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Landscape Design Ideas - New Renovation

Posted by billy_g 6B - DC Area (My Page) on
Mon, Oct 24, 11 at 1:43

Hi,

We are finished with our renovation (almost) with new sod installed and just received plans from the landscape designer... but we're not thrilled with the plans. We are open to suggestions as we've always received great ideas and advice on Gardenweb. See the design below.

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The corner room at the front left corner points north. We are not going to put in the trees or the plants along the front walkway (it's too narrow).

I'll post photos of the house. It is a corner lot.

Thanks,
Billy


Follow-Up Postings:

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RE: Landscape Design Ideas - New Renovation - Photos

Front of house:
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Photo of front left corner and side yard:
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Front left corner from the street (taken from the north):
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Closer shot of tower on front left corner:
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Side garden area:
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Side garden area from street (showing hedges at street):
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RE: Landscape Design Ideas - New Renovation - Thoughts

I mentioned we are taking the trees out of the plans -- perhaps we'll add trees later but we have a large maple in front and number of large pin oaks and hollies around the perimeter of the property as well as hedges along the side street. The grass won't be too happy if we add more trees!

We don't want the front path lined with plants because it is too narrow and we like the open look of sod next to the walkway. We also don't want plants directly in front of the front columns.

We don't like the two groupings of three aesculus -- it is too much mass for the right corner of the house (and the side yard is too narrow) and it is under a maple tree and we don't really like the plant...

We like azaleas. We like hydrangeas. We don't like boxwood. I think we like otto luyken but they are used a lot and there aren't much for flowers.

On the side of the house we like the hydrangeas and the weigela groupings and the enkianthus, but it seems to me the layering won't work with hydrangeas in front of the enkianthus and peonies in front of the hydrangea.

We're OK with deciduous plants along the side of the house because there are evergreen hedges along the street, but we would like the front of the house and tower on the corner to have mostly evergreen plants.

Thanks in advance for your thoughts!

Billy


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RE: Landscape Design Ideas - New Renovation - Better Scan

Here's a better scan:

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RE: Landscape Design Ideas - New Renovation

  • Posted by tibs 5/6 OH (My Page) on
    Mon, Oct 24, 11 at 9:09

Your home is lovely, Way too much plants proposed. Would hide the house. In the front-on view, maybe something low to camaflage the exposed foundation on tower portion. When was your house originally built? ( I am assuming you expanded alot.)


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RE: Landscape Design Ideas - New Renovation

Hi tibs,

The house was built in 1937... the renovation was a larger project than expected, especially because the first GC went bankrupt and I had to take over as GC for a couple of months to keep things moving while we picked out a second GC to finish. I used to be a carpenter so we weren't totally flying blind.

The corner lot has a strange shape and the house is set into the back of the lot, making the only options for expanding along the street views. There is less square footage added than appears -- most of the changes were for livability such as an expanded kitchen and bathrooms and opening up the living spaces, and having a front entrance instead of having the front door opening into the stairwell to the second floor. It made us jealous of people who could just tack an addition to the back of their house! The tower came about because two walls would meet at an acute angle (because the streets intersect at an acute angle) so we softened the point with a sun room that morphed into a tower.

We agree with you that we don't want to block the front of the house. We would keep plants trimmed below the two front bay windows on either side of the front entrance -- there are window seats inside those windows.

Billy


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RE: Landscape Design Ideas - New Renovation

I'm not quite sure what I would do at the foundation around the turret; it could so easily look awkward. But it would be fun to do a precise hedge that surrounds it level with the floor and flat on top, so the actual hedge would be wedge-shaped due to the sloping ground. But that would have to be your style, and would take some maintenance.

What I am pretty sure of is that those are very awkward openings under your window seats, either side of the front door. Looks like critter sanctuary to me and I think I would recommend closing it off with lattice (a lattice door that you could open, perhaps) or a solid board.

Do you care about letting lots of light into that window well, or do you want to block that?

Karin L


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RE: Landscape Design Ideas - New Renovation

Hi Karin,

That's a great observation about the slope around the turret. So this level hedge would be some type of evergreen, I guess? What plants would be good for this, something that is fairly upright and not too broad? I like the idea of trimming for a level top. Would you put something like azaleas in front of it?

There is actually a window well under each window seat, which is why we cantilevered them instead digging foundations. Good point about them being critter caves. The larger window well on the right is an egress well so we cannot cover all of it with lattice, and we like the light it brings in. After plants are in place the caves may be hard to see from the street but they will be even darker.

Billy


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RE: Landscape Design Ideas - New Renovation

I really like the house and the existing landscaping is ragged for sure too much shade from those big trees too. From what I can see of the plan it looks totally plant oriented and this is not the way I would see your property developing. The apron with mud splashed up it would be a reason for so much foundation planting but this detail should be fixed way more simply.

I would start with a statement at the entrance and contain the area with work at least to the same style and standard as the house. If you take the hedge in a box with the rocks dropped off the back of a truck at one end of the spectrum what I am talking about is at the other end.


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RE: Landscape Design Ideas - New Renovation

Thanks, inkognito.

I felt like the design consists of very little design and was driven by a landscaping company wanting to sell plants. We were supposed to meet with the landscape designer but instead she came by to look at the property when we weren't home and developed her design in a vacuum, never even looking at the view from the inside out or talking with us about our likes/dislikes/goals. We will meet with her later but I think we will have to drive the design. We had a similar experience with our architect and much of the design including the front entrance was done by me after we ditched the rather ugly and out-of-place modern plans for the front facade. (He was an OK architect aside from aesthetics and communication and construction knowledge... :-) I don't think he ever read A Pattern Language. But that's another story.)

