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Need your help with this house- no plants or trees

Pearisburg, VA(Zone 7a)

This is my neighbors house. I will post a few pictures and ask for suggestions. The bushes in front are Rose Of Sharon - no idea what color. We need trees, shrubs, and color. The side view of the house where the steps lead to the front door has one purple clematis growing there - that's all they have.

They love grasses, but anything except holly types will work. Please give us any suggestions you have - a clean slate for us to develop.

Thumbnail by shihtzumom
Pearisburg, VA(Zone 7a)

another

Thumbnail by shihtzumom
Pearisburg, VA(Zone 7a)

more

Thumbnail by shihtzumom
Pearisburg, VA(Zone 7a)

side where purple clematis is

The 2 bushes beside the steps will be removed.

This message was edited Feb 5, 2008 11:19 AM

Thumbnail by shihtzumom
Novato, CA

I think planting is the least of your neighbors worries, though certainly it is warranted .

From my perspective of safety and welfare I would address the front entry , and fast.

That is one set of dangerous entry steps just outside the front door.
No way would this fly past the Building Department in CA or any other state that has good safety code compliance laws.
By code you must have a landing that is a minimum of three feet deep at the door way and if a door swings over the entry, the entry width must match the door swing + six inches and the landing cannot be any lower than 1 inch from the treshhold.
( and you thought my job was just designing purty plants ! )

After safety issues are addressed then I would start :
- looking at architectural structural plants that can ground the house to the site
- address and provide a sense of entry via both hardscaping and softscaping
- address shade canopy ( trees ) for the summer and solar gain for the winter

This project doesn't need suggestions for ' trees, shrubs, and color', it requires comprehensive site analysis for the integration of house and garden.
You don't have to hire a landscape architect to do this , but good planning from the beginning that considers all the nuances of solid landscape design should be undertaken otherwise money will be wasted and the site challenges left unmet.



Desoto, TX(Zone 8a)

I'm not a designer and DD's thoughts hit me first thing. Has a previous porch or stoop been torn off?

LouC

Pearisburg, VA(Zone 7a)

I agree. They never use this door. They park in the back and everyone enters from that level landing/concrete porch. The front is NEVER used. Yes, it does need a porch and I'm not sure what was there before since I only moved in Aug 06 and this house will fit inside mine - we share the driveway. They are a young couple, early 30s/late 20s.

But you see how dull it is. I'm sure he will build a small deck/landing on the front but his building plans are in the back area where there is actually people coming/going. The front will only be the view to passers by.

Thumbnail by shihtzumom
Pearisburg, VA(Zone 7a)

back - they enter where the awning is located.

Thumbnail by shihtzumom
Pearisburg, VA(Zone 7a)

and look at our view - my house is on the right with the white fence

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Isabella, MO(Zone 6b)

Do you have a Cooperative Extension Service in your state which is associated with your state university? Many times they have landscape architect(s) on staff that will come out to a person's house and draw up a landscape plan free of charge. At least we do have such a service here in Arkansas. Of course, you have to call your local county extension office and make an appointment and sometimes it will be weeks before the person can make it out to your house. This is just a suggestion since your neighbors are a young couple and they may have limited finances to spend on a large-scale project. It would be best to get the advice of someone in your zone because they would know what plants, trees, shrubs grow in your area.

Also, you could visit some of the gardening blogs of other DGers and see what they have done. I have looked at some of them myself and most DGers who have blogs here also have beautiful flower beds.

Isabella, MO(Zone 6b)

Here's a link that will take you to a site where you can design your own garden plans. It also offers garden plans of various kinds.

http://www.bhg.com/bhg/category.jsp?categoryid=/templatedata/bhg/category/data/gardenplans.xml

Isabella, MO(Zone 6b)

Here's a photo of a bloom on an ornamental grass which I have in one of my flower beds. The bloom comes up on tall spikes. I really like this grass. It is called "Flamenco torch Lily (kniphofia uvaria)

edited to add: I looked it up in plant files. It should be hardy in your area, too.

This message was edited Feb 5, 2008 5:13 PM

Thumbnail by marsue
Adrian, MO(Zone 6a)

Is that a lawn jockey hiding in the bushes by the porch? Is he staying? lol!
I would put some large shrub roses along the front to hide the cement of the foundation.
maybe some polyantha roses in the very front of the yard by the steps and rose of sharons. couple of ginko trees in the middle of yard. a couple of clumps of ornammental grass would work also. Those few things would make much improvement. maybe some bulbs planted along the sidewalk.

Port Vincent, LA(Zone 8b)

Hi just playing with my landscape designer. It doesn't transfer in Jpeg so I had to take a picture of the pic on the computer, Duh. Just to get ya'll's creative juices working.

