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help please on existing bed and shape

Posted by v1rtu0s1ty Zone 5, Northern IL (My Page) on
Wed, Sep 10, 08 at 23:45

Good evening everyone,

I made a bed about 2 or 3 months ago however, it looks just fine. I want to get some exercise this month since it's getting cold now. So I thought of correcting the shape of the bed will give me a really good exercise. Hehehe. :D

Anyways, can someone please point to me the error in the bed shape I made? What I am planning now is to extend the bed to the left as close as possible to the Comcast box. However, can someone please help me with the shape?

Hopefully, someone can post a topview drawing of a very corner bed design. That will surely help me a lot.

Oh, also, everytime I look at the end of the bed close to the garden hose on picture, I tell myself that something is not right. How do I really end a bed? My bed is pointy at the end and I think, that's the problem. Not sure.

Any help would be greatly appreciated.

Thanks!


Follow-Up Postings:

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RE: help please on existing bed and shape

  • Posted by laag z6CapeCod (My Page) on
    Thu, Sep 11, 08 at 7:06

Think of a bed like you might think of a pair of shoes. You either know the size and shape of the foot going into them before you select them, or you have a pair made to fit the feet. You would not often get a pair of shoes and then look for feet which fit them.

I would suggest that you plan your planting composition and then adjust the bed to fit that composition. You don't have to plan every last plant, but enough to know it is going to work. You can always infill some things later.

It really makes me scratch my head and wonder why people go out of their way to limit themselves before they really get started. I don't think it is wrong to have a general idea of how big a bed you might have or its general shape before you choose exactly what plants you'll use, but fine tuning it with nothing in it is like hanging curtains without knowing where the windows are.


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RE: help please on existing bed and shape

The current shape is curved and wavey, probably in keeping with landscape "wisdom" against straight lines, but curviness for it's own sake, as you have found is not a desired end goal.

What function will this bed serve? I would assume from it's location it will serve to provide privacy screening and boundry demarcation.

Next determine what function will the lawn serve -Recreation, excercise in mowing,or negative space for a complicated plant border. The shape of the lawn is actually more critical than the shape of the planting bed, as it will be a dominant feature in your landscape.


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RE: help please on existing bed and shape

Because I have interests scattered among the many forums here... is this the bed for which you are asking the Perennials Forum folks to recommend fast growing hedge plants?

First off, as has been recommended, plan out what you want to plant, then make the bed accommodate your choices. As you can see from looking down at what you've carved out, it suggests a decomposed sound wave or a sine wave which rises and falls in a repeating pattern.

If you're planning on a hedge or layered mixed shrub border, a long wide rectangle might be your best bet - let the plants themselves expand and billow as they mature rather than relying on a curvy bed pattern beneath them.

From pictures you've posted, seems you have a good sized yard and the bed you've cut out doesn't eat up a lot of your space. The lot to the right you're planning on screening out seems too narrow to be a building lot - is it an easement or future neigborhood greenspace?

If you Google shrubs for Illinois, you'll get all kinds of recommendations for zone 5. The Univ. Extension services are quite reliable.


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RE: help please on existing bed and shape

Yep, that's the one. I'm thinking of putting the hedge plant there. I was hoping to put it right at the very edges of north and west side border, my property border.

Below is what struck me so much last night. If you see, there is a hedge at the back. I'm also going to do my best to achieve that kind of garden plan.

Anyways, the lot on my right property is an open space as wide as my backyard. No one has bought the lot yet.

Oh, FYI.

Actually, all the perennials I planted 3 days ago on that bed were accidentally severed by a landscaper yesterday. I reported it to the builder. Same day, the builder and landscaper apologize to me. The landscaper said that they're going to bring in same plants if they have. If not, they will just bring in other perennials they have. They will even add more. I'm not sure what they will be bringing though.


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RE: help please on existing bed and shape

If you are trying to simulate the plantings in the last photo, then you are going to want a much deeper bed than you have outlined now. The hedge plants in the back appear to be American arborvitae, Thuja occidentalis, a very common, adaptable and easily grown hedge plant, highly ameanable to pruning to size and shape. The common diameter of a mature arb is around 3' so you want to allow for at least that much depth plus sufficient additional depth to develop some layering of perennials or other plantings......I'd be looking at a bed somewhere in the 8-10' range if it were me :-) There are narrower hedging plants but you need so many more to create an effective screen/solid backdrop for this situation that I'd recommend using them for a less extensive project. And growth rates tend to be slow to moderate for most, otherwise you'd have to be pruning the hedges constantly.

While at that depth I'd agree a bed with straighter lines would be effective, you could also do a very graceful arc from side to side, incorporating that odd little arm of lawn at the top as part of one of the longer sides of the arc. That jogged section of lawn standing alone looks very awkward to me and the planted arms of the arc would offer a welcoming hug around the expanse of lawn :-)


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RE: help please on existing bed and shape

I helped a young designer with his start up a few years ago and one thing he was fond of was drawing serpentine bed outlines. He would then spend ages on site trying to get the guys to form that plastic edging stuff into the same line. Then the planting, that bore no relationship to the bed shape, went in; something he learned without questioning.

I suggest you plant your hedge in a simple 'L' shape and design your planting in front of that, remembering to leave space for hedge trimming. If you like the shape you have cut into the grass try to imagine what plants will create that for you in 3D.

I bet there aren't any wavey lines in front of the border in the picture.


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RE: help please on existing bed and shape

Yep, thanks for all the tips. I will post a drawing later of the final design I want to have. It won't have to many sine waves. :D


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RE: help please on existing bed and shape

As much as I love grass and dislike mowing it, I have found that as I have overplanted the limited area in my backyard and sideyard that some empty space can tie the gardens, gazebo, and playset together.

How the lawn shape is created by the border shape is has been a major shift in thinking for me to be able to relate landscape forms together.


