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heyker_gw

Stately house needs to make a better statement--pls help!

heyker
15 years ago

We bought this house about a year ago, and although it may not look too bad now, it was really quite a fixer-upper. We have spent the past year doing just that, and now want to give the front landscaping a much-needed facelift. Cost is an issue, as things that must be done inside the house take precedence over "curb appeal," so I'm hoping that you can provide some ideas...

Our home is very traditional and symmetrical, with an old addition on one side. The house faces south, but gets very little sun due to the evergreens. There are 2 AC units in front of the addition, currently have small white fence in front of them.

We really don't like that one side has a wall, and the other doesn't. We also would like to add some sort of walk from the drive to the front. Easy maintenance also important.

What would you do???

Thanks so much for any and all ideas!

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Here is a link that might be useful: More house photos

Comments (28)

  • Saypoint zone 6 CT
    15 years ago
    last modified: 9 years ago

    Can you make your photos smaller so that we don't have to scroll from left to right to see them and read the text?

  • heyker
    Original Author
    15 years ago
    last modified: 9 years ago

    I resized them in Photobucket album...
    Will this resize them in my first post?
    Sorry for the problem--I'm new to this.

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  • inkognito
    15 years ago
    last modified: 9 years ago

    Stately home: low budget landscape: low maintenance. Makes sense to me.

  • gymnmore
    15 years ago
    last modified: 9 years ago

    Congradulations on the house - it looks great. Landscape -
    how about some white hydrangeas, maybe Oakleaf or another white variety? good luck - Judy

  • bonsai_audge
    15 years ago
    last modified: 9 years ago

    If cost is an issue at this point, it would really be worth it to hold off until you can invest a suitable amount into developing the front. As Ink points out, there is a disparity between the amount of resources allocated to the house and the amount allocated to the landscaping. You may not want an excessive amount of work done to the front, and it may not even be appropriate to do a lot.

    What really matters is that what you do is done well, and if you're looking to cut costs, it is easy to be penny wise but pound foolish. Invest in a good plan, and it will be more than worth it.

    - Audric

  • laag
    15 years ago
    last modified: 9 years ago

    I'm for removing the wall.

    I could live with that planting for a while until the budget is there, as it does not detract. I'd rather see that than dinky plants that fit a small budget.

    I think a full width clay brick or stone walkway would have a big return, although would not be cheap. A straight narrow walk to the drive that matches would be fine. So would veneering the steps, but the railing is very low which would make it difficult.

  • treelover
    15 years ago
    last modified: 9 years ago

    A couple of small things you could do right away: paint the mailbox white and remove the two urns on the steps. They look undersized next to that very grand doorway. Much larger urns out by the front sidewalk would look better, imo.

  • duluthinbloomz4
    15 years ago
    last modified: 9 years ago

    Lovely house. Reminds me of my childhood home.

    No cost beyond a little sweat equity, but clean out the beds. Looks like thistles and asst. weeds breaking out. And the hostas could find better use elsewhere along with the raggedy daylilies. I'd remove everything except for the yews(?) since they look natural and unshorn and could probably be worked in to any eventual plan. And like others have said, I wouldn't rush into anything.

    I see a more stately look being achieved by using well chosen evergreens and shrubs saving flowers for the private spaces. You don't want anything growing up over the windows or planted too close restricting airflow and trapping moisture which could create mold on the stucco. If the retaining wall stays, perhaps something like Microbiota decussata would mitigate it by cascading slowly over the edge. Then a green border of something on the right side could balance out the wall vs no wall.

    Although, I think the urns, and their size, are fine - a variegated ivy and pastel flowers don't have much of an impact. You could make a much bolder statement there.