Until the sod was laid a couple of weeks ago the site was bare clay for more than a year, and the walls were painted before the gutters were on so we are due for a good wall washing after the mulch is in place. You will notice there are no gutters on the tower and on the strips of roof over the front window seats, but these areas don't drain much roof area.

As for the garden on the street corner, that will be a future project. A couple of years ago snow was piled there and a bulldozer pushed the snow pile after it had frozen around the plants with predictable results. It was just pruned heavily but I agree it needs a new life.

Thanks,
Billy


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RE: Landscape Design Ideas - New Renovation

Billy, my instinct is that you are right on target with your assessment of the motivation of this plan. I think it's way too much for the actual scale of the house. It is also quite linear, and since you are familiar with our design discussions, it is 'landscaping around the edges'.

Your house is beautiful, and I think it requires a much more limited foundation planting. Instead, I would focus on creating some privacy, an enclosed garden- like pattern language suggests.

I really really dislike the lined up boxwood along the front walk...thank goodness you scrapped that idea. I can't imagine not meeting with someone to talk about what they want for their landscaping, while it's easy to criticize, that aspect of how the design is a 'miss' is obvious.

The tower is beautiful, and I would guess you want nice views OUT of those windows, while how it looks from the street is less important.

With the large trees you have, how much sun does your lot get?


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RE: Landscape Design Ideas - New Renovation

Hi drtygrl,

I think you have it pegged... the amount of sun in the yard and privacy are issues. The privacy part is tricky depending on the orientation.

From the inside we don't need privacy looking out the front of the house. The street scene is pretty and the window to the left of the front door is on a room that is deep and without any other window although the room opens into other rooms with windows.

We also don't need additional privacy on the side street because of hedges along the side street that provide privacy (Nellie Stevens holly and photinia).

The tower is the area where privacy might be nice but because it is up high the plantings probably would be trees, and trees affect the light on the grass. There used to be a beautiful old red maple right off the tower but it was declining and died just before construction began.

So trees close to the tower may create sod issues (but we're trying to decide if we care about this) and trees out on the corner could prevent some sightline issues for drivers at the corner. There is a 6 foot pink dogwood on the corner that is just getting established.

In terms of sunlight the side yard (faces northeast)gets more morning sun and the front yard (faces northwest) gets some late afternoon sun. The house blocks the midday sun in these areas.

We have a patio/private area behind the house that is tied into the side porch and stairs with a flagstone path across the top of the driveway.

The hedge in the side yard creates some privacy in that yard.

Thanks,
Billy


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RE: Landscape Design Ideas - New Renovation

Billy, this is the kind of conversation you should be having with a designer on site, it costs money to do this but you are an ideal client in many ways and it might be a useful experience for both of you. The house is eccentric, isn't it? What you need is a designer who appreciates this. I think you should research any APLD members locally.


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RE: Landscape Design Ideas - New Renovation

Yes, I am currently paying money to a pretty sizable landscaping company (about 65 employees) that does commercial and residential work. I'll give the in-house designer another chance -- perhaps she was thrown into this by the project manager. It's hard to imagine a designer not wanting to work with people - a homeowner - on the design. After receiving the first plan I realized I need to jump in and invest my time and become more educated about certain aspects of design and gardening. I know I need a professional.

During the renovation I received really super advice and ideas from folks over in the Kitchens forum and I found that with my architect and builder I had way more knowledge about energy efficient building, construction practices and many things like vapor barriers, foundation waterproofing, window flashing, spray foam insulation, dense-pack insulation, and rain screen siding. I like working with with someone who is open-minded, smart, creative, and willing to learn and take a few chances.

There are some pretty cool things going on inside the house, with all those windows and strange angles. And I would like to take a similar approach outside.

I've been in somewhat of a rush to get plants in this fall. But I'm not sure if that's the right thing to do.

One of the issues is I've paid to have garden beds made and there is an irrigation system in place, so if I switch to another landscaper the transition may not be smooth, especially if we need to move parts of the irrigation system. So I'll give them a chance and see what happens.

Thanks,
Billy


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RE: Landscape Design Ideas - New Renovation

Just to follow up on my earlier thoughts, it's interesting that the photo you took from the corner puts the foliage of the plants there right up to the floor of the tower. That is the impact I would be looking for from a foundation planting there. As for plants, I don't know your zone but I would think either box or yew would work well - but I'm sure there are other options. If I did a hedgelet like that, I would not mess it up with a double layer of plants, I don't think. You could probably also just make the planting azaleas, if you want them and want something that flowers.

From the front, aesthetically I hardly think you need anything at all. It looks lovely with just grass, I guess because of the big trees in part, and the house is simply attractive from that angle. Knowing now that those are window wells beside the door, I would be doubly reluctant to do any planting. Any foundation planting need really only start where foundation starts to show off to the left of the door.

But if you got a designer who really took the time to listen to your needs and appreciate the house as Ink says, you would likely get a better understanding of the effect of different options.

Incidentally if you do decide that grass is important, or that you want privacy from an angle where there are too many big trees to plant a successful shrub border, it is permitted to cut down trees from time to time...

Karin L


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RE: Landscape Design Ideas - New Renovation

Well, you can always just turn the irrigation system off. For the most part, that works as well as anything. Then you don't have to worry about it.

Slowing down sounds like a very good idea right now. The current landscaping isn't presenting a problem, and can just be until you decide otherwise. Driving or walking through established neighborhoods with nice landscaping can give ideas, as can local public gardens.


