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hutchae84

PNW-blank slate yard

I posted here a while ago and I was told to get graph paper to space out our yard. We bought this place about 6 months ago and have remodeled the inside and now I am contemplating the outside.. specifically the SE section of the yard. We have added some grass to the north section of the yard and the back we are planning a dining patio off of the deck (currently dirt and some large trees-not drawn in).

I could plant grass in the SE section but I would really like to do something more since it gets full sun and I have never been able to have a flower garden (Seattle shaded lots). There are plants along the perimeter of the SE section (clematis, honeysuckle, rhubarb, kiwi, corsima, roses, lavender, foxglove, irises etc) but I have not drawn those in.

I was thinking of centering an olive tree surrounded by stepping stones and ground cover and then hydrangeas, peonies throughout the borders. Any ideas on how to best utilize this space would be appreciated. I can take pictures of the space in the morning (bit it's basically weeds and dirt) and I should also mention there is a grape vine on the exterior fireplace and surrounding the whole carport.

Comments (46)

  • 5 years ago
    I should also mention that this is a corner lot and the E and S side border a sidewalk and street and will have a lower picket style fence The N and W side border our neighbors yards and will have a privacy fence.
  • 5 years ago
    last modified: 5 years ago

    I wouldn't count on an olive tree making a lasting reliable garden feature in our region. In fact - without looking for any comparatively old ones listed in Trees of Seattle - I've only encountered one here that looked to have some serious time behind it. And despite it being on a site quite near salt water this example had a trunk full of scars - as though having had a problem with frosts wounding it.

    Hardiness claims for various cultivars I have seen on the local market vary from 0 F to about 20 F - depending on the variety. So if intent on trying an olive be sure to pick a kind at the more tolerant end of the scale.

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  • 5 years ago
    I forget the exact species off the top of my head but it is a Nothern Spain variety and it is hardy to 5 degrees. I have had a few friends grow them here with no issues.
  • PRO
    5 years ago

    I had a Russian olive tree in Calgary it did very well. When planning a garden you need to think all year round not just one season. I love peonies but they bloom once and then they are done so you need many plants that bloom at different times of the year in your area.My suggestion is to go the plant nursery near you and get some help .You also need to be honest about how much work you are willing to put in. I find we use deck much more than grass so have had a lot more deck that grass in our last 2 houses with nice plantings in smaller areas that are easier to care for. If you can afford it get a landscape architect to help.

  • 5 years ago
    last modified: 5 years ago

    Russian olive is not an olive (Olea europea) at all but the common name for Elaeagnus angustifolia, an invasive species across much of the US (including the PNW). True olives grow quite well here although they seldom ever bear any fruit.

    Living in the climate zone of the PNW, the OP is not very limited on what can be planted - a vast number of plants do well in this climate and any better nursery in the area will have a huge selection. And that includes many plants with winter interest as well as just the few summer blooming perennials previous outlined. I do agree that all year appeal should be a major factor in the design - our winters here often involve being outdoors and we are seldom exposed to much snow so the garden is just as visible in January as it is in June!!

    A design professional could certainly be of help and is NOT an expensive investment. And it does not need to be a landscape architect.......they are infrequently involved in residential properties, focusing more on larger commercial and urban development projects. A skilled landscape designer will suffice nicely and the greater Seattle area has a vibrant population of very good designers.

  • 5 years ago
    Yes I am debating hiring a landscape designer as this scope of project is a little over my ability. But as a gardener, I love the process of researching and taking pride on developing things out myself (although I'm on were asking for help...haha).

    Luckily I do live about a block away from a nursery where I do usually ask for help. I do plan on having different season plants (cyclamen, hellebors, violets, bulbs, etc) as well as reblooming and late and early bloomers of some of the flowers previously mentioned. I just prefer more of an English countryside garden than a PNW style garden.

    Also as far as grass, we have 3 little ones 3 and under so I forsee the grass being used.
  • 5 years ago
    last modified: 5 years ago

    In Seattle, where the species was still rare in 2008 all known plantings date from after the culling winter of 1990. This is not a demonstration of long term suitability.

