Is this a good idea?

Yes, and it should fit a small budget
100%
3
Yes, but it's going to be very expensive
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Total votes: 3
Defence21
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Nautical/Costal Style Garden Plans

Hi everyone. I'm a first-timer here and hope to become part of the ongoing discussions. For now, though, I have a specific question that maybe some of you can help me with.

I'll start with some background and then get into my question. My wife and I are lovers of all things nautical/coastal/beachy. Our house is a small Cape Cod style design that incorporates a lot of elements you'd find in a beach house. Our decor is 100% nautical from the rugs, to the furniture, to the wall hangings/plants/etc, and so on. Long story short, the inside of our house is exactly as we want it. Outside, though, it's a work in progress. We just built a deck that incorporates nautical rope, fish nets, buoys, etc. It's now time to shift focus to our landscaping/gardening. We've got a beautifully landscaped yard/garden, but it's not really our style. There's a lot of ivy used as ground cover, ultra tall grasses (that fit our style, but are too big), and evergreens.

Now to my ideas. I have aspirations of replacing one of our current gardens that's roughly 25' x 15' with a nautical/coastal/beachy style garden. My ideas include moving two of our pre-formed ponds to this area and using them as a focal point. Additionally, I have intentions of planting a cold-hardy palm tree (Windmill Palm, probably), a cold hardy banana, and several smaller grasses. I also want to incorporate a small boardwalk/pier leading from the grass to the bigger of the two ponds, as well as dock pilings and nautical roping.

My question is this: we're on a rather tight budget and likely will have to do this project piece by piece to be able to afford it. That said, incorporating perennials likely would help with the budget -- but I don't know what kinds would work. Additionally, I'm not sure what kinds of shrubs/plants to incorporate, as well. In general, though, I'm wondering if anyone draws up plans as a hobby or knows somewhere that might have free/cheap plans that fit some/most of the concepts (specifically the hardscape ideas) I mentioned above.

Any perennial and plant/shrub ideas, as well as planning help would be much appreciated. Additionally, I'd be thrilled to post pictures of the yard if that would be of help for suggestions. It's important to note that I'm not in a warm climate, but instead am located in the cooler parts of western Pennsylvania. Lastly, I plan to utilize reclaimed lumber for the boardwalk/pier and want to use as many reclaimed materials I can find for this project -- both for cost effectiveness and for aesthetics.

Thanks in advance, and I look forward to reading some of your responses, suggestions, and ideas.

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lorax
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You should be able to fit this to a tight budget with a lot of planning and by stepping in the plants. But there are questions to be answered before you start, among which:

Have you looked at the landscaping of actual Cape houses? (I ask since they're generally very spare as they face right onto beaches, and few hardy plants are also salt-tolerant - this is less an issue with you since you're not on the ocean, but at the same time you need to consider it if you're going for authenticity rather than flavour.) Are you going for a Great-Lakes style garden, an Atlantic one, a Pacific one, a British coastal? a Tropical/Tropics-inspired one? Do you want to break the garden into distinct coastal feature zones? This will in part help dictate the plants you use (as will your zone, and availability).

Can you show us photos of how your yard looks right now, so that those of us who do landscape design (professionally and hobbyists, we have both here) can have an idea of the lay of the land and the current layout?

---

There, that's what I can think of for questions. Now some suggestions: if you're going for Musa basjoo (which should work in your zone) you should also consider the hardy gingers, like Hedychium, and IMHO those belong close to the house or around one of the ponds, laid out as though they're a tropical port of call (decor will help influence this, as will how you choose to construct your reclaimed wood things.)

Defence21
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Well, let's see. First off, thanks for such a quick response, lorax. It's much appreciated! I'm glad to hear that a tight budget and a step process should work fine for this project.

To answer your questions:

I have done quite a bit of informal research, but it's been more along the lines of seeking out "the look" I want, more than researching Cape houses, specifically. As for "the look," I think I'm going more for flavor than authenticity. Of course, I want there to be a level of authenticity to the garden/landscape, but at the same time, I want it to look appealing and, in general, bring thoughts of the beach to anyone who views it. So, do I want an Atlantic, Pacific, British, Tropics, etc look? If I had to pick one, I would go with an Atlantic Coast look. I've been to three beaches in my life, and they have been the inspiration for my house, my deck, and now, hopefully, my garden. They are: Ocean City, MD; Avon, NC; and Myrtle Beach, SC. Lastly, do I want distinct zones? No, I think in general I just want a coastal design overall. It's going to take a while for this all to happen, so for now, I'm just going to focus on the first garden, and if, down the line, I want to go with zones, I'll accomplish that with separate garden areas.