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RE: Landscape Design Ideas - New Renovation

As long as I'm at it I'll post other photos from around the outside of house.

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Right side:
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Right side of house, ugly AC units, camellias in full afternoon sun?
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A little veggie and herb garden

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Driveway from the side street (sorry about the concrete but I'm not shoveling snow on sloped pavers...)

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Top of driveway is flagstone to tie into the patio

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Side porch and kitchen entrance

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View of side yard from the driveway

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Now that's a different perspective... Lots of future projects.

Billy


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RE: Landscape Design Ideas - New Renovation

Billy, here's a few thoughts about your project. First, I can't stop myself from saying that you might consider widening the front walk in the future. It would fit the house better. (It's curious that the best looking stone is at the back walk!) I would remove some of the lower foliage from the tree out front. I think it screens too much of the house. More than that, it much diminishes the stature of the tree itself. Cleaning out the lower branches will make the trunk look far more important.

I like the grass in front of the house. It helps show off all the beautiful details, without distraction, and I agree with Karinl ...not much needed there. Where the grade begins to fall off at the left, in front of the room that connects to the tower, I would consider raising the grade 6 to 8" on the left side and have it run level at the base of that room. The left end of that room could be a transition area where the grade slopes to the next level (at the tower) and is hidden by a mounding shrub (maintained at 3-4' ht.) I might put a shrub on the right end of that room, too, but not sure about that. If the grade at base of the room was leveled, it would allow you to have low flowering perennials, groundcover or even annuals and their top would appear level as viewed from street.

At the tower, I would continue another course of leveling grade ...about equal to the level at its panel furthest right. I'm all for putting a very low hedge, some groundcover or perennial (not together...one or the other) uniformly around its base. This would strengthen the tower's connection to the landscape and extend its impact. Leveling the grade first makes maintenance of a hedge easier or opens the possibility of using groundcover or perennials. Even if it's only grass, leveling the grade would look better. Whatever's grown there, it should be maintained so as not to exceed the height of the brick.

On the back side of the house, there's a blank wall panel that, were it inside, you would hang art on it. I would consider planting a tall tree-form shrub here such that it tops out at a size that doesn't require much or any pruning in order to keep it in bounds (9' maintained ht.) I would keep it limbed up such that the trunks would form an interesting display against the blank wall. To my thinking, it should have many trunks. (I like my plants fat & beefy, not scrawny. Something weeping or weeping-ish could look great.) This could sit in a low bed of groundcover.

The wood timber retainer around your evergreen hedge I think is very out of character for the property. I can't see a necissity or benefit to having it.

In my picture I'm only trying to show general ideas, so don't take literally...
tower front


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RE: Landscape Design Ideas - New Renovation

Yardvisor,

Wow, thank you for all of the time you put into this. These are some great ideas.

First, you are so right about the front walkway. When the mason set the stone it was about two feet wider than it is now. After he was done he trimmed it down to its current width and I was shocked. It is too narrow. It's my fault for not specifying the finished width. I was paying attention to a different part of the project. By the way, the front walk is slate that is used by every other house in the neighborhood so we wanted to keep that aspect the same... a curved path would have been nice too, although a straight one works OK with this entrance.

I really like the idea of grading in front of the room that connects with the tower, and grading around the tower. It is tougher with the grass in, but it can be done. It makes a lot of sense and it should have been graded that way at the beginning.

On the side of the house a tree in front of the wall panel would look pretty. Would a smaller crepe myrtle work here, or do you have other suggestions?

On the side wall I thought of something evergreen at each end to hide the gas and electric meters. Hydrangeas along this wall would be nice, too. But with the tree in front of the wall maybe we skip the evergreens and go with a few hydrangeas on either side of the tree.

At the back end of the side garden near the stone porch we are considering some type of Abelia grandiflora. The prolific flowering and scent would be great through the summer into the fall.

On the front of the house I agree we don't want shrubs on either side of the front door. But I think I would like something other than grass. There is not much sun at the left side of the entrance. My wife still wants shrubs but perhaps she will come around. What about some type of perennial or low plants or flowering ground cover in these areas?

I hear you on the landscape timers. There is a story there. We had a hedge of upright yews that died from wet feet because of the heavy clay soil and the runoff from the upper yard. So the timbers were put in to raise the soil and work in a lot of organic soil and small pine bark nuggets to break up the clay, and there is gravel and perforated pipe running along the street side of the raised garden to provide drainage, as the gutters run into the garden and percolate through the soil. That's a long story but the fact is the timbers probably could come out now. Last weekend I planted a couple hundred tulip bulbs on either side of the raised hedge for a nice spring display.

The lower branches on the tree in front of the house need to be trimmed. One of them supports a rope swing that the kids enjoy but I could trim other branches.

How about something like a clematis on the front post light, or do you like that look?

Thanks again for your insight, and for the sketch!

Billy


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RE: Landscape Design Ideas - New Renovation

Did someone already mention removing the mulch close to the house and putting in a edge of stone to prevent the dirt from splashing on the house?

Thank you for the picture of the backyard- facing the other way. You do have fairly nice hedges back there and I would do the opposite of what the designer proposed, put a mixed planting along the outside edge of the yard, with those hedges as a backdrop. Then from both your patio and windows, you would be looking out at an attractive planting. I don't think the foundation of your house needs to be hidden. In the backyard you actually have a very nice layout and structure to create a garden room.