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RE: help please on existing bed and shape

Isabella touches on a good point that the bed's shape does not exist into isolation. Thinking of the shape of the lawn which is created, instead of the shape of the bed, could also be helpful.

- Audric


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RE: help please on existing bed and shape

As promised but late, here is the drawing. I got the one with the grid from bhg.com and then just overlaid it on my design via Photoshop. I think the garden plan is called Summer cottage. I wasn't feeling well last night and decided to sleep early. I still don't feel well today but looking at my design, makes my headache go away. LOL. :P

The big circles at the edges are spruce. I haven't incorporated the hedges on the drawing but for sure will be part of the project. Oh, this will be a very slow project since I am the only one who will be working on it plus the funds. Hahaha.

Oh today, the landscaper delivered 3 yards of dirt. That should be enough for the corner part. The sod that I will be removing on the left side will help with the mounding. I actually will not be creating a big hill. I really don't like high mounds.

Anyways, here it is.


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RE: .help please on existing bed and shape

oh about the hedge, looks like I don't want to go anymore with those boxy corners. I just want tall thin arborvitae. What would be the name of it?


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RE: help please on existing bed and shape

De Groots Spire arborvitae? Thuja Occidentalis.


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RE: help please on existing bed and shape

Cool. What do you think guys about the design?


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RE: help please on existing bed and shape

  • Posted by laag z6CapeCod (My Page) on
    Fri, Sep 12, 08 at 12:55

What happened to the privacy hedge as a background?

I think you are continuing down the road of being ahead of yourself. You have started with a bed shape and size before knowing what it is to contain. Now you are choosing colors and appear to be filling the space with groupings of perennials before you have placed the bigger privacy plants. You have literally painted yourself into a corner.


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RE: help please on existing bed and shape

I would think the hedge is essential otherwise you leave the back of the border open to all sorts of problems. You don't give any indication of orientation on your drawings but is it possible that some of your perennials will be in the shade of the Spruce?


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RE: help please on existing bed and shape

What happened to the privacy hedge as a background?
Yes, there will still be thin tall arborvitae at the corners or at the borders. I have added the arborvitae on the pictures.

I think you are continuing down the road of being ahead of yourself. You have started with a bed shape and size before knowing what it is to contain. Now you are choosing colors and appear to be filling the space with groupings of perennials before you have placed the bigger privacy plants. You have literally painted yourself into a corner.
I already know what it will contain. I will follow the plants that was suggested by BHG.com. It's the same plants posted on the picture above. Both me and my wife really likes it. The grids/squares that you see on my drawing are from BHG. They used it so that it will be easier to locate how far the plants would be against each other. Also those circles that I painted with colors does tell what plant it is. It even tells what zones the plants are good for.

You don't give any indication of orientation on your drawings but is it possible that some of your perennials will be in the shade of the Spruce?
I've modified the plan. You will not see the positions. I've also included the sun positions. From what I have noticed, that area gets around 10 to 12 hours of sun daily.


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RE: ..help please on existing bed and shape

You will not see the positions

Oops, I have a typo error. It should have been.

You will now see the positions.


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sentence correction

You will not see the positions

Oops, I have a typo error. It should have been.

You will now see the positions.


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RE: help please on existing bed and shape

So your neighbors are OK with you planting on their property?

Start with a scale drawing of the corner. I have a few drawing programs that automatically put up grid squares, but I have a Mac. Graph paper is also OK. It looks like the BHG plan is using a scale of 1 sq = 1 ft. Leave some space between the edge of the hedge and the property boundary for 'access'. Then start drawing the hedge. How big the hedge drawing will be depends on how big the hedge will be. If the hedge plants are expected to be 3 ft wide, then the drawing should have them as 3 squares wide, using that scale. Then leave about another foot between the inside of the hedge and the beginning of the perennials. That's not at all where they are placed in the current drawing.


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RE: help please on existing bed and shape

Thanks for the tip regarding the extra room access at the boundary! :)

I'll print out some 8"x11" grid using Excel.

And yes, BHG is using 1 square = 1 foot.

Awesome! Thanks again! :)

Thanks again!


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RE: help please on existing bed and shape

I don't think you want DeGroot's Spire arborvitae. It is small and slow growing. You don't want "green giant" arborvitae either, for obvious reasons. You want the intermediate one, which I cannot remember the name of at this time. I think it starts with an "H."


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RE: help please on existing bed and shape

I agree about the DeGroot's Spire - it has a very narrow profile and will take a long time to achieve an effective screening height. The most common choice is the cultivar 'Smaragd', aka Emerald or Emerald Green, which has a uniformly regular columnar shape, a mature width of about 3-4' and retains its color well. The second choice would be 'Hetz Wintergreen', which grows somewhat more rapidly and is slightly smaller in scale, both in mature height and width.


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RE: help please on existing bed and shape

Thanks for the heads-up guys! :)


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RE: help please on existing bed and shape

Most all of the points made are good. I would say just start with your "anchor" plants and expand from there. The only other suggestion is the old "keep it simple". Lose the excessive curves,it makes it much harder to mow and maintain,and is generally not as visually appealing as longer sweeping curves. Depth may be an issue as well,without sufficient depth it's hard to avoid the appearance of plants as little soldiers lined up for review. Good luck,as long as you like it that's all that really matters anyway.:)


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RE: help please on existing bed and shape

  • Posted by bboy z8 WA USA (My Page) on
    Wed, Oct 1, 08 at 0:59

Drifts and bed shapes are well described in Grant, GARDEN DESIGN ILLUSTRATED.


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RE: help please on existing bed and shape

Below is a graphic as I understand v1rtu0s1ty's plan. The position of the spruce trees comes from his drawing, the plant layout from the BHG site, scaled and cut into three pieces to conform to space ( will need additional plants or repositioning).

Photobucket

I think I would go slow on planting the perennials near the hedge/trees for the first year or so. What I would do is control the root development of the hedge and trees away from the bed. Fertilizer and water supplied to ground away from the bed while heavy root pruning on the bed side.


