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judyolp

Landscaping and exterior suggestions on this 1965 New England home?

Judy
4 months ago
last modified: 4 months ago

Hello! We recently purchased our first home in New England - Zone 6b. The house was built in 1965. Structurally, it's in pretty good shape, but it hasn't had much upkeep in the last couple of decades. I'm viewing it as a fixer upper and we'll probably take a few months to live in it before making major changes to the interior. This will likely be our forever home, so I'm willing to invest in making it look and feel nice.

I'd like to start with the exterior. There's no HOA so we have a lot of freedom in what we do. We're getting the roof inspected and will be fixing the wood siding, which has a lot of cracking and woodpecker damage. The siding is half-brick and half-wood on the facade and just wood on the other sides of the house with some brick accents. I'm fine with the existing siding and colors, but am open to change. We’ll probably remove the shutters and then repaint the wood. The soil is very poor and rocky, and the front yard consists mostly of a huge lawn. There's not much landscaping currently besides some large trees and scrabbly bushes.

Here is the front of the house:



The house is on a corner lot. The driveway is on the left side of the house and leads to a side-entry garage. One of the first things I'd like to do is add a semi-circular driveway across the front for guests using the front door. The right side of the house faces the road. The front road is a major one, so I was thinking of planting a border of cypress-type evergreens for privacy. The house is on a small hill, so the lawns in front and on the right slope downward slightly from the house.

Here is the right side:



Are there any hardy and unfinicky plants that you'd suggest for someone who is new to gardening and landscaping? I love flowers and trellises and would love to include some by the porch, but I'm not sure how realistic that would be, given the poor soil. My style is usually clean and minimalistic, which is what I think I want in the front, but I'm also dreaming of a rose garden or maybe a wild English garden with different flowers blooming each month on the right side of the house! Eventually I'd also like to start a vegetable garden, but might start with some small planters first.

I also want to make the porch more friendly and cozy:





I'd love to hear any suggestions and gardening tips you have!

Comments (56)

  • cecily 7A
    4 months ago

    Closer to the home... got deer? My experience in CT and NJ involved ravenous deer herds that ate things deer aren't normally expected to eat. Hopefully your new home isn't plagued by large herds of starving deer;) and your plantings won't be determined by deer resistance.

    Judy thanked cecily 7A
  • housegal200
    4 months ago
    last modified: 4 months ago

    A large, mulched island with your tree in the middle would give you something beautiful to look at and provide screening as well with a mix of shade loving shrubs of different heights, colors, and textures, maybe some grasses, flowering perennials, groundcover. Oh, you could center the island within your circular driveway. If you use a gray stone paver driveway you could get the feeling of a patio extending from gray cement porch and gray slate walkway. This all takes professional design planning.

    Whole Home Garden Design and Installation; large trees, flowers, shrubs in beds · More Info



    12110 42nd Dr SE ~ Everett, WA · More Info


    Go to a small garden center for design advice about appropriate plantings for your zone, light, deer, and water condtions.

    You didn't ask, but I might as well be the first to suggest that you could streamline the look of your façade by removing those bitty shutters on the second story.

    Colorful quality porch furniture--some great rockers and a couple wood tables would be very inviting on your large porch.

    Judy thanked housegal200
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  • Judy
    Original Author
    4 months ago

    Cecily - I've seen what appear to be deer tracks all over the property! I grew up in an area that didn't have deer, and it's been challenging to shift my mindset from "aw, cute baby deer" to "deer are pests," ha!

  • Judy
    Original Author
    4 months ago

    housegal - Thank you so much! I love the idea of those islands with different plantings. Regarding the shutters - yes, I'm not a fan either. It seems that everyone here has a lot of shutters, whether they fit the windows or not! Love the idea of colorful furniture, too! I've seen a lot of mosquitos around the front porch, so I'd love to figure out a way to manage those so we can spend more time outside.


    It took me a while to get over the fact that the windows are asymmetric and the two stories do not align. Do you have any suggestions for how to make the house look more intentional and charming instead of "someone measured this wrong?"