As for photos, here are a few from just before we moved in (2 years ago). I have since removed the horizontal fence you see in the middle of the yard on the first two pictures. You'll notice a garden to the left of the picture, just above the fence. I plan to pull out everything currently there, transplanting as much as possible in a less visible part of my yard, as I hate to just kill plants. That is where the garden we're discussing will go. So, you'll notice that it will have a fence along it. I'd like the garden to have its long edge parallel to that fence. The third photo is a poor shot of my deck, though not completed -- just for an idea of what we're doing. I'd be happy to take a few new photos tomorrow afternoon if you need different angles and/or a more updated look!

https://i354.photobucket.com/albums/r420/FaceoffFactor/Deck/yard4_zpsc59dab95.jpg

https://i354.photobucket.com/albums/r420/FaceoffFactor/Deck/yard3_zps72ed1d50.jpg

https://i354.photobucket.com/albums/r420/FaceoffFactor/Deck/564644_10100840925545403_629373394_n_zpsb51b6f0f.jpg

DoubleDogFarm
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[img]https://i354.photobucket.com/albums/r420/FaceoffFactor/Deck/yard4_zpsc59dab95.jpg[/img]

[img]https://i354.photobucket.com/albums/r420/FaceoffFactor/Deck/yard3_zps72ed1d50.jpg[/img]

[img]https://i354.photobucket.com/albums/r420/FaceoffFactor/Deck/564644_10100840925545403_629373394_n_zpsb51b6f0f.jpg[/img]

I hope you don't mind. :)

Eric

Defence21
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Don't mind, at all. Thanks!

Like I said, those photos are 2+ years old, and my yard has changed a bit since I've moved in. Weather permitting, I'll try to get outside following work this afternoon and take a few more from different angles.

Defence21
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Some updated photos...

[img]https://i354.photobucket.com/albums/r420/FaceoffFactor/Deck/IMG_1831_zpse3012997.jpg[/img]

[img]https://i354.photobucket.com/albums/r420/FaceoffFactor/Deck/IMG_1833_zps13775f10.jpg[/img]

[img]https://i354.photobucket.com/albums/r420/FaceoffFactor/Deck/IMG_1832_zps27a412d6.jpg[/img]

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rainbowgardener
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General ideas about the coastal theme:

Beach house landscaping is generally sparse, due to sandy soil and also owners that may only be there part-time and want very low maintenance. So you want more of a xeriscaped look, not too lush, with lots of shrubbery and not a lot of flowers. For you to approximate the bare sand look, you might want to mulch between shrubs.

You don't need salt-tolerant species, since you aren't actually at the ocean, but using them might help give the look you want. Also think about things that look kind of stunted, windblown, like mugo pine.

Other typical beach house plants include bayberry, sumac, bunch grasses, creeping juniper, beachgrass, saltwort, sea-buckthorn, pine and birch
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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applestar
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What about beach plum?
Also, I always think white picket fence and roses when I think of houses around the shore. In Cape May area, you see butterfly and hummingbird gardens everywhere too.

Other images -- white painted rocks, driftwood garden accents.... Eastern prickly pear cactus, beach towels on clotheslines, windsocks,.... Weathered paint.

What do you think of using chicken grit (crushed oyster shells)? They are not very expensive at the feedstore.

Defence21
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Thanks for the responses, applestar and rainbowgardener. I appreciate your ideas.

More than anything, I'm looking for a beach look, not necessarily a Cape Cod look, and certainly not a modern look. As far as a sparsely planted garden, it might be that way in the early stages of stepping in my plants, but I don't intend for this garden to be that authentic. Essentially, I'm looking for "beachy" looking plants, a boardwalk, dock pilings connected with rope, possibly a handmade weathered/aged sign or two, and a few ponds.

I will definitely look into the plant suggestions to see what fits our style and go from there. I really like the chicken grit idea for a base. I wonder if it might be wise to use a weed barrier, then cover with sand, then add the chicken grit overtop of the sand? Does this seem like too much...or a strange idea? Should I just stick with the chicken grit? My thought is, where the grit shuffles around, the sand will be underneath to create an authentic look.

I might try doing a quick drawing tonight of what I had in mind for a plan -- and maybe someone would be willing to help me lay out the plants?