  • 5 years ago

    Olives were being sold in this area long before that!! I know because I sold them when working at a major Seattle nursery!! Relating all hardiness issues to a single exceptional weather event is a pretty arbitrary evaluation.....a lot of very common landscape plantings - what are typically considered perfectly hardy stalwarts of a PNW garden - were damaged during that event. And just as many others, including both a eucryphia and an azara (of marginal hardiness in this area) in my own garden, were completely undamaged!

    btw, there is a commercial olive farm located on Pender Island.........

  • PRO
    5 years ago

    "I was thinking of centering an olive tree surrounded by stepping stones and ground cover and then hydrangeas, peonies throughout the borders."

    If you are talking about centering it within the southeast corner, we see there is a birch tree in the vicinity. It sounds like a conflict as birches can become quite large.

    It seems there is a walk or two missing from the plan. I would solidify that first before thinking much about planting. There is a very oddly shaped bed between the drive and walk of the east side. I would define that better once whereabouts of walk are known. It seems the serviceberry is plastered against the house. I'd move that out farther. Here are some thoughts about how you might arrange beds in the front areaj...


  • 5 years ago
    Thanks Yard. I should clarify though that the structure on the South side of the house is a chimney with a grapevine growing on it, not stairs/door. and the driveway in the south side goes underground to a basement garage so there is no walkway/path needed there. Sorry I didn't want to add to many notes to my drawing making it hard to read. I'll take some pictures in a bit to help clarify.
  • 5 years ago
    and I agree about the serviceberry, it is too close to the house but I think moving it would be impossible, we would have to just take it down. We already had to remove a cherry tree that was planted less than a foot from the foundation. There are several trees that will need to be serviced by an arborist as they are damanged, overgrown or dead.
  • PRO
    5 years ago

    Since the area of focus is the south and east sides of the home, you need to take two separate picture sets, one for each side. Stand the correct distance away from the home such that the wall, some roof and yard shows. If there is a city walk, at least some of it should show in some of the pictures. Line the camera up with the center of the house. Take a series of slightly overlapping pictures that pan from far left to far right, and post them all. It will probably be about 6 pictures. For the base plan and for the purposes of the forum, It's best if you place any labels outside of the yard proper. They could go inside the building lines, walks or drives, or outside of property lines. For trees, I suggest you draw trunks only as these keeps it small and doesn't clutter the drawing. If you have a forested area, draw a single cloud-like edge to its overall canopy. When the drawing later morphs into a planting plan, then you can add single tree canopies so that the tree trunk dots read as trees.




  • 5 years ago
    I took some pictures, hopefully they are far enough back. if I took them from the street it would be hard to see the yard/house because of the city trees on the curb cut. I can retake though.

    Also please don't judge the state if our yard too much. This was an urban farm before we bought it and had not been taken care of in recent years. The last 6 months of construction didn't help things much either. We will be replacing the fence with a picket fence.

    East side if house...
  • 5 years ago
    continue to South side of house
  • 5 years ago
    couple of more
  • PRO
    5 years ago

    The pictures are useful for me and others understanding what's there. But they are not useful for reassembling into a panorama in order to show the whole broad scene in a single view. In order for that to happen the camera must stay at the same location for all pictures and just pan (pivot) from left to right. I'm not suggesting to take them over but to know for next time. Here, you can get feedback on the plan.

    " Any ideas on how to best utilize this space ..."?

    The present state has the look of neglect and disarray. The only plant making a serious statement is the birch. The largest shrubs are positioned too close to the house to be savable and other things seem to be sprigs of this and that, here or there. I think the first thing you need to do is make a decision about the bottom line purpose of the front yard. Is it to be a garden that satisfies your horticultural longings? Or is it to be a landscape where no plant exists unless it is contributing in a positive way to the overall picture? In the former you might be thinking about how much you love this or that plant and, where could it/or some of them, go? In the latter you'd be starting with a bed layout and figuring out what plants need to be where in order to make the overall picture the best. My experience says too much variety is going to distract from the overall pictures, as well as be higher maintenance. There are many people who think one can have the goal of the latter but achieve it via the method of the former. (landscape achieved by gardening.) I think there is some degree of possibility here, but that one must start with the goal of landscaping in order to achieve good overall lines, and then subdivide those lines in order to add more variety. When it is done the other way around -- adding plants in the hopes that after enough are there, a good landscape will eventually result. That's pretty much a recipe for disaster.

