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Posts: 4
Joined: Tue Mar 16, 2010 10:26 am
Location: Boonsboro, MD (zone 6-7)

Design Idea for Awkward Recessed Yard?

FYI, I asked these same questions in the Flower Gardening & Design forum, but I notice this forum is more appropriate for my yard questions. Sorry guys!

I am new to gardening but would love it put a flower/herb garden in my front yard. There is one very old and lonely Norway Spruce in the front yard and brush along the north side of our property line and that's it.

The yard is (roughly) a 35 ft square with an incline up to the road, a raised driveway off to the left, the neighbors property on the right, and a raised front porch in the front. Here are some pictures.

Yard in front of house.

Pine tree, up to street.

View from south end of porch.

View from north end of porch.

I don't even know where to start. I know I live in zone 6b in MD. The yard gets partial shade (~4-5 hours good evening sun) near the house, and full sun near the road. The spruce is far enough off the ground to plant under it. My long front porch is perched up enough (and the yard is lowered into the ground) so as to be able to look slightly down into the yard, however, due to the house layout in my area, we still get good drainage.

Someone had suggested a redbud and/or small dogwood, which would be nice, and we are installing a short iron railing next to the road to grow some vining plants to sort of hide the road way and keep road dust to a minimum.

Other than that, any advice or design ideas? I would love to grow local medicinal herbs (I use a lot right now) but, again, I have the passion but not the knowledge. If you can't help with a design or ideas, does anyone recommend any reading for me?

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Super Green Thumb
Posts: 3233
Joined: Mon May 18, 2009 8:15 am
Location: Oregon

You may want to think about how much water you will use and plant things that need little to no water as water will become more expensive and scarce as time goes on. It looks as if your spot is some what shady for much of the day so plan for that as well.

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Super Green Thumb
Posts: 25279
Joined: Sun Feb 15, 2009 6:04 pm
Location: TN/GA 7b

It's a tougher site than you might think. The area around a pine tree is very hard spot to grow anything, dry shade, the tree sucks up all the water.

A few hours of afternoon sun is a difficult exposure. Not enough sun hours for the things that like full sun, but hot afternoon sun is too much sun for the things that like part to full shade. So you need to look for the really hardy can take anything from shade to sun types. Your best spot to put the herb garden would be where there's the most sun, probably the area around the telephone pole.

If you put a little bit of awning out from the porch gutters for a little extra protection from afternoon sun, along the porch foundation might become a place for a nice shade garden.

For the dry shade under/ near the tree some suggestions, which pretty much are all low growing, ground cover-y kind of stuff: lady's mantle, lungwort/ pulmonaria, sweet woodruff, ajuga, lamium, lead wort, Christmas fern, bishop's cap.

For the sunny areas grow herbs you like to use, but bee balm and agastache (anise hyssop) are a couple of great choices, native plants, wildlife friendly, good tea herbs, easy to grow and hardy.
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