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RE: Landscape Design Ideas - New Renovation

drtygrl,

Just this morning I was standing outside and thinking about a garden room approach. It could be a cozy room with a tree off the corner of the back porch but I guess it could also be a larger one with the outer definition being trees or shrubs roughly parallel to the front street and behind the tower enclosing the yard between the hedges and the house. Maybe even plantings with near/far interest.

When you say stone along the foundation of the house do you mean large rounded pebbles/river-rock or something like flagstone?

Bill


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RE: Landscape Design Ideas - New Renovation

Billy, since you mention a "curved" walk, if you were to alter it in the future, you would need to give it a reason to be curved, or it would look contrived. With the short distance from street to door, I think straight looks great.

Before doing any regrading, first figure out the beds and plants. Blend grade over existing sod (if it's no longer removable) and re-sod over that, as needed.

In front of the blank wall, a crape would work if you're satisfied with its winter-hardiness. A short list of other contenders could be:
Kolkwitzia amabilis (flowering, form, bark)
Euonymus alatus (fall color, form, bark)
Camellia Japonica (evergreen, flowers, form...very tidy looking)
Hydrangea paniculata 'Grandiflora' or one of the other taller cultivars...(flowers, form, length of seasonal interest)
Each of these has a dintinctively different character so it'd be what appeals to you most. (Btw, you will not find any accurate written information about caring for Kolkwitzia...or about its true worth. Horticulture is notorious about repeating wrong information. For decades and centuries.)

Planting something at the front of the house ...hmmm? The question I would ask while wrestling this question is, what exactly do you want to cover up? I cannot find this thing.

If you raise the rope swing to a higher branch, it will be a better swing unless your kids are too little.

A Clematis on the light post...great! (But not one of the monster-sized ones.)

I would not fret about covering up gas and electric meters. Hydrangeas would be fine to temper their appearance. Painting their boxes & conduit to match the house will be the best cover up.


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RE: Landscape Design Ideas - New Renovation

Yardvisor,

Today we met with the landscape designer and we liked her. She was apologetic for developing a plan before meeting with us, and said it is tough for her to do a design in the dark. She was very flexible to meet our desires, but almost too flexible if you know what I mean. When we suggested leveling the grade at the front and the tower, she enthusiastically said "great idea." She was happy to get rid of the boxwoods along the front walk and eliminate the trees. She was fine with keeping things low at the front windows on either side of the entrance, but she wanted to pull the garden out in front of the columns. On the side of the house she suggested a tree off the corner of the stone porch (as in her drawings) but when I suggested an 8-10 foot tree near the house at the brick facade between the two windows she loved that idea. So... we'll see what she comes up with.

Thank you for the suggestions on the tree for the side!

At the front of the house on either side of the entrance we don't want to cover anything. You are right about that. But it might be nice to have some low growing plants, perhaps evergreen perennials, or maybe some flowers in this location. I think it would be tough to grow grass in this shaded location.

The rope swing is on a high branch... they climb on the lower branch but getting rid of it would make the swinging better.

We have some clematis in a back patio that bloom in the spring. What varieties might be good for the front lamp post that have a long bloom time in the summer and/or fall?

Great idea on painting the utility meters and conduit. That's simple and brilliant (and I guess it should have been obvious to me, but it wasn't).

Billy


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RE: Landscape Design Ideas - New Renovation

Billy, I do know what you mean about your designer being too amenable - it means you are doing the design :-) It's an interesting situation to be in as a client; happens to me too and probably to anyone who is a slightly obsessive researcher, not matter what the topic.

I hope Drtygrl will fill in the details of her idea, but I think she has a very good point. Putting plantings near the house not only doesn't improve your privacy, but also, it pushes your space for "being" in the yard closer to the road, whatever you are doing, whether mowing, napping, or eating, especially at the back. I would be hard pressed, I think, not to plant anything at all right at the house, at least by the turret, just because it would be a fun place to plant and I like the look of plants and containers against a wall, but I would not plant so much that it pushes you closer to the road.

I think you might get the most out of the designer if you talk about your property use needs, and what feel you need for the space. Then let her do the work - she might surprise you. And if she doesn't, well, no one is forcing you to install her design.

Karin L


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RE: Landscape Design Ideas - New Renovation

Billy, it sounds like you are making progress and going in a positive direction. Just to pick on one thing, the "tree" in front of the blank wall should be placed dead center between the windows, not casually a little this way or that. I think I'd shoot for its center to be about 42" off the wall. As it grows to the wall, you'll trim it flat across the back, which won't be seen, so that it clears the wall by a few inches.


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RE: Landscape Design Ideas - New Renovation

I'm doing a lot of gazing into the yard and imaging things. My neighbors probably think I'm a Halloween zombie as I walk through the yard, eyes and mind open wide.

drtygrl, for the stone against the house to prevent splatters do you mean something like flagstone? I can also see putting flagstone under the bay windows flanking the front entrance. There's no need for anything organic to be growing under there next to the house, assuming anything except fungus could grow there.

I assume you don't mean white landscape rock? Oh, no, Mr. Bill.... :-)

Billy


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RE: Landscape Design Ideas - New Renovation

  • Posted by catkim San Diego 10/24 (My Page) on
    Thu, Oct 27, 11 at 13:58

Your house has so many lovely architectural details, I would hope the same attention to detail would be afforded to the landscaping. Find a new designer, someone who can demonstrate some creative and technical skill. You may like your current designer as a person, but she is not demonstrating any skill.

It's probably a regional difference -- you did mention snow -- but it's unimaginable to me that the sunroom tower has no doors opening onto a deck or patio with outdoor seating. Maybe in the next design phase?