    On the plan, I've drawn in a bed line that supposes "lawn" divided from other plantings. If one didn't want grass, the "lawn" could be low groundcover. The bed could also be reconfigured to accommodate more plants that are taller than low groundcover. It's a matter of how much space needs to be devoted to such plants, which is a question for the OP to answer. On account of the birch, which is going to get much larger, I don't see a place off of the left house corner for another tree. A more likely place for another tree is nearer the left drive, where I've placed a blue dot. The lawn could shrink all the way up to the red dashed line, if one wanted to turn the whole side yard into a bed.


  • 5 years ago
    Thanks Yardvaark! I think I would prefer to have it as more of a bed and have grass to the dotted line. And then ground cover and paver stones past the dotted line throughout the bed I need to take out the one remaining raised vegetable bed and finish weeding and leveling. This yard will be quite the project. This area used to filled with dirt mounds and weeds and overwintered vegetables as high as me, I know I still have a long ways to go.
  • PRO
    5 years ago

    If you were to have the whole side yard be a bed, then you'd probably want a stepping stone path through its center for ease of access to the overall space. Where I've made a bed at its perimeter is where you'd likely put taller material. At the central area & surrounding the path is where you'd place lower height material. (That rule being only as hard and fast as you want to make it.


  • 5 years ago
    Thank you that's very helpful in able to visualize everything. Would it be best to clear everything out, level, add grass and pavers to the first are and then come back or have a complete landscape plan befor I start the grass and walkway portion?
  • 5 years ago
    Also I should probably add pictures of the grass portion to the right side of the house as that's already been added and was done about 2 weeks ago. I know in your drawing you mimicked both sides to be the same so I am unsure if I should mimic the left side to be the same as the right even if it is different in your drawing.
  • 5 years ago

    You always want to start with a plan first. Once you have a firm sense of the design in place, then you start with implementation: 1) clear out, 2) any grading or leveling, 3) hardscaping and any utility installation, 4) planting bed development, 5) planting of trees, shrubs, perennials, etc. 6) lawn. Seeding or sodding a lawn is always the last step as the actions of installing a new landscape can chew up and damage an already existing lawn and can completely destroy a newly seeded or sodded lawn.

    My suggestion would be to hire a designer (a nominal investment) to help you formulate a workable plan with appropriate plant selection and do as much of the actual installation work you can as time and budget permits.

  • 5 years ago
    Thanks gardengal. How much would you say a landscape designer runs for just the plan vs implementation of the plan?
  • 5 years ago

    It will depend on the size of your garden and the complexity of the plan. For an average sized residential property in the greater Seattle area without excessive grading or hardscaping, anywhere from a couple hundred bucks to as much as a thousand or so.

  • PRO
    5 years ago

    I agree with Gardengal's suggestion to get all the planning done first. Then bite off as much of it as you wish, whenever you wish. General clean-up could occur while the planning is being done. The grade you don't actually want "level." It should be pitched to drain away from the house and then flow to where it can leave the property. (This is subtle o;n ground like yours.)

    Where you are asking about grass at the left and right side being the same or different, are you talking about front of house and asking about bed line configuration? I don't understand the question.

  • 5 years ago
    I agree with others recommending to hire- go another couple steps & hire a landscape architect. That was the best use of our $. We wanted detailed drawings & plant recommendations, plus help with purchasing the trees & shrubs at the wholesale nursery. I did all the digging & planting myself, saving probably $20k. We paid about $1800 for her excellent services. Our yard is quite small-4500sf total. Sounds expensive, I know. Worthwhile investment as we have a yard we LOVE and it’s easy to care for.

    You can get less detailed drawings for less $, it just depends on what you’re after.
  • 5 years ago

    You don't need a landscape architect. Unless there is a lot of structural or topographical work that needs to be done - and it doesn't appear to be so from what I can see - an experienced landscape designer will produce a perfectly acceptable and equally attractive landscape plan for you to follow and can provide all the same services Sarah outlined above. And at a lower cost :-)

    If you are having difficulties locating a designer in your area, feel free to message me directly. I have a pretty extensive network of fellow designers in the area I could refer you to.

