Needing landscaping ideas

Camden, AR(Zone 8a)

I have FINALLY laid out a foundation planting for my house..... by that I mean I have a LINE painted on my yard where the metal border is supposed to go. I am not sure if ya'll remember, but I "hired" a local landscape person to design something for me - and I was very unhappy with his design, but I am trying to incorporate part of his ideas, along with some other ideas to come up with a design that I can be happy with. I know that I will incorporate a few crepe myrtles, and a few camellias..... I have a long raised porch that he recommended putting loripedilum in front of and I will probably utilize that idea....... but I need some other suggestions. He recommended azeleas for a lot of the bed - and I love azeleas but I don't want a large portion of the bed to look dead in the winter.

I would appreciate any suggestions anyone has..................... I tried to copy the tracing of his design and post it here but I can't get it from a pdf to a jpg format so it won't load...........

Any and all suggestions appreciated.

Genna

Northeast, AR(Zone 7a)

I think you can resave your PDF as a JPG when you go to save it. Select the "Save As" option and then I think you can click an arrow and select the jpg extension. I haven't done it in a while, but I think that's how I did it before.

The lorapetalums are ever-purple, so your bed won't look dead in the winter. They're beautiful, my main shrubbery. I plan to have it all around my house and all around my privacy fence. Mine blooms in spring and in fall. You can keep it trimmed nice and neat or let it get a little natural looking, which I do.

Also, get some arum itallicum. It's primarily a winter interest plant. It has arrowhead shaped green leaves with gold veins. Its showtime is winter. As summer comes on, it dies out. A bare stalk of orange berries will come up in the fall and drop seeds. Then as the heat wanes, the foliage will re-emerge to dazzle you all winter. It only gets about 6 or 8 inches tall but wows everyone who sees it. It's a great winter ground cover.

I also grow yuccas. A lot of people don't like them because of the "needles", but there are some varieties that don't prick. And there are some variegated ones as well. They're green all year round and look a little tropical. I have some that grow tall. With all this rain, they get something like black spot on the lower leaves. So I cut all those off, pruning it up a couple of feet. Then it looks like a palm tree. People around here often comment on my "palms". I'm attaching a picture so you can see.

Also in the picture is some lambs ears, which make a great groundcover. They're semi-evergreen for me. They reseed and quickly cover the ground with their soft fuzzy leaves, and they have pink blooms in the spring. They like it hot and dry--very drought tolerant.

Sedums are another great option. They're evergreen. Some hen and chicks are too. And you can put these in decorative plants if you wish and just place them in strategic places.

Don't forget to add garden sculptures and windchimes to enhance your beds. They're "evergreen". LOL Benches, unique rocks, vine posts, etc can all take the place of winter-showing plants.

Please post some pics of your new garden when you get it done.

NancyAnn

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Camden, AR(Zone 8a)

Well, I have gone all thru my emails and can't find where I scanned that - guess I finally deleted it when I couldn't convert to jpg. I will have to try to remember to bring it again and rescan and try that.

Thanks for the suggestions. I am so excited to finally be laying out a foundation planting! We have lived in the house 6 yrs!

Genna

Little Rock, AR(Zone 7b)

Sounds like you are off and running Genna! Why do you think the azaleas will look dead in the winter? They are evergreen! That is unless you plant native azaleas which do lose their leaves in the winter.

(karen) Little Rock, AR(Zone 7b)

is it primarily a shady spot?

Camden, AR(Zone 8a)

Almost the entire front of the house will get full morning sun - but then the house should shade almost the entire bed from the extreme afternoon sun. My house basically faces West. There will be a corner on the North of the front porch that might not get much sun..... but I am planting a camellia in the back corner and hoping that it will get enough sun there since they don't require a lot. I am hoping to put in some hostas and have a place for some caladiums since the area should be protected from the hot afternoon sun by the shade of the house itself.

We built our house extremely high off the ground..... 40" to the top of the cinder blocks - then the floor joists are 12" tall.... so 52" to the bottom of the floor. This means my porch is about 4' or slightly over off the ground..... So even plants planted in front of the porch (at least the ones toward the back of the bed) will have to have some height to them or it will look strange.

