A Little Help With Flower Bed Shape?

thinman(Z5 MI)April 28, 2013

Since I have stopped growing flowers for market, I have time for some fun projects this year. Number one is to put a new flower bed beside part of my driveway. The snow is finally gone, so I got a couple of nice drab photos to help you visualize it. The green lines roughly show the span of the bed.

The side next to the driveway will pretty much have to follow the driveway, but I don't have a good idea of what to do with the other sides, other than to make it an informal curve of some kind. I am thinking of making it at least six feet across, but more is OK too.


I'm not sure how were are going to communicate visual ideas, unless you can copy my photo and put it into a paint program where you can draw on it. Another thing I could do is draw different layouts based on your written feedback and see what you all think of them.

Any help will be appreciated, as I'm more of a flower farmer than a gardener. I do love the cottage style, though, which is why I am here.

TM

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NHBabs(4b-5aNH)

A few thoughts:
- Any chance you can post a photo of a larger area that includes the walkway, the other side of the drive and any beds further up the walkway? Often the shape of a bed relates to the larger landscape. If you are planning any other beds, you probably want to plan their shapes as well now so that the whole thing fits well together eventually even if it will be installed over time.
-Where will the snow go or don't you use that gravel parking pad in the winter? We have a similar gravel drive, and I end up with gravel in beds that are 10 feet away from the drive as the snow gets plowed onto the lawn or even curling off a fast-moving plow. (We get a lot of snow and often the entire 10 feet is filled with snow several feet deep.) Will you be OK with gravel getting into your bed?
- You may well want the right side of the bed to be a relatively simple line like a semicircle since the left side of the bed has curves from following the drive. In general I consider 6' to be a minimum bed depth and many of mine are double that or more. I like being able to layer plants and a too-narrow bed doesn't give me enough variety.

    Bookmark   April 28, 2013 at 9:22PM
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sweetannie4u(midOK_z6b/7a)

There's my girl!
She has grown into a beauty!

    Bookmark   April 29, 2013 at 1:45AM
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thinman(Z5 MI)

Hi, Babs. Here's a photo that shows a bit more of the walkway and part of the only flower bed that exists anywhere on this side of the house. Other than the one we are writing about, the only future bed I have in mind will be behind the house, so we shouldn't have to worry about coordinating them.

Snow is an issue here too, but I use a snow blower and can generally choose where I want the snowbanks and gravel to end up. There is always a little cleanup to do in this area each spring, and the flower bed will probably be a little more work than the grass, but I'll just deal with it.

You make a good point about six feet being a pretty shallow bed. Maybe I might make it six feet deep or so at the parking pad end and deepen it as it approaches the walkway.

Thank you very much for taking an interest in my project. I appreciate the feedback you've already given me.

Yes, Annie, Annie is a pretty girl alright. We enjoy her a lot, even her sometimes wackadoodle ways.

TM

    Bookmark   April 29, 2013 at 8:05PM
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luckygal(3b)

Thinman, I *think* I would do something like this. It's difficult to plan without being there in person but if you lay out a hose you can move it until you find the most pleasing shape. Definitely have the bed wider in some areas than others and a smoothly flowing edge. You may want to place stepping stones through the widest part to facilitate working in the bed.

    Bookmark   April 30, 2013 at 10:36AM
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thinman(Z5 MI)

Thanks, Luckygal. Good advice. I like the line you drew, though I think I would bump it out at the far end to make some room for plants.

I'm planning on working a couple of boulders into the bed, and stepping stones are a great idea too. Luckily, there is no shortage of rocks here at ThinMan Acres.

TM

    Bookmark   April 30, 2013 at 1:55PM
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cyn427(z7aN. VA)

TM, what a wonderful space you have! I think I would have a more gradual curve. As you know, I am a techno idiot so I don't know how to draw on your picture, but I would start where Luckygal's line starts and sweep it down to end in between the area between your grandsons' shoulders. Love the idea of boulders. I need some of those!

They are a couple of cuties. Lucky you!

