Hbrocato
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Excited but overwhelmed by huge empty garden spaces

I moved into our (hopefully) permanent home a year ago. This past October I decided to rip out all the ugly bushes around my wrap around porch. I have a ways to go but soon I'll Be left with only a few camellias that have bloomed beautifully in a few spots.
My question is how did you start out?? with all this dirt around I'm feeling the need to buy and buy to fill the void in the spring. Did you plant what you liked and filled the space and learned through trial and error or did you start slow and not let the (in my case) massive amount of empty garden space bother you.

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rainbowgardener
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Re: Excited but overwhelmed by huge empty garden spaces

Patience is rewarded!! If you go buy a bunch of stuff now, not knowing a whole lot about what you are doing and with not much plan, you will end up re-doing most of it later.

If it is literally bare brown dirt, plant grass seed. Not that you are going to keep it all in lawn, but that is cheap fast way to not have mud all over.

Start by looking at lots of inspiration pictures (do searches in Google images for things like front yard landscaping ideas, back yard landscaping, southern landscaping, etc) and thinking about what you want your yard to do. Do you have a patio? covered seating area? grill/ table / eating area? Do you have kids? If so you will want a play area. Do you have pets that will be in the yard? Do you want to grow some vegetables? Do you have a shed for garden tools, lawn mower, etc? Where will you put garbage cans, compost piles? What about a water feature (e.g. small pond or large fountain) and/or fire pit ? In summer heat a shade garden and some kind of shady nook, maybe pergola, etc can make a big difference.

Draw up a plan. Start with installing hardscape first, paths, shed, water feature, patio, etc. Next would be trees and shrubs. If you are on a budget, buy babies. They will grow up. Fill in areas where you want flowers with mulch and annual flowers (which you can buy cheap as bedding plants at all the big box stores).

Find a native plant nursery and get to know them. Talk to them about your property (how big, sun/shade, wet/dry, etc) and what you are looking for. They will work with you and help you figure out what shrubs and perennials will work best for you. Native plants are more likely to do well in your conditions and not need too much fussing over. https://findnativeplants.com/south/louis ... ve-plants/

Have fun and understand that this will be a work in progress for a long time!
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Hbrocato
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Re: Excited but overwhelmed by huge empty garden spaces

Wow! Thank you for such a great response. I have been searching through the internet for what I like but of course there is soooo much out there it can be overwhelming!
You have asked questions I have never even thought of!
The grass idea is great! This would allow me to work on one section at a time. I have already planted 3 hydrangeas on the side next to an already (somewhat) established one. I think I'll stick to that spot for now. I'm fortunate to live by quite a few nurseries in Louisiana.

Asica
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Re: Excited but overwhelmed by huge empty garden spaces

Take your time. It is so much more rewarding.
Once you draw out your plan, ask people what they think. They will give you ideas, make you think about your plan from different point of view. When you drawing your plan, go across the street and look at your house from that view. The garden should be proportional.
I love Pinterest for ideas. Also when you are driving and see a garden you like, take a picture.
I love creating, so my husband got me gardening office, all my rocks, moss, tools are there. I love it.
Think also what should you like to get out of space. Veggie garden? Green house? Playground for kids? Reading corner? Compost? Fruit trees?
Talk about your plan with whoever is willing to listen, ideas will come to your head.
Clean empty garden is the best. Have fun with it. If I was closer, I would come over to give you ideas. I love planning.

Hbrocato
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Re: Excited but overwhelmed by huge empty garden spaces

Ok, I will definitely be taking pictures and asking for opinions. I know some is based on personal taste, but bouncing ideas off of more experienced gardeners is definitely what I'll need.
I think first and foremost I need to start amending this terrible clay soil I have. I can literally make little clay men with it and it holds water terribly. I butt up to a national forest and a lake surrounds us so the trees must like this type of soil.
Software sounds like a really neat idea. I'm going to start looking into some.

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applestar
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Re: Excited but overwhelmed by huge empty garden spaces

Yep, the sooner you start "mapping" your property re: sun exposure (did you do student science experiments tracking shadows through the day and seasons?

You may not get the drastic differential we do further north/away from the equator, but you still may have areas that get shaded during the winter vs full sun in the summer, and dense shade area that will be shady in the summer as well, and where it may seem like a good spot but will be in all day sun with hardscape reflected, baking heat in the height of the summer.