Thumbnail by Debbie2007
Port Vincent, LA(Zone 8b)

Also shitzu, I received a correspondence from Arbor Day Foundation. They want to send me 10 free trees. According to them and I quote "The Arbor Day Foundation is all about trees. Our mission is to inspire people to plant , nurture, and celebrate trees".

You may want to write to them for more info: Arbor Day Foundation
Member Services
211 N. 12th St.
Lincoln, NE 68508-1497

This may be a start for your neighbors to put some trees on their lot. Also, when I first joined DG, I asked on the different forums for Plants for Postage and received some real nice ones.. And I know that each county has a place to call for free trees and they plant them. So, if you could help them get the plantings for free, then, with help from his neighbors, maybe he can build a porch out front to get things started.

Debbie

Adrian, MO(Zone 6a)

good picture debbie, everything looks so green except the grass. lol!

Port Vincent, LA(Zone 8b)

I know Len, but I was being lazy. LOL

Adrian, MO(Zone 6a)

ok sorry! i've never used a landscape program before.

Northeast, LA(Zone 8a)

Debbie what program are you using and is it hard to use. Maybe you could give a demonstration talk at Jeri RU on how to use a design program. I know we would all love to know how.

Desoto, TX(Zone 8a)

That looks really good, Debbie. Would change the entire front of the house with that deck/porch. Good choice of plant material too.

C

suburb of Toronto, ON(Zone 5b)

The problems with the front entry were the first things that struck me too. My guess is that the area in white siding was once an open porch that someone enclosed (probably illegally, without a building permit...) It definitely needs a proper entry landing. Even if it is not used often, it is the front entrance that presents itself to the street and is likely to be the one approached by strangers. The current entry is a liability risk and should be a priority for correcting. All that white siding is also an unattractive (to me at least...) contrast to the red brick and makes that area look like it doesn't belong to the rest of the house! By breaking the house up into two smaller chunks, the house also looks smaller than it would if it was all one color. The simple solution is to paint the entry area (and the gable end of the house) in a color that matches the brick as close as possible. I would also use masonry paint in the same color to paint the exposed concrete of the foundation before planting whatever they chose to plant there. Having a consistent, contiuous color in the background would enhance whatever plantings are ultimately decided on.

Pearisburg, VA(Zone 7a)

Debbie - that is stunning. I love it. White decking material would carry the siding color out into the yard.

Actually, you won't believe this but the home owner and his brother own a lawn service business. They mow with the stand on type of mowers, do other painting projects, roofs, gutters, etc. I guess it's like a hair dresser with terrible hair. He did have a building permit and it was legal - and it's actually very well done inside and the windows, wiring, etc were professionally done by contractor relatives.

Without taking the time and money to have brick on the former small porch, I guess they chose white siding. If they had white shutters and and white rose bushes and maybe white clump berch trees out front that would also bring that white out more. Also with NOTHING in the yard, all you see is that big white area. If there were planting and proper decking it would make a major difference.

I also realize I can get the extension service to provide info but being a member at DG since 2003 I know what wonderful knowledge we have here and I thought advice on plantings, decking, etc would be fun for those who like a blank canvas - I really didn't count on having all the comments about how bad it looks -we know it's bad - that's why I'm trying to help the folks. DG is a wonderful source of info.

That is why I'm trying to find a source of positive things that can be done as cheaply as possible. They are planning on building a deck on the back where it's more private and not on a 4 lane road. I understand the concept of visual effect of passers by but I also understand the desire to make the home more 'user friendly' and with their 4 yr old son - they want the back area where he plays, which will also be fenced in, as the source for their expense this year. I wanted to put trees and some plantings there just to help SOME with the front.

Kathy

Novato, CA

two words :
Master Plan.

Pearisburg, VA(Zone 7a)

I saw your web page deviant ! I can see where your detail and instruction type comes from - experience. Right now I'm just trying to help a young couple get started. I dig all day, every day I can and they just love it - but have no time or experience and they asked for help with suggestions and I want to do what I can -

Kathy

Port Vincent, LA(Zone 8b)

Here's another look. Not great, but with a little white wash and a few trees, big difference.

Thumbnail by Debbie2007
Adrian, MO(Zone 6a)

I think if the front steps had a railing, maybe wrought iron, and the door was a little more formal looking (maybe an oval window), and was painted or came in a different color like maybe brown or green? and the steps were either power washed or perhaps coated or painted. that and along with the plants especially hiding the concrete foundation in front, i think would do wonders. the front door looks more like a back door than front with the square window. maybe a fancier front porch light fixture. nice door hardware. the shutters look a little dirty or maybe need painting. other than that i think it is a nice cute little house. I wouldn't be too concerned with ca codes, they have houses there on cliffs that look like if you walk out the back door you will fall off the cliff! lol!