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RE: help please on existing bed and shape

Thanks pls8xx. What does "heavy root pruning" mean? And how would I control the root development of the hedge?

This morning at Lowes, my wife and I thought it's no-brainer. We bought 5 evergreens. They're like 4 or 5 ft tall. 3 are Wichita Blue Juniper and 2 are Emerald Green Arborvitae. Each was only $3. That's why we didn't let go of it. However, will they work for my plans?

oh, the other plants that you see are also from Lowes. I bought them last night. I brought home 22 pots of Tropicanna Black for 10 cents each. I brought another 1 today for $4. It's Red Velvet Canna about 7' tall.


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RE:roots

If the only spot getting water and fertilizer is the bed area, that's where the tree and hedge roots will be. Not good for your perennials.

Begin by doing as I show below and cut all roots that start into the bed. In a couple of years the trees and hedge will have all the roots they need outside your bed. Continue to water and fertilize the outside area to prevent root competition with your perennials.

Photobucket


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RE: help please on existing bed and shape

Correct me if I'm wrong. So when I plant them today, I should cut the roots that are facing the perennial bed? If I was right, wouldn't it affect them?

Thanks!


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RE: help please on existing bed and shape

No. Wait a couple of months to start cutting the roots. But start improving the soil conditions right away where you want the roots to grow. Roots go where the good stuff is. Best to leave the bed dry and hard for now.


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RE: help please on existing bed and shape

Here is an update. I've planted the arborvitae and junipers. Hopefully they'll work. Slowly, I'll get there. :)

I haven't finished the arc shape yet. I will continue working on it next spring.

Comment please regarding the update. :D hehehe


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RE: help please on existing bed and shape

That doesn't look at all like the shape pls8xx posted, and the plants are too far apart to create a hedge anytime soon.
The good news is, you're only out about $60 or so for the wrong plants. :D

What it looks like, as I understand it, is you've gotten free professional advice and chosen to ignore it.

For one thing, cannas have to be dug from the ground and stored over the winter. They impart a tropical feel that does not combine well with stiff evergreen hedges. Maybe you have another spot for them, like the side of your garage?

For another, the Emerald Green arb is the one gardengal told you specifically NOT to get. Sorry, but the junipers look like death warmed over too. Rip, rip.

Now, get out there and find some decent plant material, widen the bed A LOT to follow the shape, as shown, IN FRONT of the plants.

BTW, it would be a good idea to ignore that Comcast box, you can always throw down a few flat stones or pavers in a little side path to it, squeezed between some tall plants or something, for access. It's not something you want to draw attention to.


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RE: help please on existing bed and shape

The shape is the same as his drawing or the BHG drawing. What's incorrect? Not sure how you are deciphering the picture.

Based from the picture of the junipers, they get wide as 10 ft. So I followed what they said, 10 ft apart. For the 2 arborvitae, they are like 3.5 ft apart since their width is 4ft based from the description. And yes, I need more arborvitae's to make a real hedge. I need 2 or 3 more Junipers to implement what I would like really happen.

About the width in the corner to mid arc, it's 16 ft wide. I can add more and make it to 20 ft? Looks like it too wide if I do that.

About the area where farleft Juniper was planted, I have not removed the grass yet. I will do that next year.

So those Junipers are dead?

Thank you so much!


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RE: help please on existing bed and shape

v1rtu0s1ty, I'm also having a problem with understanding how the plants conform to the plan. This may well be because a photo can warp reality. It is the very reason that some of us discourage the use of photos as a plan.

I have long thought that DIY homeowners would benefit from the development of a formal plan. Your attempt in this regard had a lot to do with my decision to participate in this thread.

Your climate is nothing like what I have and I am not familiar with the plants being used or how they will grow in your area. If I have anything to offer, it's more along the lines of project control.

I would point out that none of the graphics I post here contain any original design of my making, but are a compilation of the BGH garden and v1rtu0s1ty's adaptation as I understand it. I invite everyone to modify and use my graphics at will.

In the area of project control, it would be helpful to have some real dimensions to go with the photos. It's OK to make changes to the plan but we will able to follow you through this project only if we are kept up to date on changes and the actual construction as it takes place.

I would suggest you provide the measurements shown in the graphic below. The best results will be had if you follow my instructions exactly.

Run a string line from the property corner in both directions along the property lines. Use a tape to make the measurements from the plant over to the string line ( color coded lines A to J). It is a good habit to do this with the zero end of the tape held at the plant. Do not make measurements along the string line.

Take the measurement 'K' as a check of the precision of your other dimensions and and it will also validate that the property lines are close to a 90 degree angle.

Photobucket


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RE: help please on existing bed and shape

The placement of the junipers in what appears to be the middle forefront of the bed is confusing. And as best I can tell, doesn't match either your sketch or the more refined one provided by pls8xx. What's supposed to happen behind them? Any perennials will be hidden from view plus will be choked out in time if the junipers thrive and spread to their mature width as well as having to deal with root competition going forward.

And while I understand everyone's desire for a bargain, purchasing stressed and shopworn plants from a mass retailer rather than a proper garden center or nursery is not a great start to a successful planting. And often, a waste of money. The bottoms of the junipers are dried and dead, indicating they have not been well-cared for and have been drought stressed. This area will not regenerate, will always look funky and the junipers may or may not survive......depends on how healthy the root system is. And junipers like it dry - most perennials need regular irrigation - someone is not going to be happy here :-) From a distance and with my aging eyes, the arbs don't look too great either (btw, the Emerald Greens/Smaradg were indeed my suggested hedging choice).

