Help with landscaping

RenoufJanuary 8, 2011

Hello everybody, I am building a new house and will need to landscape the front, which right now, is a blank canvass. I live in Nova Scotia, and am on the cusp between zones 6a and 5b.

I like easy to maintain flowering bushes and trees and perrenials, with a few annuals in for some punch. I'm just getting started with gardening, and for this first year, would like to establish a good foundation that I can add to over the years.

I love the look of lilac, oleander trees, and burning bushes espicially. My house is a saltbox style, with a large yard. Sun rises at the front of the house, and passes over the roof at noon, setting in the back of the house.

I would welcome suggestions!

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welcome to the form. I would suggest simply plotting on paper you plans and where you would like to put in foot paths, set up privacy trees, or would like to frame the view. If you stood by your window looking out - ask yourself what you would like to see there. Then set about a plan. You can put in a rose garden, a hydrangea garden, maybe some garden feature. By your front door, define the pathway from the front door to the driveway. Do you want low growing shrubs just ouside the windows? Do you want low evergreen shrubs flanking the entrance. Do you see yourself as formal garden fellow or a casual type gardener.

Oleanders are tropical trees but I get the idea of the kinds of look you want. Lilacs bloom in spring. That means you may want yet another tree or shrub to show blooms during summer. For this I suggest you look into hardy hydrangeas and rhododendrons. Rhodos are great in semi shade locations. There are a huge variety of hardy hydrangea - check them out. I heard there's a great rhododendron society in the east coast so I know these do well in your area.

You obviously have a south facing yard so this is going to be a great location for a cottage style garden. Luckily you would be able to plant as many flowering perenials as you wish. A low maintenance yard is a yard with many perennials. I find that the larger a grass lawn, the more you need to go out to weed and to cut grass. With bedsof perennials, especially if you plant closely, weeds have difficulty establishing themselves.

You may consider planting a large tree to anchor your yard. Look around your neighborhood for trees you find attractive.

    Bookmark   January 8, 2011 at 2:43PM
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If it's not too late, tell your builders to NOT remove the topsoil. Sometimes builders will sell it, leaving you with lifeless subsoil that won't grow anything for a long long time.

    Bookmark   January 8, 2011 at 10:23PM
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I've just had a new home built. I've not let any of my precious top soil go anywhere. Another thing to consider is where you lay salt in the winter...if you are going to have a pathway from your home to the drive or lay salt around your backdoor try not to plant any shrubs near the salted area. You'll lose money the following year when your baby shrubs get burnt and possibly killed.

I do agree with sketching out garden ideas. I am in the same boat. I have ideas already on what I want to grow where based upon the sun, soil. I realize that I will have lots of weeding for the next few years because of old shrub roots everywhere - lilacs, sumac and seeds from other wild plants (I live in the country).

Don't forget to pay attention to the mature growth size of the plant - pay attention to the needed space so you don't overcrowd long term plants. You can always fill in spaces with annuals. In particular annuals that I love and are super easy to grow from seeds cheaply are

calendula (trim back once first flush of flowers are done, before seeds set and you will have more flowers late summer)- let the last flowers set seeds and collect them for next year.

cosmos - same again, remove flowers before seeds, collect seeds from second set of flowers.

I love to mix in vegetables in with my flowers because some of the veggies have lovely greenery and in the fall I benefit further. I've done carrots, beets, peppers, lettuce - it's known as 'potager' garden. You can google that on images to see great pictures.

Enjoy you new blank canvas. You are the artist!


Here is a link that might be useful: Potager Garden

    Bookmark   January 9, 2011 at 8:51AM
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If you have some idea of what the front of your home wants to look like, then as Renouf suggests, get some draft paper....they sell it at stationery stores, and draw in (doesn't have to be scale) everything about what's in front; trees, shrubs, fire hydrants, windows...high and low, the grade from the street and how drainage might be accomplished, the width of your driveway and how it might involve what you plant.

Think what you'd like to it down...make several copies taking out this, adding that.

Then get copies of all the gardening books you can lay your hands on. Newspapers, magazines, advice from radio shows, TV, etc etc etc.

Go slow....plant something and then examine whether it fits.
Much easier to correct small mistakes than big ones.

As much as you can make plots with curves....try to stay away from straight lines. Use your garden hose to lay out a plot. You can see the shape and change it by kicking it in, moving it out. All what you plant should be with maturity of size in mind; especially trees.

If you live near the ocean, then your zone can be considered at least one zone higher. Large bodies of water moderates temperatures, higher zones are near the coast.
Plants should be bought with zones in least one, two zones colder. Thus a shrub for your zone 6, should be hardy to zone 4.

Most of all, have fun planning your home. Plan the outside as careful as you would the inside.

    Bookmark   January 14, 2011 at 10:02PM
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Sorry about that Renouf---took you other than the author of the thread.

    Bookmark   January 14, 2011 at 10:07PM
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If I were you I would start out small, just a few plants you like the first year, until you get a feel for what you like. Keep in mind the elements of design as you go along. Do you want the plan to be symmetrical or asymmetrical?
How close are your neighbours? Are you going to want or need a privacy hedge or even a wind break?
How do you plan to decorate your interior? You may wish to carry the theme outdoors.
Do you wish to have some greenery in the winter also? you may want to plant some evergreens?
These are all things you need to consider.
You are also going to have to consider how much time you are willing to devote to your garden per week and how labour intensive you want it to be. No sense in putting alot of money into plants you may not have time to look after.

    Bookmark   January 16, 2011 at 10:29AM
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