Cynthia

    Bookmark   April 30, 2013 at 6:10PM
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Lilyfinch z7 mid tn

That is a great looking area to work with! I agree with the above ideas, but have you considered making the bed follow the path all the way down? I don't know how to draw on your pic, but I would do a bed that followed the path with some kind of focal point or large shrub (like limelight hydrangea ?) in that beginning area curve where she drew. And then a well mixed yet repetitive bunch of perrenials leading to the front porch.
No matter what you decide it's gonna look awesome!
Do you have a pic of the front of your house?

    Bookmark   April 30, 2013 at 6:40PM
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organic_kitten(8)

I always overdo, so I would go more with lilyfinch's size. Boulders will be excellent. always like the gradual curve's. Definitely stepping stones. What fun!
kay

    Bookmark   April 30, 2013 at 8:44PM
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NHBabs(4b-5aNH)

Whatever shape you do, make sure you can easily run a lawnmower along the edge.

    Bookmark   April 30, 2013 at 9:20PM
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sweetannie4u(midOK_z6b/7a)

TM,

I think I agree with Lilyfinch in that if you are going to add a bed, add it all the way from the back-up place up to the front porch - following the "S" shape. The flow is very nice and makes for a more appealing walkway. The eye will follow the shape up to your house, and away in a sweeping motion. Otherwise, it would chop your view and look disconnected. That does not mean planting bushes like lolly pops in a row like a gingerbread house. Take a cue from Mother Nature - she doesn't grow things in straight lines nor does she plant evenly spaced flowers, trees, bushes, and etc..

Since you have a pretty good slope there, you could add a terrace or two, echoing that "S" shape and using those big rocks you mentioned for accents and to prevent erosion.

It depends a great deal upon what style house you have and what you want that area to do. For example - If your home is anything like that place across the way from yours, I would go with an Alpine yard design with shrubberies, grasses, flowers and big rocks that look like they just naturally grew on the side of that slope.

If you like a lean tidy yard with sweeping lawn where your house is the main focus, I would stick with just adding evergreen shrubs with those rocks here and there and maybe a few landscape specimen evergreens planted so the eye follows them up to your house.

Keep it to scale - Any landscape plan that you decide to create in that area should not be too small . Keep it to scale with that immense span of lawn leading up to your house like you have. Plants that will grow and look natural growing there will look best.

Beautiful view, btw..

Hope some of this makes sense.
~Annie

    Bookmark   May 1, 2013 at 1:43AM
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thinman(Z5 MI)

Thank you, dear cottagers, for your good ideas, I would never have thought of half the things you all have brought up. I really like the idea of bringing the flower bed all the way down the walkway, but I am afraid to do that. The reason is in the second picture I posted, namely Annie. It's going to be hard enough to keep her out of the new bed, let alone if it was beside the walkway. When she comes shooting out the front door, she doesn't follow the walkway, she goes straight. A compromise must be made.

This doesn't yet look perfect to me, but it's approximately what I'm visualizing at this point. Ignore the chopped off corner at the right end.

Once I get the hose laid out on the ground, I'm sure that more a pleasing line will suggest itself.

A couple of you were interested in how the style of our house would fit in with the flower bed, so I found a photo to show you.

I very much appreciate all of your comments and suggestions so far, and I will keep you updated as it progresses. I plan to start digging in the next day or two, so there is still time for more thoughts.

TM

    Bookmark   May 1, 2013 at 1:50PM
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ogrose_tx

What a beautiful home and gardens you have, it's obvious that you've worked hard on this! I know, having raised German Shepherds and border collies, they play havoc with flower beds.

    Bookmark   May 2, 2013 at 7:23AM
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thinman(Z5 MI)

Thank you, Ogrose. German shepherds and border collies are two of my favorite breeds that I have never owned. :)
A couple of days ago a border collie showed up in our front yard and when I opened the front door, she shot right in, much to Annie's consternation. It took her only a minute to find a ball and drop it at my feet. We had a great time playing fetch all the way back to the home I was pretty sure she came from. It turned out that she was being baby-sat there. Such a cool dog.

TM

    Bookmark   May 2, 2013 at 10:45AM
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aftermidnight Zone7b B.C. Canada

I think if you deepened the bed a bit at the turn around end to match the depth of the bed at the sidewalk end it would give a nicer curve, but that's just me.

