kristan
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Location: Kentwood, MI

Thoughts on our landscaping...

We bought our house about 2 years ago. The front yard was professionally landscaped at one point.

I'm not in love with it. We moved some day lilies from our back yard into the front, but it all just looks....cookie cutter. I think part of the problem is that I don't know what half of this stuff is and how to properly take care of it!

Just wondering if you guys had any ideas on what we could do to update it!


Front
[img]https://farm3.static.flickr.com/2580/3988012260_289e3e6664.jpg[/img]


Right Side
[img]https://farm3.static.flickr.com/2465/3987254829_3a97ef14f1.jpg[/img]


Left Side
[img]https://farm3.static.flickr.com/2438/3987247653_0c616fb6df.jpg[/img]



In the loop here, we have a major drainage issue. Water builds up because it's a bit lower than the rest of the bed. Any idea on how to combat this problem?!

[img]https://farm3.static.flickr.com/2604/3988000234_c265051fd0.jpg[/img][/url]
Kristan

The Helpful Gardener
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Don't fight the site!

Embrace the wet; [url=https://www.cottagefarmsdirect.com/CFDimages/ProductImages/Japanese_Iris_Mix.jpg]Japanese iris[/url], [url=https://www.ohio-nature.com/image-files/blue-flag-iris-lg.jpg]blue flag[/url], [url=https://www.bronandsons.com/online_catalog/2009_Catalogue_Pictures/Ligularia_dentata_Othello.jpg]Ligularia[/url] are all wet loving perennials, and lots of native shrubs like wet; [url=https://www.naturallandscapesnursery.com/redsprite1.jpg]winterberry[/url], summersweet ( I like [url=https://www.pahls.com/plantLibraryImages/8EE891EF-BDB9-4AF8-BBA6AEBFBCC61B34.jpg]'Ruby Spice'[/url] a lot, and the smell is delicious), [url=https://www.acornfarms.com/images/IlexGlabraShamrock.jpg]inkberry cultivars[/url]are evergreen...

I don't like the purple shrubs (sand cherries? Ninebark?); too close to the house and outgrowing the space; use the inkberries where those are (you can move them elsewhere; put a [url=https://www.ces.ncsu.edu/depts/hort/consumer/factsheets/trees-new/magnolia_virginiana.html]sweetbay magnolia[/url](native swamp form) in the middle of the wet spot and use the ligularia and irises around it...

Plus all these will take the drier areas pretty well too, so you could match them around elsewhere for continuity.

HG
Scott Reil

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Pineville
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Agree, there is no continuity, just a jumble of plants too close to the house. The Yews on the right side of the house should go. Can't tell from the photo, but the shrub and grass at the front inside the walk should go. Sand Cherry gets worse with age.

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rainbowgardener
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Agree with what's been said.

The scale is off - a big tall house with just a narrow row of mostly small plants around it. And all the bigger stuff was planted way too close to the house, so as noted the purple shrub, though a better scale, looks awkward and hides the windows.


All of the beds need to be wider and the two blank side walls definitely need more tall plants, like a tree or two on each side. Then to break up the look of just a row of plants around the house, I'd put a good sized island bed in the front lawn, with a tree, a few shrubs, and some smaller plants.

Like HG said, turn the wet spot into a rain garden, that captures all that water:

https://garden-styles.suite101.com/article.cfm/planting_a_rain_garden
Twitter account I manage for local Sierra Club: https://twitter.com/CherokeeGroupSC Facebook page I manage for them: https://www.facebook.com/groups/65310596576/ Come and find me and lots of great information, inspiration

kristan
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Location: Kentwood, MI

Unfortunately rainbow-we can't make the beds bigger. The current edging is poured concrete and we don't want to have to pull it up at the moment. The right side bed is right along our neighbors property and there is only about 10ft between these beds and the sidewalk in the front.


Let me know if it looks like I ID'd these correctly-


[img]https://farm5.static.flickr.com/4018/4435701674_b014f085ee.jpg[/img]

[img]https://farm3.static.flickr.com/2689/4435691868_6b9dbdfd40.jpg[/img]


Any idea what I have over here on the left side? I think the green one in the middle is a type of hydrangea, but other than that!?! No idea!

Click to make bigger
[img]https://farm3.static.flickr.com/2438/3987247653_0c616fb6df_b.jpg[/img]
Kristan

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The ??? are birds nest spruce; not a bad plant...

ANd you can shear the snot out of a yew, so I don't mind those so much (and show me a better evergreen plant for dry shade...)
I'm not at all sure those are inkberries

The "pampas grass" is actually Miscanthus, a Japanese grass, and not Cortaderia, a South American plant with MAYBE a Zone 7 hardiness... I'd think about moving those elsewhere and repeating the inkberries in their place for continuity...

The one on the left is sand cherry; I think the bigger one is ninebark, but I'm not a fan of either in that spot...

Really, try the swamp magnolia; it's a winner and can be turned into a sweet multi-stem tree/large shrub just right for that space...