Also keep an eye on where water pools and ground remains soggy when it rains, storms, or when irrigated. In the north where the ground freezes, often overlooked condition occurs at spring thaw, when it takes forever for the area to warm up, or the area turns into soggy swamp as the area begins to thaw and all the surface melt-water become trapped above the still-frozen ground.

When you find plants you want to grow, its better to plant them in locations that have most or ideal matching conditions as much as possible, rather than trying to force or modify the planting area. -- match the plant TO the garden bed rather than the opposite (garden bed to the plant). Sometimes, this mean you cant plant that eye-catching (heat-sensitive, part shade) flowers to be showpiece in front of the house (where the relentless sun would bake them dry), but you could enjoy them in the private nook off the back patio.
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imafan26
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Re: Excited but overwhelmed by huge empty garden spaces

Remember the plants you put in are going to grow so when they are small it looks like there is a lot of space but that will get filled out over time. In the meantime you can use the grass between or annuals later to give you more color. Take the time to select your foundation plants you have the time to do your research to make sure the plant you want will be happy in your garden and also to find out what they need and how much maintenance they require.

There are some landscape apps available that can help you visualize your dream scape and you would start with a photo of the project. Some are free, some have a free trial period and others you have to buy, but they are out there. Some even have a choice to select plants from your zone. I had an app for my other computer, it was ok but I did have to substitute plants of similar shape since tropical plants were not in its encyclopedia.
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rainbowgardener
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Re: Excited but overwhelmed by huge empty garden spaces

RE: "I think first and foremost I need to start amending this terrible clay soil I have."

No, really first and foremost you need to plan out what you want to do and what you want where.

If you are just going to have lawn, no point in working on amending the soil. Tall fescue, bermuda grass, and buffalo grass do well in clay soil. If you are going to put down paths, dig a pond, build a shed, etc, etc., no point in amending soil where they will be. Personally the only soil I would worry about is where you will have flower gardens or vegetable beds. So first you have to know where that is.

If you show us some pictures of your yard, with some indication of compass points, shade/sun, scale we would be glad to throw ideas out!

A few landscape design principles to start with:

Choose a style: formal, informal/cottage, oriental/Zen, desert/xeriscaping, tropical, etc
Choose a color palette: (something that goes with your house) cool colors, warm colors, high contrast (high energy), low contrast (serene)
Scale: make your plantings in scale with the house. Especially foundation plantings, people usually make way too small.
Design in curves: nature doesn't make straight lines. Houses are usually boxes and really benefit from having curved lines of gardens around them. Unless you are doing a very formal garden, make all your garden boundaries curved.
Plant from high to low. Along a fence line, tallest things at the back, sloping down to smallest in front. For an island bed, tallest things in the middle.

Here's a sample of some of that:
Image

Notice the shady retreat in the back, curved lines, high to low planting....
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Hbrocato
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Re: Excited but overwhelmed by huge empty garden spaces

[quote="rainbowgardener"]RE: If you show us some pictures of your yard, with some indication of compass points, shade/sun, scale we would be glad to throw ideas out!

Wow! That is really beautiful, which is why this will be embarrassing. Ha!
Here is the front.
Left side gets about 2-3 hours a day of sun in the summer because of tree placement. I've only been here for one summer and really didn't pay too much attention.
Right side gets mostly sun all day.

I should also mention there are no gutters on the front and side of the home. Only around the carport. I'm debating whether to get some since it will be hard on whatever I plant without them but the roof won't look as pretty with them.
full front.jpg
Here is better idea of what the space on the right looks like. Drainage issue on the bottom of the pic. My husband mentioned something about a French drain but I need to research it more.
right front.JPG
Here is the little section I've been working on.
There was an already established hydrangea on the right so I added a few more. LA Dreamin and Penny Mac.
This area along the railing is always in shade. along the brick in the corner is always shaded and further along the brick gets sun from about Noon until 2pm right now, but I doubt much in the summer since there is a crepe myrtle near by. By the bricks and behind the Camellia is an Azalea (Hardy Gardenia) that I impulse bought and it seems to be doing good.
brick corner.jpg
Other side of house
side of house.JPG
Side corner, still need to get rid of these bushes.
side corner evil bushes.JPG
I have three children under the age of 6 so I don't want anything they can get ahold of and irritate their skin or poisonous etc.
These are just a few pics. The back yard will be the last thing I tackle eventually.