  • heyker
    Original Author
    15 years ago
    last modified: 9 years ago

    Thank you for your suggestions...
    inkognito...by low budget, I did not mean pennies, but instead something less than the HUGE amount suggested by the landscape designer we just got a simple estimate from. After doing just some of the multitude of things that needed to be done to the house (windows, roof, soffets, gutters) and completing the painting, drywalling, tiling inside to make it live-able, we just don't have the resources to put much into the front. And instead of low maintenance, I should have said plantings that don't require too much TLC, especially in our harsh Chicago winters :)

    gymnmore...thank you! We are starting to feel at home here. I do love hydrangeas, but they can have trouble here. I'm thinking of trying a few Annabelle's...

    bonsai_audge...I absolutely agre that we don't want to do too much right now, until we have the money saved up, which should be about this time next summer/fall-ish. So for now, I'm just trying to do a few small things that will make me feel less frustrated until then...

    laag...I'd like to remove it too, but I'm afraid that we'd lose everything that's planted there, including that big evergreen tree...

    treelover...I will paint the mailbox! I'm stuck with the urns, for now, as they were a mother's day gift from my 4 & 1-yr olds and my husband :) I do love the idea of putting urns out at the sidewalk, maybe on small stone pedestals?

    duluthinbloomz4...Thanks! And thanks for your suggestions. I like the idea of something hding the wall. Maybe even planting in front of the wall, and making a walkway in front of that? The bed is "mulched" by a layer of pine needles, and I'm havng trouble reserching plants that are tolerant of shade and acidic soil. I know ivy will work, but it's not well-liked around here, I've noticed. But I do like the idea of a bolder statement in my urns. Any suggestions?

    Again, thanks again to all of you! I greatly appreciate the input!

  • annzgw
    15 years ago
    last modified: 9 years ago

    Have you tried placing the urns on the top step?

    As for the wall.......do you know when and why it was placed there? If you remove the wall you can still leave all the major plantings by sloping the bed toward the grass. No need to take it down to the same height as the bed on the left........unless you discover the tree trunk has been covered by the bed. From the pics it appears the soil & mulch were placed recently since the tree trunk looks as tho it's been 'stuck' in there. IOW's, there's not the natural flare at the base that one would see on a tree that size.

    If that's the case, you may be saving the tree by removing the wall.

  • karinl
    15 years ago
    last modified: 9 years ago

    I think you might like to plan on a slightly longer timeline - it depends of course on whether you're flipping the house or planning to stay in it - and think about those big trees. They are too big to stay there much longer, in my opinion, given how close they are to the house. Besides the maintenance issue - the debris is one thing that makes the front beds look messy and your eaves probably need frequent cleaning, not to mention the possible effect of the roots on the foundation - blue spruces at least don't age so gracefully.

    And of course, the trees are the reason why there is virtually nothing besides yews growing in your foundation beds - nothing else will grow there. And you won't be able to establish much in the way of new plantings, at least not vigorous ones. For that reason, don't remove those yews - they are big enough and established enough to compete with those trees for resources, and you'll never get anything as big there again.

    For those reasons, I'd be surprised if you didn't start thinking tree removal within 5 years. And since houses do need trees, and since the more logical place for them is fortunately not within the root zone of these ones, you could plant new trees further out in the yard now, ahead of time, so you are not left with a moonscape when they are taken down; they will have attained some size by then. Those new trees would also hopefully be out of harm's way from the tree removal process, which would demolish any shrubbery that you now put in those foundation beds, even if you could establish anything new there which you probably can't.

    As for the wall, I'm not a big fan of the material but it actually makes sense to me to have a wall on one side only since the addition is on the other side only. It creates a bit of balanced asymmetry, if you will, also supported by the fact that the two trees are not identical. It doesn't look that recent to me but it probably does post-date the tree, although the tree seems to have adapted.

    I also have a perfectly symmetrical house except for one thing, in my case the slope of the ground, and I've concluded that once the symmetry is thrown off by one thing, it doesn't hurt the picture to go with the flow and do things differently. You will, after all, also be putting in a walkway from the left(?), if I understand correctly, so that will also reduce the eye's expectation of symmetry and will make the wall fit in even better.

    And yes, ivy is bad stuff and the less planted of it, the better.