I'm guessing those are daylilies scattered throughout; probably 'Stella D'Oro'? Divide them and scatter them more (AND more randomly) Use some [url=https://www.gardening-tips-perennials.com/images/siberianiris.jpg]Siberian Iris[/url]along the walkway along with them to get some more variety, another iris bloomtime, and a little height variation...

HG
Last edited by The Helpful Gardener on Mon Mar 15, 2010 5:26 pm, edited 1 time in total.
Scott Reil

kristan
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Location: Kentwood, MI

Thanks for the info! I really like the idea of the swamp magnolia. I was thinking an ornamental tree in that area would look good, just didn't know what exactly would work!
Kristan

AreaCode707
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kristan wrote:Unfortunately rainbow-we can't make the beds bigger. The current edging is poured concrete and we don't want to have to pull it up at the moment. The right side bed is right along our neighbors property and there is only about 10ft between these beds and the sidewalk in the front.
Nothing says you can't landscape outside the existing beds. Use the border as part of your garden design mid-bed. :)

acanthus
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I also think the scale of the gardens is completely out with the height of the house.

I don't agree about the plants being too high against the walls though, you need this. These reddish shrubs need to be pruned to more symetrical shapes. Good gardens are designed so there are multiple layers of plants. Tall at the back then a middle layer and then lower or groundcovers.

You have a lovely house, but the beds are far too shallow. As stated earlier you could leave the concrete edges and come out further and start new beds joined on tho the old beds. If the concrete edging is holding the water in on the end bed you can either have a hole cut in the edging at that point to let the water out or build the bed up so it is level with the rest of the bed.

I would put a large hedge to the left side (bay window side).(Depending on how wide the block is this should be match with similar but not identical hedging on the garage side). Starting Back a bit towards the back of the house with a slight curve toward the house. this would have to be long say 20 metres, this will give some horizontal prospective to the garden so its not just all vertical.

Pick a dark green shrub such as viburnum and you could plant a group of silver birch in front giving a white trunk against the green backdrop making a feature to draw your eye.

the sand cherry on the corner of the house is not tall enough, perhaps a replant with a tall thin (3 foot wide) conifer and move the sand cherry to in front of this and then an under planting with a green strappy plant, or upright plant.

You need more evergreen medium height scrubs toward the back of beds and the smaller things moved to the front of the beds and the grasses on each side of the garage are not 'good' enough looking for this position. Perhaps they could be replaced with small cone shaped buxus or conifers about 3 feet tall.

You have the right house and with a good garden you'll have a magnificent home.

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Pineville
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Lots of different ideas- everyone has their own style, so none of the advice is wrong, only personal. While some (me included) prefer a natural/native look with asymmetrical balance, others prefer a sculpted symmetrical look.

Either way, I believe the most important aspect of your plant selection (cultural requirements aside) is to allow for mature size of each plant. Nothing looks worse than a landscape that is a tangled mess of shrubs and trees overgrowing your house. Look to the mature size of the plants and space accordingly.

In my location, too many homeowners have a 'seven-year landscape.' Rip-out the overgrown every seven years and start over.

The Helpful Gardener
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Chris hits several salient points...

Far too often I see "professionally" installed landscapes that I know will look like warm turd in three or four years because no thought is given to the eventual size of the plant. When I suggested swamp magnolia, it was not simply because the plant is suited to a wet condition or the fragrance will be nice near the front windows, but because the eventual size (15-20'h x 10-15w) fits that space nicely.

Please note I said eventual; too often the landscaper uses a smaller shrub to keep costs down, and then just uses more plants to fill the immediate space. This is fine if you use perennials, as I sometimes do, but when you throw shrubs and trees into eventual competition with each other or the house, as was done in this case, you only create eventual issues that will need to be dealt with, and we are no longer talking about lifting and moving some daylilies, we are talking about a MUCH larger project and probably a redesign.

Chris is right to touch on the other point as well, that personal taste is just that, and while designers can often agree that a particular design is good or bad I've never met two who will do it the same way with the same plants. Every designer has favorite plants that they favor; I knew one guy who just cookie cuttered the same three plants in every design he ever did, whether they fit the house or space or environment, or not. I can pick his work out everywhere at the drop of a hat, at least where it stays in place longer than the seven years Chris was talking about... be sure to select a designer who shows you a wide pallette of his or her work, and if it all looks kind of the same, be sure that is what you want, because that's certainly what you are getting...

Which brings me to our final point. We Americans stay in our homes an average of seven years now. I hope that is as surprising to you as it was to me when I heard it. We move for jobs, we climb the real estate ladder, but we don't settle down like we once did (maybe this economic blip will change that...). SO maybe waiting twenty years for the landscape to mature is not as realistic as it once was...

While I would not design without some solid bones of trees and shrubs I find myself focusing on perennials and grasses much more not just because of the lowered costs and maintenance, but because they hit their stride in three years and not twenty. A shrub heavy border will look young long after the perennial border has reached its full glory, so leaning to perennials and grasses rather than shrubs is both more colorful, and fits the realitites of life a good deal better than most of the landscapes I see installed today...

HG
Scott Reil

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