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RE: Landscape Design Ideas - New Renovation

I meant round river stone, check out other peoples foundations. NOT white gravel or gravel of any sort. Anywhere tha water runs off the roof, you should have loose stone, so when water drips off the roof it is absorbed, for lack of a better word into the stone. If you can't find examples of this, I will post a picture. Pieces of slate or bluestone will cause more splatter.

I agree with catkim'sopinion about the designer.


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RE: Landscape Design Ideas - New Renovation

River stone -- I got it. I was kidding about the white gravel. No landscape fabric underneath, right? It would end up filled with organic material.

Catkim, at one point there was a porch in the design, but it would be too public, too high above the street, and if there was was a roof on it it would make the interior dark. The tower is much narrower than it looks. If it had a doorway there would be almost no usable space inside the tower. Right now there is built-in seating under the windows and it is a nice place to gather. But this morning I was thinking about a ground-level patio in this space, so it might happen in the future.

Billy


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RE: Landscape Design Ideas - New Renovation - River Rock

For roof drip areas would you use 1-3 inch stone or 3-5 inch stone? See link below.

Thanks,
Billy

Here is a link that might be useful: River Rock


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RE: Landscape Design Ideas - New Renovation

1-3 inch stone would probably work the best. Although we have used larger stone in the past, it was more for an aesthetic effect as opposed to functionality. Are you sure you were kidding about the white gravel? It would match the color of the house ;)

I think you should put an curved bed in front of the hedges in the backyard. Theres not a huge amount of room, so somewhere between 3-5 feet wide. The shape of the curve would create the shape of the garden rooms which would be planned according to how you see yourself using that space. In the bed you could plant smaller grouping of shrubs and perennials. That would soften up the wall like effect of the hedge. One of the concerns I have about the original plan you posted is the huge massing of large numbers of the same shrub. It is almost always effective to group shrubs, but when you group too many it can be monotonous.

With the hedge as a backdrop, you can also think about the contrast of color and texture between what you plant in front of the hedge and the foliage of the hedge itself. For instance a large leaf rhododendron would be a nice contrast with its larger shiny dark green leaves to the hedge foliage. The hedge would also be a good background for flowering perennials or annuals because they would stand out against it.

The foundation of your house and the interesting architecture do not really require any plantings to screen it. I think you could use just limited plantings to tie the house in with the natural surroundings and to soften some of the corners.

Thanks for being so responsive in this discussion and I appreciate how thoughtful you are being about your landscaping! I am sure it will work out very well.


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RE: Landscape Design Ideas - New Renovation

Ditto everything drtygrl said...


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RE: Landscape Design Ideas - New Renovation

Now here is a radical idea: the strong point in the pictures is the architecture, the landscaping is crap as is the design offered from a nursery employee. You need a landscape architect not a designer it seems evident. Ask Andrew what the difference is. Taking a characterfull house and surrounding it with stuff will not work.


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RE: Landscape Design Ideas - New Renovation

Thanks for all the good ideas. I had thought our designer was a landscape architect or at least a real designer but I don't see how this could be the case. She isn't. Silly me, they would advertise this if it was the case. She's supposed to send us a new design this weekend or early next week and we'll see where we go from there.

In the side yard I think we will put in some gardens along the hedges, but this will be a project for after winter, with time for proper planning. I agree these gardens could look great against the backdrop of hedges. At the same time I think we'll keep the gardens against the house, but not make them too deep (I'm not going to win this battle at home). I don't think we'll spend a lot of time in the side yard (eating, reading, etc.) because of the proximity to the streets and, unfortunately, because of Asian Tiger mosquitos which bother others in my family more than me. They are vicious but that's another story.

Some of the hedges are photinia which are beautiful but as you know are hardly worth it because of their susceptibility to leaf spot. The only reason they're alive is because I spray them for leaf spot, which I hate hate hate to do, but have to unless and until I am ready to tear them out and replace them with different plants. They have been a long struggle but that's also another story.

Question: Will a ground cover like vinca do the job of preventing roof eave splatter on siding similar to river rock?

Can anyone recommend a landscape architect they like and respect in the DC-Maryland area? I looked at the local ASLA listings but there's only so much I can glean from the listings and websites. (I thought I already was paying for high-end landscaping but it looks like I paid for mediocre work that will cost more to have redone correctly. Don't get me wrong, the sod and hardscaping look nice and are good-quality installs, but it and definitely the grading should have been done only AFTER the master plan was developed. )

Thanks,
Billy


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RE: Landscape Design Ideas - New Renovation

Sorry if I came across cranky Billy but when the conversation turned to the size of river rock we were definitely putting the horse before the cart. We have had many theoretical discussion in the past about which should be dealt with first: broad strokes or details. Your last sentence suggests that you found out the right answer the hard way. This is not to say that details don't matter, because they do only that in the design process they come after first defining the general direction or objective.


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RE: Landscape Design Ideas - New Renovation

inkcognito,

Not to worry, I didn't mind that.

Just to understand, I thought I was hiring a landscape design/build firm. They actually had some very good ideas, like the flagstone across the top of the driveway to tie in the kitchen entrance with the patio behind the house. They fell through with the garden design. When we started the work the plan was to meet with the designer while the grading started (there was a lot of pre-work like removing construction debris from the soil and adding top soil to the clay we began with).Then as the design time slipped I was told - no problem we can cut and add sod as needed. I didn't fully appreciate that I should have said -STOP- at that point. That's my fault because I didn't appreciate the right way to do it and relied on them to lead the way.

