be surprised if they lead to more suggestions!


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RE: Front of House

Here is the first one.


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RE: Front of House

Here's another view.


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RE: Front of House

I guess your crapes are pretty small so they don't yet show up much.

Come early Spring, I would seriously consider raising the bottom of the River Birch and Jap. Maple canopy so that more of your house is not blocked. If you do it before growth occurs, you will get it back higher up on the tree.


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RE: Front of House

Here is another view


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RE: Front of House

They are small but at least I found them. I hope they grow a lot next spring/summer. Who knows... As for the trees, okay, I'll take more limbs off. I am not sure which ones should go on the maple. It was trimmed before and seemed to not like it a lot. I guess I could post a closer view and get some advice on this tree. As for the birch, that's easy.


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RE: Front of House

Sorry about the lack of comment, but everything is so small, it's just hard to see. The prize possessions are still infants! I'm not complaining about it, just noting it's a fact. The crapes will grow fast so it won't be all that many years before they're looking like something. The good part is that they're enjoyable even during their "shrub phase." If you want any trimming advice on the trees, yes post a picture. Since it's getting late in the season, you might want to wait until early spring (before new growth) to do the pruning. That way, much of what you cut off is returned in a better place (at the top of the tree) with the new growth.


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RE: Front of House

No need to apologize, Yardvaark. Everything is small but that's all I had a choice of at the nursery. It's funny because normally I try to buy trees that show up in my yard. For instance, the birch was about 8 feet when it was put in the ground. I do like the design you sketched out for me. I think the new lower, small plants look so much better than the other plans that were ripped out. The neighbors have given me many complements. The new windows come next week so we'll see how everything works together.


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RE: Front of House

Greetings, my new gardens look really nice this Spring thanks to the help I have received on this forum. Unfortunately, one of my favorite trees is dying. The Japanese Maple is losing leaves and simply not growing anymore. I am really sad about this but am now thinking I should plant a new tree. Any suggestions? I have a Birch tree on one side of the yard near the street. Can I put another tree on the other side that is not a birch? Something more majestic.. Some people say the trees should match in front of the house but is it really necessary. Any thoughts out there? Thanks!


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RE: Front of House

Hi, it's been almost a year since I posted. Over the past year, our Japanes Maple has been struggling to stay alive. I had an arborist tell me that he thinks it's on its way out. So, I am thinking about planting a new tree but not in it's place. I want one closer to the street like the birch I already have. Any suggestions? I don't want another birch. Thanks.


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