Hi- I'm looking for sources of inspiration for re-doing the landscaping around our 1959 brick rambler.
The house had no landscaping to speak of when we purchased it a few years ago. I dug up beds in front and planted in it many of the plants I could not part with from a previous home. I realize after 3 years that things just aren't working. I love cottage garden style, but it really doesn't go with a brick rambler. Cottage Garden on Brick Rambler is like lipstick on a pig, it is trying to make it something it is not.
What has me stuck is what is a good mesh with the basic, rectangular lines of a rambler? Do I go minimalist, geometric and repetitive? The cottage garden looked too cluttered against the basic lines of the house. That said, I don't want to go the route of sticking green meatballs all neatly in a row in front of the house. The books I read all show great landscaping around grand homes and quaint cottages. Those homes have "great bones" to work with. The adjective I can come up with for the profile of your typical brick rambler is "utilitarian." I need inspiration to create landscaping that does not clash so badly with the house yet isn't boring. [I've got 2 acres in back to relocate my favorite plants yet again and be crazy]
Anyone have ideas or know of good resources for landscaping mid-century homes?
We live in a subdivision where the houses (Split, Bi, Two story, Ranch, etc) were built in the 60s. What is planted out front varies in the neighborhood depending on if they want something more formal or informal.
Formal, geometric doesn't work well on the houses in our neighborhood. What I've seen work is a mix of shrubs sometimes grouped or repeated in the foundation planting. Usually something that stays green through the winter is a good idea. The house we live in has board and batten on either end with a section of sandstone in the middle. The sandstone is ornate enough that I can get by with just perennials and some decorative items like a support for clematis or a looking ball on a stand. The board and batten area has to have a shrubs including some evergreens.
Shrubs that Iíve seen used in the area are as follows: Pycanthia, oak leaf hydrangea, Hydrangea, boxwood, roddies, azaleas, twig dogwood, holly, Daphne, Itea, arborvitae, spirea, variegated cedar or thuja (slow grow/miniature style), euonymus, and roses.
Small trees would be small redbuds, hawthorns, crabapples, sambucus, and Japanese maple trees.
Some perennials would be lirope grass, Solomon seal, dianthus, and thyme.
If I find something I'll let you know. I think This Old House mag had a digital re-do a few issues ago, but the rambler had an interesting two-tone facade. I'm dealing with brick, end to end. It's a blank slate, for better or worse! I think you are right about something evergreen. I have some broom plants that look to shaggy and will move to the back yard if I can get them out. I have one Pycanthia that would stand out if not obscured by the shaggy broom! Roses are out for now as I lost 30 due to Rose Rosette! I'll have to look into variegated cedar.
Someone once described my planting style as Fruity Pebbles... which I don't mind, but I think I need to reign it in a bit around the house!
Does fruity pebbles mean lots of color? What color is the rambler and do you have a picture that you can post?
We have a red brick chimney in the back of the house. When we were looking at replacing the concrete patio we figured out that whatever we put back there had to be visually calmer. Having a patio and large chimney of brick made it look too busy. Brick just because of the size, texture, and color already has a lot going on.
Another thing we noticed is that colors (plants, paint, etc) that went well with the red brick chimney didn't always work as well with the sandstone on the front of the house.
Yes... I am a bit of a raccoon when it comes to plants. Something shiny, colorful, variegated, texturally new gets me crazy.
The rambler is red brick. Hopefully I'll find a photo somewhere... most are on my husband's computer. The other thing is that the house sits back from the road a fair piece, so I think that when I pick plants that need appreciation close-up they really look like weeds and clutter from a distance.
I can understand the variety having planted a lot of different things in my yard. One of the neighbors has lots of irises in their foundation planting and it looks too spikey. I think the houses in the area are around 30 feet back from the curve.
I also live in a "shoe box" house...*LOL* I started out with the standard "meatballs in a row" approach to landscaping too, and it looked awful. I've since been moving toward a clean "Asian" garden style for the foundation planting and front of the house, and I find that it looks good. Using a lot of green and only a little very selective color really works well. I've got a mugho pine that's been allowed to grow to about 5 feet in height, pruned open into a sort of tree form, hostas, iris (you've got a good color palette with iris, so you can match them to the color of your house), ferns, low growing ground covers like vinca and lungwort, False Solomon's seal, etc. It seems to me that the more "horizontal" and monochrome color scheme of Asian gardens really works with rancher/rambler, split level houses, since they are also more or less horizontal in orientation. The "face" of my house is north, so I'm going here with shade/moist soil lovers. You can probably adapt the idea to sunnier faces. I'd suggest browsing thru some good books on Asian or Japanese gardens...you might find some things you can work with. Adapt the style to what you've got; as you said, you can't put lipstick on a pig. Check out the type of naturalistic landscaping that Frank Lloyd Wright used with his designs; also...and this might seem out there, check out the landscaping, plant selection around high-end commercial buildings in your region. I've got some great ideas from the landscaping in front of a big electronics design firm here!
You know what is strange is that I purchased 3 little mugos about a year ago. I thought that they were doing fine until early this fall when I found two of them being devoured by worms or larva of some sort! I yanked them out and I'm keeping an eye on the last one. My I have a nice dwarf blue spruce that is untouched. Very odd. I like the Asian garden idea. My house sits very oddly- picture a shoe box where the corners point east and west. I rarely get a good look at sunrise or sunset from INSIDE the house, I have to be out in the yard. This weird situating means the front and back get strong, strong light depending on the time of day and time of year- but when they are not in the light they are quite dark. I have some crazy shaped Chrysanthemums that prove that. They got great light all summer until mid-fall- when they needed it. They grew up tall, then all the sudden bent deeply and turned their faces to reach for the sun! They'll move to the back this spring!
As for high-end commercial buildings- there aren't any around here! Ha ha ha! I work in a lovely facility that the donor paid for a re-forestation project and the mass-planting of native plants. The trees are tiny, but the native plants are a wild-looking lot (in a good way) with color in every season. I'd follow that path if I could but my other half is still stuck in that construct of having a lawn. As if he really, really likes lawn-mowing.
Lady...yes I'm a plant lover also but try to do more of grouping of flowers together, ie group of 3,5, or 7 like plants. That helps to cut down on the cluttered look and the eye flows better to the next grouping. Soften the edges (or corners) of the house with groupings of shrubs, the other side could be a group that include a few small trees which bloom (ie crabapples or whatever grows good in your area). The idea is to soften the hard lines. Beds could be extended to create areas for flowers. The front yard doesn't have to be boring, once you soften the edges you could add some of your fav. cottagy flowers with no problems. And if still not to your liking can move them to the back with the wild crowd, lol. In front keep colors that won't clash with the brick color, personally I'd be careful of any red, yellow or orange, staying with lavs., purples, some pinks (depending on the shade), blue and whites. Good luck. Kathy.