They wanted to get the sod down before the weather turned cool, and I understand that. They did a lot of soil prep first, so it wasn't a matter of slam bam. (It just started snowing here near DC.)

I had enough experience with a crappy architect and first builder on this job, and this landscaper was actually the high bidder. They were really responsive and I liked that. So... I'm already about $30K into this with irrigation...

At this point I want a landscape architect but I think the current contractor needs to do the work because of what they've committed to do including moving irrigation to accommodate the gardens.

I should have known better. It's not a disaster by any means but it's definitely time for a course correction before there is any planting.

Oh, and the river rock for splatter may be needed regardless of the design, and I like to know these things, so there's nothing wrong with me asking about details before the big picture is in place. I don't believe anyone can do big picture work if they don't also know the smallest details.

Billy


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RE: Landscape Design Ideas - New Renovation

Funny, because in my opinion a stone drip edge is usually a construction detail. There aren't too many construction contractors that would in my area that would not include a stone drip edge as part of the construction of a house or addition. Its not something a designer usually needs to deal with; in this case, it is not really a detail, but something that needs to be dealt with regardless of what ends up happening with the landscaping. The splatter on the house is apparent and installing a stone drip edge will solve that most unsightly problem at a very low cost. It is also better for drainage around the house. To do landscaping before you fix the drip edge problem Would BE putting the cart before the horse. Some details are more important than the broad strokes.

And in terms of cost - it would probably be less than $500, and if you compare that to the amount the op spent on irrigation...its a no brainer.


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RE: Landscape Design Ideas - New Renovation

Oh boy, you got the arse there girl in no way was I attacking your contribution to this discussion and you may remember that I first mentioned the mud splatter.

Andrew (laag) used to specialize in the analogy and the egg or the hen nature of which comes first is perennial. I am only interested in how this process pans out.


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RE: Landscape Design Ideas - New Renovation

  • Posted by tibs 5/6 OH (My Page) on
    Sat, Oct 29, 11 at 20:26

Going off on a totally different tangent - that back porch, patio, I don;t know what you call it off the steps with a grill on it looks awfully narrow, no railing and high enough off the ground for a nasty fall. I could see the grill cook or your kids stepping back from the grill and falling off the edge. Is it a high as it looks, or is it the angle of the picture?

The more pictures you post, the more I fall in love with your house. So much character and already has garden "bones" compared to the usual posts of new naked nomes in new subdivisions.


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RE: Landscape Design Ideas - New Renovation

Hey, no mud wrestling in the thread! Some mud slinging is expected, though...

The yard was bare clay for a year so there was plenty of mud to splatter. With the record rains and tropical storms this September and the grading work there was plenty of mud to go around.

Very few homes around here have river stone near the foundation. Maybe it's a regional thing. If the architect doesn't have it in the drawings the contractor doesn't install it.

It seems to me you would want to do the landscape designing and grading before placing the stone, anyway.

Billy


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RE: Landscape Design Ideas - New Renovation

I am interested to read you think the drip edge is regional...because its pretty standard here, and in other areas i have lived in. I would recommend putting it in before the landscaping, but after the grading (which I assume has already happened since you installed sod?) in my region, and in my experience, even if landscaping isn't included in the construction of a new home, grading and drainage is part of the home construction. I think you have to be more careful with additions, but since its pretty standard in new construction, its usually an item included in an estimate. Am I being regionally biased?


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RE: Landscape Design Ideas - New Renovation

I usually see rock as drip edging where there is no eavestroughing, as around this tower. The rest of the home though seems to have gorgeous copper troughs and downspouts feeding into some kind of an underground drainage system. Lots to admire here...


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RE: Landscape Design Ideas - New Renovation

Many mulches will keep dirt from spattering onto the house. Once plants grow, they take over the job. Muriatic acid will probably remove the stain. But test in a less conspicuous area first.


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RE: Landscape Design Ideas - New Renovation

The complication may be that this wasn't new construction; it was a renovation. And honestly if it were my place, I'd rather have some dirt on the foundation first than put down a bunch of rock that I may decide later I don't want. I have dug, raked, and sifted so many stones out of dirt that I have a pathological condition I am calling "gravelphobia", that is, a fear of putting down rocks.

Karin L


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RE: Landscape Design Ideas - New Renovation

Now I see what happened here. The plans called for gutters everywhere. We decided to skip the gutters on the tower because the white fascia and no downspouts look better on the tower and the tower roof drains very little area -- the back of the tower drains onto the roof with gutters below.

On the front of the house there are two strips with no gutters over the window seat windows. Again, we skipped the gutters and extra downspouts on the facade because that roof is only 1 foot deep and we routed the downspouts from the upper roof so they would not drain onto the lower roof with no gutters.

So I can't blame the architect for not having rocks in the plans.

Karin and Yardvisor -- you're right, I can always add rocks later. It's more appealing to me to try mulch and plants first.

The painters will repaint below the water table after the gardens are in, so there's no need for the muriatic acid cleaning.

Hey, tibs, thanks for the nice comments. More comments on the porch in a minute.

Billy


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RE: Landscape Design Ideas - New Renovation

tibs,

The back porch is a tiny porch (more of a landing) with stairs. It is about 30 inches off the ground so it could need a railing... but it looks more open without a railing. There's more of a risk in losing the grill than the grill cook, and it's a good place to have a grill within view and a few steps from the kitchen.

