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Small scale landscaping

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#1 sharon


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Posted 18 March 2012 - 12:37 PM

I'm looking for any help I can get with a practical but spectacular landscaping plan for the front of my condo.  Everyone has just basically 3 square (or round) shrubs below the front window.  I can only come out from the house about 2 1/2 feet and the window is 4 foot from the ground.  There is 4'10" on either side of the window but the side near the porch has a beautiful red, leafy shrub I want to keep.  The window gets afternoon sun but when the tree fills in for summer I'm not sure how it will be since I just moved in recently.  And to the left of the porch I will put annuals.

As you look towards the house the garage side is where I would like a full, lush, colorful (if possible) inviting approach to the porch (including a birdbath).  That side faces North so it is quite shady. From the walk to the garage it is 7' and from the porch to the end of the garage is 16'.  But...I can't fill in the whole space.  I can come out about 8' from the porch and then about 2 1/2 feet alongside the garage.  I hope that make sense.

I'm willing to remove what is there now or work around it (except the trunk of 2 huge old bushes will be removed for sure).  

I need lots of new dirt as things are dry, hard-packed clay.

Any ideas or help will be truly appreciated!  I hope this wasn't too much!

Attached Images

  • Walkway.JPG
  • Side of Garage.JPG
  • Front Window.JPG
  • Front of house.JPG
  • Front Corner.JPG
  • bush.JPG

#2 Janet Macunovich

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Posted 21 March 2012 - 07:16 AM

Given the space you have available and the coarse patterns on the brick and siding, I'm picgturing fine textured plants, clean contrasts in foliage colors, and distinct shapes. I'd start by finding, or having made, a birdbath that's a long narrow rectangle to go into that bed along the garage wall, then plant one group of boxwood or inkberry holly (Ilex glabra) under the front window and another to the right of the door, placing them and keeping them clipped to mimic the placement and size/proportion of the top of the birdbath. Use a colorful groundcover with the boxwoods, annual flowers in containers near the door...

Unfortunately, no time to sketch anything right now. Spring's sprung early and we're running hard to keep up.

The red leaf shrub is a dwarf Japanese maple. It could use pruning. (Check out Japanese maple portions of Dwarf Cut to Size in our What's Up news. Yours is just like those but given a shorter standard or trunk.)

The moss on the soil says there are drainage problems -- water's not flowing through that soil and so air isn't either. That makes it hard for roots to grow or plants to be healthy. Simply adding soil on top won't improve it. You should loosen the soil in the bed, trench along the lawn edge to put a perforated drain tile/tube along the front edge of the garden, sloped to collect the water from the bottom of those beds and carry it to left or right of the house. Might need a collection well on either side if there's no grade change to allow the pipe to empty at the surface, a ways from the house.

Sorry if that sounds like a lot of work, and indeed it can be a hassle. Essential, though. A spectacular look calls for healthy plants.

An alternative is to use plants that can tolerate poor drainage, using them in unusual ways, plus containers for the plants that can't take the slow drainage.

If you work first on improving the growing conditions and removing plants, perhaps we'll have a chance to sketch this idea by the time you go to shop for plants.

#3 PaulineG


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Posted 26 April 2013 - 12:35 AM

If you don't have a large budget to work with, a small outdoor space can actually be a blessing. From rock paths and walkways to wildflower beds to manicured plants that you start tending when they are young, there are many things you can do in the garden for less money.

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