I didn't realize the azealeas were evergreen I guess Charlotte..... I used to have a few in front of my old house, but I really couldn't remember!!

Genna

Northeast, LA(Zone 8a)

Genna the encore azaleas could make a nice background. It depends on how deep the beds are. Morning sun is enough to make them bloom I think since they don't like evening sun.

Camden, AR(Zone 8a)

Right now the majority of the bed is laid out to be 6' deep - BUT, I will lose about 18 inches at the back of that due to the drip line from the roof of the house. I do not have gutters so I need to stay in front of the drip line. The part of the bed that is in front of the porch is only about 4.5 - 5' deep...... and then curves out right next to the front steps to about 10 - 12'. I do not have a front walk yet...... eventually maybe..... and then I will probably extend it down the sides of the front walk.

Forgot to bring the drawing to attempt copying and converting again!

How large do the encore azeleas get?

Northeast, LA(Zone 8a)

Mine have stayed less than 3 ft tall but I think the growth is different with different varieties.

Little Rock, AR(Zone 7b)

The encores would be really pretty Genna. They would give you color all summer. If they get taller than you want, you can just prune them. But like Cindy said I don't think they get real tall.

Isabella, MO(Zone 6b)

Genna, how is it that the front of your house gets morning sun if it basically faces West? My house faces full west and the front does not get any sun until noon or after but in the summertime, the plants in front still get at least 6 hours of sun in the afternoon.
Either lorapetalums or azaleas should look nice in front of your porch. Lorapetalums can get very large so you should keep in mind that you might have to prune yours back. I have to keep mine pruned to prevent them from overtaking my foundation beds. Also, since they do get so big, you might not have room for smaller plants in front of them since your bed is only 6 feet deep and you are allowing 18 inches for the drip line. I understand there is a miniature variety of lorapetalum now but I don't know how small it stays--it might be too small for what you are wanting.

Here's a photo of the front of my house so you can see why I have to keep mine pruned. The builder had 7 lorapetalums crowded on either side of the front porch along with spirea and a crepe myrtle on either side, too, which was way too many plants in the small space there. We took out the crepe myrtle on the left side before it got too big but the one on the right was already too big and we didn't want to damage the foundation of the house by trying to get it out. ( Of course, they were small when he had them put there.) We took out 3 of the lorapetalums and put them into the bed which we put in along the driveway (with the mums in it)--there was no flower bed along the drive when we bought the house. I now have two lorapetalums on each side of the front porch and I have to keep them trimmed back yearly. I also have to keep the 3 along the driveway trimmed. I have a friend who has lorapetalums along her back property line and they are 6 feet tall and wide! I certainly don't want mine getting that big!

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Northeast, AR(Zone 7a)

Lorapetalums can be kept trimmed nice and neat. Our KFC has a bunch of them planted and they keep them trimmed to two feet tall round balls. I don't like them that way--too formal looking. I let mine get tall and sprawling and just trim them as needed to maintain the space. I keep mine trimmed to about 3 ft wide so I can still plant around them in a crowded space.

Lorapetalums can also be trained as an espalier for a unique design against a wall. I haven't done it yet. I prefer a wilder look. But I'm thinking I may do something like that on the outside of my privacy fence where I've planted a row of Lorapetalums.

Here are some pictures of some espalier designs:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Espalier

Something like that might be pretty in my Japanese garden. It has almost a bonzai look.

NancyAnn

Isabella, MO(Zone 6b)

I don't trim mine into ball shapes, either. I let the limbs fall over more like a fountain shape. I was in Home Depot today and saw some of the miniature lorapetalums. The label said they would get 4-5 feet tall so they should work well for you, Genna, without you having to worry about them getting too big.
Those are some pretty espalier designs, Nancy Anne. They would be nice in a formal garden.

Camden, AR(Zone 8a)

Wow - can ya'll tell i am TIRED!? My house faces EAST not west....... so my back yard gets lots of hot afternoon sun - and so does almost all my front yard except for the part close enough to the house that gets shade from the house itself. Since the house is on such a tall foundation - it is almost as tall as some 2 stories..... and I heard one time that your flower beds should extend out from the house 50% as much as the wall is tall..... but then another friend said that was incorrect - so I am not sure if my beds are really deep enough or not. IF I did that 50% rule, they would probably be a foot or two deeper......