For the downspout drainage the architect wanted to install a large dry well that would have killed two large trees; the live trees process more rainwater than the dry well could so we killed the dry well. The raised garden with the wood borders has gravel and perforated pipe underneath to allow gutter and yard runoff to percolate into the soil.

Billy


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RE: Landscape Design Ideas - New Renovation

I am wondering if the original architect built the house the way it is with the turret like the prow of a sailing ship because there is/was an important view? I can't make it out but is there water beyond?


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RE: Landscape Design Ideas - New Renovation

Re the railing, check code in your area. Think you'll find it's required. Could be an issue between you and your home insurer.

Love this home!


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RE: Landscape Design Ideas - New Renovation

inkognito,

The turret is new. I wish there was water nearby!

This is how the turret came about. The two streets that form the corner are at an acute angle, not a 90 degree angle. With the side and front walls following the street setback lines, the walls would have formed an acute angle in the room, which is a no-go. One option would have been to clip off the corner, making the room smaller. Another option we considered was a circular sunroom, but these are tough to build and roof. Plus we had some code issues with the way it would be laid out. Local codes allow a bay extending past the setback line that is less than 10 feet wide and 3 feet deep. The turret is actually two 3-sided bays (one bay on each wall) that meet to form 6 sides of an octagon shape. That was my idea. Because it would be tough to tie in the octagon roof with the main roof, we bumped the turret up another half-story so it would have its own roof separate from the main roof, and a row of shorter windows all the way around the top. That was the architect's idea.

rosiew, code does require the railing. Growing up we survived far worse porches without railings so I'm not too worried. The part that needs railings is not in the main flow of traffic. This week we'll see if we get flagged for it during the inspection.

Billy


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RE: Landscape Design Ideas - New Renovation

Here's the revised plan from the designer, together with her comments and the plant list. Sorry the drawing is so hard to read.

Hmmm...

Billy

From the designer:

"This is still a work in progress but I tried to incorporate your preferences as we discussed. The budget is reduced significantly due to a reduction in plant sizes and tree elimination. I maintained some formality in the front, and some fun in the back, where you have the most sun near the rear patio / kitchen area. There are still foundation shrubs in this area, but I introduced some great fragrant tall perennials around and near a dwarf crape myrtle that can be located between the two dominant windows. I was able to also introduce the Tokyo Delight hydrangea and some great tall, part shade, perennials near the corner bed on the lot. This group is great for cutting as well, but also has significant wildlife value. The asclepias is milkweed for monarch butterflies. The lobelia is great for hummingbirds, all suggested have a range of color and bloom time. I did locate both spring and fall blooming camellia against the wall across from your patio. These will not interfere with the wood construction detail above. Feel free to scribble in any or all thoughts to help with the process. Evergreen perennials were spec'd for the front walk area and for around the azaleas that will surround the tower. Have fun taking a look. Thanks."

Landscape Plan 2

Photobucket


Plant List

Photobucket


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RE: Landscape Design Ideas - New Renovation

OK, so I know you can't unpost, so take this for what it's worth, but I am always uncomfortable when a designer's plans are posted for critique, unless they post them themselves.

That said, this designer still really strikes me as someone who is more into making lists of plants than someone who is into creating spaces.

My experience has been that as I move from being one kind of homeowner to another (also from "lists of plants" to "creating spaces"), the identity of the plants has become almost irrelevant. The hard decision is how much plant material to put where, of what shape, for what purpose. That's why when someone is specifying cultivars at this stage, I feel like they've missed a step or two. But you know better what conversations you've had with her.

Plus, isn't it a bit shady for asclepias??

Karin L


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RE: Landscape Design Ideas - New Renovation

Here's a plan with some of the words penciled in to make them darker and perhaps more readable.

Billy

Photobucket


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RE: Landscape Design Ideas - New Renovation - reply

Hi Karin,

In the Kitchen forum we've had many discussions about posting plans and I'm on the side of posting... but if it were copyrighted material that someone might steal I definitely would not post it.

I think the designer has an idea of what she is trying to create and is filling it in with plants of her choosing. In my view she is thinking about a "look" rather than a "space." She really didn't listen to my requests such as "no plants along the front walkway."

It seems like an awful lot of plant material.

You're correct about the corner garden -- it doesn't get a whole lot of direct sun after the trees leaf out.

Billy


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RE: Landscape Design Ideas - New Renovation

It's humbling and I'm certainly not proud of it but I must admit to zonal ethnocentrism. I have not a clue about growing
dwarf crape myrtles, rhododendons, azaleas, camellias - so about those, I'll stay mum.

I do though still have some thoughts about the rest of the plan. I think what bugs me the most is that you have limited spring colour,
no winter interest and almost all the plantings are fine-leafed and pink/fushia and lined up like regimented little soldiers along the
foundation perimetry. And I'm also not sure about bergenias alongside the front walkway...

On the plus side, I do like the hydrangeas in front of the hedge and the idea of an informal perennial garden in the back for wildlife.


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RE: Landscape Design Ideas - New Renovation

Billy, I can barely read any of the plan so can't comment on specifics. Based on arrangement and placement of the plants, what I find undesirable is the pinched feeling that one will get approaching the front entrance. Enshrouding this small entrance space and narrow walk with plants will make the walk seem more narrow, the entrance space smaller and less grand.

The tree in front of the blank wall space on back side of house should be a specimen with its own "floor" space. Having large shrubs on one side and smaller, completely different shrubs on the other side will make this tree appear far less important and seem a little "lost." Its trunk should not be hidden in other shrubbery. It needs a little symmetry in this area.


