Problem Area

ricksample(6)November 24, 2011

Happy Turkey Day Everyone!

Anyhow, I've been working on an extensive landscape plan for next year as well as the future. Starting next year I would like to add a little privacy from my front left yard. The area is roughly 55' width.

This area is problematic and extremely hard to mow right now. The first 10' of it is bare, no grass just weeds. It's very rough, it'll beat you up trying to ride the mower over it. The yard is sloped up to the pole about 2 feet... you can't ride the mower around it and I'm tired of taking the string trimmer to it. So I've decided to fix all these problems with landscaping...

My problem is the telephone pole that is 13' away from the street and then the gas lines or whatever runs under this area.

I'm assuming the gas lines are closer to the street than the telephone pole. I plan to plant at the telephone line to the house, I don't want to plant conifers directly over any pipes. Towards the street later on I plan to add small ground covers, hostas, etc. Nothing with a large root system. Just plants to cover the mulch.


- If I plant at the telephone line to the house, would the roots interfere with any pipes that run along the street (Probably a good 10' away).

- Is it a good idea to plant at the telephone line? The stuff I plan to plant are dwarfs, maybe 5-6 feet a year. I understand that they may be ok for 15-20 years and would have to come down if they get to high. I'm OK with that as they can easily be replaced. Not all will be directly at the pole line, some will be a good 10' in front (Towards the house), some will be 2-3' behind (Towards the street).

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Jon 6a SE MA

Local authorities have programs that require utilities to supply marking of of lines on properties at no charge. This will take care of any concerns over buried lines.

If the plantings you are considering are truly dwarfs, then they will never grow to interfere with overhead lines. If not, then why would you plant anything under them that would have to be removed years later at your expense? Why not simply plant to hide the lines at a distance that will not require removal in 10 years or so?

    Bookmark   November 24, 2011 at 8:24AM
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ken_adrian Adrian MI cold Z5

hey dude

poles mean men.. sooner or later.. come and climb them ... ergo.. i never plant anything withing 10 feet of a pole .... now that i dont live in suburbia and am not cramped for the space ...

never forget.. its an easement.. its not really yours to do what you wish .... you will watch a prime specimen grow for a decade.. only to have it massacred one day ...

drag the lawn chair around all the prime sitting areas... get some landscape flags .. and figure out where to plant a few de groots spire.. 10 feet from the pole .... which will hide it 90% of the time .... trust me.. though that pole is driving you insane at the moment.. i will bet you can make it disappear.. from you prime viewing locations.. w/o much trouble.. and w/o planting near it ....

i think your house is brand new???? if so.. the pipes should be state of the art .. and impervious ... as compared to owning a 100 year old house with 100 year old technology ... like clay drain pipes fastened with rags and pipe dope ...

i know you have the technology.. how about a real picture of the area .... from the front porch.. the street.. from ground level.. etc ...

is this near the street.. is snow plowing of the road an issue ... soil type.. etc ....

hosta require a lot of water.. will you have a source nearby for the watering???

have you ruled out the ground cover conifers.. like juniper ... micorbiota .... etc??? if so.. WHY????


    Bookmark   November 24, 2011 at 8:30AM
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The house is 3 years old, but we don't have gas going to our house... just up the street. I agree, not to plant to close to the pole. I don't want a pine that grows 1' a year growing 5' from the pole.

I don't need a privacy screen in the front, just a few upright conifers along with some ground covers. This is to help block the view of the pole/barn as well as to create a little bit of privacy for the beds closer to the house with seating areas.

I don't think I have a pipe issue anymore... after viewing the trees across the street and my neighbors trees that aren't in the picture... they are very large. Probably around 50' or so and directly on top of the easement.

I am concerned with the easement... just last year our neighbor had phone and/or internet installed and they came out twice with with an edger to put the wire into the ground. That didn't do much damage and I'm sure it would do little if I had a bed out there. However, what if they had replace a pipe underground or something? The entire area would have to come up. I am tossing out the easement planting idea. However, I would still like some plants in the easement (i.e. each side of my driveway.) Replacing a couple plants someday if they need to dig is one thing, but replacing many is another.

Snow clearing isn't an issue, the snow get's pushed into the culvert. Salt isn't an issue, they don't use it. Very little wind.

Here is a photo from today...

Here is a copy of some of my landscape plan. A lot of these trees on the sides of my house are already in place, beds are created. I'm only working on the front 50' x 50' section at the moment. This is an actual scale drawling, but shrunk to fit your screen. I would really love at least a couple beds and a few free standing trees in the front section. As soon as I get finish designing behind my house in a month I'll be sure to post a picture of that in a new thread for your review =)... I'm having a lot of fun with it though... Photoshop is awesome! Well after I'm dinner later tonight, I'll try to draw up something a little different in the front. If you have any ideas on the front bed, I welcome them! After all, making a mistake or two on paper is easier to fix than trying to fix everything after you have it all planted.