  • houssaon
    4 months ago

    Deer have become more and more of a problem in recent years. Before five years ago, I never saw a deer near my property. Now they are here almost every week. They even take a nap under my hemlocks.

    Hostas top the list of plants that enjoy. They low yews and strip them of their needles. They don't like daffodils and this fall I am going to blanket my property with new bulbs. I understand they also don't like marigolds, so I bought two flats to sprinkle around. I used stakes and small fences to keep them off my Hostas last year, but what a pain.

    Judy thanked houssaon
  • cecily 7A
    4 months ago

    Rutgers compiled a list of deer resistant plants (njaes.rutgers.edu) which your landscaper should be familiar with but double check your new landscape plan to be on the safe side. In your initial post you mentioned a veggie garden - that's going to be an issue for you. Deer adore veggie gardens and it takes eight foot deer fencing to keep them out. Yes, eight feet tall.

    Your current foundation shrubs are underwhelming and helpful forum members will likely encourage you to remove & replace them ("rip them all out" must be a popular phrase on HGTV because it's repeated frequently here). Under the bay window on the right side is a venerable gnarly old rhodie which I think is cool. Please grant clemency to that rhodie.

    Since this is a new to you property, please contact Miss Utility to get the lines marked before you delve too far into landscape planning.

    Judy thanked cecily 7A
  • Judy
    Original Author
    4 months ago

    houssaon - That does sound like a pain! Daffodils and marigolds will be so pretty!

  • Judy
    Original Author
    4 months ago

    Cecily - great eye! Is rhodie the same thing as rhododendron? I'm not a big HGTV watcher, but I always feel rather sorry for old plants that get ripped up. Perhaps I should wait until the weather gets warmer to determine what is still in good shape and should remain? Good tip on utility lines...


    For the vegetable garden, I was thinking of a small amount of container plants on the deck in the backyard to start. Hopefully that will also be too difficult for deer to get to! When I feel more confident about my growing skills, I'd love to have a small greenhouse eventually.

  • Judy
    Original Author
    4 months ago
    last modified: 4 months ago

    housegal mentioned removing the small shutters on the second story. The current windows will need to be replaced for energy efficiency and because they are letting in some water. What do you think about this mockup with no shutters and black window frames instead of the original white? Would the black be too modern or jarring stylistically?

    Original:


    No shutters, black window frames:


    I'll be replacing the white shades on the first floor once we take stock of what else needs to be fixed inside.


    Also, I've seen some amazing mockups on Houzz - if you have any suggestions of a tool or software that people like to use, please let me know!

  • cecily 7A
    4 months ago

    In your first photo, the two evergreens flanking the front door and the bendy evergreen on the right corner all need to die. Pruning won't save them, they gotta go. The rhodie/rhododendron is quirky and functions as a small tree against a blank wall so it should stay.

    My tomatoes and peppers grow in pots on the raised deck. Other veggies from the farmer's market are fine but I need homegrown tomatoes and peppers LOL.

    Judy thanked cecily 7A
  • nickel_kg
    4 months ago
    last modified: 4 months ago

    ... forever home ... rocky poor soil ...dreaming of a rose garden or maybe a wild English garden with different flowers blooming each month ...

    Order catalogs from Wayside Gardens and from White Flower Farm. Inspiration and good growing advice, even if you end up buying locally. When you're ready, don't skimp on soil preparation for flower and perennial beds -- dig deep, incorporate organic matter. Trees and shrubs are a different matter -- generally they need to thrive in whatever soil you have, so don't over-dig or over-amend for them. Don't be afraid to give a plant a try. You're going to be there many seasons and if it doesn't work out, try something else next year.

    Do you have electric outlets near sitting areas? A good fan will discourage mosquitoes.

