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Removed mustache landscaping, now what?

last year

I didn’t like how the landscaping looked like a droopy set of mustaches on both sides of the stairs, and how the two stripes of boxwoods pinched off the pathway to the front door. We took out the boxwoods on the left side, hoping this would open up the middle area and feel more like a broader curve of boxwoods leading to the front door. We also just had a retaining wall put in. But now I’m not sure how to shape the left side of the landscaping. Do I need to keep the same general shape of the old garden bed, so it matches the right side? Or can I make it narrower, just to the edge of the retaining wall, and go straight up along the stairs? Or should there be a shorter “wall” of plants on the outside edge of the retaining wall like on the right side? I don’t know how to tag, it I’m hoping Dig Doug’s Designs will weigh in!

Comments (104)

  • PRO
    last year

    Gardens are gorgeous! We have had River birch too and do love them. They gave us rapid privacy and were easy to maintain. They backdropped an elevated corner stone patio area and it was so enjoyable. Everything looks spectacular.

  • last year

    Thanks for all your advice and encouragement, Flo! I agree, the river birch are great as a background. The houses are all very close together in our neighborhood, so it adds some privacy and also blocks ugly views of the garbage cans in the alley.

    My next task is to figure out what to plant in these two raised garden beds by the sunroom patio. I tried some coleus and petunias, but they look pretty sad. It’s full shade, and we have chipmunks digging at least 10 holes a day. They pop up and dive down all day long like in cartoons. So smaller, more delicate flowers won’t work. There’s also a light in the center. Not sure if I easily move those and maybe plant something perennial and evergreen there? Or something low and trailing? Anyone have ideas for zone 4, full shade?

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  • last year
    last modified: last year

    My first thought was Hosta!!! There are over 6K varieties of hosta & that forum here is pretty busy! I have a bunch myself & love them. Not the bright colors you favor but many shades of blues, yellows, white & green. There are minis & giants. Then I thought they might take too long to wake up in spring & not sure about chipmunk damage. My second thought is Ferns. A tall fern in center surrounded by smaller ferns. So much texture & many shades of green. Cinnamon Fern is gorgeous - I had one in my last garden & it was over 3’ tall when we moved. Here’s a link to zone 4 ferns Zone 4 ferns Maybe tall ferns surrounded by mini hosta? Hosta does flower.

  • last year

    Ah, yes - the previous owners did hostas, but alas, they were all eaten by rabbits. Apparently, they’re so delicious that the rabbits don’t mind climbing up the steps to feast on hostas! They planted probably 20+ hostas, and there are only 3 left now. The weird thing is, my next door neighbor has a long row of hostas going up their steps, and the rabbits completely leave them alone. Maybe it’s the variety? Or our house has provided such a buffet that they don’t bother going to the neighbors. But I’ll take a look at the ferns; thanks for the suggestion!

  • PRO
    last year

    How about herbs. Rosemary can be in center and add various smaller things like sweet basil and thyme. The rosemary will fill beds eventually and is very hardy. Easy care once established too. You don’t really need color there. So might be a good option. Critters don’t like spiny things either!

  • PRO
    last year

    Sone ideas.

  • last year

    Though I like the idea of an herb garden - especially with that outdoor kitchen on patio - my experience is that most require a lot of sun. I’ve grown many of those in Flo’s list but always in sunny spots. Those darling little bunnies 😫. My neighbor has many plants with cages around them but they haven’t ventured into my yard yet.

  • last year

    Great ideas, Flo! Herbs will smell nice too. I’ll see which ones can grow in the shade. Also good idea about spiny things. I remember seeing some plants, I forget what they’re called, but they have fuzzy leaves. That might be icky for rabbits to eat.

  • last year

    I’ve been following along and your gardens are beautiful. Just want to mention that all of my hostas get ravaged by the bunnies, but this year I covered them with black netting that you can’t see from a distance. No more bunny damage and I get to enjoy my lovely hostas…

  • PRO
    last year

    Rosemary grows anywhere! That’s what I would use as central plant. Mints grow anywhere. Lots of options. If you use hot peppers those would make those critters take notice! Little copper name plates would add interest too. Very fun.