I didn't realize loripedilum came in two sizes. I have some planted in a bed down close to the road that I made around a light pole and guide wires so I didn't have to keep hitting the guide wires while mowing...... and I planted Loripedilum around the light pole hoping they would get really tall...... they have been there 3 yrs I think and are barely 2 ft tall..... so they must not be the large ones! :) About 4' tall would be the perfect height for right in front of the porch......

One of my biggest problems is trying to space things to allow for growth but it not look empty the first couple of years! The next biggest problem will be trying to control the dandelions and weeds because they are taking over my other beds - especially the big bed!

Does anyone have any ilex in your foundation planting?? The type of holly that has all the berries in the winter without the stickers on the leaves? I think you have to have a male and female to have berries - but I love the look of those bushes when they are covered in berries and I am wondering if I could add a few to the foundation planting. I don't want it to look too pieced together.... but I love so many plants!!

I appreciate all the suggestions!

One more question............... anyone have any experience on putting down the metal edging? I was told most people don't put it deep enough but I didn't know how deep it was supposed to go...... and also, is the type they have at home depot the same? It looks different to me than the commercial stuff I see................... Suggestions on where to purchase?

Thanks for all the help!
Genna

Brighton, TN(Zone 7a)

A good plant to go under your crepe myrtles is hellebores, or Lenten Roses. They stay evergreen and bloom during Lent, mine have been going for two months now. I really like them under the crepes because they are drought tolerant, like the sun in winter and the shade in summer.

Brighton, TN(Zone 7a)

I also went back through some of my landscaping books and they suggest that only 1/3 of your plants should be evergreen. I have a friend who only plants evergreens and for a while I hated them, especially those low growing junipers, He is starting to plant flowers, oh my, and I am planting evergreens. Be careful how close you plant to your foundation, in case work ever has to be done on the house, especially for things like painting. It is not a pretty site when your prized amaryllis is trampled, men do not care!

Camden, AR(Zone 8a)

Yeah, I know that !! It is a little overwhelming -trying to plan all the plants, plan for proper drainage AWAY from the house, and then plan to be able to access the phone box, the water faucet, and heaven forbid later roof work, etc ! I was having trouble with just the PLANT part! :)

Genna

Laceys Spring, AL(Zone 7a)

Genna, have you looked at any Chaemyciparis 'Gold Mop'? I have some in my driveway bed and also at the back of the house and I love the look. The foliage drapes nicely and is a yellow-green which is a pretty alternative to all-green evergreens. There is also a Sky Pointer holly that works well for the corners and is easy too. It gets around 4-5 feet tall and not too wide so works well for added interest and height. Sky Pencil is similar but gets a little taller. Mine are 10 years old and probably 6-7 feet tall and only about 18" wide. The dwarf lorapetalum would be good in the front of the bed. I think the name is Purple Pixie. I bought some at Lowe's last year for the lake because I didn't want to mess with trimming something every year and it also is nice for the small-space garden. Most azaleas are evergreen, but tender. I lost several in that killing frost back in 2007.
Good luck!

Central, AL(Zone 7b)

Small shady flower bed. Morning sun, evening it's shaded by our garage.

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Central, AL(Zone 7b)

Full sun, to semishade, bright from evening sun perennial bed x3-4 years.

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Central, AL(Zone 7b)

Adding a plash of color into the shade garden. I tried Columbine and Lily of the Valley here, ala! Those didn't return this year. But when I saw a different columbine from Lowes, I've got to replant it here. The Hosta has grown alot, I'll have to devide those this year.

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Little Rock, AR(Zone 7b)

Your hostas grow like mine Kim! Sometimes my columbine comes back and sometimes it doesn't. You would think that this would have been one of those years that it didn't make it, but most of mine came back.

Camden, AR(Zone 8a)

Well, I finally got some photos of the front of my house.... This is the first one . The tilled area is where my foundation planting is supposed to go...... This porch is 12' wide from the house to the front.

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Camden, AR(Zone 8a)

This is a front view of the same half...... forgot to say that porch is approximately 4' high.