    Judy thanked nickel_kg
  • jodifina
    4 months ago

    If you like a more modern current look, you could remove shutters, frame the windows in black like your mock up shows and paint (or side) the house light grey and paint brick the same shade. I would then plant boxwoods and hollies in f ont of house- a line of boxwoods in front of porch that stay low just slightly higher than the floor of the porch. then on either side of the porch plant a few dwarf style rhodis, hollies, and more boxwood to make a layered effect. You can add in color and texture with annuals or ornamental grasses. would look great and low maintenance. Keep in mind with circular driveway when guests are over and a car or two parked in front of house makes the house look "ugly" bc all you see is cars. Ex one guest pulls up and parks, the next guest only sees the car not your house and plantings etc. Also is more work to snowblow. I would add a paver or slate type walkway from porch to driveway. You can line that with plants as well such as littel boxwoods that you prune back to keep small, or even hosta the variegated kind with the white on the leaf looks great. you can also add intermitent flowers between or in front for more color. Another thing that would look really pretty is to plant a pink flowering tree (flowers in spring then light green leaves in summer fall) to left of the porch in front of the side of the garage and plant the other things i suggested around it. The height would match the other roof in time and disguise the two different levels.

    Good luck how exciting!

    Judy thanked jodifina
  • Barbara C zone 5b near KC - Eco Region 47f
    4 months ago

    I've seen a lot of mosquitos around the front porch, so I'd love to figure out a way to manage those so we can spend more time outside.

    I agree with nickel_kg a fan is the best deterrent for mosquitos. if you don't have an outlet you might be able to install a ceiing fan.

    Judy thanked Barbara C zone 5b near KC - Eco Region 47f
  • housegal200
    4 months ago

    Do get someone at a garden center to help you design the right landscaping that takes into account soil, light conditions, deer.

    Now that I saw jodifina's suggestion, yes, a wide paver walkway from your current driveway right to porch steps would give you an almost patio feel to the front and connect to your porch without cars being there.

    Here are some color combos for brick and siding. Color choices depend on the brick colors.




    Judy thanked housegal200
  • Judy
    Original Author
    4 months ago

    Cecily - Just curious, why do you think those evergreens you mentioned should go?


    Also, what kind of containers do you use for your vegetables?

  • Judy
    Original Author
    4 months ago

    nickel - All of this is such great advice! I just checked out Wayside Garden and it looks wonderful! I seem more sensitive to mosquitoes than most, so I'll look into how I can hook up an outlet to the outside of the house for a fan.


    "Don't be afraid to give a plant a try. You're going to be there many seasons and if it doesn't work out, try something else next year." - Thank you for the encouragement!

  • cecily 7A
    4 months ago
    last modified: 4 months ago

    Those evergreens are both too close to the house and not aesthetically pleasing. The deer may be pruning them for you.

    Our peppers are in two gallon pots and our tomatoes are in five gallon pots. I water them daily from May-September.

    Judy thanked cecily 7A
  • Judy
    Original Author
    4 months ago

    jodifina and housegal - We've been debating whether to paint the brick! Perhaps a mineral paint as I've seen other Houzzers suggest? I'd love an off-white or light gray, but I'm worried that there will still be an obvious differene in texture between the wood and the brick. I think the black windows will make much more sense with painted brick, though. I haven't seen too many examples of red brick like mine with non-white windows. I wonder if anyone has ever regretted painting their brick? Mine seems to be in okay condition and I don't mind the color.


    That's an excellent point about seeing only the cars on a circular driveway if there are guests over. I like those pavers that you both suggested! I have to admit I'm not in love with those color combinations in the photos with painted siding and brick, but that may be because I've stared at my white siding for too long, ha!


    I wonder why half-brick half-siding was so popular in the 1960s and 70s? I've seen a lot of discussions on Houzz where people are trying to update them!

  • Judy
    Original Author
    4 months ago

    Barbara - Thank you! Maybe a ceiling fan is the way to go! Would a fan generally be left on all the time to deter mosquitos? Or would you turn them on just before the space is used?