  • 5 years ago
    last modified: 5 years ago

    With bronze birch borer having become highly prevalent in the Seattle area in later years and been known in Oregon before that the white Himalayan birch shown here is likely to become spoiled by this insect at some point. Otherwise full sized birch species such as Betula utilis tend to become too large and dominating over time for a small garden such as yours. With their thirsty roots forming a dense superficial network that often makes trying to maintain plantings beneath them a pain. (Weevils also seem to really go for susceptible plant species located beneath birches).

    >Pender Island<

    There are latter day commercial plantings in western Oregon also. But note, once again that there are no reported specimens of any significant vintage of this long lived and much planted tree - highly prevalent in parts of California for instance - in our region. Unless the warming of the local climate reported by Cliff Mass is or becomes significant enough that our winters become and remain Californian for an indefinite period the 10-20 degrees F. minimum temperature requirement repeatedly stated for various named forms of the species will remain inadequate for most sites this far north.

  • 5 years ago
    So I'm back and still mulling things over. After I last posted, I talked to some people in my family who do landscaping and then kind of sat on it. I want more of an English cottage feel garden so basically the advice I got was to have some curvature to my beds and since they space is small is to not choose too many plants (which is my problem) and do introduce some evergreens for year round interest.

    I've been looking through English gardening books and trying to take stock of the plants I really love and evergreens that might also work in the space.

    My question is....should every side have the same repeating plants? will it look busy or choatic if each side has different dominant plants? for example on the west side (by the retaining wall drive) I would like to put a bench as a place for the stones to lead too with tree peonies on each side (since they would be protected from afternoon sun (by fence). but then on the north side against the house, I was thinking of putting iceberg standard roses and lavender since it gets the most sun.

    the evergreens I was thinking if mixing in are spurge, boxwoods and euonymus. Or maybe possibly Japanese Holly if height is needed?
  • 5 years ago
    We also have a privet tree and Olive tree in ceramic pots we could move in here or put in another section of the yard.
  • PRO
    5 years ago

    "My question is....should every side have the same repeating plants? will it look busy or chaotic if each side has different dominant plants?"


    English cottage garden as a style is automatically going to be some degree busier looking than a standard landscape style. But if that appeals to you, it's going to be something you accept and just move forward with. As long as you follow some of the basic landscaping principles ...

    • Consider architectural features ... don't cover windows and don't hide beautiful features too much.
    • Tall plants at the back and short plants toward the front of bed (if the bed allows multiple rows.)
    • Have some consistency of pattern (this may include everything being different within the pattern itself.)

    I don't think you necessarily need two plants to be the same if a major goal of yours is ultra variety. It's a question of math ... dividing the number of plants into the space allotted. This does not appeal to everyone because it's a busier look and requires considerably more effort to maintain. But it's not a WRONG look if that's what suits your personality and goals. While it doesn't appeal to most people, it is satisfying to those who love plants.

    The suggestion of using some evergreens is so the house doesn't look naked and uninteresting during the winter months. But interest can also be had with dried foliage and/or flowers, fruits and berries, twigginess and branching structure, etc. Each is valid in its own right.

    I think it doesn't matter necessarily if plants at different sides of the house match, and is more important whether an overall style flows. (Matching is usually an easy way of making sure this happens.) If each "side" (of the house) were out of sight of the other, they could have different styles (as rooms in a large house might.) It depends to a large degree on how much one sees from available viewpoints.

    You might consider creating more uniformity in the bed area that would be thought of as the "foundation" bed (within 6' of the house.) And then allow more variety at all other spaces of the garden.

    Where the stepping stone path goes to a bench, that path is either need to be much wider (4' min.) or it will need to be flanked each side with a "lawn"-like planting of at least 2 or 3 feet width. It's not going to seem comfortable walking on a narrow stepping stone path if any tall plants are immediately next to it.


  • 5 years ago

    Here is a slightly updated plan along with some more questions. I keep going back and forth on whether I would be happier with a cottage garden or something that is a little bit more pulled back and structured. And ideally I think something a little more structured will appeal to me long term.

    So I have been trying to think of the plants I really want in a similar color scheme that I can do mass plantings of. Color scheme is white and blue-purple range.

