Natural landscaping ideas needed

SnailLover(5a MI)July 21, 2013

I'm in northern lower Michigan. I need some natural landscaping ideas for a house I just bought in a wooded area. The yard has been neglected. The side yard was once used as a dog run, which appealed to me because it's completely fenced and my dog needs to be contained or he'll wander. It was pretty rough looking when I moved in. I had the "field" mowed down, then I raked it and cleaned out the debris.

I know what I want, but I'm not sure how to execute it. I want to have a nice lawn in front with a stone or brick path down the middle. The sides bordering the trees and toward the back I want to leave natural so it blends into the woods. I also started a brush & compost pile in the back that I want to camouflage.

I also want to put in some kind of natural border. I have lots of fallen trees on the property and thought I could use them. Any ideas on how to do that? Then I'd like to encourage the ferns and other natural vegetation to grow behind the border and in front of the trees. Are sumacs a bad idea? I know they're invasive and there's a drain field close by.

This picture shows the entry way from the deck. There's a gate there and that's where I want the path to start.

Here's a wider view. I want the lawn to end just beyond that group of shrubs (choke berry?) The brush pile is on the left. On the right is a fence bordering the front yard, so that side will be all lawn. The drain field is on this side too so I have to keep it clear. That cement block is covering the sewer pipe! I'm looking into getting a proper cover put on.

I'd love any ideas. I'm looking for easy maintenance and cheap. I have enough to deal with on the other 3 sides of my house. I'll be doing the work myself... except for the path because I have a bad back.

This post was edited by SnailLover on Fri, Sep 6, 13 at 21:57

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SouthCountryGuy Zone 4b-5 SE BC(Zone 4b-5 SE BC Canada)

It is very obvious you need some milkweed.. It will really enhance what you have on the natural level.

BTW nice spot...

    Bookmark   July 21, 2013 at 11:42PM
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If you live in the country like I think you do you are going to have weeds and a large garden is out of the question with your back. I would use those logs to make a split rail fence along the side and plant a hardy vine like honeysuckle or hops along the fence. You may have to put up a lattice for it to climb on at first but it should soon take over.

Where that clump of small trees are I'd make an oblong flower bed and plant low care perennials and wild flowers native to your area. You can edge it with whatever you do the path out of or trench it. That would be enough for you to weed. You can put patches of native wildflowers (to your area) here and there to break up the expanse of trees. I wouldn't try to manage or do much weeding of these except to pull out the most obnoxious of them.

    Bookmark   July 22, 2013 at 6:01AM
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SnailLover(5a MI)

Thanks for the good ideas. I love the smell of milkweed flowers. I've seen a few around, maybe I can gather up some seeds. Love the trellis and honeysuckle idea too

    Bookmark   July 22, 2013 at 9:32PM
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I think it's a beautiful property as is. I like the stone path idea. I would have the path open up into a patio where you can set up a seating area for the morning coffee. Creeping Thyme would look nice bordering the path.

    Bookmark   July 23, 2013 at 1:08AM
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SnailLover(5a MI)

I love that look! Thanks for the idea.

    Bookmark   July 23, 2013 at 3:48PM
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I would use taller shrubs like ninebark darts gold, (ninebark is native, and comes in several colors/sizes) way back towards the trees, to soften the edge of the forest. Maybe put different low growing evergreen shrubs in, as you get closer to fallen logs that form the grassy area border. Sumac is lovely, but I would choose a colorful variety, like tigerseyes, using foliage for contrast, instead of relying on flowers. Epimedium is a flowering, dry shade ground cover, some having near red leaves. Flowers geranium Rozanne blue flowers, all summer in loose drifts.

    Bookmark   August 6, 2013 at 5:38PM
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SnailLover(5a MI)

Unbiddenn, these are awesome ideas. Really makes it easy to visualize. Going to save all these suggestions.

Now that things are cooling off I can start working on the lawn. It's much greener since that picture was taken, but still full of weeds. Sewer pipe is covered & buried, so I can check that off the list!

    Bookmark   August 7, 2013 at 9:53PM
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Sounds like a fun project. I would love to see pics of the finished project.

    Bookmark   August 8, 2013 at 2:23PM
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