  • housegal200
    4 months ago

    @judy: I'm a never-paint-the brick-er. The brick gives your house texture and contrast. Thing is, the white siding is too much contrast. Start an Ideabook and do a Houzz or Pinterest search for "brick and siding split level" to see some examples that look good. If you do plant a lawn "island," include some dark red shrubs to link to the brick. This kind of color connection extends the view of the house. I don't care for light red mulch at all, but a reddish dark brown mulch would also harmonize with the red brick. Gray pavers walkway will harmonize with the porach. Get a small garden center to work up a plan for foundation plants, lawn island, and suggest how to do a great looking walkway.

    Judy thanked housegal200
  • mad_gallica (z5 Eastern NY)
    4 months ago
    last modified: 4 months ago

    If this is going to be a forever home, it isn't unreasonable to take a year or more just to see things like sun and shade patterns, how heavy the deer pressure is seasonally, what plants appear when, etc.

    The white siding isn't doing the brick any favors. I can't really see the color of the brick to recommend a color. Don't paint the brick. The problem with that is brick and siding have very different textures, and reflect low angled light very differently. So even if they are painted the same color, they will look mismatched.

    In many places in New England, decks aren't used often because of the mosquitoes. Screened porches tend to be a lot more useful.

    You may also want to post this in the New England forum.

    Judy thanked mad_gallica (z5 Eastern NY)
  • Judy
    Original Author
    4 months ago

    Cecily - Ha, indeed the deer may be pruning them!

  • Judy
    Original Author
    4 months ago

    housegal and mad gallica - Thanks for the suggestions on the brick! It's mostly red. I'll post a couple of closeups.

  • Judy
    Original Author
    4 months ago

    The brick:





  • Judy
    Original Author
    4 months ago

    mad gallica - That's a great suggestion about living in the house for a while to see how the seasons come and go. I do want to start with something pretty, so I think I might try some low-investment things first, like some flowers that will be visible from the windows and the container vegetables. I think I'll look for some mosquito-deterrent plants, too!


    I'll definitely post in the New England forum - thank you!

  • housegal200
    4 months ago
    last modified: 4 months ago

    A lighter shade of your roof color would look more cohesive because there would be less contrast between roof and siding. Here's an example:



  • Indigo Rose
    4 months ago

    I think it can be often nicer to honor a home's heritage, so to speak, than to 'modernize' it. I like the white siding contrasted with the brick. But the black around the windows looks like eyeliner around eyes, a look I find particularly ...unappealing. But your tastes may differ. Congratulations on your home purchase!

  • mkse
    4 months ago

    I lime-washed our brick about 3 years ago and have not regretted it at all. It looks as good as the day I finished it. Lime-wash is different than painting and you have a window of time to spray it away with water if you don’t like the look. You can apply it and then spray away some of it to expose some of the brick, but I covered my brick completely. It cures to a really hard surface—does not chip away like paint. It really updated the look of my house.

  • Marie
    4 months ago

    I would replace siding with white board and batten and paint brick white to match. Then remove shutters, add new black frame mullion windows, or paint existing ones black and finally build a gable peak roof on the overhang over the front door so that there is a focal point. I would replace the front door with double brown wooden farmhouse style doors. I would live in the house for a year to see how the light falls etc and then decide on the landscaping. I read lots of great ideas above.

  • Mary Wiggenhorn
    4 months ago

    I was told to wait a year before any major landscaping. With my first house, I was so glad I did because it was overgrown and really shabby but was hiding banks of scilla and daffodils, the "weeds" out back were raspberries, etc. My second house had a scrubby tree that turned out to be a peach tree that had grown from a pit, more raspberries, and the awful looking shrubs were a bunch of different peonies and a heritage rose. Wait and see what surprises may come. I've never had to contend with deer but I know they're a terrible problem most places so I would be extremely cautious in that regard.