    I put a bench at the end and a 6 fit paver path leading up to it. The 4 smaller circles flanking it are Pope John Paul tree roses.

    i thought if I drew in every plant it would get confusing so I figured I'd writ it out. I was thinking of putting smaller tree peonies flanking the bench (afternoon shade coverage). On the north side I was thinking of doing one smaller evergreen between each tree rose and layering in Salvia and lavender and possibly allium or delphinums against the house wall. On the opposite side (south) I would use repeating plants (lavender, salvia, delphinums, foxgloves)

    towards the front of the house, I plan of using hydrangeas, Daphne and hellebores.

    My questions....

    How would you do the grass border on the East and South sides of this house?

    Any tree recommendations for that "dot" with the question mark in the front? currently there is a butterfly bush there we will remove. There is a service berry tree flanking the other side of the house (not pictured). we were considering a smaller sized Acer (10-15 ft) that had chartreuse coloring but I'm not sure if it will go with the rest of the garden. We would like something more airy vs compact.

    Any other tips welcome or critiques.

    Note:scale of drawing is 1foot=2 squares

  • 5 years ago

    " On the north side I was thinking of doing one smaller evergreen between each tree rose and layering in Salvia and lavender and possibly allium or delphinums against the house wall. "

    Roses, salvia and lavender are full sun plants - especially here in the PNW where summer sun is never very strong anyway - so doubt they would be very happy along the north side of the house.

  • 5 years ago
    sorry maybe I should clarify since the above drawing is just of the SOUTH section of my yard. I was just trying to label W,N,E and S in the above drawing. I should have said right side of my picture vs North side. This is full sun area and these plants would be positioned on the south side of my house.

    The true north side of my house has shade appropriate plants (camellias, hostas, sweet box and ferns)
  • PRO
    5 years ago

    As you're doing, it's good to keep the drawing simple and it WILL get confusing if you draw every plant. Draw the larger material (trees and individual shrubs) as individual circles with a dot for their center. For smaller plants, draw the outline of their group.

    A question jumps out about siting the garden bench immediately in front of the drop-off. As one stands in the zone approaching it, it may appear less desirable not to have the garden plant border continue behind it as a backdrop.

    If I was designing this space, I think I'd look first at the foundation planting space for the house, asking what shapes, forms and sizes of plants make sense for it with the house as the backdrop. After getting a sense for that on its own, I'd explore how plants opposite the foundation bed (at the yard perimeter) could coordinate with them in order to create a sensible "room" of the yard.

    If grass is to be the primary path leading to the bench area, its shape will be formed primarily by consolidating and formalizing (as opposed to "anything goes") what space is left over after the surrounding beds are developed, into some cohesive artistic shape.

    I wonder if the left, front foundation bed (where you have the question mark) is asking for a small tree. It seems like the birch may be already fulfilling this purpose. Window placement may not be suggesting a tree so close to the house. (We don't really have a great picture that shows the overall front as one would see it while standing on site.)

  • 5 years ago
    Thanks! I like your suggestions of moving the bench further to have some garden behind and I have to agree that maybe the front of the house does not need another tree. if I didn't add a tree, would hydrangeas, hellebores and Daphne be enough or would you suggest adding something with more height?

    The foundational planting on the south side of the house makes sense. We currently have a privet tree (topiary) sitting there in a pot and I do like the shape of it against the south side of the house so that's why I was considering a sequence in a similar shape.

    Just wanted to add, we are unsure where that privet tree will eventually go, it is just there for the time being (free from the nursery down the block).
  • PRO
    5 years ago

    I have a hunch that you might not think things are going to get as big as they are. But in time, they will. Following, I did a rough layout of how one might typically arrange an area such as left of house.

    The numbers correspond with:

    1. at chimney (left of this and unnumbered is background that I had to scrub out.)
    2. at left house corner
    3. in front of house, below windows
    4. flanking left of steps

    (I didn't show groundcover connecting the front of plants, which one might do. Or, they might break it up into low height perennials. For now, I'm ignoring it and presuming one of those two things would be done in a future step.) If you're trying to use plants to enhance the house, you're probably not going to want to cover up important features, such as the front windows. It is not that much space! You could take any one of those single plant positions and subdivide it, using two plants instead of only one as I'm showing, but you would need smaller plants in order to accommodate more variety. This is a double edged sword because proportionate to using a great number of smaller things comes a busier, artistically weaker look. It'll come down to a balancing act between using landscaping to enhance the house, vs. having your garden compete with it. To use a non plant example, consider that a couch will seat the the same number of people as will 3 chairs, but most likely, a couch will look superior to three chairs in front of a wall space that would fit either.