Adrian, MO(Zone 6a)

drapelady, you just keep getting better all the time! i'd like to see it with a colored, oval shaped window!

Northeast, LA(Zone 8a)

Debbie please read this post I would like to know.
http://davesgarden.com/community/forums/p.php?pid=4501503

Port Vincent, LA(Zone 8b)

Hi Cindy, I'm sorry I didn't reply. I guess the reason is, I don't really like the landscape program that I have. It is called Imagine Pro 7. I am used to working on my drapery design CAD program and it is so much better. But the one for my drapery designs for my customers cost about $400.00 and Imagine Pro 7 landscape program cost between $50.00 and $75.00.

On the IP7 I can import a photo of a yard and then add different plants, sidewalks, etc. on top of it. I just don't find all of the options to look very real. It has however helped me decide on how I want my backyard this spring, so I guess it was worth it. When I purchased it, I downloaded it from the internet, so I'm not sure how to copy it to bring it to Jeri's. But I'm sure if it can be done, my son "the computer wiz" can do it for me. If so, I'll be glad to let ya'll play around with it at Jeri's and I'll show you what I've learned so far.

Debbie

Northeast, LA(Zone 8a)

Thanks Debbie

Pearisburg, VA(Zone 7a)

Debbie,
I really like the 2nd version because it's less expense on a front deck. Painting the basement wall white also added a much needed change. I'll show them the 2nd picture this evening. I emailed the first one last night.

What if the side roof A shape is painted white vs. faux brick color adding much more brightness and also painting the shutters?

Pearisburg, VA(Zone 7a)

I just emailed with the house owner.

They want a deck that runs the full length of the front of the house or at least most of it. I don't think there's enough space to run a deck around the left side of the house around to the back - we share the driveway but there must be 10 ft from the structure to the property line but I think that would be nice so visitor who WILL park in back can walk on the deck around to the front where they will be sitting. Plus, the sun sets behind the house and it's HOT in the summer.

Ideas?

Port Vincent, LA(Zone 8b)

Ok. First picture is full front deck with left wrap around. You will notice (at the Pencil point), that once the deck wraps around, it will be ground level with the back of the house , allowing you to access the deck from there.

Thumbnail by Debbie2007
Port Vincent, LA(Zone 8b)

Second picture is the deck like I had it in the first picture you emailed them, but I've added the left wrap around for back access . Also I painted the eve white for you to see if you like it like that.

Thumbnail by Debbie2007
Port Vincent, LA(Zone 8b)

And third picture is deck half way accross front of house with left wrap around to back.

Port Vincent, LA(Zone 8b)

Sorry, forgot the picture.

Thumbnail by Debbie2007
Port Vincent, LA(Zone 8b)

Oh, forgot. In answer to your question about should the steps come out toward the drive or toward the front. I think toward the drive is better because it eliminates the need for a walkway.

suburb of Toronto, ON(Zone 5b)

I like the idea of the wrap-around deck. If the railings are white, that would go a long way to integrating the white siding. With the white siding and a white railing, the eave sholuld be white too. But I would not use white paint on any exposed foundation that was not hidden by the deck. White draws your eyes and you really don't want to drawn attention to the foundation! If the foundation would remain visible after the deck and plantings are in place, paint it to match the bricks or at least paint it in a dark color, not one that would draw attention to it. Like drapelady, I'd be inclined to have the stairs face the driveway. A level landing area at the bottom where people would be getting out of their cars would be a good idea.

Pearisburg, VA(Zone 7a)

That is a stunning deck. I love it. THe last one is perfect and the only exception would be the steps going to the driveway. I know you've spent tons of time doing this and I will send you a surprise for taking time to do this.

I think the wrap around is perfect, along with the deck coming wider in the middle to give it dimension. Only thing is steps and I think they want those exiting from the right side of the deck. That way visitors who park directly behind their house can enter from your side deck, walk onto the deck and if they wanted to plan in the yard they would exit on the right. There's no room for steps on the left.

Woodyoak - the driveway is shared and not one parks there. We all go up the drive - us to our garage at the top of the hill and they park behind the house as shown above. No one will get out at the drive way because it's right at the main road and someone would rear end you if you took to much time pulling into that driveway.

I love it. I'm going to send him pictures now.

Drape - you really need to do this for money, small money, but on small projects you really could help lots of us.

Can't wait to show him.

Port Vincent, LA(Zone 8b)

Right side steps and hostas. I'm sorry the porch looks kinda warped, but that is the only right hand steps the program offered.

Shitzu, I'm sending you a dmail about co op.

Thumbnail by Debbie2007

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