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applestar
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I had a *wild* idea for a whimsical design -- an area planted in undulating waves of true sky blue flowers and blue foliage... With some white flowers and white variegated foliage for whitecaps, an old sailboat-turned-planter (obviously with drainage holes -- I don't know where you'd gt something like that, but it obviously doesn't need to be sea-worthy... A larger one of those model sailboats they sail in the Central Park might work for a smaller scale design... Or one person dinghy...), spilling with flowers, leaning in the "wind" -- the sail could have your street address on it or your family name, or fly the letter flag for your initial, etc.

The flower bed could have gradually shorter plants until you end up with a "shoreline froth" of white alyssums.....

Defence21
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applestar wrote:I had a *wild* idea for a whimsical design -- an area planted in undulating waves of true sky blue flowers and blue foliage... With some white flowers and white variegated foliage for whitecaps, an old sailboat-turned-planter (obviously with drainage holes -- I don't know where you'd gt something like that, but it obviously doesn't need to be sea-worthy... A larger one of those model sailboats they sail in the Central Park might work for a smaller scale design... Or one person dinghy...), spilling with flowers, leaning in the "wind" -- the sail could have your street address on it or your family name, or fly the letter flag for your initial, etc.

The flower bed could have gradually shorter plants until you end up with a "shoreline froth" of white alyssums.....
Now THAT is what I'm talking about. I'm not necessarily looking for authentic in terms of plants, designs, etc. I'm looking for something that, when people look at it, they go, "wow, that really reminds of the beach."

I love the idea of an old wooden boat. Heck, it doesn't even have to be a sailboat. If I can find any wooden boat, it would do the trick. I'm absolutely loving the idea of taller plants gradually flowing into shorter plants, giving the impression of a wave reaching the beach. Any suggestions of taller, blueish plants and what others I might use to continue that gradual fade?

Thanks so much! I knew coming to a place like this would help me get some unique ideas!

Defence21
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I ended up with little time last evening to draw a design I had in mind, but let me try to illustrate a few "major" elements I want to incorporate, and then see if anyone has an idea of a rough size and/or shape that might best suit these elements. Keep in mind that this garden will be placed alongside a wooden fence, which I plan to use as the backdrop.

- 2 pre-formed ponds, either connected by waterfall or possibly a stream bed

- a boardwalk that runs through a portion of or all of this garden

- dock pilings, either placed sporadically in threes at varying heights, with rope wrapped around them -- or dock pilings placed 8'-10' apart, connected with rope to form a garden border -- I could also incorporate both ideas, if space permits

- potentially an old wooden boat, turned on end, and flowing flowers

- at least 1 windmill palm and 1 cold-hardy banana as the vertical elements

Defence21
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I haven't heard back from anyone in a while. I hope I haven't been forgotten!

Big D
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Re: Nautical/Costal Style Garden Plans

Hi 21'....I'm a newbie' to this Forum but live across the Atlantic in Ireland....I'm on the West Coast right on the Shoreline and I'm putting the finishing touches to a Nautical Garden which has taken me 3yrs to complete...{ 2 Hip Replacements and Old Age contributed to the time span } anyway I know your last Post was in 2012 but I'm curious to know if you completed your Garden and how it turned out...

The West of Ireland gets the worst of the Weather the Atlantic has to throw at us so I have to be selective about which Plants to use as when I moved from Dublin { milder Climate } 7 yrs ago I lost over 50% of my prized possessions to the Weather/Salt Air.

A lot of your Plant Names are Alien to me and I've no doubt visa versa but if I can be of any help in how I went about clearing/preparing the Site and what followed just let me know....

Cheers.... Dave...or Big D.

Defence21
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Re: Nautical/Costal Style Garden Plans

Big D wrote:Hi 21'....I'm a newbie' to this Forum but live across the Atlantic in Ireland....I'm on the West Coast right on the Shoreline and I'm putting the finishing touches to a Nautical Garden which has taken me 3yrs to complete...{ 2 Hip Replacements and Old Age contributed to the time span } anyway I know your last Post was in 2012 but I'm curious to know if you completed your Garden and how it turned out...

The West of Ireland gets the worst of the Weather the Atlantic has to throw at us so I have to be selective about which Plants to use as when I moved from Dublin { milder Climate } 7 yrs ago I lost over 50% of my prized possessions to the Weather/Salt Air.

A lot of your Plant Names are Alien to me and I've no doubt visa versa but if I can be of any help in how I went about clearing/preparing the Site and what followed just let me know....