    KarinL

  • Saypoint zone 6 CT
    15 years ago
    last modified: 9 years ago

    I find the one-sided wall distracting, and the material quality not up to the standards of the house itself. It appears that the wall is needed to keep the soil from eroding and washing down onto the driveway. If the wall must stay, and you can manage sometime down the road to work it into your budget, think about replacing or refacing the wall with stone or brick, and adding a matching wall on the right.

    If you plan on removing the evergreens in favor of some deciduous shade trees out front, you'll have more options, as well as considerably more light, both outside and inside the house. In that case, you could remove the existing wall and use a minimal brick or stone retainer to prevent erosion if necessary only on the end. This would also open up your planting possibilities.

    If the evergreens will stay, I'd agree to keep the yews. As for your urns, they need larger, more exuberant plantings in them if they are going to have any impact. If this means they will interfere with access to the stairs and railings, you could move them to the ground level, just at the bottoms of the railings. Bright colored flowering annuals would be more noticeable. Impatiens if there is enough shade? A pair of humongous ferns? I've grown hostas in containers, a bright-foliaged cultivar might work. Growing right-sized containers in another area that you can slip into the urns as needed is a good way to keep the show going, too.

  • Saypoint zone 6 CT
    15 years ago
    last modified: 9 years ago

    One photo of the entire front including the edges would have been helpful. After looking at the photos again, I have a few more thoughts.

    The siding on the addition doesn't match the main house, and looks like an afterthought. The best fix would be to stucco the addition, but probably not in the budget, or cost effective either. I'd like to find a way to disguise or partially hide the bit of exposed siding between the two windows that is most noticeable. A trellis attached to the house with a shade loving vine on it?

    Otherwise, a good quality walk, as wide as the steps if possible, with a secondary walk to the driveway. Take a photo of the area to a local nursery and ask what would grow there in the way of low shrubs. Fill in the rest with a well-behaved groundcover to minimize weeding and mulching chores (do your homework on the groundcover before choosing).

    If you want to define the shape of the front lawn and make it something other than the "default" rectangle you have now, you can add a couple of shrub beds out at the front corners of the property, but we haven't really seen those areas. Two or three easy maintenance shrubs and a groundcover infill are all you need. The simpler the better. Keep the shape of the lawn foremost in your mind for ease of mowing.

    If it were mine, and I were to remove the evergreens to admit some air and light (I thrive on light), and add a strategically placed deciduous tree or two for shade (purchased at a good size and professionally planted with heavy equipment to give you a good head start if necessary), I might remove the wall, and make the front lawn an oval or slightly freeform amoeba, depending on how formal a look you like. I'd fill in the rest with informal plantings of shrubs that provide at least three seasons of interest, underplanted with a grouncover that you can mow right up to. A few perennials if you want some seasonal bits of color, otherwise just the urns for interest.

    Just a few thoughts.

  • kimcoco
    15 years ago
    last modified: 9 years ago

    Beautiful home, fantastic architecture. I know what you mean about it being a fixer upper. We're going on our fourth year, and it's been a lot of sweat equity. Very rewarding, but a never-ending money-pit, right?

    Line annabelle hydrangea along the newer addition on the right side of your home, and then a taller shrub or tree on the far right corner of the house like a larger variety rhododendron, or pieris mountain fire (nice color throughout the season), red twigged dogwood, as just some examples.

    Keep the yews if there's enough room and if they work for you. How much space behind the air conditioner? If no room, plant hydrangea right in front of that fence without interfering with the unit.

    You could also try two Tanyosho pines on a standard, flanking your walkway at the forefront, especially with the symmetry of your house this would look fantastic. I've included a pic with the tanyosho pine (not my house) as an example.

    Add spruce or upright boxwood on each side of your staircase to accent your doorway. Height right now is a problem because the built in planter on the left side.

