Which foundation planting do you like?

vmcenroe(z6 OH)April 23, 2006

I've posted these pics to the landscape design forum and gotten lots of responses, but I thought more input is needed about the azaleas.

Here is a pic of my house right now.

I need to work on this landscape to create balance and downsize the azaleas at right which are overgrown. Those are Girard's 'hot shot' azaleas on the left which I think have not been cared for properly because the leaves are so sparse. They will probably bloom this week.

Here is a photo I created that replaces the azalea look with a hedge of yews and spirea, moving the lavender azaleas far out to the right.

Here is another photo where I've moved around the red and lavender azaleas and added 'Delaware Valley White'. I think there would be at least a week overlap of bloom. This design would make a huge visual impact during bloom, but I'm not sure if it would measure up with enough fullness and green in the winter.

I would love any comments.

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rhodyman(SE PA, USDA Z6)

Just a point of personal preference. I like the left side of the lower photo and would use a mirror image of that on the right. I know the house is not symmetric, but I would make the planting symmetric if it were my house.

I would also switch to rhododendrons because they look much better the other 11 months of the year. Not a criticism, just my personal preference.

Also, that grass needs some help. However, it does look better than mine.

    Bookmark   April 23, 2006 at 5:13PM
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Embothrium(USDA 8 Sunset 5 WA)

Except for incongruous matching pair at doorway, second layout matches asymmetry of house, first one does not. House facade is asymmetric, so planting needs to be informally balanced to go with house. Bring informal balance of plantings in front of rest of house (in second view) all the way over to doorway.

    Bookmark   April 23, 2006 at 5:18PM
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ShirleyD(z4b WI)

Personally, I like the second picture. If it were my house, I would use more red in the plantings close to the house, and move the lavender azaleas away from the house. The red plants compliment the brick very well. I think something taller at the outer corners would look very nice - probably something with red stems - dogwood perhaps?

Just my personal preference. . .


    Bookmark   April 24, 2006 at 6:11AM
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vmcenroe(z6 OH)

I am so glad that everyone is liking the azalea photo because that is what I was leaning towards since I already have azaleas to work with. When I replant and mix things up I am going to heavily mix acidic organic compost into the entire bed so I can make those sad red azaleas happy. I'm hoping that good soil will help beef up the foliage so they look good when the flower show is over. I also use Holly tone. It's interesting that I have 2 different opinions on the symmetry of the azalea placement. I have no idea which is better. I'll play around with that on my computer.

For height at the corner I am going to plant a dogwood.

Rhodyman, I was wondering when someone was going to comment on that sad looking lawn. Detracts terribly from the house. As you can see in the photo there is a fertilizer flag. I had it fertilized and reseeded last week so I'm hoping to see great improvement there in a few weeks.

    Bookmark   April 24, 2006 at 6:57AM
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The colors are not so hot and you are way too focused on lining up shrubs in front of your house.

    Bookmark   April 24, 2006 at 1:12PM
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Embothrium(USDA 8 Sunset 5 WA)

I'd put taller evergreen shrubs at one or more of the corners, rather than deciduous. Look for pyramidal, well furnished growth habits--maybe holly--that will tie down the house. A small deciduous tree at some appropriate point, maybe in front of the chimney would also be an enhancement.

Then you can work on extending planting out around part of lawn, to make a setting for the house. If it were my place I'd fill most of the front up with plants, instead of having it open to the street. I'd want to look out the window at garden, not street. I also wouldn't want to be on display to the neighborhood, in this view your house looks like a fortress or a recently landed spacecraft there on that bare lot (grass doesn't provide much cover, in fact it reads as bare dirt from high altitudes).

You doubltless will not been thinking in terms of a thickly planted gardener's eden ("jungle")--at least not at this stage--so I would again suggest extending beds around so lawn is partly enclosed, setting is made for house--while leaving central areas still in lawn.

    Bookmark   April 24, 2006 at 10:14PM
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kimmiesophie(zone 6 TN)

I like the second picture the best. I think it looks better with your house. The third one is too busy. By the way, I absolutely love your house.

    Bookmark   April 25, 2006 at 12:43PM
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luis_pr(7b/8a Hurst, TX)

I vote for the second photo and the dogwood. One observation: the small amount of sunlight that is helping the azaleas grow is probably preventing your lawn from being at its best. The lawn usually needs full sun and fertilizer may not help the lawn if the problem is not enough sunlight. Also, have you done a soil test recently?

    Bookmark   April 25, 2006 at 12:51PM
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ok this is going to sound really crazy, but...

why don't you consider moving everything away from the house by a good 10-12 feet. Then create a small secret garden bew\tween a screen of shrubs and the house-- a little sitting area, etc. That way people could enjoy the nice stone work you have, you'd get a little private area
between the house and the street, and room to fo outside work around the house if needed. my parents did this with their 20"s Tudor Revival. people were always surprised that
there was a bluestone patio between the house and the 5" yew hedge. Inside that area my mom had planted a spring bulb garden, that could only be seen from the living room
windows. in the summer it was just ivies, ferns and impatients and no afternoon sun. great spot for morning coffee and paper/or afternoon nap.