  • aniluap2
    4 months ago

    I am a horticulturist and wanted to weigh in with some advice from my experience. Mary Wiggenhorn is right, you should wait and see what comes up the first year and maybe start tackling the garden in the fall. You can send soil samples to the state agricultural extension for testing to determine how to amend your planting areas. It will save you money in the long run and much frustration if you get a professional plan for your entire property layout. They can advise on the right plants for each location and come up with creative solutions for areas of concern. You can then tackle the landscape in stages as budget allows.
    By the way, there are many cypress cultivars and Leyland cypress is just one of the many. If you hire a professional they can advise you on the varieties of evergreens and which are most deer resistant. It looks like you may have 2 yews in the front that have been pruned on the bottom portion by deer. The shrubs in the front may be able to be rejuvenated if left to grow out and are pruned effectively. They have been cut into balls obscuring their natural shape. There also seem to be some bluestone pavers in a tired pathway that could be reused in a more prominent feature.

    I would paint the brick on your house because if the entire house was one color the second floor would not appear so squat. Right now the second floor looks proportionally much smaller than the ground floor. I think you have lots of potential with your home and property but take it slowly and make educated choices.

  • Donna Collins
    4 months ago
    last modified: 4 months ago

    I would definitely agree with those who recommend that you give your property a year to see if there are plants worth saving and also to study where the light is at different times of day, what parts of the yard tend to stay moist, etc. Hopefully you will find some happy surprises. Make sure to document them! During that time, get familiar with your local area. What plants are growing successfully at other houses? Which local nurseries have the most knowledgeable and friendly people? Are there public gardens you can visit for ideas? That should tell you what works in your soil and stands up to deer, rabbits, and whatever other critters live alongside you. On an economic note, it will also give you an idea what local water costs are (assuming a municipal water system rather than a well) and how much rain to expect. Watering a large lawn like yours can be very costly, but a garden full of water-hungry plants is also cost and maintenance intensive. There are plenty of plants that are beautiful, require less supplemental water, and already adapted to your area. It's worth seeking those out.

    I'm one of those people who seems to be wearing a "free meal" sign that only mosquitos can see, so I sympathize with your bug problems. Do you live very close to a pond or lake? If that's the case, there's probably not much you can do to keep the mosquitos from breeding and you're stuck just trying to manage them in your space. If not, I'd have a good look around the property for sources of mosquitos. They can breed in very little water as long as it's still. Maybe your rain gutters have standing water, or someone has left a partially full bucket, some old tires... almost anything that would hold water. The other possibility is that you have a low, boggy area somewhere on the property. You could either take steps to dry that up or embrace it and make a wildlife pond that encourages local frogs and mosquito-loving birds and insects to come in and keep your mosquito problems to a minimum. Add some sort of moving water (fountain, rill, or whatever) to keep the pond from sitting stagnant and any mosquito larvae will have a very hard time growing to maturity. There are even mosquito-eating pond fish. Good luck!


    Last note - looking at the photo of your bay window area on the side of the house, it appears those two trees are far too close to your foundation. I would definitely recommend removing them.

  • libby_34
    4 months ago

    "It took me a while to get over the fact that the windows are asymmetric and the two stories do not align"


    Since the upstairs windows are in the siding portion, changing the size / placement is easier than if they were in the brick portion. Before buying new windows, this might be your chance to consider making them more symmetrical. Obviously the rooms they are located in will need to be considered :)

  • ej2000
    4 months ago

    Thoughts to ponder... although it's *your* house and you can do whatever you like. :-) If you love mid-century, by all means play that up. If you're looking for a more classic look, I suggest googling "prairie style homes" (think: Frank Lloyd Wright). Your home is low slung and very horizontal - exactly like a prairie style home in structure. They often also had half-brick or all-brick facades. Neither mid-century nor prairie style homes had shutters.


    For landscaping, taking your preferences (wild, but clean and minimalistic) and issues (thin, rocky soil), you may wish to consider a meadow style landscape. It's low maintenance and you can have it all green or add color, and it matches the style of your house. Yes, when you are ready and have figured out a style you want, please contact a landscaper. On a final note, I really liked your idea of having a driveway across the front. You have the space for it, and no one says you have to plow it in the winter. It can be a 3-season driveway.


    Good luck with your new house.