    If you decide not to remove the planter wall (I can't determine what purpose it serves), hide it with a row of variegated hostas at the base. If removing the wall isn't feasible, is it possible to remove a layer or two of the stones to make it shorter? This shouldn't affect your existing plants, but it will give a better slope (and a natural appearance). Use the extra bricks on the opposite side to balance it out, if you prefer.

    I opt for removing the wall, but do whatever you are going to be content with in the long run. (I learned to always think long term, because if I don't, it's money wasted).

    If you are keeping the planting bed with the brick border around it, my best advice would be to fill it in with pachysandra (japanese spurge). That would look fabulous!

    Pachysandra grow well in full sun or shade (I have them in both), and are one of the very few groundcovers that will grow successfully under evergreens. They will completely fill in within three years if spaced 4-5" apart at planting time.

    Variegated hostas, planted at the base of the wall, will add brightness to this area, as will Brunnera Jack Frost or Lamium, so those are some considerations. Of course, I would balance it out on the other side as well with the same border plantings. Lamium and Brunnera Jack Frost will "pop" in the shade nicely.

    Keep Lamium contained, however, or it will keep spreading out. Same thing for Pachysandra, though I wouldn't consider it invasive by any means, it will keep spreading if you don't have a border around it. For the purpose it's going to serve, this planting bed would be suitable.

    Stay with a more formal design, it would suit your house better, and keep things symmetrical. Keep the trees and the yews if you can and build around that.

    As for the walkway, flagstone would look nice if positioned correctly. For anything not deemed a "main" walkway you could get away with a narrow space, but for a regularly traveled path, keep it no less than 3' in width for comfort.

    Brick WOULD look nice, but I wouldn't do this unless you are re-doing the entire walkway, just to keep things consistent. Lannon fieldstone would match the concrete walkway nicely, but brick would clash in my opinion. I say it's all or nothing with the brick walkway.

    I see there's already some flagstone there, but not aesthetically pleasing. Take the pieces and position the straight edges to line your outside border of the walkway on each side, and then fill in the middle. Repositioning them it would make a world of difference.

    Wave petunias in your urn planters would look fabulous, and tall upright ferns on the upper deck would look just grande. Add some subtle landscape lighting and you'll have an even lovelier home!

    Here are some pics:

    Our house before

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    {{gwi:44692}}

    After (boxwood aren't trimmed into a hedge shape yet since it's the first year planting, and pachysandra will take another year to fill in completely):

    {{gwi:44693}}

    Flagstone walkway we just installed ourselves. We used paver base instead of dirt/grass as a fill since this suited our needs better for this area:

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    Tanyosho pine flanking the walkway:

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    Pachysandra:

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  • kimcoco
    15 years ago
    last modified: 9 years ago

    One more thing, I'd paint the front door (and the storm door the same color) a different color - brick red, blue, whatever tickles your fancy other than one of the existing colors on your home...make it the focal point.

    p.s. Pachysandra are also low maintenance and evergreen too. I think you'd love them as a groundcover, and they are ideal for acidic soils.

    Good luck with your house plans!

  • lpinkmountain
    15 years ago
    last modified: 9 years ago

    I don't think your house looks "unstately" at all. I think those two evergreens are very impressive. It just looks like you've got some puny little plants in the beds near the house, and seemingly ones that do not survive in shade, and also weeds. Less is more in those beds, a few lovely foliage things is what you need, just a few larger items instead of little bits and bobs. The rest you can do in stages. I personally would pull everything except the yews, and the hosta. Mix in some varigated hosta and bed the rest out in red impatiens every year. I know this is not super grand, but its servicable. If you have trouble getting the impatiens to grow, try huechera/coral bells. I had some once in front of a house I lived in among the pines.

  • laag
    15 years ago
    last modified: 9 years ago

    The walls and walks should stay true to the context. That is the architecture, time period of the house, and what is in keeping with the area.

    If larger stone slabs such as granite or limestone were used as foundation or wall materials in your area, I would suggest using them to retain the driveway without wrapping around the front any more than absolutely necessary.

    While other ways could be very successful, I would stay with the rectilinear structure of the house and not start introducing curves.