I would suggest the Rhodies too, much better look during the rest of the year. You might consider dwarf alberta spruce, if you want some height(6-8 feet)in a pyramid shape.
I would also work some of the landscaping out into the yard as suggested. and go for a perfect small patch of grass on each side of the walk-- something the size that would take 3 minutes to cut with an old fashioned reel mower if you were in a hurry-- 7 minutes if you were fussing about it.

i would let the asymetry of the house play a pert in the landscape. keep it balanced, but not mirrow image. a curve in the walk would help you too

you only say that you are zone 6 ohio. does that mean columbus and south or are you right up near the lake? be sure to go for something that everyone else doesn't have in their yard too

just more ideas to keep you from getting started

    Bookmark   April 27, 2006 at 6:20PM
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vmcenroe(z6 OH)

Diggerb2--Wow, I am really impressed with all of your suggestions. If you are not a landscape designer, you should be. Everything you said makes perfect sense to me. But, I have to say that I am really nervous about attempting such a huge change in my landscape without having a pro design it out on paper. I have a neighbor who has a front yard with just a small area of grass (though lush and green) and shrub beds pulled in close on all sides. It is very attractive. I am definitely going to take a new look at my yard and see how I can pull the shrub beds out and around and create something cozy. Thank you so much for that suggestion.

It is interesting that you mentioned the walkway because I actually have plans in the future to take out the concrete walkway and put in a curved brick or slate walkway. You also mentioned not having a yard like everyone else which has also occurred to me. One of the reasons I like the azalea photo (aside from simply loving azaleas) is that I have not found one house in my neighborhood with nothing but azaleas in front. I thought it would be a real attention getter seeing a house swathed in so much color at once. I used to live in Virginia and you see that look quite often in the southeast, but not the midwest. Azaleas in general are not seen as much here because the soil really has to be amended for them to be strong and healthy. I live in Cincinnati now.

    Bookmark   April 28, 2006 at 6:12AM
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check out the book about growing non-hardy plants by
frank? frankel?
his premise is that it doesn't hurt to try growing plants out of their usual zone and you might be successful.

his a prof at Miami in oxford and has photo of crape myrtles and palms in his yard. so if you want in cincinnati you could shake things up a bit.

when i re-looked at you pictures it seems your walk is very short-- how far back from the street are you. I'd guess 15 to 20 feet only. but sure go ahead and start digging you don't need a professioanal to give you a plan.if it doesn't work, just start all over again. now that gas is so $$$$
you can stay home and putter all you want to use up time and money.

oh, one last though, several of the garden centers in my area offer 'cheap' design services. for free you can get a pencil sketch and plant list(up to 15) and 15 minutes of the designers time. for 75$ you can get 1 hour consult and a more detailed plan in scale. next bump up is $250 for something just short of a full master plan-- they actually come tou your house and spend about 3 hours on your situation. You could find several places and hit each one for a bit of free advice-- each time improving your 'plan a bit until you feel comfortable.


good luck with you gardening.

    Bookmark   April 28, 2006 at 9:27AM
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vmcenroe(z6 OH)

Okay diggerb, where are you from? You can't be from Ohio if you're talking about crape myrtles. Now once again it is funny that you should mention that. Up until 3 months ago I lived in Mason, OH (25 mi. north of Cincinnati). I had a crape myrtle. I moved from VA 4 years ago and missed the crapes so much that I had to have one. I bought a cold hardy one and it bloomed every year. It was my most prized shrub. Hardly any of my neighbors knew what it was. I think it would do even better here in the city because all the houses and trees block the wind.

Funny also that you should mention the "cheap design services" because I have an appointment scheduled with a designer from Denny McKeown's garden store to come out for a consultation next week. Denny McKeown has written several books on gardening in Ohio. You've probably heard of him. Anyway, the consultation is $75 for one hour and then they give you a $75 certificate to use in the garden center so it's pretty much free. I am so excited to present this idea of curving the beds around to the front.

The length of the sidewalk is just a tad more than 26 ft. I've got 2 more photos. I couldn't get a shot of my total yard in one photo so I took a left and right shot. As you can see on the right side, it will be very easy to curve the bed around to the front. On the left side, those yews belong to my neighbor. I think a crape myrtle can fit in somewhere on that side. What would you plant on that side?

Thanks again for your ideas. I finally feel everything clicking.

    Bookmark   April 28, 2006 at 1:35PM
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buyorsell888(Zone 8 Portland OR)

Your house is gorgeous!

    Bookmark   April 30, 2006 at 2:49PM
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Embothrium(USDA 8 Sunset 5 WA)

I'd definitely move the shrub that is blocking the windows over near the one corner.

    Bookmark   May 1, 2006 at 12:43AM
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vmcenroe(z6 OH)

bboy--I am glad you mentioned that shrub. I thought that needed to be moved. Definitely the wrong place for it. It is a Magnolia variety. It had fuschia lily like flowers in early spring but they were not profuse and I was disappointed. Do you know what it might be? Possibly a lily magnolia? I researched lily magnolia and they need full sun and can grow to 15 ft. I'll move it in the fall.

    Bookmark   May 1, 2006 at 7:12AM
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vmcenroe(z6 OH)

Do you think I should plant some compact rhodies where that magnolia is and try to tie the azaleas to the burning bushes with more of a continuous shrub line or replace it with another focal point shrub that defines that area in front of the bay window?

    Bookmark   May 1, 2006 at 7:21AM
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