  • last year
    last modified: last year

    I just read that Astilbe has a bad taste for rabbits!! That fuzzy plant you’re thinking of - Lamb’s ears I bet. And, it also deters rabbits because it’s in the mint family. Apparantly they don’t care for after dinner mints! The taller astilbe would be lovely in those planters surrounded by Lambs ears. Both are spreaders so would be nicely contained in the planters. Another lower grower to include for contrast is Lungwort. Terrible name I know but it blooms in shade & has interesting speckled leaves & different color flowers - pinks, blues. Perennial too Here’s a link

    Lungwort

  • 12 months ago

    The pink hydrangea and roses planted last year are in full bloom! I added Miracid to a few of the pink hydrangeas, and you can already see it changing color. The little flowers in the center are turning blue and the petals are fuschia. I am excited to see how the blue and purple hydrangea that were just planted will look like next year.

    The climbing rose seems like it put all its energy into one stem - 25 blooms on a single stem! I read that you’re supposed to lay the stem parallel to the ground in the spring for more flowers - does anyone know if I can still do that in July, or is too late in the season for them to harden off for winter in MN?

  • 12 months ago

    Wow, just gorgeous!!!❤️❤️❤️

  • PRO
    12 months ago

    Amazing! You have the “hot pink” thumb!! Lol

  • 12 months ago

    Flo, you know I love pink and purple!

  • 12 months ago

    Any gardeners out there know if it’s ok to train roses in July by tipping over the main canes? Or is it too late in the season in MN?

  • 11 months ago

    Any gardeners know how late in summer you can start to train climbing roses?

  • 11 months ago

    Hi Little Bird - checking in. Your blooms are beyond fantastic & your neighbors must love you for creating this beautiful area that they can see & enjoy. I looked at your pics when you posted & pondered your apparent success of planting shade lovers - the hydrangeas with sun lovers - the roses. I’m amazed at the result you’re achieving! My suggestion is that you create a new post with these pictures & your questions under the rose forums. Be sure to provide your location so the weather situation is understood. If you can name the rose cultivar you have, more the better. I don’t have roses but I have read about that thing of tipping over main canes to generate many more blooms. Something about a branch laying flat & sending new growth straight up.

    On a personal note to you - I’m still going day to day with pup’s health issue. Her personality is still sparkling but eating is still a challenge. I do look for posts from my favorite friends so I’m reading & responding when I can and it’s a nice moment of calm for me.

  • 11 months ago

    KW, thank you for the update about your pup. It is so hard to see your pup struggling. The only advice I can give is to take lots of photos of her now, that you can look at forever.
    Thank you for the tip about posting on rose forums - I never thought to do that! I guess because people here seem to know everything! You’re right though, that you’re not supposed to be able to plant roses and hydrangeas together because of their different sun needs. I think it only works because of the weird sun coverage there - due to the position of nearby trees, it alternates in an out of sun every couple of hours. Just enough light for the roses, but enough afternoon shade for the hydrangeas. A miracle! The ones I planted in the back that are shady all day with searing afternoon sun, though, are not doing well. I don’t think any plants like that combo.
    My thoughts are with you and your pup, and also hoping your husband makes a full recovery too ❤️

  • 11 months ago

    Good Morning Little Bird! Your sun / shade coverage makes sense for how you’re able to acheive success with your combo. I’d add that info to your post too. I always hear roses need at least 6 hours of sun to succeed. Of course, that’s too much for hydrangeas.I follow a few of the old Garden Web discussion forums now found here on Houzz & the gardening folks regulars are a really nice bunch. Just like the decorating folks they want lots of info to provide good advice. If you look through all the topics, there may be one specifically for your geographic area in addition to the Roses forum. I follow the PNW & also the Hosta forums. I’ve learned lots from them.

    My husband is I think fully recovered. He still doesn’t remember the moment of falling & can only remember back to the point of realizing he was in an ambulance. I think that’s just fine! We are so lucky it wasn’t so much worse. And, we’re the last people one would have expected that to happen to. I guess that’s why these things are called accidents!

