jutsuri
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Please critique my landscape design

I have been working for a long time on a design for my front yard and I was hoping to get some comments and constructive criticism. This is my first home, I moved in two years ago, and the property is a little over half an acre. We have a generous back yard that I plan on landscaping in a low-maintenance, low-water, meadow style, we have a large dog and she needs plenty of room to run and play and the back yard is going to be the space for that. We have a privacy fence along the front, separating it into a roadside area and an enclosed front yard, the roadside will be planted with low-maintenance, low-water plants and the inside will be my area to play. I want to have a beautiful Secret Garden type rose and flower garden with a fountain as a focal point and a little sitting area in the shady spot in the back.

Because there is parking on the inside and outside of the fence, and outside both to the north and south of the gate, people approach the house from many different directions. I struggled with a way to accommodate that without having too many paths and I ended up choosing to have a very wide front walk that has a little 'fang' of steppable groundcover to break up the hardscape. It needs to be nice and wide because every once in a while a car needs to back up into that space.

I haven't chosen a material for the hardscape yet, stone is my favorite but if it is too expensive I will use concrete pavers. Although I really think it would be worth it to wait and save up money to get stone. There is an existing concrete path along the front and side of the house, it is only three feet wide and is cracked in several places and I would like to widen and improve it somehow.

The plan is drawn to scale, the area of the main part of the front yard is 52' x 22'. The left side is North and the right side is South, the top is East and the bottom is West. Right now the fountain is only two tiers and 4' diameter, but when we are ready to re-do the front yard we are going to add the optional pool bottom that has a 6' diameter and makes the fountain three tiers. I have a bird feeder in the yard and it gets visited by many pretty little birds, we enjoy watching them very much. I think that is all the info you will need to know, sorry it's so long winded!

Here are the plans I drew as well as a picture of the front yard as it is now, the picture was taken from a spot by the garage looking towards the back corner.

[img]https://i454.photobucket.com/albums/qq268/momo2820/Landscape%20Drawings/wideview2.png[/img]

[img]https://i454.photobucket.com/albums/qq268/momo2820/Landscape%20Drawings/smallcolorplan.png[/img]

[img]https://i454.photobucket.com/albums/qq268/momo2820/fence3.jpg[/img]

Please tell me what you think, any and all advice will be appreciated!

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rainbowgardener
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All the green in the drawing is lawn? Where are all the rose and flower beds you mentioned? Are you stuck with the square path that goes in front of the house and limits the foundation beds? How wide/deep are the foundation beds?

But very nice work on thinking and planning this out.
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bullthistle
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If green is the grass you'll have problems mowing so I would plant ground cover like periwinkle which the dog will not kill after maturing. Also your lines intersect and they should flow together not react against each other, it doesn't make sense. I'd take out the walk if it serves no purpose since it doesn't seem wide enough if it is to scale. Best thing is to get some lime and mark off what you have drawn to see if you like it. Many can't visulize paper to finish so play with it since nothing is ethced in stone until you are done. See where you dog tracks when it is outside since they are much like humans and always take shortcuts and follow the same routine. Change is hard even for animals

bullthistle
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I forgot to add. this is your yard and you are spending your money so you must decide how people will enter, don't allow them to determine. You are doing it for you so don't allow others determine what is best for them.

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tomf
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As you have a dog and dogs need to run I would just plant the plants you have in pots and let the rest be what it is now; lawn.

jutsuri
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Location: North Bay Area, Ca

The foundation beds are 3' wide, the shorter one is 15' long and the longer is 24'. The green area in the colored plan just indicates planting space, I haven't decided what will go where yet so it's just all green for growing things. I don't want to have any lawn in the final product, I want a lawn free front yard.

The straight path along the house is too useful to remove, although I would like to widen it and improve it somehow since it is cracking and my bf thinks that it will look funny if we put in nice, new hardscape and have it right next to the old, funky concrete. I think a pro will need to be consulted as far as how we will deal with that.

The backyard is easily four times the size of the front yard and has much more shade because there are two old and majestic oak trees growing in it. Because of all the nice, big shade trees in the back I cannot grow roses there - so back yard for the dog, front yard for my roses. She is better off in the shade anyway because she gets way too hot in the summer sun.