I'm not saying it can't work because I've seen it done too many times - mostly with very skilled gardeners with an innate eye for design - but in general, accumulating a diverse assortment of plants over time without a clear plan for what goes where seldom leads to a pleasing and successful planting design. I think you will be much happier with your results if you slow down, establish the hedge as a backdrop first, then fill in with your intended perennial plants rather than whatever happens to be on the clearance rack at Lowe's. Keep in mind the growing conditions that will be available for these plants, how they will need to be cared for and how they will look in combination. As pointed out in a previous thread of yours, the tropical look of the cannas juxtaposed against the stiffer conifers is an awkward contrast that will be hard to pull off well and yes, they will need to be lifted and stored annually over the winter.


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RE: help please on existing bed and shape

Hi pls8xx,

Here are the values. Looks like my J is to close to triangle base after getting the results. :P

All are in feet.

A=5.5
B=4
C=4
D=5.5
E=7
F=25
G=6
H=28
I=18
J=5
K=23

Thank you so much pls8xx for the phenomenal guidance you are giving to me and likewise to everyone too. :)

gardengal48,

About the cannas, it will be on a different location along with my Ensete Maureliis and castor beans, variegatus sweet flag and hostas. At this tropical section, I might include cordyline as well. And yes, I'm aware of the digging. I forgot where I mentioned it. I won't put them anymore in front of the evergreens. Thanks too!


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RE: help please on existing bed and shape

"... junipers, they get wide as 10 ft."
"... arborvitae, they are like 3.5 ft apart since their width is 4ft ..."

Below is a construction update based on your measurements and the expected mature plant sizes.

Photobucket

Kudos to you for following instructions. For the check line, the difference between the drawing scaled distance (22') and the measured distance (23') is most likely a small measurement error and a property line angle of slightly more than 90 degrees. For landscaping, it's something you can live with.

Looking at the location of the plants, you can see that two of the junipers are too close for their mature size. All of the plants are in locations that vary with the original plan. A decision must be made to revise the plan to be compatible with the current situation or move the plants.

Once a plan has been developed, it can be implemented by reversing the steps done in locating existing plants. Using the grid, one notes the distance to the two base lines on the plan(in this case, property lines), and then these measurements are made on the ground to find the correct location for the plant.


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RE: help please on existing bed and shape

I need some help regarding plant descriptions specifically the width. The description attached on the tree says it's 15'x10'. So I assumed that 10' is the diameter and not the radius. So I divided 10 by 2. Then I decided to go with the lower distance between the 2 junipers so that their outer edge touches each other. I like that effect. I'm not sure if it's proper though.

The distance between the main trunks of the 2 junipers that are close to each other are ~8' 4". I was wrong with the measurement of variable H earlier. F if you recall is 23'. My math was incorrect. I should have added 8' to 23'. Correct H value is ~31'. :)

Here is a drawing how I want them to appear in the future. It's the same effect I posted above.


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forgot to mention this

I forgot to mention that next year, I will move the juniper that is in the wrong spot.

Thank you so much for the drawing especially with the grid and also the lines you added. :)


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RE: help please on existing bed and shape

"I was wrong with the measurement of variable H earlier. F if you recall is 23'. My math was incorrect. I should have added 8' to 23'. Correct H value is ~31'."

But 'F' was given to be 25.? Is it 8ft added to 23' or 25'? Correct 'H' distance 31' or 33'?


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RE: help please on existing bed and shape

LOL. My eyes are very bad! I have to double check what I type. :D

I looked at the paper that I filled out. F is 25. So H is 33. LOL. I'm so sorry.

Should I make 'I' variable to 25' so that it matches F? Weather next week will be nice around 68F to 70F.

Apology for the confusion.

Thanks!


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RE: help please on existing bed and shape

Photobucket

It's clear you have an ability to draw with the computer. If you like the grid I use you can get a copy of the blank grid for your use from the thread linked below.

Here is a link that might be useful: Drawing the Plan. part 1


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RE: help please on existing bed and shape

Awesome!

By the way, I went out and corrected the issue. The weather is awesome, around 70F today. It looks way way better now after moving the Juniper. The distance is the same as the other one, 25' and 7'. K is around 24' 9".

I will correct or adjust the bed in spring. It looks small. I was wrong with my measurement of the arch to corner.

Here are the new pics. Thank you so much for all your help!!! :D

What do you think about it now? :P hehehe

Birdhouse will definitely have to go and it's nearing foreclosure. HAHAHA!


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RE: help please on existing bed and shape

Just a couple of details I wanted to mention regarding the perennial selection. Pls's design is well thought out but I would substitute garden phlox (Phlox panniculata) for the Dames Rocket. Dames Rocket is an overly aggressive biennial in our climate and can really out colonize many other less aggresive species. And the Delphiniums - although they do well for folks in other climates, they're most likely going to be a big disappointment for you in our tough N. IL clay soil and wet cold winters. You'd be better of substituting something else which mimics their shape such as Monkshood (Aconitum) or Baptisia australis.

One last thought - there's been some great advice from folks here but you will probably benefit even further by taking all this good and (I might add free advice) and paying someone for an onsite consultation. It's great to be a DIY and able to do some of the work yourself to save some cash but at some point you have to realize when you're in over your head and need to consult a professional. I think you are at this point.


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RE: help please on existing bed and shape

Thanks for the heads-up about agressiveness of phlox and also the Delphiniums.

About the design, I actually took used the plan I found from BHG's website. I'm fine with it. Whatever it comes out as, however it ends up, I'll be fine with that. :)

Honestly, at this point, I'm already happy with how it looks even if it's not finish yet. :)

Again, thanks for the heads-up. ;)


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RE: help please on existing bed and shape

Let me just say that this is the most entertaining thread that I've read in a long time! LOL!

Virtuoso, where are you taking your photos from? Do you have a 4 story home? Lovely area, btw. I wish we had lush grass like that in Tejas.


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RE: help please on existing bed and shape

Good morning everyone! :)

Hi prairiepaintbrush. I have a 2 story home. I took the picture from second floor. However, I placed my camera to the very top of window. :P

Here is a picture so you can see where I go to take the pic. The picture was taken July 4th this year on a cloudy day. The window where I took picture is the leftmost window.