    Kathy

  • 11 months ago

    Little Bird your progress is very impressive! Just stunning. Would love to see a new picture of the whole yard from the street

  • 11 months ago

    Hello, Hellogardener! We did make a lot of progress this summer. I think the result actually looks pretty close to Celery’s mock-up. It’s all perennials, except for the begonias, so it should be very easy to take care of in the future. It’s hard to remove existing plants, because I hate to kill something that’s growing, but the tulips and lilies that were there only bloomed for 1 week, then looked awful for months. And I love that we have colorful blooms all summer long now. KW, you can see a little of the weird shade pattern from the irregularly shaped trees in front. It alternates sun/shade/sun/shade throughout the day, so the roses get their required number of sun hours, and the hydrangeas are protected from too much afternoon sun. I’m glad to hear that your husband has recovered from the fall!

  • 11 months ago

    Beautiful view from the window! The Oso Easy roses stay in bloom for a really long time. But now that it’s hot out, the hydrangeas are drooping in the afternoons.

    Does anyone have a suggestion for easy temporary shade? I’m thinking something like a lightweight umbrella with an extra long handle I can stab into the ground? I want to be able to pop it in just when it’s sunny, and easily take it away too.

  • PRO
    11 months ago

    So beautiful. Could you build a kind of tent with old Bermuda shutters? For shade.

  • PRO
    11 months ago

    Like these.

  • 11 months ago

    Hi Flo! That is a very creative idea. I think that could work in places where I want a wider area of shade, but I have to figure out a way to just shade individual hydrangeas sprinkled among the roses, who do not need shade. I think the shutters would work on a flatter area, but the garden bed out front is very steep.

  • 11 months ago
    last modified: 11 months ago

    Hi Little Bird, I have a couple of random thoughts on the shade for hydrangeas issue. We already know your combo of sun loving roses & filtered sun hydrangreas is unusual & the success you’ve enjoyed is due to your tree shading the hydrangeas. I’m thinking that you’re in the hottest summer days now so the hydrangeas, which are in their first year, are suffering from the heat bc they’re not really established plants yet. The plant rule I’ve learned is that when the hydrangeas are wilting the garden needs water. Not sure if that appies to your roses. The planting slope you have in that area increases the challenge with water draining away down hill So, my suggestion is to make sure the entire area is well mulched to shade roots & limit water evaporation. Find a way to give the hydrangeas extra water early in the day & if you see signs of wilt later in day, water them! If you can shape ’wells’ at the lower base of the hydrangeas to hold the water to their bases & allow it to soak in so much the better. A soaker hose wrapped mostly around the hydrangeas might be a labor saving & water saving device & work great too. The test will be to see if they do better in heat next year with a more established root structure.

  • 11 months ago

    Well, KW, it turns out you were right! I do have irrigation in the garden beds, and the soil doesn’t feel dry. But I started doing a second watering in the afternoon, and within 30 minutes, the leaves perked back up! And it’s the new hydrangeas that are affected most, so maybe next year it will improve. Thanks again for the great advice!

  • 11 months ago

    Great! Nice to get it right sometimes 😉 More advice - now that you know it works water the hydrangeas before the time you noted they’re wilting in heat. They do perk up quickly but it’s really hard on the flowers & the plants to go through a daily wilt. I learned this from experience with Paniculata Hydrangeas in my yard. If you ever put in more hydrangeas, the Paniculata type tolerates much more sun. Their flowers are cone shaped like Lilacs. There’s a classic small one that’s much loved ”Bobo”. It has white flowers. I like Paniculata bc they’re easier to prune as they bloom on new wood so no worries about cutting off flower buds when pruning.

  • 11 months ago

    Aw, Bobo sounds so cute!

  • 11 months ago

    KW, I think these white ones in the back might be a version of the panicula ones you’re talking about, except giant. These are in full shade, and are about 7 feet tall! They never need watering

  • 11 months ago

    Yep looks like it! So the nice thing with these is if they’re getting too large they can be cut back hard in early spring after frost done.

  • 11 months ago

    KW, do I need to be aware of where I’m cutting, like only do it on certain parts of the stem, or thinning down to just strong stems? Or can I just chop it all off much smaller next year?