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Camden, AR(Zone 8a)

The house faces East so it will get full morning sun til about 1:00 p.m or so...... the only part that will be partially shaded will the be the North (right) end of the porch up close to the house...... that corner is fairly shaded.

This is the North half of the house....... notice the bed extends to the end of the fence on this end because the left half of the house is longer because of the garage......

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Camden, AR(Zone 8a)

This is a closeup in front of the porch. I have an arch that extends out past the steps..... then a fairly straight (short) area in front of the porch, then it curves back out to sweep around the end of the porch, and then curves back the other way to start a fairly long run in front of the house, before curving back out slightly at the end of the house and extending over to the concrete pad. Although I would have preferred to have arched the curve at the concrete pad, for ease of mowing it just extends straight to it. Not sure if that makes any sense written......

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Camden, AR(Zone 8a)

Last one .... this shows the curve at the end of the porch ....and also the ONLY plant that is already in the ground. A camellia for the inside corner. There will be a camellia on the opposite end of the porch on the inside corner as well, and I am considering putting on each end of the house.

My thoughts have been to have a row of azaleas in the long run to each side of the porch in the background, and then add a second row alternating spaces with something else...... I have considered putting a crepe myrtle in the center of each wall in that second row, but I am concerned because the walls are NOT the same length.... also had planned to use a Natchez crepe myrtle because of the bark, but then realized they could get 30 ft - and that would be too tall for that location!

My husband and I like almost all plants, but are particularly fond of camellias, azaleas, and gardenias. I think there will be a full size gardenia planted in the corner on each side of the steps. I also love Japanese maples, and considered planting one of the weeping or cascading kind close to the end of the steps on each side for accent.

I am NOT a designer or planner or artistic - so any input on design is appreciated,
Thanks
Genna

Laceys Spring, AL(Zone 7a)

Oh boy, a blank slate!! Genna, do you plan any other hardscape like a paved path leading to the front steps? I'm assuming your layout already takes that into consideration.

I think a couple of dwarf dissectum Japanese maples would look lovely at the corners of your house. But give them some room and don't put them in the middle of the 'walls' of your house. Although the dwarfs are only 6-10 feet tall, they can spread. If you decide against JMs, you might put a couple of crepe myrtle at each corner to anchor.

I'm not a huge fan of a lot of azaleas as foundation plants either, but agree that some would look nice for the spring color. For background I'd probably stick with some sort of evergreen (maybe that's where you could add some camelias) and repeat on each side of the porch for better flow and then put the azaleas in front of your taller evergreens. Also consider different textures & different shades of 'green'...the chamaecyparis or yews might be good choices. I have a couple of dward hinoki cypess that also would work. Just remember to repeat some elements. At the front of the porch, if you have 4-1/2 feet you could incorporate a couple of iron trellis and use clematis for summer color in the back of some of your shrubs.

Let me know what you think before I go much further...

Elaine

Camden, AR(Zone 8a)

Thanks for the ideas Elaine. Some of the plants you have mentioned I am not familiar with so I will have to do some looking in the plant files. I do not have a sidewalk leading to the steps yet..... I have tried to lay out one in the past but was not pleased with it and just really did not want a straight concrete sidewalk. So, I have considered trying to do flat rock, but then there are some issues with that..... and I have also considered brick pavers which also have some drawbacks.

What do you suggest for evergreens??

Thanks!

Genna

Central, LA(Zone 8b)

Genna I forgot what light exposure the front of your house has? If it's not west and the way you love variety try putting a crepe myrtle on each outer corner and one of those Japanese maples on each inside corner.

Camden, AR(Zone 8a)

My house faces almost due East..... it is about 10 degrees off i think..... But the only 'shady' area in the morning is the right side (looking at the house) in that corner between the porch and the house - because the angle of the sun is enough to the left that the porch itself creates shade for that area, then the house shades it the rest of the day. Everything else on the front will have full sun until midday - maybe about 12:30 or 1 - then the house begins to shade it. The part that extends beyond the steps.....is about 16' deep and I am not sure how late in the day it will be before the front of that part of the bed is in shade...... I am REALLY wanting to put a weeping Japanese maple there next to the steps - but not sure if it will get enough shade.....