    There does not appear to be anything about the house that the plantings need to mitigate based on the photos. That really frees you up to plant purely for enhancement. It could be very supportive to build an even horizon on the planting of the main house, at least along the back row. It does not mean that it needs to be a hedge of the same plants, although a row of the same could be quite nice with a secondary row of something smaller and contrasting fitting the gaps in front.

    Its hard to tell just how close the driveway is from the pictures, but it would be nice to be able to push the planting out as far as reasonable to the left of the end of the house. Keep in mind the danger a wall has to the car.

    I don't think that the addition being of another material hurts this at all. I think it allows the main structure to stand alone. The planting can be as symetrical as the main house. The addition's planting could be quite different to re-inforce and advance the original house. The planting on the addition could work very well by not being bringing it out too much toward the road. I'd rather not see that fence advancing forward either - I'd remove it. It does nothing to screen and only introduces another plane of reference that throws the focus off of the symetry of the main house.

    My inclination would not be to line the walkway with plantings, but to keep the planting bed lines horizontal in the view. I'd rather see plantings parallel with the sidewalk (street) with the proportions of this house and the proportions of the space in front of it. It looks like the space in front of the house matches the propoertions of the architecture either through luck or design.

    I'm not going to define either personal taste or regional context by telling you what plants to use.

    Again, this is one way of looking at it. Its not "the right way" or the only way.

  • forensicmom
    15 years ago
    last modified: 9 years ago

    Sorry but I didn't read all the posts. My first thought was to take out the pine trees in the front. That will totally change ALL of your options in the front. The wall doesn't look bad to me. You MIGHT be able to fit tree removal in the budget for now and leave the current shrubs. Then next year considering replacing the shrubs.

  • crunchpa
    15 years ago
    last modified: 9 years ago

    Addition by subtraction......lose the trees. The trees planted that close to the house are what they appear, a mistake. If you stand back far enough, sure,they look a little better. Standing at your front door they look hideous. A nice decidous tree planted in the lawn for shade in summer, and letting light in during winter, is form and function. Any of the above designers who would plant trees in this manner should reconsider their occupation. So, initial advice should be minus the trees.

  • laag
    15 years ago
    last modified: 9 years ago

    Context - what makes this house unquestioned as a stately home? Reproductions are made all of the time, but you know this one is for real.

    I'm not saying that it is a mistake to cut down the trees that are not in ideal locations, but you have to admit that they clearly give this house a maturity that would not be as complete without them. They have long outgrown the point where they are an aesthetic nuisance.

    The first thing that will happen if those trees are removed will that the garage and addition will be much more noticable and take away from the interest on the main portion of the house. You can mitigate that for sure, but there is a certain uniqueness and age that these trees bring that most of us will never have. You can't go back, if you make that choice.

  • karinl
    15 years ago
    last modified: 9 years ago

    Spruces, I think; not pines.

    And I did say to pre-plant new trees!

    To me a "stately" house oversees a property - it is the manor, the clear dominating structure, the centre of attention. Stately does not imply subservient, which this house is, to those trees. Given some distance, it could hold its own with such trees, but at that range? It is overwhelmed. It is not stately to be overwhelmed. Ah yes, here's the dictionary: "having lofty dignity; haughty, impressive, majestic." Stately is not shouldering trees out of the way so it can get a look at the street.

    Would love to hear from the OP what it is like to live under them, and whether they are thinking of removal at all.

    KarinL

  • annzgw
    15 years ago
    last modified: 9 years ago

    I love those trees and hope they don't take them out.

    As laag stated, the maturity of the trees is what makes the house.
    I'd love to see a photo taken from across the street, but it appears the front yard is small so I don't see where there's much to be gained by cutting down the trees only to add one or two more 10-15' away.
    I just wonder if the owners are willing to wait 15-20 years for a nice shade tree for their south facing front entrance.