  • Ann Kruger
    4 months ago

    "The right side of the house faces the road. The front road is a major one..." I'm sure you would like some noise reduction as well as privacy. Instead of a row of evergreens, perhaps a more natural looking grove of them would help?

  • phoeberly
    4 months ago
    last modified: 4 months ago

    Dear Judy, I'm so impressed with the many helpful suggestions you have received here. I would like to add my 2 cents... my sister used to live on a busy road in Maine, yes, you would want something like the berm for both privacy and noise reduction, and the driveway would be a wonderful idea; extra parking and guests wouldn't have to back out onto a busy road. A ceiling fan will make all the difference on the porch, and no, you only need it when you are on the porch. I tried to do my own landscaping at our own new home (many years ago), thinking I would be saving money...absolutely the wrong thing to do. One project at a time, professionally done, will save you time, frustration, and lots of money. I did hire a landscape architect for a portion of my yard that was particularly difficult, and I also mentioned putting in a row of trees for privacy - arborvitae, which are common in PA, and I'll never forget her response....'we can do better than that". And what she put in WAS better than that, and in 25 years has never needed to be redone, has been almost maintenance free and has only gotten more beautiful over the years. (She also worked within our tight budget). Live in your house for a year, in the meantime, there is plenty to do: test your soil (cheap and easy - get a kit at your local county extension office), start a compost pile, watch which areas get 6 + hours of sun a day, which get little, anywhere you might have water pooling and breeding those pesky mosquitoes. Houzz has some great articles on growing vegetables in pots, or put in a small raised bed where you can drag a hose and that gets enough sun. Plant marigolds as an annual; pretty, non-stop bloomers that deter both mosquitoes and deer. Take out the 2 'trees' in front of the porch and also the one on the one on the front right corner, pressure wash, don't forget the steps to the front porch, and generally clean up and you will see better what you have, and what really needs to be done. Start making a list of plants that you might like to have in your future garden; I would suggest native trees and shrubs whenever possible; if there are local nurseries or, even better, public gardens you can visit to see what you like in a mature form...I highly recommend these 2 articles to start researching. https://www.nhhomemagazine.com/top-10-native-plants-for-the-northeast/ and https://ag.umass.edu/landscape/fact-sheets/north-american-plants-for-new-england-gardens

    Congratulations and best wishes on your new home!

  • jeanneallis
    4 months ago

    Replace siding with Hardie board siding. It’s cement based so woodpeckers can’t damage it.
    $25 hole for a $5 plant. Invest in improving your soil for the long term benefit. Have a plan and follow it as your budget works for you. Patience

  • Jacque Behrens
    4 months ago

    Seek out native plant nurseries - native plants will be more apt to flourish with less supplemental water than non-native species. You might also want to consider sedges (Carex is a genus of grass like plants that do well in so many situations) instead of turf grass if there are places that turf grass is not growing well. Agree that you should take your time - start with some of the trees and larger shrubs for privacy or near the house and then expand your garden beds out from there in subsequent years

  • Antwon
    3 months ago

    So first Congrats..it looks great. Now the first thing you might want to do is have an inspection done on your floor framing structure and foundation, exterior brick. because it is nothing more bad than buying a older home and start remodeling/renovations only to find out you have structural issues or weak framing areas you have to beef up..Find out rather your wall studs and floor joists are 16 O.C or 24 O.C are there any bows and dips in any interior wall. Go through every room with a framing square and check in the corners of every room with a framing square and see if they are 90 degree inside corners..just find out what you guys will be up aginst before you start any remods..because older homes can be a pain sometimes. Some things cant be straighten but you want to know what you are up aginst to know how to approach it.

  • gsmhdm
    3 months ago

    For New England, I'd suggest going with plantings that naturally do well in our cold, wet climate. Holly does very well and looks great year-round. Rhododendrons also do very well and can create privacy without looking like a wall. Boxwood will grow nicely although slowly. Forsythia and Burning Bush grow great even in poor soil if they get enough sun. They can provide some nice color. Azaleas also like the NE climate.