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rainbowgardener
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OK, I understand a little better now. If the green is all to be flower beds, roses, etc, it will need to be broken up into beds with paths between and around them, though those paths could be still grass if you wanted, not to add more stone/concrete. But you need to be able to get to all parts of all the flower beds for weeding, deadheading, etc and you certainly don't want to be tromping through rose bushes.

You could put some vegetables in too. Either mix them in with flower beds, which works surprisingly well or grow a couple veggie beds. Type ornamental vegetables into Search the Forum key word box to find some thoughts about how to grow veggies that will look pretty in your front yard.

Here's one eg:

https://www.helpfulgardener.com/forum/viewtopic.php?p=29681#29681
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jutsuri
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Location: North Bay Area, Ca

I was thinking more along the lines of mulch paths, or maybe a steppable groundcover like I want to have in the spot near the driveway, I'm not sure why but I really want to get rid of all the lawn. Depending on where the plants go and how things work I might add more stepping stones, I don't think I'll be able to figure that part out until I actually have the beds defined and I can move plants around and walk around them to see how it feels.

I do want to plant some herbs and fruiting shrubs but I don't think I will include veggies in this plan. I am lucky enough to live close to my mother who has kindly allowed me to plant a veggy garden and home orchard at her place. She has a lot more room and sun than I do and I was already several years into my edible garden projects over there before I got my own place so I'm sticking with that as my food garden. I want to include some fruits over here because I love snacking as I wander through the garden, but I'm going to focus on shade tolerant and more unusual things, like currants and hardy kiwis. I have some clove currants in pots right now and their blooms smell wonderful.

Thanks for the responses, please give me more! :P

bullthistle
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Depending on your neighborhood stepping stones can be used the break things. Why don't you take a photo of your front yard and post it so we can see what you see then ask for ideas.

jutsuri
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Joined: Mon Sep 10, 2007 5:22 pm
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I've been continuing to tinker with my plans, I'm still not sold on the shape of the path to the sitting area so I came up with an alternate. I also widened the view so you can see the whole width of the front yard.

[img]https://i454.photobucket.com/albums/qq268/momo2820/Landscape%20Drawings/extrawide.png[/img]

[img]https://i454.photobucket.com/albums/qq268/momo2820/Landscape%20Drawings/updatedplan.png[/img]

Which path do you like better?
Last edited by jutsuri on Wed Apr 20, 2011 7:11 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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rainbowgardener
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Probably the second one, a little more naturalistic and less contrived.

But especially now that you showed the huge parking area and driveway, it sure is a lot of concrete and stone (and whatever -- hardscape) compared to the amount of planting.
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jutsuri
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Joined: Mon Sep 10, 2007 5:22 pm
Location: North Bay Area, Ca

I agree that it's a lot of hardscape, I edited one of the photos above and added the flower bed I want to have along the fence that defines the parking area, and that should help a bit. But we need to have enough room for large trucks to drive past the house and into the back yard because we have both the pump house for the well and the septic system back there, and there are so many different directions people approach the house from I didn't want to restrict access with too many flower beds. Right now the driveway is gravel, and I think it will stay that way for a long time because it would be too expensive to change that large area right now.

I hope that if it's done properly a lot of hardscape will be okay, this part will be the only water intensive area of my landscaping and so probably less planting area is better than more as far as water use is concerned. I would personally rather have a lot of hardscape than a lot of space that I need to weed, mow, or water, but I do want enough room for plants to still have a nice, lush garden feeling.

It is a difficult balance, and one I have a hard time visualizing when I'm looking at a drawing on paper. That is one of the main reasons I wanted to come and get opinions from different people. I have been to several 'courtyard' type gardens around the Bay Area that I loved, and it seemed like they had a lot of hardscape but still achieved a lush look with the areas that they did have planted. That I what I'm aiming to achieve with my design - utility and beauty in a design that works well and is relatively easy to maintain. Do you think this is feasible? Will I get that with this design, or do I need to keep working on it?

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