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RE: help please on existing bed and shape

  • Posted by annz PNW (My Page) on
    Sun, Oct 5, 08 at 13:39

This is an interesting thread and t's going to come in handy when I go to find a location for a young tree I purchased.

After seeing the picture taken from the corner, one can now see why a poster above mentioned the difficulty of planning from photos. Your yard takes on a totally different feel when viewed from the corner!

Also wanted to add that you need to make sure those newly planted evergreens get watered regularly until they're well established.


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RE: help please on existing bed and shape

Thanks annz for the watering advice. I gave them a 1g yesterday. Today, the rain was also heavy. I will water them again on Wednesday.

By the way, I have a question which I think I have not asked yet. Are the plants listed by BHG showstoppers? It's because, when I looked at the rating of Summer Cottage design again yesterday, it only had 3 stars. It's like average. If not, do you have other recommendation of what plants needs to be changed and what plant should be planted?


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RE: help please on existing bed and shape

The camera seems to have a wide angle lens, warping the space more than usual. The clues of the photos give me a perception of the property and I often wonder how close my mental model is to the truth. Is it like this ...

Photobucket


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RE: help please on existing bed and shape

Hi pls8xx,

Do you live close to my house? You almost got how our lot is divided. :D That drawing is amazing!!!

Anyways, the one-alone juniper on your drawing was corrected last week. The location is now the same as the other inner juniper. So it's like a perfect triangle now.

By the way, I bought 8 more arborvitaes and they are healthy with some minor browning but not as bad as the first one I planted. I have a question though. If you look at my previous plan, the arborvitaes are in straight line and shape in letter L. Most hedges are in straight line too. However, I would like to know if it's nice. It's because, I saw a house in the neighborhood specifically his backyard, he's got 8 arborvitaes that are like 15' high. It's really nice. However, it's not in straight line. it's like zigzag or cris cross.

So I would like to know if I should cris-cross the arborvitaes too.

Oh nore more, does arborvitaes produce new leaves?

Thanks,

Neil


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which one?

This is what I meant. Which one looks proper/nicer?

or

oops, I forgot one arborvitae on the drawing :)


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RE: help please on existing bed and shape

You are looking to create a hedge as a backdrop for your perennials and buxus so I would think you want to keep them linear as in the original HG photo you and your wife so admired.

One sees evergreens staggered when they are used as screening alone.

Pls8xx gave you such valuable feedback I am going to have to go and reread this thread to see if I can't absorb a bit more of it.


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RE: help please on existing bed and shape

All evergreens drop some of their foliage every year, usually in the fall, but sometimes in spring too. Don't be concerned if you notice some brown, dead leaves on arborvitaes at the same time the deciduous trees and shrubs are coloring up and dropping leaves in the fall. A normal reddish-brown discoloration occurs on branches closest to the trunk. Subsequent leaf drop may occur annually or every second or third year - but again, close to the trunk.

However, if brown foliage appears at other times of the year or on leaf tips, the plant may have spider mites, be suffering from an environmental problem, or have been badly taken care of at your place of purchase.

Evergreen trees with a small amount of needle loss may still have live buds within the damaged branch sections. These buds will send out new growth and eventually fill in the damaged section in a few years.

I have some arborvitae that were badly deer browsed last winter; they've been eaten well into the plant's dead zone - there will be no recovery from ground level to about the 6' mark. Luckily, they're semi hidden so can be taken out at my leisure.

Are you snapping up "bargains" without paying attention to the general appearance/appearance of health of your purchases? Although end of season shop worn blooming perennials many times make it through the winter to become nice additions to the garden, cheap but half dead trees and shrubs can pan out to be no bargain at all.

You seem to be rushing headlong into completing a landscape in one fell swoop, but I fear you'll be starting over again in the spring.


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RE: help please on existing bed and shape

Thanks for the advice! I asked my wife again and she really likes it in a linear pattern. Today, I planted all the 8 arborvitaes. I wasn't able to take a pic since it was already dark. I'll take pictures tomorrow.

I think the arborvitaes I bought today are all healthy. Hopefully they will make it. I also learned that first year is very critical for the Emeralds. I shouldn't let them dry out.

Why did you say this? Don't they make new branches?

there will be no recovery from ground level to about the 6'


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RE: help please on existing bed and shape

Hi pls8xx,

I noticed on your last drawing specifically the North with the arrow label, it was pointing to the wrong position. Actually, my house is facing east. If you look at my earlier drawings above, I have a label for WEST and NORTH. That's the only thing that was incorrect, other parts were correct. :)

Here is the image I posted last year.

taken from my thread from this link

Here is another shot taken from Google Maps.


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RE: help please on existing bed and shape

As promised, here are the pictures. I took it this morning at 8am. I also took another picture angle from the middle bedroom. I'm very glad that my wife likes it so much. Most of the time, she complains but this time, she said she likes it a lot. She actually wants to buy more. LOL.


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RE: help please on existing bed and shape

I usually don't make such a blatant error in property orientation. I must have been having a very bad day. And I notice from the google map that my estimation of 80 by 135 for the lot is more like 75 by 150. I missed the location of the trees behind the house by about 10 ft, but I got the house footprint almost exact. Which goes to show why design from photos is not a great way to control the project. You didn't comment on the contours and slope from my drawing.

The whole point of doing a plan is to evaluate all the possibilities and make all the mistakes on paper and then do the construction right the first time. But even a good plan will fail if it is not implemented with some level of precision. Which is an impossibility if the plan is not a scaled drawing.

For a homeowner looking for help with his own project, there is much to be learned in this thread. One principle of landscape design is a balance to the size of separate areas of the property. When working on the ground, homeowners almost never get it right because all they see is the small part that currently has their attention. On a paper plan they do much better. I call attention to the drawing that v1rtu0s1ty did last year. Note the size of the planting area in the left back corner of the yard. It is big enough to be a significant element to the landscape as compared to the remaining space of the yard. Without a plan most homeowners will make this border much too shallow.