  • lpinkmountain
    15 years ago
    last modified: 9 years ago

    I agree with laag, I think the trees actually look like a "stately" presence because of their maturity. But that's just my taste. It seems like "stately" is in the eye of the beholder. Depends on the tastes of the OPs. The house has such great bones, you can hardly go wrong with it, except, IMHO, to put puny little plants a few here and there, or start mixing and matching a lot of incongruous materials and styles. That's why I'm not crazy about the front door set up, it seems cluttered by a lot of little things. But again, just my taste. I would go for strong shapely foliage plants--again, whatever your taste is. Look for a palette that goes with the colors of your house--to me it is a perfect opportunity to plant things with maroon foliage.

    If you have southern exposure, then if you take out those evergreens, you will loose their summer shade value. I'm not saying don't take them out, but if I planned on removing them, I would replace them with "stately" deciduous trees, like oaks or beeches. Both of which are notoriously slow growing, so you plant those with an eye towards future owners "stately" desires. Nothing beats a mature copper beech for a stately specimin tree in my book though!!

    I know all this sounds a little banal, but really I think you should just take the plunge and not be afriad to try some things on your own. Since you don't have a lot of retaining walls or things like that to build, you can always move things around and adjust over time.

  • catkim
    15 years ago
    last modified: 9 years ago

    I like this house and the others pictured as well; they exude a feeling of permanence that newer homes seldom posess.

    The mature trees reinforce the sense of permanence. Personally, I would keep these trees unless they pose a danger to the structural integrity of the house. The slightly pendent form (do I see pinecones on the right tree?) and the blue color in the tree on the left really flatter the house, to my eyes, they seem to suit the style of the home very well. Sure, it would be better if they were more distant from the house, but considering the time involved to grow such large trees, I would be reluctant to remove them.

    On the other hand, if I were much younger and planning to stay in the house a very long time, and had a healthy cash flow, I might take them out, wall and all, and start fresh.

    As it is, keeping the front garden simple, neat and green would be my priority. I would paint the front door a rich amber color, like fine scotch, a snappy contrast to the blue-green of the trees. Then I would spend the money I didn't spend on my trees on a flight to Nepal, some sherpas, and prayer flags.

  • crunchpa
    15 years ago
    last modified: 9 years ago

    Ouch....leaving those trees is just plain bad advice. Get past aesthetics people, we are not painting here. Think about the long term. What are you going to do. Plant in that root system and light restrictions that the trees impose on you, have minimal success, then cut the trees down and start over again. Then plant the trees that you would like further from the house as is proper, and wish you had those years back that you wasted, hello.

  • lpinkmountain
    15 years ago
    last modified: 9 years ago

    Thanks crunch! I think you're right and I seriously reconsidered my previous weird advice. I think it was because I was looking at the "closer in" picture. As I look at the picture, on the left is a very large blue spruce that has been planted way too close to the house and limbed up, which has already destroyed some of its stately-ness. Also, it is inside a weird "raised bed" kind of thing with a brick border that does not really match that side of the house. Plus, that's the side of the house you want to put a walkway in. So that's where I would start. The norway spruce on the other side doesn't look as problematic and can be saved for another spurt, plus it will still offer some shade. The reason I am such a "shade" fanatic is that I live on a street devoid of shade trees, and I cannot begin to tell you the difference shade trees make as far as cooling your home in the summer. If I had a house that big I would want all the cooling help I could get. But evergreens on the south side of a house are not the right choice--you want deciduous trees that provide shade in the summer and allow nice light in the winter.

    I would bite the bullet, take out that blue spruce. You have a huge yard and can plant one somewhere else on the property if you are absolutely gaga about blue spruces. Do it now, the tree will only get bigger and bigger with time. It also holds damp snow up against the house, which is not the best idea. Or wait until this winter, maybe you can find some type of public place where they want a really big cool Christmas tree!