    Bookmark   November 24, 2011 at 11:35AM
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dcsteg(5 Shawnee, KS.)

Nice landscape plan rick.

Out back I would round off those two island curves where you bring them close to match each other. A softer curve on both would flow better instead of the arrow head look.

Other wise you have arrived. Front look ok.


    Bookmark   November 24, 2011 at 2:01PM
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ken_adrian Adrian MI cold Z5

when i lived in suburbia ... EVERY single sq foot was used ...

when i moved to 5 acres.. it took a couple years to understand.. that i had a lot of extra sq feet ...

that is a beautiful piece of ground ... in the pic

please explain.. in detail ... why you need to use the first 20 feet from the edge of the road ... DISCUSS AND DECIDE.. time limit : one hour [as they used to format issues in law school]

get a load of soil ... get a landscape rake... level it all out for ease of mowing ... roundup around the pole .... add some athletic field grass seed ... and leave the the first 20 feet as the easement it is ....

your drawing looks like it has a couple hundred dollars worth of stock plants.. so far from the house.. that in the picture.. you will never be able to focus on it ... sans a telescope ... that is a waste ...

i would remove the entire road bed from your drawing.. and enlarge the upper jelly bean into to something akin to a blue spruce bed .... maybe blue can enthuse you with a pic

i can never remember.. are you the OH rick .. did you see the post on the mini convention??? you could get that car out of the garage.. and have a reason for a road trip ... lol ...

did you move from a small suburban lot????

55 minutes left on postulate one


    Bookmark   November 25, 2011 at 8:42AM
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Ken it's funny you mention that... actually this morning before I head out I was redesigning that area and I took the easement bed out. Within the next year or two I'll put fresh topsoil down and reseed that area.

I'm the OH Rick... actually I came from my parents basement lol. So I had no landscaping experience, but a lot of web design experience. Just this past month I figured I would combine the two and create a solid plan that I can stick to year by year until I get all the beds in place.

I'll still leave the beds on each side of the drive... my neighbor (to the right pictured in the photo) did the same thing with there pole. They only used perennials, but it still looks real nice. That will be the only bed in the easement.

Here's the updated version... I still have a few more tweaks I need to do to these beds.

    Bookmark   November 25, 2011 at 10:55AM
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Ament(5a SD)

Less lawn means less work. Period. I am all for less lawn in any landscape. I for one am so burnt out on mowing lawns.

I'm trying to convince DH to be rid of as much of the dreaded lawn as I can possibly get him to get rid of. As I'm the one having to use a push mower to mow the wretched stuff. =( He's deployed a lot, so I'm almost always stuck mowing it. LoL

You're lawn has too many curves, too many islands, too many "Things" to mow around for me. I'd not want to mow it. And a whacker is a trees worst enemy, just ask Ken what those do to trees. LoL

In my 1/4th acre lot we have a telephone/power line pole as well as a box at its base located in the SE corner of the lot. Since the neighbor did not build the gate to cover this hideous monster like he said he was going to, two years ago... I planted 4 O'Clocks a few feet in front of the beasty box so I don't have to see it. In front of that I have other flowers that will come up in the spring. =) Everything will reseed, so that if they do have to grub around in there, I don't have to stress over it.

Good Luck with your yard, Hopefully you get a riding mower. Hehe!


    Bookmark   November 30, 2011 at 1:00AM
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botann(z8 SEof Seattle)

You said, "Just this past month I figured I would combine the two and create a solid plan that I can stick to year by year until I get all the beds in place".

A plan today will be outdated tomorrow as your knowledge increases.

I would remove the islands also. Too busy looking, as is the trees in the middle of the lawn which interrupt it's flow. I'd make your perimeter, or privacy beds, larger where you don't want the view, and work in from there. With all your property, you should strive for a grand look with long views looking out from the house. Avoid the cluttered look, .....if you can. It's harder than it appears.
My opinion only. There are no set rules, only general rules.

KISS. Keep it simple Sample.

    Bookmark   November 30, 2011 at 7:25AM
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Tina - Actually you would be surprised, the beds I have now have actually cut my mowing/trimming time down to 1.5 hours from 2 hours with a 42" riding mower. I really don't enjoy mowing, but don't hate either. Actually I kind of enjoy it more going around the islands than mowing in a square lol. I hope to get a larger mower within the next year or two to cut it down to around an hour.