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RE: Landscape Design Ideas - New Renovation

adriennemb and Yardviser,

I'm sorry the plan is so difficult to read. I tried the tricks with copying it dark before scanning, etc. but the original drawing I have is too light.

I agree the front walkway is pinched. I said "nothing in front of the front columns" but here it is...

Yardviser, you make an excellent point about the tree in front of the blank wall space on the side being crowded. I think a lot of the plants will be crowded, but with the specimen tree it would be a sin.

At this point it doesn't look like we'll get any plants in this Fall. Too bad.

Billy


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RE: Landscape Design Ideas - New Renovation

Now that I see what some of these plants are I think there is not enough space allotted for their growth.

Another thing is that trying to get opinions here is essentially "design by committee" which is probably not ever going to be harmonious. No matter how good something is there will be posters railing against it. No matter how bad something is, there will be the some who praise it. This is partially because there is an almost opposite frame of reference. Some people here view from a perspective of garden design. Others from a perspective of Landscape design. And every shade in in between.


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RE: Landscape Design Ideas - New Renovation

Yardvisor,

I totally agree not enough space is allocated to the plants.

I really appreciate your insight, and the insight of others posting here. I understand that design by committee won't work, but it helps me immensely to know what are some of the issues, where there is general agreement, and where there are disagreements. Just getting a glimpse of what experienced people think about this space helps me to get my head in the right place for this project. In the end I'll have to make up my own mind about the space, and I am fine with this.

I am disappointed with the second plan which I view as a continuation of the first plan rather than a re-thinking of the project.

I started a new thread asking for recommendations for a landscape architect in my area. I realize I need onsite help. One possibility is that I do some scaled-back plantings now, with plants we like and in locations we are comfortable with, and wait for spring or later to do something more comprehensive, even if it results in moving some of the plants we'll install now and expanding some of the garden areas. This sounds kind of backwards, but on the other hand it allows us to live in our space and develop ideas about the gardens, and views, and use of the areas without having bare garden areas for yet another 6 months. And we can enjoy some spring flowers.

Grand designs are great but I'm also OK with the playful approach of an evolving garden, even though it's not the most efficient approach. Ideally I would like the evolution to take place in the context of the overall grand design.

Billy


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RE: Landscape Design Ideas - New Renovation

You know whats frightening is that its pretty much the same plan as the first one with half as many shrubs. And I agree there is not enough space to grow so when you add that all up - what is the plan good for? We have had discussions here in the past about the value of a plan that is not to scale and the general agreement is that it is valuable in only communicating a concept, but not useful in actually creating a landscape. Even though this plan is apparently to scale when the size and spacing of all the shrubs and trees is inaccurate it is the same as a plan which is not to scale.

The choice of shrubs is pretty vanilla and the choice of perennials is pretty weak. Are the endless summer hydrangeas tree form? Does that even exist? How do you "underplant endless summer with peonies"? In my world you can't underplant endless summer with anything. And tall perennials behind the other lace cap hydrangeas? Why would you do that? In my zone, half of those perennials are the same height as the hydrangea, so the perennials are to be viewed from the street? There are a lot of issues with this design even when you take out the fact that she didn't listen to you and your wife.

Billy I am so happy you are looking for another landscaper to do a plan. Please let us know how your project evolves. I think its a good idea to get some basic structure in for the garden and let the details evolve over time.


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RE: Landscape Design Ideas - New Renovation

I note that you have decided to move on Billy but for lurkers and others reading this I think what you said before We were supposed to meet with the landscape designer but instead she came by to look at the property when we weren't home and developed her design in a vacuum, never even looking at the view from the inside out or talking with us about our likes/dislikes/goals. should serve as a warning. It is evident to me that the design was based on the shape the house made on the blueprint. A blueprint should serve as a tool for the designer to formalize ideas arrived at while in the garden with the client. When looked at as a pattern (not in the Alexander sense)what you show is quite pretty and it is only when trying to relate this design to the actual space that problems arise. This is not uncommon.

Some very nice landscapes have been made by designers just walking the site and waving their arms about, obviously when it comes to bidding and construction the details have to be accurately shown on a working drawing. Other drawings or visuals are often useful in conveying the concept in a way the client will understand and this is what you will get from a forum such as this..


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RE: Landscape Design Ideas - New Renovation

drtygrl,

I don't think the Endless Summer hydrangeas come in tree form. I questioned the designer about the underplanting and she said the peonies come up and bloom before the hydrangeas leaf out, but I don't know if this is the case. This might imply the hydrangeas get cut back every winter as Endless Summer will bloom on new wood.

With the tall perennials behind the lacecaps, they would be for viewing from the street, not the house. That's the way I interpreted it but I agree with you it wouldn't work if she thought we would see them from the house. (Well, we might see some of the flower tops to the extent the tower is up higher than the planting bed and if we trim the lacecaps lower.) I am totally fine with planting a nice display for the neighbors, although the perennial planting seems unplanned.

inkognito,

During the designer's second visit I discussed the view from the house several times. Even when invited she declined to walk through the house and look through the windows. That really left an impression, but not a positive one.

After I said I want low plants in front of the front bay windows I am blown away she recommended rhododendrons that will grow very tall, although not quickly. Do you have any thoughts about plants that might work here? Azalea "Hilda Niblett" looks interesting as does Rhododendron "My Mary" although the Rhodie might be too tall and better against the front wall between the tower and front bay windows.

I'll stay in touch and let you know how this develops. After this week I'll be traveling the next couple of weeks so not much will be happening after this week.

Billy


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