Hbrocato
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Re: Excited but overwhelmed by huge empty garden spaces

Oh! and I'm leaning more toward the cottage garden style. Although I'm not sure my home can pull it off.

Asica
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Re: Excited but overwhelmed by huge empty garden spaces

First of all, your house is super cute. I love that porch! I can just imagine rocking chairs and pots full of flowers. If any where on your porch you have kitchen and kitchen door, I would recommend planting pot of herbs. I find that very useful.
The front of the house, I would plant a ton of different flowers. Hopefully someone here will give you ideas on what flowers to plant for your area. I would only plant small bushes, so it does not cover your great porch.
To the side where you have the plastic kids table, I see something great for your family to hang out if you do not have that in the backyard. The area it is just really cute.

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rainbowgardener
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Re: Excited but overwhelmed by huge empty garden spaces

what direction does your house face?

It is a lot of space and some day will all be beautiful! :) :)

But for now you should pick a place to start, front yard, one of the sides, etc. What is highest priority? When we bought our house (a bit over a year ago) with half an acre of nothing, we started on the backyard, because that's where all the vegetable gardens, herbs, etc go and that was a priority for me. Some people start with the back, because it is hangout space - deck, patio, grill, eating/seating, etc. A lot of people start with the front yard, for curb appeal. You can't do it all at once!

We still have a lot more we want to do in the backyard, but having gotten a lot of the veggie gardens in, this year will be my year to do something with the front.
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Hbrocato
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Re: Excited but overwhelmed by huge empty garden spaces

I think I'm more worried about curb appeal. We rarely hang out in the backyard l. That corner with the brick faces another half acre lot that we own so the kids mainly play there or ride their bike up and down the driveway way that runs past it.
I usually pull out a fold out chair and watch them but I never thought about making this a hangout type. Maybe with a bench? I would also have shade because of the crepe myrtle near by.

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rainbowgardener
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Re: Excited but overwhelmed by huge empty garden spaces

OK, a few quick curb appeal steps.

Your door is very dark and disappears, you can't even see it in the picture. Paint it some contrasting color, a nice blue or red, so that it pops out. It will look a lot more welcoming.

Paint the two flower pots on the steps so that they don't blend into the brick steps so much and then put much bigger plants in them. Teeny little plants look all out of scale in big pots. Then put them up on the porch to the sides of the door in front of the side lights (you will need shade plants!)

Put in a path up to the front steps, but curving not straight. Those steps look abandoned and unwelcoming. Either from the front sidewalk or from the driveway if there is a driveway on one side. Put a couple chairs and a little table and some decor items on your front porch, so it looks like someone lives there and uses the porch!

It looks like maybe you outlined a curving front border for your foundation planting? That's a good start. Be sure you make it big enough. What you don't want is one straight row of shrubs across. You want to have room to have layers, with some things in front of others (tall to short as I mentioned).

The two shrubs on the sides of the steps are getting towards too tall. Starting to block the windows. You want the taller stuff towards the corners.

This one is kind of nice except that it is not clear how you get to that front door. You want that to be very clear:
Image
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applestar
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Re: Excited but overwhelmed by huge empty garden spaces

Rainbowgardener has good eye for details like those. I agree the big pots seem to narrow/block the steps = less welcoming.

Two other locations that might work for these pots are at the bottom of the steps a little wider apart than the bottom upright handrail posts OR just at the top of the steps framed against the inside of the first set of spindles. Those shrubs need to be trimmed a little lower and as paired/matching as possible for best look. If you do this, I think you could consider growing something vining in those pots with additional string or netted trellis for support.
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Hbrocato
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Re: Excited but overwhelmed by huge empty garden spaces

Love all the ideas!

Those pots were on sale, but painting is a great idea. Also, I planted bulbs down inside of them and just put the pansies on top for something to go in them now. I'm going to definitely move them. And look for something with height. and yes they are poor abandoned steps.