Annette

    Bookmark   May 2, 2013 at 11:51AM
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thinman(Z5 MI)

Thanks, Annette. I have a hose outlining it now and I'm still playing with it. It's harder than I thought. I'm going to try Babs' idea of using a semicircle for the far edge and see how that looks.

TM

    Bookmark   May 2, 2013 at 12:51PM
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thinman(Z5 MI)

Still thinking:

I like this better, but I'm not yet going "Ahh, that is it!"

I'm going to play around with your idea now, Annette.

TM

    Bookmark   May 2, 2013 at 3:06PM
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NHBabs(4b-5aNH)

Try flaring it out where it meets the sidewalk so it sort of tapers up toward the house for a couple of feet or have it meet the sidewalk at a 90 degree angle.

    Bookmark   May 2, 2013 at 5:42PM
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thinman(Z5 MI)

I'm thinking that too, Babs. I just can't make the hose hold that kind of a corner.

TM

    Bookmark   May 2, 2013 at 6:16PM
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lavender_lass(4b)

What about something like this? From Album for garden ideas

    Bookmark   May 2, 2013 at 9:28PM
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peachymomo(Ca 8)

Would it be possible to sweep that bed up along the pathway, and then include a 'doggy path' that goes straight out the front? Stepping stones flanked by shrubberies might keep the dog running where you want her to instead of through the flowers. Oftentimes dogs take the path of least resistance, so if you can create one that works with the look of the bed you might be able to have your cake and eat it too. Just a thought, because I agree it would look spectacular if you could bring the bed all the way to the house.

    Bookmark   May 3, 2013 at 12:38PM
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thinman(Z5 MI)

I like it, LL.

    Bookmark   May 3, 2013 at 12:39PM
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aftermidnight Zone7b B.C. Canada

I also like LL's lines, it has a nice flow to it.

Annette

    Bookmark   May 3, 2013 at 12:49PM
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lavender_lass(4b)

Hi, Annette :)

Thinman- I know some people have suggested you plant a little further up the sidewalk, so this might be another idea. From Album for garden ideas

    Bookmark   May 3, 2013 at 3:24PM
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Sandi_W(7b/8)

Oh, I like LL's last one. Unless you can take it further up the walk. I also like peachymomo's idea.

    Bookmark   May 3, 2013 at 7:43PM
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trovesoftrilliums(5)

I like the last pic too. But, if you use a riding mower, I'd make sure the curve isn't too sharp to follow. This has happened to me. Now I wish I had made the bed outline shape with the mower to begin with.

    Bookmark   May 4, 2013 at 10:52AM
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thinman(Z5 MI)

Hi, Peachy. I like your idea and I'll bet it would work well. Miss Annie actually has a wide range of directions she goes after she leaves the front porch in midair, but I could probably put up temporary fencing to guide her until she gets used to it, or reaches old age.

LL, I like your latest shape even more.

T.O.T, I've not forgotten mowing around whatever I end up with. Thanks for the reminder.

TM

    Bookmark   May 4, 2013 at 12:38PM
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plantmaven(8b/9a TX)

My experience has always been, that later I am usually sorry that I did not make a bed larger.
Of course I never have to deal with snow.

    Bookmark   May 4, 2013 at 2:36PM
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thinman(Z5 MI)

I haven't forgotten the great help you all gave me, or my promise to keep you updated as it progresses. As it turned out, it hasn't progressed. DW and I couldn't quite come to an agreement on this flower bed, but we did on a location on the other side of our driveway. It is an easier layout to work with, and I was able to come up with a pretty decent shape for it (because I had learned from you!) and started work on it Friday.

I started a new thread so that anyone interested won't have to wade through this one to get to the new stuff.

Thanks again to all of you for your expertise.

TM

    Bookmark   May 20, 2013 at 5:18PM
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ianna(Z5b)

If it's not too late to put in yet another 2 cents. I like lavender's suggestion better. It has a complete feel to it.

    Bookmark   May 22, 2013 at 12:07AM
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