ngsm13
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Retaining wall complete, front yard landscape design advice?

Hello all, I've lurked a bit and finally decided to register and ask for some advice!

I'm from Cincinnati, and we built our home last year, and have slowly been working on the landscape for our front yard. I did minimal planting last fall in the front planter bed near our garage/sidewalk. This spring, I underestimated the massive undertaking of a 56 linear foot curved retaining wall following the grade, but we are now finally complete! Attached are some pics of our home, which looking at Google Earth is East-West facing.

The radius on the wall is ~10ft, and so far I'm looking for large shrub/small trees which grow fairly slow and can tolerate a good amount of sun as the exposure there is high I imagine. Through some research, I've gotten possibly hooked on a Stewartia Koreana as the main focal point at the corner of the house. What I'm completely lost on, is what else to do with the retaining wall bed. Also, the entire bed has been backfilled with shredded top soil, and I have some composted manure to add if needed.

Any advice or input is appreciated, thanks!

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Cola82
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Re: Retaining wall complete, front yard landscape design adv

Looks nice. I'd add a slow growing Japanese maple for sure, but that's just me. I'm obsessed with them.

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pinksand
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Re: Retaining wall complete, front yard landscape design adv

You did a beautiful job on your wall and have created a decent amount of space for a nice foundation garden. I'm not familiar with Stewartia Koreana, but looked them up and the bark is beautiful, which should help provide year round interest in addition to the blooms and fall color. It looks like they prefer acidic soil so you may want to test your soil and work on acidifying the soil if needed. Another option would be a serviceberry, but they also require acidic soil. Some pretty flowering trees that I see around my neighborhood are saucer magnolias, dogwoods, redbuds, or crabapples. It looks like you're probably in zone 6a so I believe that all of these small trees should do fine in your area.

As far as the rest of the planting goes, I'd recommend purchasing plants in odd numbers unless it's something I'd like to be a bit more of a showpiece. I like to work with a variety of foliage shades and textures as well. For instance, the yellow/orange leaves of my kalidoscope abelia beside the silvery blue leaves of wormwood artemisia or catmint. I try to stay away from planting things in rows, and stagger them instead or plant in groupings for visual impact. Also try to get some evergreen shrubs in there so the whole garden doesn't die back in winter and you maintain some structure.
USDA Zone 7a, Sunset Zone 32
"The earth laughs in flowers" -Ralph Waldo Emerson

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ElizabethB
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Re: Retaining wall complete, front yard landscape design adv

ngsm13 - Your retaining wall is beautiful! :-() Great Job!

Ohio State is your land grand university. I have included a link. On the left hand side there are links for trees, shrubs and flowers and for landscaping.

https://www.extension.org/horticulture

Hopefully this will provide you with some usable information.

I had an active landscaping business for 10 years. I had to giv it up after a bad accident. I still do consulting work.

These are some basic tips.

PLAN!

Get a large pad of 1/4" = 1' scale of grid paper
A 1/4" scale plant template - if you can not find it at an office supply store check a University book store. Let your fingers do the walking and call around.
Architect's scale - a 3 sided ruler with multiple scales.
Mechanical pencil

Draw your base plan to scale. Make note of column positions and windows. Also water and electrical supply.

Research plants. The size of your home and the setting calls for a more formal approach. I would love to see a SMALL ornamental tree in the bump out on the left. Another option is a large shrub that can be pruned into a tree shape. IDK if you can grow Loropetalum in your area. If you can it is easy to cut back side growth and train a central leader into a tree shape. The purple foliage is beautiful year round and the hot pink spring blooms will take your breathe away.

When you add plants to your drawing draw them in at mature size. Use odd numbers and stagger the plantings. Mother Nature does not do straight lines.

Purchase nursery grown plants in 3 to 5 gallon containers. Skip the one gallon containers. Even with larger containers your bed will look "skimpy" when you first plant. Don't worry - it will fill in!

Research soil prep on the Ohio State web site.

I HATE weed barrier/Landscaping cloth. If you are not adverse to chemical work Amaze or Preen into the soil before planting. Read and follow the package directions for application.

Pine straw is the BEST mulch for both weed control and moisture retention. Since this is a more formal bed put down a very thick layer of pine straw - 12". Let it pack down then top dress with a thin layer of wood mulch. Cypress or hard wood - not pine bark - it floats away.

What about irrigation? Look into micro systems with a timer. Inexpensive and easy to work with. I always used Poly Drip systems. IDK if that is available in Ohio. Their digital timers have a 5 year warranty. They have a wide variety of heads from drip systems to spray heads that can be adjusted to different spray patterns. The systems available through the Big Box stores are decent. Because of the size of your bed use a 3/4" feed line instead of 1/2".