Those big bushes on either side of the stairs are camellias (actually two on each side) That are shaped into trees. I never even realized how they are so off from each other on height until I was taking the picture. We always approach the house from the side and never directly in front. I'm on that next! I'd hate to get rid of them because they are usually covered in beautiful red camellia flowers this time of year.. The frost we just had killed all the pretty flowers.

There is a sidewalk to the driveway. I just didn't capture it in the snapshot.

I will work on décor for the porch too.

I told you there's a TON to do. See why I'm so overwhelmed?? ha!

Thank you for your input. It will be fun to see how it all progresses now that I have the 'before' pictures.

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rainbowgardener
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Re: Excited but overwhelmed by huge empty garden spaces

inspiration pics:

Image

Image

Image
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rainbowgardener
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Re: Excited but overwhelmed by huge empty garden spaces

Don't get rid of your camellias (I love them and want to plant some here!), just prune them. I hadn't recognized them, because I have never seen them tree form before. I wonder if you prune the top and let the bottom grow, if they would grow back to a more natural shape?

Really one season of working on it will make your front yard and entrance WAY more appealing (the house is nice to start with, just the yard needs a little help). Next year you can work on a different section and just maintain the foundation plantings you do this year.
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imafan26
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Re: Excited but overwhelmed by huge empty garden spaces

It is a nice big house with a lot of potential. I agree that the entrance needs more pop. a constrasting color door will make it stand out more. Plan your foundation plantings so they have a focal point. If you want to frame the entrance you can use a pair of very large pots just to the side of the staircase to frame it and under plant with seasonal color or put pavers or a semi circular path at the base of the stairs to make the entrance appear wider and you can have layered plantings leading you toward the entrance.

https://www.houzz.com/front-entry-landscape

For myself, I prefer a curved border rather than a straight one. The rails would be a good place to consider some planter boxes and hanging baskets would also look good.

Where you have the drainage issue you can fix part of that with grading and if it is actually caused by roof runoff by guttering the house. It is actually a nice place to add some large stones or a dry river bed. The river bed can be incorporated into the drainage plan and help direct excess water away. I would like a pond but it would probably have to be fenced to keep small children out of it.

When you select your plants look for plants with different textures, shapes and seasonal color and layer the space so that there is something of interest in every season.

Select plants that you will be able to maintain. Formal straight hedges would require regular pruning. Some plants naturally grow in round or neat shapes and others are naturally rangy. Slow growing plants take a long time to mature but require less maintenance than fast ones. Some will shed or have more pest problems than others.
When selecting colors be careful not to choose too many colors which would look chaotic and plant in groupings of three or more so that the massed colors make a difference. Plant color in drifts or bands and if you select your plants and bloom seasons well you can plan it so the colors change with the season as well. Select colors that complement each other and the house.

https://www.thisoldhouse.com/ideas/best ... urb-appeal
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Hbrocato
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Re: Excited but overwhelmed by huge empty garden spaces

Oh my gosh! I love all the suggestions!

Can't wait until the Spring to start planting and posting!!

Hbrocato
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Re: Excited but overwhelmed by huge empty garden spaces

This is what I had bought online already for that little shade spot by the bricks. I was going to purchase some more hostas too.
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rainbowgardener
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Re: Excited but overwhelmed by huge empty garden spaces

I don't recognize the pink one at the very bottom. Is it some kind of shrub?
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applestar
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Re: Excited but overwhelmed by huge empty garden spaces

Are they astilbe? These might be the upright forms. (I have both kinds and they bloom at slightly different times, one then the other) morning sun, extra moisture from the downspout.
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told2b
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Re: Excited but overwhelmed by huge empty garden spaces

Astilbe × arendsii ‘Look at Me’

Hbrocato
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Re: Excited but overwhelmed by huge empty garden spaces

Yes. Told2b is correct

Hbrocato
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Re: Excited but overwhelmed by huge empty garden spaces

So I worked on my side yard a little this weekend and put some mulch down. What a difference that stuff makes!! I'll post a pic soon

Hbrocato
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Re: Excited but overwhelmed by huge empty garden spaces

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In the meantime I'm so proud of the rose bush I bought in the fall...Belinda's dream. The kids know how excited I get when something is budding and actually blooms. They run ahead every day after school to be the first to give me the report. Lol

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