    The only reason I suggest a maroon tree is because I kind of like them, and some people do not know all the tree varieties out there. Besides the ones I mentioned, there is a maroon version of the Norway maple, which is a relatively "fast" growing tree as shade trees go. A lot of people plant them for specimen trees. I don't happen to like them but a lot of people do. They are usually pretty care-free. They are not long lived by tree standards, but they usually last about 80 years, which is plenty for a landscape tree in an urban spot, IMHO. Another tree that people around here like is Bloodgood japanese maple, but that one spreads out so much I would think it would tend to block the house, but could be pruned nicely if you're into that kind of thing. But that's just my plant-weenie static, so feel free to disregard. But at any rate, taking out existing blue spruce tree solves a lot of problems, including the incogruous brick wall.

    Taking out that blue spruce tree and focusing on a nice landscaping around a path to the driveway would be a great do-it-yourself" project. (Not the cutting down the tree part!! For that hire an expert, you don't want to be putting in a new roof too, lol! I meant the landscaping and new path). Kimcoco has shown that it doesn't take much to have a big impact. Great job btw! I just love those old tudor/storybook or whatever style that is houses.

    Hyker you could also do some kind of clipped snazzy hedge out in front of your sidewalk, if you're into that kind of thing.

  • kimcoco
    15 years ago
    last modified: 9 years ago

    I agree with Catkim's vision.

    Hyker mentioned cost is an issue, so removing the trees - if they're inclined to do so, is probably not practical at this point in time, and if it's a fixer-upper like our own, it would fall low on the list of priorities.

    Not only will you have to consider the cost of tree removal, but stump removal is a process in itself and depending on which route you go, you can either pay a lot of money to have it removed, or you can do it yourself which can be a 2-3 month process, which in itself sets you back an entire growing season before you can plant anything in its place.

    Or, you could plant shade and acid loving plants that qualify for this area, and enjoy the success of your low maintenance plantings for years to come. Why make it harder than it has to be?

    One thing that drew us to our neighborhood is the mature tree lined streets. It gives our home an "estate" feeling. I wouldn't give that up for the world.

    With that said, I do like the trees though I agree they are planted too close to the house. Not a bad thing unless it's causing structural damage which I'm guessing is not an issue since you went ahead with your purchase.

    IF your goal is to have more sunlight and sun loving plants here, why not the best of both worlds? I can't determine exactly how tall they are, what about trimming the branches off to a height close to the level of the gutters? That will allow more sunlight to pass through.

    We have a huge maple in front of our house on the city way, and as much as I complain about the fact that it's messy and the fact that I'm limited to using shade plants, I'd prefer to have it there than not.

    Even if I had full sun up front, I would not plant a flower bed in the front of my home as it would only detract from my home. Simple is better.

    Annz made a really good point. Unless you have a lot of patience, any "stately" tree is going to take years to establish. By the time you're able to enjoy the stateliness of an oak or maple, planted just 10-15 feet in front of these, it'll be time to retire and move on. Kudos for the next owners.

    Though my gardening style leans to the formal side, I do like informal when done right on the RIGHT HOME. I also believe that flowerbeds are best left to the rear of the home, ornamental grasses should stay in the meadows, and only cottage style homes can truly get away with a cottage style garden.

    The focal point of your home is your front door (painting it would have a great impact). These trees aren't blocking your front door.

    I think it would be interesting to find out of those who vote for tree removal, what type of plants they would choose for the front planting beds...sun loving plants? A flowerbed with a multitude of color?

    Success is as simple as choosing the right plants for the right conditions. There are enough shade/acid loving plants to choose from to give you the curb appeal you are looking for, and you've gotten some great suggestions here. As I stated earlier, pachysandra THRIVES in acidic soil, yews, hostas, ferns are ideal to name a few.

    Add color and contrast with hanging baskets, planters, shrubs and ornamental trees with colored foliage, etc. You don't have to remove trees to attain your goal of making a bold statement.

    Your home is BEAUTIFUL, and mature trees add not only beauty but value as well.

  • karinl
    15 years ago
    last modified: 9 years ago

    The spruce tree does not have pine cones!!!

    :-)

    KarinL

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