But that drawing from last year was not a scaled work. It's a nice concept graphic but not a plan. There is nothing there that can be implemented, and it wasn't. When we compare the location of the plants shown on the google map, the trees behind the house are in a place that won't work with the future patio.

A scaled plan is important to good landscape design. It's best to have a comprehensive plan of the whole property. A homeowner can do it. And the implementation of the plan is just as important as the plan itself.

duluthinbloomz4 said "You seem to be rushing headlong into completing a landscape in one fell swoop, but I fear you'll be starting over again in the spring."

I agree. I think you are merely using the drawings to document what you have done rather than as a guide to what you will do. I suggest you stop long enough to get an up to date drawing of the whole back yard as it presently is and then complete a full plan of the future work.

You may find that you want to move the apple to accommodate the patio. And the trellis on the concept plan is pointed to frame the house behind yours. You might want to shift it to point between houses.


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RE: help please on existing bed and shape

there will be no recovery from ground level to about the 6'

I was referring to my own arborvitaes - the deer ate them well in close to the trunk. They cannot regenerate new branches with this kind of damage - there are no buds left to spark new growth.



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RE: help please on existing bed and shape

Sorry, my openbsd firewall crashed last Friday night which prevented me from accessing the internet. It's just yesterday that I was able to fix everything.

You didn't comment on the contours and slope from my drawing.
You hit the nail right on the head! ;) Your contours drawing were correct.

I call attention to the drawing that v1rtu0s1ty did last year. Note the size of the planting area in the left back corner of the yard. It is big enough to be a significant element to the landscape as compared to the remaining space of the yard. Without a plan most homeowners will make this border much too shallow.

When you said "big enough", was it bad or good? I'll post a pic later of the left corner. Everytime I look at it, I think the bed is too thin. I would like to add 3 to 4 more ft to the width. I think my drawing last year and the bed I created wasn't really the same since it didn't have a scale.

A scaled plan is important to good landscape design. It's best to have a comprehensive plan of the whole property. A homeowner can do it. And the implementation of the plan is just as important as the plan itself.

I should have known you last year. :) I am very glad/ecstatic with all the help you have given to me especially the scaling and placements of the Summer Cottage BHG plan on the corner.

Also, please let me know what areas I need to fix? For the right corner bed, it will be corrected next year to accomodate Summer Cottage BHG design.

What else do you see that I should correct? I actually hate the shape of the circle bed around my crabapple and sunburst honeylocust. I would like to change it in such a way that it will WOW us. What are your suggestions?

Thanks again for your help! :)


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backyard beds

as promised from the previous post, here are the pics.

http://i303.photobucket.com/albums/nn134/s1mpl3k1d/backyard20081013pic2.jpg


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backyard right corner bed

ooops... :)


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RE: help please on existing bed and shape

"I call attention to the drawing that v1rtu0s1ty did last year. Note the size of the planting area in the left back corner of the yard. It is big enough to be a significant element to the landscape as compared to the remaining space of the yard. Without a plan most homeowners will make this border much too shallow.

When you said "big enough", was it bad or good? I'll post a pic later of the left corner. Every time I look at it, I think the bed is too thin. I would like to add 3 to 4 more ft to the width. I think my drawing last year and the bed I created wasn't really the same since it didn't have a scale.

Take a sheet of paper and use a pen to make a small mark on it. The mark becomes an imperfection that mars the paper. Make the mark larger and it becomes an aberration. Keep enlarging the mark and at some point it becomes an element unto itself; something that belongs and justifies its own existence. How large the mark has to get to achieve status depends on how large the parer is.

Think of a room with furniture. If it is a large room and the furniture takes up only 15% of the floor space it will look vacant. If the room is small and the furniture takes up 70% of the floor space it will look crowded.

What I'm saying is that if you see the relative size on paper, you will, by instinct, get a reasonable ratio. The same principle applies whether it's marks on paper, rooms of furniture, or a landscape. You don't need years of study to understand this, a natural instinct will carry the day.

But, the amateur setting plants in the yard often does not see the whole of the landscape and thus the natural instinct is not engaged.

Looking back to the drawing v1rtu0s1ty did last year we can see that the bed in the left corner is generous compared to the whole of the back yard and not drawn as a narrow strip along the lot boundary. His natural instinct is at play. But the drawing is a concept, not a plan. So there is no way to derive measurements from the drawing to use in implementing the concept on the ground.

In the graphic below I have taken the google image and outlined in black the features as they were actually located on the ground. I then overlay the concept plan warped to fit the real space. One can see that the actual is not a good implementation of the concept. And now v1rtu0s1ty feels the bed should be extended a few more feet. Should he do so, the actual will be much closer to the original concept.

Photobucket

The point I'm trying to make is that a scaled plan, carefully implemented, will help the homeowner get it right the first time.


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RE: help please on existing bed and shape

Thanks pls8xx! :)

I will redraw everything on a grid paper. I will also measure the distances of all my plants and trees. This way, I will be able to put them where they are really situated on the grip paper.

Hopefully, I will be able to post it today. :)

Thanks again!!!


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RE: help please on existing bed and shape

Ok. Here are the latest measurements. I did my best to get as accurate as possible. Please let me know what I should fix such as making the bed wider and I will be very happy to fix it in spring.

Also, I'm thinking of combining the left and right bed to make them as one. I don't like the gap near the Comcast box.

Oh, when I was doing the measurement, I stopped for a while and looked at the 3 viburnums. I really hate how I positioned them last year. It's linear. How do I fix them? What are your suggestions folks?

And yes, the left bed near the lilacs are thin. Should I make it wider?

Here it is.

Thanks again! :)


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bedshape v2

Does this look more appropriate? Is the size good enough for the dimension of my backyard?

Any help would be greatly appreciated! Thanks again.