  • 11 months ago

    Little Bird, you do have the right idea of thinning down to the strongest stems. It’s pretty easy to see them when the shrubs have no leaves. I first go through & cut off all the thin, spindly, going wrong direction stems right down to the main branch they are attached to. Then you can really see the shape & the oldest branches that really support the flowers without flopping. You can take them back a ways towards center if the plant needs to be shorter, less floppy, more space between the shrubs etc. A friend told me she does one major pruning then @ month later or after growth starting goes back for a light prune. She said it makes a longer bloom time because buds cut off with second light prune have to start over but they still have time to make flowers. You could try that on one of that row of them to test that out. I only have 2 & they’re different kinds & ages. I am always surprised at the larger, older one because I think I cut hard & way back & zoom it sprouts right back up!

    On personal note - I was so focused on my issues that I didn’t ask about your pup when you said she’d had a concussion. Is she healed & ok now? That had to be a very scary situation. On my side things changed very quickly for my Ginger and we had to let her go a few days ago. She was just 10 & it was a congenital liver issue just discovered 5 months ago through abnormal blood values in a pre dental screening. We have been managing with protein restricted diet & couple meds but she went into a sudden decline & wasn’t eating much & had a couple episodes over a couple of days that indicated she was hurting. We thought we had a few years left with her so weren’t prepared for this. We did use an in home service & that vet had come to our home a few days before under a hospice situation. It was so helpful to not be meeting with a stranger for the final visit. Our hearts are broken and we’re struggling. Today I made some plans for us to go on a short trip later this month. This site is really a diversion for me - and reading - can’t believe how fast I’m going through books! We’re going with friends to an outdoor concert Sunday - 90 degrees is forecast! Keeping busy is a must. Apologies if this is all TMI but my feeling is you knew I’ve been “off the grid“ & that things were not well with my precious little friend and you would want to know. Give your pup a really big hug!

  • 11 months ago

    Oh, KW, my heart is broken for you! I can’t imagine how difficult that must have been to find out something like that from a routine exam, and then to lose Ginger so quickly after. I know you had a lot of worries in the last few months with your husband’s accidental fall too, so I hope you are taking care of yourself. It sounds like you’re doing the best possible, with keeping yourself busy and entertained with lots of books. And all of us here are the beneficiaries of all the good advice you keep giving!

    Thank you for thinking of my pup too, even with everything that’s going on for you. My Libby is back to normal. She is really tiny, so when a child dropped her from up high, her head hit the floor and she had a seizure. So now we are very careful to have people sit down on the floor before playing with her. We are very grateful that she didn’t have any lasting effects. Hugs to you, my friend! ❤️
  • 11 months ago
    last modified: 11 months ago

    Thank you for all of your kind words Little Bird. July was indeed pretty rough. Several times today when I was missing something Ginger would’ve been doing in that moment, I realized that she really had slowed down over the past couple months. She was trying hard to be her usual perky & active self but losing energy. Realizing that helps us know we kept her from suffering unnecessary pain. That’s the most important thing to us. Such treasures they are & adding so much fun and love to our lives. We do owe them the best care which can be hard.

    Your poor Libby. That’s such a danger for these small dogs and everyone always wants to hold them. That must’ve been horrifying when she was dropped. We never taught Ginger to jump up on furniture because we didn’t want her flying off & breaking a leg. Sounds silly for a breed that’s known for their agility & the courses they run. But she was only 4.4 lbs which is the smallest end of the breed size. We picked her up to put her on couch with us & when she wanted down she’d ask by pawing at the edge. She also let people know she didn’t want them to pick her up by backing away from them very very fast if they leaned toward her so I asked them not to as well. She just wanted back scratches from anyone who looked at her. Your practice of having people go to Libby’s level is great. A little hard for someone over 4’ tall since she’s so tiny but that’s not Libby’s problem! She probably feels more confident being on the floor so she can make her escape if she wants to. Go Libby!

  • 11 months ago

    KW, Libby wants to see your favorite photos of Ginger!