Mike - I agree... I may make a few changes from time to time as I lay the design out in the back yard. I can't see me not changing something as my design progresses and new plants become available.

Most of my design is based around collecting rather than the design itself... One thing that is important to me on the weekends is walking around my grassy or pavered pathways with my coffee enjoying everything up close. That's why I like to have a few different beds inside my privacy beds rather than one large bed.

Labeling and knowing what the plants are is also important. If the beds are to large I woulnd't be able to keep or see the label on it from the grassy area. Some of my beds are larger 100x30, others are smaller 20x20.

The area I'm designing out back (roughly 200'wide, 600' deep) has a couple long distant views... I should be finished with this in the next couple of weeks. I think you guys will enjoy it... it doesn't have nearly as many obsticals as my front yard.

    Bookmark   November 30, 2011 at 8:31AM
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ken_adrian Adrian MI cold Z5

i am going to disagree with botany ....

his landscape is incredible.. as we all have seen in his various pictures ... totally natural ... no beds.. etc ...

the problem as i see it.. is that rick will be starting with small plants ... and i dont care what he does ... it isnt going to look like mikes for a decade or two ...

and to accomplish what mike did.. he is going to have to plant these tiny babes... at least 10 feet apart ...

the issue arises at that point ... i like the bed .. and the designs... for the first 10 years ... it adds to the landscape.. and eases lawn mowing to the max ...

but as the trees/conifers ... start to evolve.. and grow ... one has to understand that the beds will mean nothing.. and it will start looking like mikes ...

so you have to have both theories at work ... if you try to focus on the 20 year light at the end of the tunnel ...

beds.. help/aid maintenance of the babes .... but do not be confused.. and understand.. that the beds will disappear ... so you do need to focus on mikes/botann's suggestion ...

and for sure.. do NOT block long vistas .. forgetting those darn trees will start growing like the weeds they are ...

make any sense... or do i need to try again ???


    Bookmark   November 30, 2011 at 8:45AM
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whaas_5a(5A SE WI)

Rick, what a leap from your previous plans!

Only suggestion I would really push is that you should swoop out the bed off the front right corner of the house. It will give you much more dimension.

In the end not only do you need to take your needs and wants into consideration but also your live in family. I had to design around my hyper active dog (she is a blessing and a curse) as well as leaving space for my young ones. My other half doesn't support my planting obessesion to boot. After my house, garage, patio and drive my 1/2 acre is cut down to about 15K sq. ft. I wish I had triple that but just can't afford it unless I lived out in the boonies!

    Bookmark   November 30, 2011 at 10:43AM
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Ament(5a SD)


I have the same issues, DH doesn't get it. With the plants and such. He just don't care... And I have two dogs. Not your average sized one(a great dane) and an average sized one(a blue heeler) LOL

So this yard I'm in right now, I truly cannot do much with it. I'm stuck with lawn. For dogs. I am going to plant things out front, to keep kids from walking through the middle of my yard to ring the bell at Halloween. That just annoys me when people cut through the yard. So I'm planning to plant to prevent that. ;)

If you are willing & able to put in the effort to maintain whatever you plant, plant away. Just remember how things grow, plant accordingly. Far too often I see people plant things in the wrong place.

One dolt down the road has a pine planted right up against his house. It irks me every single time I drive by. This poor pine is smack up against the house. No joke! I'll have to get a photo of it for you guys. It IS gorgeous, I love the color. It would be absolutely beautiful, if given the appropriate place to grow in. =(


    Bookmark   November 30, 2011 at 11:50AM
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dcsteg(5 Shawnee, KS.)

Islands/beds come and go. Just ask me I have been at it for 15 years.

If me I would start slow. Put in the perimeter beds first. They will anchor the rest of your design. Then step back and take a long look at flow and balance.

I am not sure about the trees in your plan outside your islands. Are they conifers or deciduous? If deciduous where does the shade fall in relationship to sun loving conifers?

After your initial installation take another hard look at your islands you have left to do. This is the time for any corrections in design or plant relocation.

Islands integrated with each other, if done right, with natural turf walkways as a buffer zone between them is something you can take to the bank. Your plan looks good. I would bet in 10 years you will have already made changes you would now not consider. As you knowledge and experience in design grows then your garden will benefit by the inevitable changes that will be forthcoming.

    Bookmark   November 30, 2011 at 4:25PM
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whaas_5a(5A SE WI)

Put in the perimeter beds first. They will anchor the rest of your design. Then step back and take a long look at flow and balance.

YES! Great piece of advice. I've had several designers tell me to work from the house out...I don't think so.

    Bookmark   November 30, 2011 at 5:18PM
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