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RE: help please on existing bed and shape

Here is an update, hehehehe :D

After making the new bed dimensions, I decided to hacked the original left bed picture using Photoshop. I thought that by putting the real plants, I would be able to appreciate it better.

So, I took some perennial pictures from the internet and super-imposed them. Earlier, my wife doesn't want me to widen the bed but when I showed this to her, she gave me a GO signal. WOOHOO!!!


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RE: help please on existing bed and shape

For the larger bed width on the left side of the yard near the fence, I am glad to see the wavey bedlines disappear in your latest revision. No need to mimic the wavey top of the fence behind the bed, as you are striking out on your own dynamic direction.

BTW- beautiful grass in your neighborhood!


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RE: help please on existing bed and shape

So as much as possible, reduce as much wave/arc shape, right?

About the lawn, looks like the weather in IL is perfect for our lawn.

Actually, mine doesn't look good. I haven't put any organic fertilizer as compared to last year. And also, I stopped watering it and my last watering was June 12.

I was usually insane about lawn care before but I noticed that lawn isn't the part that will make a garden beautiful. So I decided not to spend money on them anymore.

I'm going to a nursery later to check for some perennials for the left bed. Hopefully, I'll get a good deal.

By the way, do you have any suggestion about the 3 red viburnums behind my playset?

Also, what can you say about latest picture where I superimposed some perennials? My eyes and wifeys' tell us it's nice. However, we aren't sure if our eyes are correct.

Oh, and yes, I will definitely move the playset.

Thanks!


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RE: help please on existing bed and shape

That is a nice photo concept, one of many you may want to consider. But please don't go buy plants just yet.

You are close to having a pro level base map. There are only a few corrections, checks and additions needed. Refer to the graphic below. The house footprint needs correcting as shown in red. The total lot width at the house adds up to 78.33ft (11+42+15+10.33), while the back property line is scaled at 80ft. Check by measuring total lot width at both places and adjust the drawing as needed.

Most of the plants seem to be drawn in the right location with the possible exception of the three along the back line. Check their measurements as shown by the red lines.

Measure the locations of the four swing support legs and the slide end by the method shown in blue. Spot these on the drawing and sketch in playground equipment from addition measurements.

Photobucket


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RE: ...help please on existing bed and shape

Cool!

We can remove the playset in picture. I will move them in spring to give more space for the bed.

About the lot dimension, I got the 80' value from our property's blue print which came from the builder. My side measurement could be wrong since the north side is an open lot and the edge of my grass is dead. So I might have lost some good grass.

I will re-measure the short north wall since I forgot that part.

I will also measure the 3 small trees again. Right now, they're in linear form. My eyes aren't happy when I always see them. They're beautiful though. I'm really happy everytime I see the zigzag pattern on the lilacs.

Ok, I won't buy plants then :D I'm just so in love with the Spiraea japonica 'Goldflame'. I have spireas in front but now the goldflame, just the normal green ones.

Thank you so much!!! :)


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RE: help please on existing bed and shape

Here is the corrected version. About the plants, I forgot that it's too late to plant here. I haven't also created the bed. LOL. :) I will buy the plants early next year.


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RE: help please on existing bed and shape

Good job.

If you remember back up this thread I posted a contour drainage graphic which you confirmed. If I am right, the ground at your lower back corner is rather flat with the drainage going onto the adjacent lot to the north.

There is the possibility that when this lot gets developed some fill or grading might occur near this common lot corner. If the land is flat, it will take only a small rise in ground level there to cause a wet spot to develop on your property. In most areas it is an unlawful act to back up water on another's property by blocking a natural flow.

Should this happen, you will want to object. The problem is that the other lot owner or builder is going to say you always had a wet spot and that the problem hasn't been caused by the new grading.

Now is the time to document the current grading and drainage in a way that can prove a grading change has occurred in the future.

Here is what I suggest. Watch where and how excess water leaves your lot the next time it rains. Later use a long board laid with one end on your lot and the other end well onto the other lot along the line of water flow. Set a level on the board. The level should show that the end on the other lot is lower than your yard. Prop up the lower end so that the level reads horizontal. Use a camera to take a picture such that the plants at the corner of your yard are in the field of view to the side, the board with level is in the center and the vacant lot is in the background. Take a close-up photo of the level bubble. Write a short narrative of what was done, the measured amount the lower end of the board was propped up, and date it. Store these documents with your important papers.


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RE: help please on existing bed and shape

Will do.

Here is another info that I can share. The grading going from south to north is going down. I remember 2-3 years ago that when 4 houses close together(our street side) were being built, the foundation is like a staircase pattern. The foundation on the southmost was the highest and north of it is lower, and so on.

Also, every Wednesday here, the village flushes the fire hydrant. The water goes down from south to north.

I haven't seen any puddling at the point where our backyard meets the neighbor's backyard and so with the rest of the backyards south of me.

But yes, I will document everything. :)

Thanks again!


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RE: help please on existing bed and shape

You are at the point in the process where several copies of the base map should be made. One of the copies should be developed as a reference document containing utility locations and also the legal issues that apply to the property.

Legal issues are of two sorts; limitations of your use of the lot, such as building setback lines, and second, easements or other rights that others hold to enter and use a part of your property.

Utilities may need maintenance or repair. In new construction this is not likely in the near future but in older areas this should get more consideration. In short, don't plant 200 hybrid tea roses in a 70 year old sewer easement.

Know where your house utilities run across the lot. Determine the logical location at the house where utilities could be taped to extend into the yard; in the future you might want a sprinkler system, lights, or utilities for an outdoor kitchen. Don't block a future use with a design element. Install under ground sleeves where needed.

Draw all this information on one of the base maps and refer to it often in design.


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RE: help please on existing bed and shape

Some of the common homeowner mistakes make that might apply to you ...

1. Planting a tree over or under a utility. (Where is your house sewer?)

It's in front of the house. The gas lines are also in front.


2. Planting a tree at an elevation that is not compatible with a future hardscape element. (Will there be a patio? at what elevation? Grade and drainage?)