Central, LA(Zone 8b)

You know me I would try it. I'm on my 10th year of putting in Cry Babies and they die every time. But the next year I buy another one. They have actually labelled me the Cry Baby Killer at my MG plant sale b/c that is where I get them every year and Eddie and Dee are the same ones that have them and know what I have done to the others. LOL!!!

Camden, AR(Zone 8a)

LOL.... I didn't know you killed anything Jeri! Your yard is so beautiful!!

Central, AL(Zone 7b)

Jeri, hi. Is your Cry Baby the same plant as "Firemen's Hats"? I've got a few from our last get together. I pampered them, but they barely perform well when treated as "tropicals". I thought of transplanting them directly into the ground this year. But if they don't handle winter in your zone, they aren't going to handle 7b zone? Were they winter-killed or other ailments?

Genna, when comes to grafted Japanese Maples. It's worth it to research a variety that suit you best. There are thousands of cultivars out there. Personally, I found 'Crimson Queen' JP (My very first weeping JP) loves the blazen sun in my zone. It's facing west and unobstructed from any shade trees. 'Blood Goods' are two others JPs that do just as well in deep shade (facing North, NW). Good lucks with your project. I appreciate Elaine's suggestion. If I were to start with a blank slate. I'd follow her guides to the T. Jeri's experience with gardening is invaluable from her love of gardening. I wished I gardened with our groups years and years ago.
Kim

Camden, AR(Zone 8a)

Thanks for that info Kim..... it is the crimson queen that I was wanting to try but wasn't sure it would hold up to the sun. If it survives for you, it should be fine here.....

Genna

Central, LA(Zone 8b)

LOL!! I just read Elaine's post and we posted the exact same thing!!! I was going off the drawing you brought down with you. I still like the Lil Gem Magnolia also. I have a sweet olive by my glass door that more visitors comment on than anything else.

Yes Kim that is the one. Genna you will be surprised what I kill. DH says for every living plant I've killed 20. But he is counting annuals too!!!! My success comes from not giving up, certainly not from doing things right the 1st time!!!

Camden, AR(Zone 8a)

http://davesgarden.com/guides/pf/go/80799/

Is this the sweet olive you are referring to Jeri? It looks beautiful..... never heard of it - but then there are THOUSANDS of plants I have never heard of.

If I am understanding ya'll correctly, I should plant several different evergreens across the front...... Originally I was thinking a "background" of one plant, with others varying in front. My question is HOW do I know how many different things to put without making it look "choppy".... not sure if that makes any sense or not.............

Little Rock, AR(Zone 7b)

Yes Genna it would look good to have several different evergreens across the front. It adds interest and different texture and color. You don't want a single row of one plant all the way across and another row of another all the way across in front of that. It would look best if you stagger your plants (do them in groups of three making kind of a v) Hard to explain with drawing out. You don't have to plant it all at once. I would start with the area on either side of your porch and maybe a crape myrtle (or whatever you decide in front of the solid brick areas). Match up what you plant on either side of the steps and gradually work your way out as you have time and get a feel for how it is looking. It is also not so over whelming all at once. You can always move things around the first several months after you plant them. So if you don't like the look change it. But before you dig any holes I would just sit the plants in the pots where you think you want them and leave them that way for a few days to see how you like it. Just shift around until you get it the way you like it. Make sure you keep a permanent journal of the plants you are putting in and where they are located. Then as you add you will know what to buy if you want to duplicate some of the plants.

Camden, AR(Zone 8a)

Yeah - that duplicating plants is the one thing I am concerned about since we don't have a lot of selection. I am a little concerned if I lose a plant that I will have trouble finding it again..... but I will try to keep good records. :) So maybe.......

Thanks Charlotte!

Camden, AR(Zone 8a)

Elaine - I have done quite a bit of looking at the Chaemyciparis and I really like them! Thanks for that idea.

Ok, for all of you design people.....I know that I should repeat my elements on the left and right side of the house so they essentially match, but should I repeat the element on each end of each side?? For instance, if I plant one of the Chaemyciparis one third down the left wall (starting from the left end) would I also plant one one third from the RIGHT end of the LEFT wall??? and on ALL plants, I need to stay with a minimum of three??

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