  • 11 months ago





  • 11 months ago

    Super cute! She looks so sweet. And she looks like she was very well loved ❤️

  • 11 months ago
    last modified: 11 months ago

    Ginger was a true social butterfly & received so much attention from strangers when we were out & about who just had to stop us & comment on her beautiful flowing coat & then, upon receiving a happy hello from her, they’d remark on her happy demeanor. These are recent pics & looks like she was needing a coat brush out in both. I can now see more change in these pics compared to a year ago. That’s helpful to us. We have so many pics & videos as she was a great photo subject! That green mat was lent to me by a neighbor - it’s meant to be a food toy. It’s a ”Snuffle or Forager” mat to sprinkle dry kibble on that gets buried in the thick snuggly surface & the doggie noses & digs around looking for the buried treasure of food or treats. Ginger had several other treat / dry food dispensing toys that she loved to play with so neighbor thought this might encourage her to eat. It did for a short time but then turned in to yet another item on the floor to lay on! These food toys are great for dogs self entertainment & bring out their instinctual foraging traits. I highly recommend for any kind of doggie any age!

  • 11 months ago
    last modified: 11 months ago

    LittleBird - Here’s my ’Little Limelight’ paniculata hydrangea - about 5 years in ground, supposed to be 3 x 3, currently 5 x 5+. Its flowers now turning to white from the limey green they open to. I pruned it hard this year & you sure couldn’t tell.


    Here’s my ’Little Quick Fire’ paniculata Hydrangea planted last fall to replace a huge Vanilla Strawberry Hydrangea we took out — too big. This should turn pink & is supposed to be smaller than little lime - more a Bobo size - we’ll see.


    Here’s both of them - you can see the size difference for now. They are planted on a slope down from pavers & they face west so long hot afternoon sun. They do well with the drip irrigation but today is high 80’s & humid & the big one looks a little limpy in top leafs so I’m running the drips on a manual cycle right now especially in prep for the warmer couple days ahead. No leaf scorching on either shrub so far this year.


  • 11 months ago

    KW, your garden is so pretty! I wish you were my neighbor! The little limelight looks great - probably because you prunes them hard. I’ve noticed that plants I treat too preciously trying to save every bloom, actually end up worse off than the ones that I don’t care about and just chop down.

    I think mine are also quick fire, and turn pink later in summer. But I am definitely not pruning correctly - look at how crazy they look.

  • PRO
    11 months ago

    Ginger -sooo adorable! As to those hydrangeas- love them! Trying one here but no blooms this year. Probably too hot. Maybe something will happen in the fall. I would love to cut off some of those branches and hammer the stems and put in large glass container for a whimsical look it a distinctive spot in your gorgeous home!

  • 11 months ago

    Little Bird, appreciate your kind words about my yard. I do like puttering around in it & it’s a nice set up for entertaining with the large paver patio. Here’s a better shot of my Little Limelight - I just really saw how the branches were drooping with weight of flowers so just stuck a bunch of tall flower stakes inside the shrub to prop them up. Now it looks perkier & more floriferous than the first pic I posted. I’m wondering if your taller hydrangeas would be less leggy & flower more next year if you do cut back hard after all danger of your hard frosts are past & then also really work some good fertilizer into soil around them.


    Flo - I just don’t know about hydrangeas in the heat of TX. Are you in Houston area? I’ve read that Oakleaf Hydgrangeas do the best there & the Paniculata / PeeGee types second. Oakleafs look very different but great fall color from them. Way too hot for Mophead / Macrophylla I’ve read.


  • 11 months ago

    Flo, that jar with the branches looks lovely. Question: what do you mean by “hammer the stems”?

  • PRO
    11 months ago

    With branches that are more substantial, you have to hammer the bottom 3-4” so they can take up water more easily and green leafs or blossoms stay fresher longer. 🔨

  • 11 months ago

    Flo - I did not know that about the thick branches! I learned something today!

  • 11 months ago

    Wow, I never would have thought to hammer! Cool tip. Libby enjoying the garden while I deadhead…

  • 11 months ago

    What a little doll Libby is! Oh, and yes, your garden is quite lovely too. 😊

  • 11 months ago
    last modified: 11 months ago

    Do not hammer woody stems. It is no longer recommended. It destroys the vascular structure of stems, actually inhibiting water uptake, and increases the likelihood of bacterial infection. Do a diagonal cut with a clean tool and submerge the ends immediately in cold water. Or do the cut under water if possible.

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