    I'd suggest staying away from Arborvitae as winter snows will collapse the plants leaving them deformed and ugly. Juniper shrubs will do OK and are relatively fast growing. There are also some other evergreens that particularly in dwarf varieties do well - take a look at Norway Spruce and also Nana for ground cover. Good luck.

  • Barbara Simoes
    3 months ago

    Please look into Permaculture / food forests or forest gardening. Plants and trees can provide beauty and function, and the idea is that you plant things that are perennial and will give you food. You could plant some evergreens that will give you pine nuts, some paw paw trees, persimmon trees and understory ones like Asian pears, serviceberries, figs and hazelnuts; bushes could be Cornelian cherries or bush cherries, blueberries or honey berries, currants; the list is endless. Even asparagus can be used, and it will resemble tall grasses. You could have rhubarb for their amazing color and leaf size, and strawberries as a ground cover...you could have a large pergola or arbor with kiwi or grapes...all of these plants are beautiful, many provide seasonal color and fragrance along with delicious fruit. I started a food forest last year, and along with what I had planted, I have well over 30 kinds of fruit that I'm growing and I plan to add more. I will have fresh fruit from May through November / December. I live in a zone 4-5 climate in Vermont. Watch a few videos by "Canadian Permaculture Legacy" to get the idea. It does not have to look like an orchard or vegetable garden, but instead, an integrated and verdant oasis of interesting plant shapes, heights and colors intermingled . Personally, I love raspberries, but I won't grow them because I don't want to deal with the canes which get unruly and are kind of labor intensive. All of my choices are tidy and low-maintenance. Right next to the sidewalk, for example, I have planted a 120' hedge of Regent serviceberries which will serve a number of purposes: all of the leaves from the neighborhood won't end up in my front yard, it will offer privacy in the summer but still be of a friendly height, it will feed the birds, act as a sound buffer for the constant traffic and will help with the dirt and dust that gets in the house from the highway. The hedge will explode in blossom in the spring; it will offer tons of food for me and it will offer fall color. Plants should provide more than a single purpose!

    With your upstairs windows, I was wondering if you could replace the existing ones with somewhat bigger/taller windows and add a second and third one on the left and right windows to help align with the downstairs and to let in more light.

  • Dennis Peterson
    3 months ago

    Having lived through the 1960’s and 70’s, I can input about the half-brick, half-wood siding facade popular at that time. Prior to that, all-masonry buildings were the standard of quality. The cost of an all-masonry home became too expensive, so partial brick facades were used to give a home a substantial, richer feeling. Also, I would advise, DON’T PAINT THE BRICK! You can research many articles written by experts of brick and stone about the I’ll advised trend of painting brick. It can result in moisture retention in the walls, mold, and peeling. Regarding siding and trim colors, charcoal grays or shades of sage green are nice possibilities. You can search online for examples.

  • Jinx
    3 months ago
    last modified: 3 months ago

    Great color suggestions here, I just want to say please don’t paint or limewash that wonderful brick. It has so much character and interest. It’s a beautiful mid-century home, and the brick is a very nice color. Don’t erase it. :)

    https://midmod-midwest.com/mid-century-brick/

    Landscaping will make such a difference — I’d consult with a local pro.

  • Margaret
    3 months ago

    Congratulations on your house!


    I agree with several others on not painting the brick. Brick is lovely - and it isn't meant to be painted (or lime washed). If it's painted it will eventually peel, and you will never get it's original natural color back. Paint the siding to a color to complement the brick. Siding was meant to be painted.


    Before you develop a landscape plan for a circular driveway, check with your local building department and make sure the additional curb cut is legal. New England towns often regulate curb cuts, so the lack of a HOA does not mean you can do anything you like. It means you can do *almost* anything you like :-).


    Traditional New England houses have screen porches. There is a reason for this :-). I grew up with a patio and we always went inside after sundown because of the mosquitos. My first house happened to have a screen porch, and what a revelation. After that I rejected house that didn't have a screen porch or an obvious place to create one.