Cheers.... Dave...or Big D.
Hi Dave,

I haven't yet finished my project. In fact, when I was looking for ideas, we were just entering into our winter months, preventing me from doing much work. Since the weather has warmed up, I've been in the midst of several projects -- swingset for the daughter and a surrounding safety zone play area, staining my deck, and prep-work for the nautical garden. My hope is to begin the project this weekend, as a creative friend of mine will be in town until Monday, and he's offered to lend his assistance. Ultimately, though, if I can make visible progress and have one section (primarily the pond area) completed by the end of summer, I'll be thrilled.

While I'm not battling anything major like hip replacements, I am battling a 2-year old for time -- which isn't a bad thing. It just slows down my projects.

Thanks for offering your advice services, and I'm sure I'll be around to ask some questions as they arise. Also sorry to hear you lost a lot of prized plants a few years back -- there's nothing more frustrating than putting time and money into plants only to struggle to keep them alive!

Big D
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Re: Nautical/Costal Style Garden Plans

Sometime at your leisure you might include one or two Photos of the Ponds as I cannot see them in your original Photos...I have a few ideas that would help. and wont cost "an Arm and a Leg"

Defence21
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Re: Nautical/Costal Style Garden Plans

I've attached a photo of two of the ponds (connected by a waterfall) from the realtor photo series when we were buying the house a few years ago. In the time since, I've neglected these and two other nearby smaller ponds due to their location in our yard (behind a tree and fence line, out of sight and in an area not frequented). My goal is to drain and relocate them to an area much closer to our primary living space so they are more visible and audible, and therefore more likely to be taken care of.

If I get a chance, I'll take a photo of some rudimentary plans I drew up a few months back that show the very basic top view of what I'd like to do.

Fire away with the ideas!

I might note that I have a large blue, wooden rowboat (probably 10-12 feet long and 4 feet wide) that I plan to incorporate. I'm thinking of cutting the back end off and somehow planting it in a way that will make it look "ship-wrecked" with the nose sticking up. Who knows, though!
Attachments
pond 2.jpg

Big D
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Re: Nautical/Costal Style Garden Plans

Most "Shipwrecks" occur towards the front...to cut the Boat at the rear with a saw would be to "Uniform" the break and not look like a rock smashed through the Hull....but before doing any of that I'd have all the Groundwork done n' dusted...I presume your covering/removing any Lawn/Grass before Decorating { the Boat and accessories are all Decorations }...

I know I'm asking a lot but for practical suggestions I'd love to see an Aerial view { from your Bedroom } of the area your hoping to do...the Pond looks lovely but if your thinking of separate Areas {as your Photos show} you could save yourself time and money by leaving them for another Plan and just concentrate on the "Beach Look".

As you say Its early Days yet and not being familiar with your ideas or the Area size I'm reluctant to go into to much detail least I get carried away { a flaw of mine }....looking forward to more Info' from you...

Defence21
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Re: Nautical/Costal Style Garden Plans

The boat definitely will be added last (and might not be included, depending on space and aesthetics). As for the ponds, I'm definitely wanting to make them the focal point of this area. For starters, they've been out of commission for too long, and I'm ready for them to be used, as we were really excited about them when we moved in. To add, we love the sound of moving water and feel this location will put them in prime position to send peaceful sound to various points within our yard.

I can't really send a photo from the bedroom window at this point, as I still have a deck to remove before I can begin the project, but that should be done in short order.

Defence21
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Re: Nautical/Costal Style Garden Plans

I've attached my very rough draft of my design. I'll give you a breakdown in case you can't read my wording.
draft (1).jpg
draft (1).jpg (15.02 KiB) Viewed 719 times
At the top left is my deck and stairs. At the top, immediately to the right of the deck, the little square is a basement stairwell. To the immediate right of that is a stairway leading up to my driveway. The large structure to the right is my garage. In the middle, you see a light circle, which will be my fire pit.

Just below the deck, you see an unfinished curve. This is the beginning of the border for my landscaped area. I'd like to continue that curve so it inverts and comes below the garage, connecting to a fence, which is just an extension of the right garage wall.

It is in the area below the garage where I would like to place my two ponds connected via waterfall. I also plan to include the boat around these parts (or maybe below the deck steps).

The second attachment is a picture of a sign structure I saw at a Finding Nemo ride at Disney World. I plan to build one of these and place it around the ponds.
IMG_0044.JPG
The last idea I have is to create a border around the pond are using 8" round posts sticking out of the ground about 2 feet high. I'll connect the posts with manila rope. Under the rope, I want to plant low growing decorative grass to help create a more defined border.

I hope my descriptions are good. I can picture what I'm thinking quite well in my head, but I'm not sure how it's going to play out in practice.

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