    I can't see how there's room to add a small tree without creating a conflict with the house or with the birch.

  • 5 years ago
    ok that makes sense. I'll let you know my original plan for each of your above numbered spots.

    2-little lime hydrangea
    3- let's dance diva hydrangea
    4-daphne

    I'm wondering if I should rethink this plan. I already have one Let's dance diva flanking the other side of the front of the door and I like it but I know it won't get as tall as what you drew in (maybe up to 3-4ft).

    I don't mind transplanting previous plants since we have so many areas that are missing any type of plants.

    I should also retake some pictures and do a drawing of the other side of the yard. Since I originally posted we have added a driveway and we have decided on plantings to flank both sides of the drive. I assume it's relevant to other sides of the garden but maybe it isn't?
  • PRO
    5 years ago

    "... I know it won't get as tall as what you drew in ..." What I drew was a rough scheme, not a plan, so you shouldn't take it too literally, but as a guide of relative proportions.

    I think most people would want the front shrub (position #3 in the sketch) to be evergreen so as to carry the house through the winter. I'm not hard and fast on that as some deciduous can provide a lot of winter interest, too -- dried hydrangea flowers being one of those. I don't think I'd also want the next plant (#2, which wraps the house corner) to also be hydrangea. It would be too much similarity, making it harder for either to make a distinctive statement for its particular position. If it was me, I'd let #2 be a perennial, especially a long blooming or colorful foliage one if you can find such a thing.

    "I'm wondering if I should rethink this plan." There is a much greater chance of the answer being, "Yes," if one focuses too much, too early, on smaller details and aspects of the project. (A love of plants is one of the common early distractions!) It is best to start by looking at the big picture and taking stock of one's goals and objectives, which should be recorded on paper. Before thinking any more about plants, it would be good to have final resolution on the bed line, bench placement, any path or paved area for the bench. The bed line for the foundation planting seems to be resolved, but it seems there is not yet a commitment for the perimeter planting bed.

    If you take new pictures, please do it in the standard format of taking a complete, whole scene with the camera remaining stationary for the entire scene. These directions are for capturing the foundation planting area. It merely pivots but does not change location. The front face of the house would be one scene and the left side of the house would be another separate scene. Each scene is taken by lining the camera up with the center of the scene. (For the front house face, it would be lined up with the front door. For the side scene, the camera would be lined up halfway between the front yard corner and the basement driveway corner. Usually, the camera distance from the house needs to be positioned about at the city sidewalk or the curb, depending on how far that is from the house. Since your yard is shallow, it's probably the curb. Once the camera is at the correct position, takes a panning series of slightly overlapping shots, shooting from far left to far right capturing all portions of the yard that can be seen from that spot if one were just standing there looking with their eyes and not the camera.

    After that, it is usually best to walk across the street and take another distant shot that captures the whole yard (relevant portion) in a single picture so we can see what it looks like from the neighbors' point of view.

  • 5 years ago

    I will try and take some more pictures today in the manner you describe.

    There are currently perimeter plants but they are all flowering perrenials that I do like but they are lacking substance. I am also unsure how they will look this coming spring/summer as we were not living here during construction this last summer and it was a very hot and dry summer.

    I did a rough colored circle to indicate what is currently there. I would like to work with the current plantings as much as possible.

    green-honeysuckle
    blue-hollyhocks and delphinums
    red-3 roses (2 pink, 1 yellow)
    purple-irises
    orange-daisy (will remove)
    pink-peonies
    clematis

    I will put some more though into the front of the house and think of a good long time bloomer for #2 spot, seems like a repeat blooming hydrangea would be a good choice but then I would need to rethink another plant for next to the stairs.

    I was considering putting in an order for spring roses now, would this be premature?

  • 5 years ago

    Here are some pics of the other side of the house. I stayed in the same spot so hopefully this sequence is correct. I also took one from across the street but the street bank has some very large trees planted there (2 hornbeans and an empress on the Eastside and 2 cherry blossom trees on the south side). We are going to try to get a permit from the city to at least remove the empress tree and possibly the Hornbeans.