    The "lousy" soil is probably acidic. Rhododendrons and azaleas will love it. If it's sandy mountain laurel will too. You can create a great deal of privacy and beautiful dramatic spring flowers with well place rhodos.

  • john topa
    3 months ago

    I like your idea on semi-circle driveway in the front. Perhaps you can lower the driveway a few feet and using the dirt to level the front and having a retaining wall placed in front of house but, in front of your semi circular driveway and having a few large step go from driveway towards the main entrance. Possibly paint all the brick the same as the wood, white. Including the brick under your wonderful window on the side. Personally, I'd get rid of the shutters on either side of that window. They serve no purpose. Some boxwood shrubs would be great along the front next to house and also, if built, the small wall that outlines some of the driveway. the space between the house and wall with driveway I'd leave open so you can still walk freely around your yard. It will give a feeling of an English garden. Without seeing the entire your property....perhaps draw people to the side where your road is and nice window by adding some seating on that side on an informal patio, such as flagstone or slate. then have large floor pots tossed around give that are a sense of closure. so it be easy to change out floors and will add color that pops out. Another suggestion...I've been seeing a lot of people dig out there basement windows and have a half semicircle aluminum retaining wall placed in front of the basement windows and the taken out dirt in order to lower and allow more light and in some situations, allow the basement be considered livable space because of safety of getting out in case of a fire. Just an idea...It's not expensive...just a concrete, masonry, circular saw blade. and cut the concrete inside and outside but only following the existing window. So no structural support has been touched. I've done a few. And all so surprised. And one person was able to include his basement rooms as livable bedrooms. Sorry just know that basements aren't considered part of the square footage but can be as long as there is proper access out of your home. Plus it brings in light and doesn't feel so claustrophobic.

  • Margaret Bannerman
    3 months ago

    The advice that Mary gave on your exterior is stunning. I second the look! I was going to suggest spending $950 (with $100 off for a Mother's Day sale) on Brick & Batten, a women owned exterior design firm that will draw a design, including landscape design for you that will look like a designer did it. Highly recommend. Cheaper than making mistakes over time.

  • decoenthusiaste
    3 months ago

    https://www.diynatural.com/mosquito-repelling-plants/

    https://www.gardendesign.com/plants/deer-resistant.html

    https://www.thespruce.com/deer-resistant-trees-4767426

    These are generic lists; see your local nursery or county extension office for the best ones where you live. Pot up the mosquito ones for the porch and deck. Citronella plants work well as do the candles or torches. As for the house itself, your windows look to be new and more contemporary in style than the porch posts and trim. Removal of the upstairs shutters and the arched trim up top of the porch would be pretty simple to do. The porch posts look more classical colonial with those grooves. You could clad them with something that gives a flat surface and adds a bit more visual heft for an instant update. The dentil molding is another item that you could do without for a more modern look like your windows have. New porch lights, or fans, will help immensely. The front door might work but would show up better if painted a lighter color so the details show up.

    I agree you should wait and see what plants do this spring/summer before a reno of the landscaping. If you want to keep your guests off the busy main road, consider a loop that enters and exits at the side road. Fill the center of the loop with an eye catching landscape that includes ornamental trees deer don't like.

  • terra nischik
    3 months ago

    I loved Marie's suggestion. Take a look at limewash vs. white paint for the red brick if you decide to go that route.

  • motherhuber
    3 months ago

    It is always best to live in a home for a year or so to determine the best plan forward. Deer resistant plantings sound like the best option if you are correct in the fact that they are prevalent in your area. I would suggest that if you want a circular drive then have it approach from the street to the side where your garage is and have a stone side walk to the front door from there.

    I used to live in a similar home and changed out the upstairs windows with double sash windows instead of sliders, and made them all the same size to have symmetry. Of course that required some interior work as well but totally worth the effort. Vertical board and batten siding in a grey you like would allow your red brick to shine. I also rehabbed a lawn by having a lot of manure spread and then turned into the soil, like farmers do before planting a crop. Had a bit of rock picking to do before grading properly but once the grass and gardens were in place it made a world of difference.