The time and effort you put into your retaining wall is obvious. It is beautiful. Put the same time and effort into planning your plantings.

BTW - when you plan the bed leave "pockets " for seasonal annuals.

You have a great start!

Good luck
Elizabeth - or Your Majesty

Living and growing in Lafayette, La.

When weeding, the best way to make sure you are removing a weed and not a valuable plant is to pull on it. If it comes out of the ground easily, it is a valuable plant. ~Author Unknown

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tomf
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Re: Retaining wall complete, front yard landscape design adv

Cola82 wrote:Looks nice. I'd add a slow growing Japanese maple for sure, but that's just me. I'm obsessed with them.
Me too, the deer love them so I only have one.
The things I do are an evolution and I am always learning. My way is not the only way of doing things, and I may and will change the way I do things as I learn better ways. So any advice that I give is in that spirit.

ngsm13
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Re: Retaining wall complete, front yard landscape design adv

Thanks for the comments, I'll be making a list and sketch to scale on grid paper this week, and then head off to Ammon Nursery near here, https://www.ammonplants.com/ to try to get everything I need. They have a fairly good looking 15 gallon Stewartia Koreana, and what looks like a large selection. I plan on bringing my sketch, and some pictures to hopefully get my game plan confirmed!

Appreciate it!

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rainbowgardener
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Re: Retaining wall complete, front yard landscape design adv

I'm in cincinnati too, and I did not know about ammon. Thanks for the reference, I will have to check it out sometime!

I like this place: https://www.keystoneflora.com/ for native plants.
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

ngsm13
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Re: Retaining wall complete, front yard landscape design adv

Be easy on me, I'm a noob hope I didn't do too bad.

Thanks for all the helpful tips! I did some reading, and visited a few local nurseries. I ended up at Ammon Plants for most of my purchases, needless to say Fiancé had final authority... :|

Planted is the Stewartia Koreana on the corner, with an Amber Jubilee and Diablo Red Ninebark next to it. Followed by some endless summer hydrangea, and emerald/gold euonymus. I filled in with some perennials, some Salvia and Dianthus.

Next up is mulching...

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skiingjeff
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Re: Retaining wall complete, front yard landscape design adv

Looks really nice! :)

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ElizabethB
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Re: Retaining wall complete, front yard landscape design adv

Good job! Lovely! Fill with seasonal annuals for color.
Elizabeth - or Your Majesty

Living and growing in Lafayette, La.

When weeding, the best way to make sure you are removing a weed and not a valuable plant is to pull on it. If it comes out of the ground easily, it is a valuable plant. ~Author Unknown

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ElizabethB
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Re: Retaining wall complete, front yard landscape design adv

Great job. Can you get pine straw? Put that down first for water retention and weed control then top dress with wood mulch.
Elizabeth - or Your Majesty

Living and growing in Lafayette, La.

When weeding, the best way to make sure you are removing a weed and not a valuable plant is to pull on it. If it comes out of the ground easily, it is a valuable plant. ~Author Unknown

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rainbowgardener
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Re: Retaining wall complete, front yard landscape design adv

looks really good. You might think about adding some things that will drape over the edge, soften it a bit. That would include candytuft, creeping phlox, thyme, basket of gold (aka alyssum saxitilis, aurinia).
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

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pinksand
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Re: Retaining wall complete, front yard landscape design adv

It looks beautiful and should fill in very nicely over the next few years! I love Rainbowgardener's suggestion for adding something to spill over the wall. Although your dianthus may eventually do some spilling once it spreads to the wall edge. My dianthus has formed a lush carpet that is currently putting on a beautiful show of blooms and does cascade over the exposed rock on my hill and little stone retaining wall I have. It's funny that creeping thyme and candytuft were suggested because I also have these spilling over the edge on either side of my dianthus. I like having the variety because the candytuft starts the show, then the phlox, and as soon as the phlox is finished blooming the dianthus immediately follows. You may also want to think about planting some spring bulbs in the fall and adding some fall blooming perennials since most of your perennials and shrubs are spring/summer bloomers. The spring bulbs will start the show a bit earlier and the fall perennials will extend the interest as the weather cools.
USDA Zone 7a, Sunset Zone 32
"The earth laughs in flowers" -Ralph Waldo Emerson

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rainbowgardener
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Re: Retaining wall complete, front yard landscape design adv

Not sure what your interest in reviving this four year old thread is, but sugar maple at maturity is a huge tree. It would need to be planted at least 25 feet away from the house and if that puts it closer to the neighbor's house, at least 25 feet from that too.
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

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