About the patio's elevation, from most of the patios I have seen in our area and also my last patio, it was just a little above the level of the grass close to the house. They usually put 4 inch gravel, 2 inch sand then the paver bricks. They remove about 7 to 8 inches deep of dirt.

However, I'm thinking of stamped concrete patio. My wife and I still haven't decided yet.

Do you have any suggestion for the shape of the patio? I want to include a pergola because it's so hot during summer. At least, it can provide a little shade. I like this picture.

3. Planting a tree that shades steps or drives in winter or fails to shade at the right place and time during a hot summer.

4. Failure to make a needed soil amendment at planting. Example: Some trees have a root structure that tends to run above the soil surface. This habit is aggravated by compacted soil and can often be mitigated by making the top two inches of the soil very permeable with a mix of 70% sand.

That's a very cool tip!!! I have a question though. Most of my neighbor's bed are high. They put more dirt. Do I also have to make my beds like that?


To avoid these errors, complete your plan.

Will do. Where can I find some nice ideas about pergolas, trellis, patios? Look at my previous patio, it's very simple.

I'm including a picture of the whole north side of my house. This way, you can see the grading from front to back. The middle(where the house is) is the highest level. You will also see how much topsoil was added by the builder. I took the picture from the open lot which doesn't have the added topsoil.

Warning, wide image.
North Side

Also, here is the latest garden plan, version 6. I've added a color green broken line that JULIE marked last year. I remember seeing 3 or 4 different colors of flag. That's the only area they marked.


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picture correction of north side

LOL, this is the correct wide panoramic picture.
North Side


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RE: help please on existing bed and shape

...just an update folks

Day 3 of bed widening :) I took advantage of the perfect weather. We were above 50F the past 3 days. Now, we're back to high 30s.

Hopefully, it gets warm again soon so I can continue digging. :D


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RE: help please on existing bed and shape

You have done a wonderful job with a small lot and huge homes overlooking your yard. New subdivisions are the pits, arent they?

I would suggest your spend the big bucks and get at least one large Oak tree planted near your lot line. Perhaps a white pine too.
I planted Swamp white oak, because it was a wet area, and
Sentinel Maples (tall, narrow), and River birches and
tall shrubbery (chicago luster Virburnum). My back yard, which was a wave in a sea of blank back yards, is now a wooded sanctuary and so private. (10 years later)
I can send photos if you are interested.

Good going, and keep up the good work.
Pondy


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RE: help please on existing bed and shape

Thanks pondwelr! :)

I worked on the opposite side today! I'm going to continue tomorrow. Need some rest :D


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RE: help please on existing bed and shape

This is the most interesting thread! Great job so far on the new beds--they're looking much more in proportion to the space, and I can really visualize a lush, beautiful garden setting in your yard!


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RE: help please on existing bed and shape

I'm very thankful and blessed because a lot of people helped me here. I had some design ideas but I found out that my design were somewhat incorrect until GW design members helped me here. Without you folks, I'm not sure how it will look. Hahaha! :D

I am really amazed by the knowledge that they have shared to me and especially the plant coordinates, that is just simply amazing!!! :D

You ALL rock!!! ;)

Everyone, thank you so much again! I'll work on the bed again next week since it's a bit cold right now.


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RE: help please on existing bed and shape

This is a fantastic thread!!! Thank you for posting the continual updates.

I am getting ready to create a master plan for our new home and this thread is very helpful!


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RE: help please on existing bed and shape

Here are the latest pics. I added a new bed in front. Also widened the south bed beside my house. I think, I only have 220-250 sqft left to dig. It includes the west bed(behind playset) and a new bed which I haven't started yet. It will be in front too.

I've already planted some ornamental grass, h. annabelles, day lilies, sedum, and spireas. Some plants came from bed near front porch since they're overcrowded.

Photobucket

Photobucket

Photobucket

Photobucket

Photobucket

Photobucket

West bed
Photobucket

Photobucket

I'll post more pics after I complete the remaining beds.


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RE: help please on existing bed and shape

I almost forgot to update this thread.

Reference picture are from my last post.

This one is the same as the last sephia picture above.

close-up

Same as above but I stood on the other side.

This one is the same as 6th sephia picture.

This one is the same as the 1st or 3rd sephia picture. Looks like I should widen this bed 1 or 2 more ft.

different angles

Same as 2nd sephia picture.

This one is same as 7th picture which is the west bed.

This bed is the same as 5th picture.

More pics here
Early June 2009
Mid June 2009
July 2009

I'll do my best to create an August Garden Update. :)

Oh, I will be creating more beds hopefully early October or maybe next year. :P


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RE: help please on existing bed and shape

I'm not one of the pros here, but I think your flowers look wonderful. You have done a good job of making your home standout and your neighbors are lucky to share the view. I especially like the side bed near the ac unit and your front beds. I love it when people follow-up to show their progress since I missed all the October 2008 discussion the first time around. Keep the pictures coming!

Cynthia


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RE: help please on existing bed and shape

  • Posted by catkim San Diego 10/24 (My Page) on
    Tue, Aug 25, 09 at 13:50

Would you happen to have a straight-on photo of the full front of your house? It looks very nice, I'd like to see how you laid it out in more detail.


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RE: help please on existing bed and shape

cyn427/catkim,

I'm so sorry, I wasn't able to get back with you. It's just now that I saw that I had a post on this thread. Am really sorry.

I did have an August pics :)
Garden Update for August 2009

I have an update. I made my left side front bed larger from 5 ft long to 18-20 ft long today. This way, I can put more plants. My theme here would be color blue/red/lavender flowers, hopefully!

I'll take pictures again when the plants starts to flaunt! LOL! :)

catkim,

I'll do my best to take a pic of the front of the house sometime mid June.


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RE: help please on existing bed and shape

learned a ton about planning from this thread - thanks!! update the photos if you get a chance!


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