  • 5 years ago

    more pics...plus plan for each side of driveway. North side of I want to do just mass planting of hydrangea (Annabelle). The overlapping tree in the corner is a lilac. To the south of the drive we want to do a line of boxwoods with a small gate. We are adding the gate/boxwoods for safety since we have three small kids and wanted some separation from the drive and swinging fence gate into the drive ( we will be replacing the fence in the next couple months).

  • PRO
    5 years ago

    The pictures are correctly taken. Helps a lot in showing what is there.

    The birch seems limbed up well for its size and placement relative to the house. The two smaller trees very close to the house face need to be removed. They are too close and don't do the least to enhance the appearance of the house. If they remained, they'd become maintenance problems. Other trees in the yard seem like they need quite a bit of work or will continue to be overwhelming to the overall scene. The house needs a tree off of the right corner. It could be a larger tree like the birch and that sort of distance away. Or it could be a smaller tree, closer in, proportionate to its size. I would consider it an important piece of the landscape on account of what it could do for the house, and beds in the yard would be subordinate to it, rather than it subordinate to them.

    By the shape of the bed adjacent to the drive, you're committed to hemming the drive in with a garden of plants. It's fine to go ahead and do this and enjoy it for what you can get out of it, but ultimately, I think completely enclosing the drive will prove to be a mistake, and it will seem confining as plants grow and you actually use the drive. I would have enlarged/widened the bed near the entrance of drive and then cut off its length shorter, equaling the same number of square footage for gardening fun. However, I'd work out the tree placement before doing any adjustment. That's what I would do. Go with the garden as you have it and change it later if you think my point is valid. The bed line is not that hard to change (so long as there's no permanent edging installed.) Here's an example of one way it could be done. I'd also widen the foundation bed alongside the house. The existing one is too shallow for a foundation bed. Sacrifice bed at the shed or lawn, if necessary.




  • 5 years ago
    I really like what you did with adding the tree there. in your post you mention the other trees need work (which I agree) are you referring to the one in the back?

    And I understand what you are saying about cutting off the drive from the rest of the yard BUT as much as I love a beautiful garden our #1 importance is child safety and we would like some boundary (unfortunately we have heard some horrible circumstances). in a few years we can ways remove them once our children are older.

    I'm still thinking about the front yard garden placement and what I would want those three foundational plantings to be.

    But another question, how far off the fenceline would you position that bench in the south side of the yard? What type of plants would you grow behind? I was thinking climbers (clematis, jasmine, etc) or should I give room for another type of plantings?
  • 5 years ago
    Just wanted to do a little update and say I put an order in for my rose trees. We are also working with an arborist to get a permit to remove the empress tree on the planting strip and possibily one of the other trees that slightly blocks our drive. We are still contemplating doing a birch in the drawing yardvark did but I think it will depend on what happens with the planting strip trees, we also may want to replace those and it might be too many trees.

    I haven't shown you the backyard (and you thought the front was bad) but we are also having some tree care down there too. We have a Camilla tree, a dead Holly tree, two Chestnut trees, two persimmon bushes and an unknown tree in a very small space. We are going to remove the dead Holly and the unknown tree (close to the house) and possibly the persimmons and prune the rest.

    We are also at the beginning stages of doing our hardscape planning but are planning on doing stamped and dyed poured concrete. for backyard "dining area".

    Lastly, I have been giving the front of the house plantings some thought. I'm now thinking...

    2-little lime hydrangea
    3- Mexican orange blossom (for evergreen)
    4- let's dance diva hydrangea (light purple in my soil)

    I'd probably add in some smaller hellebores in the front as well.

    repeat on other side (but the #2 plant would have to be different since it would be shaded on that side)
  • PRO
    5 years ago

    "We are also at the beginning stages of doing our hardscape planning but are planning on doing stamped and dyed poured concrete. for backyard "dining area"."

    If you're going to DIY the planning for this and will use the forum for feedback, I'd suggest bringing the project here at the beginning of the concept development stage. (Create a new thread for it.) Include a sequential, wide photo-spread, as taken from the center of patio area nearest house, and a wide photo-spread taken from the center of the yard looking back at house. (In other words, we should see a view of the yard as looking outward from the patio, and a view of the patio from the yard as looking inward toward it. You'd also include a statement of your objectives and particulars about the patio.