Landscaping overhaul...Advice needed!

whiteforest(6 MI)October 20, 2012

So here is a photo of the house when we bought it, and then a photo after we did a "spring cleaning" of the front yard. I'd love to build out a cottage garden over time, with the 2 areas that are mulched already, and include along the walkway on the side that is currently grass and curving around the tree to the right in the picture, which would leave a small lawn still.

One thing that I'd like to do is remove or replace one or both of those dogwoods at some point. I just don't feel like they fit with the style of the house very well, plus they never do anything spectacular (they flower green in the spring, the berries are small, and the fall color has just been brown). The one thing that we do like about those is the window adds a bit of privacy. I'd love to hear suggestions on what others would do with this front yard, and some ideas for what to do instead of the dogwoods.

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Before you remove the dogwoods, prune them some. Then take them out if not happy. Paula

    Bookmark   October 21, 2012 at 12:17PM
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Well, I kind of like the "before" better than the "after". The dogwoods, to me, are fine there. What was the plant growing in mounds in front of them? Mounding cottage flowers would look great in their place, and I think you mentioned that was your long term goal. What did you plant there?

And sorry...but I do not think the red mulch compliments the house at all. The urn in the first pic looks great, did you keep it? a pair would look even better.

    Bookmark   October 21, 2012 at 3:49PM
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cyn427 (zone 7)

Heehee, seems schoolhouse and I like that slightly wild look. You have a wonderful house, btw. I would rather see regular mulch (disclaimer: I accidentally picked up dyed mulch once. Thought it was normal pine fines-now I read the labels more carefully).

What are the new plants you have in the front? If they are going to stay about the size they are now, you could definitely add more. I like your idea of adding a cottage garden in front of the walkway. I would definitely include some shrubs in the garden for winter interest, even if they aren't evergreen. Do you like hosta, hellebores, and ferns? Mixed with dicentra and other cottage flowers, that would look great, I think. I wish I could give you better ideas, but I am not really sure about zone 6.

I will look forward to seeing your progress. Really do love your house!

    Bookmark   October 21, 2012 at 5:37PM
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Charming house! And its beauty can be seen now that the overgrowth is gone! I like the wild look, too, but the "before" hid the walk, steps, and front door. The "after" is more welcoming.

I'm a dogwood fanatic, so I vote for keeping them or replacing with a variety that blooms more reliably for you. It's possible that these will bloom better now that there's less competition for food and water.

    Bookmark   October 21, 2012 at 9:28PM
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whiteforest(6 MI)

I did keep the urns; they are there in the 2nd picture too.

The mulch was just the cheap quick fix and I intend to have that entire area filled in with plants over time. I hated those overgrown shrubs even after they were pruned.

What I planted in their place is a mix of some nicer daylily varieties. I will likely end up moving them once I collect more plants and expand the front garden, but for now, that was where they fit.

    Bookmark   October 21, 2012 at 11:39PM
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I like the 'wild look' too...but it's easy to get too wild and need a machete to get to the front door :)

You have a great start, with your daylilies, but I'd want to have a little more height in those beds. Maybe some roses, delphiniums, foxgloves, etc. with smaller cottage flowers and bulbs in front of them.

You really have the option of working in a cottage garden theme, or more of a woodland theme, depending on what you prefer. Either one would look wonderful, with your new home.

As for the dogwoods, depends on what you want. If you want to play up a woodland theme, then I'd keep the trees and plant under them. If you want to do more of a sunny, cottage look, then maybe replace them with fruit trees and add a fence (maybe an arbor at the gate?) and keep the small lawn. Or, add some beds in the middle with flowers and maybe even some vegetables and herbs, if possible.

Oh, and very cute dog! He/she looks quite at home, in the new yard :)

    Bookmark   October 23, 2012 at 12:03PM
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girlgroupgirl(8 ATL)

The house is really beautiful. I think removing the larger shrubs shows the "bones" of it better, but I think that greenery will, in the long term look so much more welcoming and integrate the house into the grass better than the mulch will. I feel that color of mulch competes with the eye for the beauty of your home.
That said, the lines of your house are so strong, softening it with green will look lovely, but keeping the color scheme simple will prove even better for you. Autumnal colors in your garden, in all seasons will look gorgeous against that brick, but any limited color palette that includes plenty of green will look so nice.
I especially like the dogwood to the left side in this photo because it blends well with the neighbors existing greenery and small trees/shrubs. If you want to break the symmetry you can do something different on the right side if you wanted to (at least from this angle) it doesn't appear the neighbors have anything on that side of their house you need to kind of flow with. A tallish, narrow evergreen on the outer corner, along with a few shorter shrubs as "foundation" for your flowers would be fine here and fairly traditional to the style of the house. Another idea would be to do the corner shrub but place a dwarf maple in that garden instead of the dogwood. Not that I particularly dislike the dogwood, but if you decided to change it up, you could. I think the most important thing for you is keeping some sort of order to the garden, because the house is so symmetrical and more formal in nature, it needs that tidy order (which could mean a short shrub boarder with plants growing inside of it....)
Congrats on such a fantastic house!

    Bookmark   October 25, 2012 at 4:57PM
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tsugajunkie z5 SE WI

Nice house.

To make the bed that would include the tree on the right and protect it's roots, I'd do the following:

1. Cut the grass as short as you can.
2. Mark the bed out with a hose or rope until the shape fits your design ideas.
3. Cover the bed with cardboard or at least 10 sheets of newspaper (wet it down, if need be to prevent blowing).
4. Cover the newspaper with whatever organic material you can get your hands on. I used mostly leaves with a dusting of compost to hold them down, mulch works as well.
5. Leave it sit over winter and next spring you can plant right through it. The grass will be dead.

Unfortunately, the best time to start this is yesterday (leaves are available now).

I agree with ggg about a narrow conifer on the right. The Alaskan Cedar 'Green Arrow' comes to mind.

BTW- all these beds were done with the above mentioned procedure.


    Bookmark   October 26, 2012 at 6:09PM
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Chris_in_the_Valley(z7 MD)

Lovely house. I look forward to seeing what you do with the front. But, umm, are the dogwoods not a bit too close to the house? They will get twice as big as what they are now unless you have a special kind.

    Bookmark   October 29, 2012 at 5:55PM
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I guess i'm in the minority here,i like your after picture much better,i didn't like those bushes you pulled out either,too messy looking for the front of a house.JMO of course.By next spring you'll probably have it full of flowers,which will be pretty.

TJ,Now i do like your pictures and all the different colors,one question though,what is that tall skinny tree in the front,looks like some kind of fir tree,is it??

    Bookmark   October 30, 2012 at 9:43PM
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tsugajunkie z5 SE WI

Kathi- That is the Alaskan Cedar 'Green Arrow' I mentioned above. The name at the nurseries would be Chamaecyparis nootkatensis 'Green Arrow'.


    Bookmark   October 30, 2012 at 10:34PM
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