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Help getting my front yard finished...

North Wantagh, NY(Zone 7a)

I bought my house last year and I have been slowly working on it inside-out... I cleared out the front garden area and am having issues deciding what to add where. As you can see I started under the front bay window with 3 common boxwood shrubs with two munstead lavender plants... next to them is a scotch broom plant and two old gold junipers. At the end is a fairly young lilac shrub. The area is east facing with afternoon shade. I am stumped on what I should fill in the rest with and if any currently planted specimens could be placed differently. I am very novice when it comes to landscape designs and I would prefer not to have to pay someone to do a professional job right now.

My house is between three houses with immaculate and most likely professional landscaping so for now I prefer not to be an eyesore in the mix :)

Any help would be greatly appreciated. I am on Long Island Zone 7.


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(Arlene) Southold, NY(Zone 7a)

Doesn't Wantagh or Levittown have any garden tours? Take your camera and take photos of what you'd like and even what you don't like so you'll keep it in mind.

(Formerly from Hicksville)


North Wantagh, NY(Zone 7a)

I will have to check out Westbury Gardens sometime this late spring/early summer. I was thinking of some Euonymus Shrubs and some types of evergreens as foundation shrubs and fill in with perennials and annuals in front.

(Arlene) Southold, NY(Zone 7a)

Your area is filled with homes that are similar looking so a nice bike ride or walk might give you something you'd like for your own home.

Standish, MI

You can get more coverage from the junipers. They will grow to about 30inches in height and have a spread of about 5ft. They are quicker growing than the boxwood. The scotch broom, I think will grow to a hight of about 6ft. Saying that I wonder if you might not get better coverage if you place the juniper where the boxwood is and use the boxwood in the larger area. Even adding one or two more as specimen plants at that location. The scotch broom could be moved forward slightly because it will fill.

A lot of what a person does is a matter of choice. But you need to keep the eventual size of the plant in mind when you plant so be sure not to crowd your planting. You have a great clean slate to plant from and I would follow the suggestion from "pirl" of visiting gardens to see what you might like in your location.

North Wantagh, NY(Zone 7a)

Heh, yeah when I walk my dog I see so many variations on what I can do... The choices are overwhelming :)

central, NJ(Zone 6b)

I would extend the bed farther out make sure you don't plant right up against the house, need to look at how big the shrubs/plants will be at mature size. In your zone there are a TON of options
Do you like the look of flowers or do you just want evergreens and shrubs?
Better Homes and Gardens have wonderful garden plans that you can download for free

have fun with it!

Kiowa, CO(Zone 5b)

Be careful of those Junipers, I have some in the front of the house, already established, each is approx. 4 1/2 ft high X 5-6ft wide. Make sure all shrubs are out far enough from the foundation, ie say the mature dimesions of a shrub are 5ft x 5ft, the shrub need to be out from the foundation atleast half the width of the shrub and add a few more inches. Some shrubs get bigger than tags state. Any or all of the shrubs look as tho they are still small enough to be moved fairly easily. If you do move any do it soon as it will be easier on the plant before the summer heat sets in, also water in REAL good and add extra water for a few weeks to help it if there is any transplant shock from severed roots.
You don't say how wide the bed is, it in fact looks rather narrow. If you're still wanting to add flowers their are so many that could be used. Look around the neighborhood, pick up some books from the library, go on garden tours and look for some of the publications specifically on landscaping and or flower gardens. Better Homes and Garden always has some seasonal publications to get some great ideas. Begin with making the bed wider to give room for growth, find some plants you might like to add. With a white house, you might want to add some things that are not white, that way they won't get lost next to the house. And get brave, add some flowers that attain some height. There are so amny easy flowers to grow, get awy from the petunias and low growers. Mant perennials can bloom all summer, let me know and I will give some great suggestions if interested.
There are many shrub roses on the market that need little care and will bloom all summer. Personally I love Peonies, and have used them as a shrub, (it does disappear through the winter but I was ok with that). What I did love was the spring blooms and again the fall colors, many turn red or orange, (especially the red and pink flowered ones)
Actually the lilac on the corner of the house is not such a bad idea, for one it helps to soften the sharp corners of the house and anchors it to the ground..Just make sure it's planted far enough from the house. It should be atleast 10-12ft from the house, remember, they get huge!!! Always remember to look at the mature height before planting, and then plant far enough away from the foundation. Fill in with some perennials if you would like til the lilac gets bigger, that way the area won't look soo bare. If your not wanting to do some perenns., there are many great shrubs that would be lovely. Some Spiareas bloom all summer at about 3ft x 3ft.. Caryopteris ( Blue Mist Spiarea, tho not a Spiarea, lol.) blooms mid summer til frost or close to it. You could add several layers of shrubs to soften the front of the house. Home Depot, Lowes and Walmart all have 1 gallon shrubs for less than $10, some as low as $6. Just a few ideas.
Another often overlooked source of info is your local Extention Office listed in the county or state section of your phone book. They have handouts that are usually free and will give suggestion for your local. Also the Extension Agents, will be able to answer many questions.
Come back and let us know more about your project and we will help if we can. If ya wana grow some flowers just ask for ideas, don't be shy, lol. Gotta learn somehow. Kathy.
P.S. Remember to have some fun and enjoy it. Do you have any childhood memories of plants, smells or such? And some nurseries, (not a box store), might have someone who is Actually knowledgeable and might be able to give some ideas.
Pix 3: Salvia nemerosa blooms all summer when old blooms are cut off, 28", Pink, blue or white.
Pix4: Daisy, blooms all summer if deadheaded, this varitety is 48", but many varieties bloom at lower heights.

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Hopkinton, MA(Zone 5b)

SeePax, I'm a new gardener and these are some of the things I've learned:

* Draw your garden plan on a sheet of paper

...I write my plans (design, container ideas, to-do list, etc.) on paper and organized my ideas in plastic folders that I keep on a desk for quick reference.

* Add edge border panels between the grass and garden

…looks professional & prevents grass from growing into the garden
…plastic sells for as little as $1 per ft. (the bendable strips tend to warp so the hard plastic panels are better); cement blocks from the hardware store are about 60 cents per foot and are all-natural, but they might cause problems with the lawnmower; or if you want to use more resources you can buy bendable metal panels or make a cement border from molds, but wood and basket weave will rot quickly so avoid them
…if you really don’t want to separate the grass from the yard I strongly recommend straightening the border because the current wavy ragged look makes the grass look like it’s growing wild and doesn’t match the professional appearance of the neighborhood. Cut the sod (grass) with a large kitchen knife (free) or store-bought edger. I find kitchen knives, especially with serrated edges, work great.
…bark dust (mulch) will also create a professional-looking separation between the garden and the grass and prevents stepping in mud after a rain because it absorbs water.

* Find your style

…My style is a combination of structured and natural, sort of a Japanese garden look, but with a lot of folksy American elements. My mother is a great gardener and her style is haphazard and wild with Greek elements and animal sculpture. There’s no good or bad style, but avoid inauthentic style. Find one that matches your personality and write down your style elements on a piece of paper.

* An easy watering plan

…Inappropriate watering destroys healthy plants, so it’s better to figure out in advance how much time you’ve got to water the plants and then plan a watering system to spend the least amount of time watering. Internet garden advice is often wrong, for example, I read I should water peonies once a week but I found out my largest peony starts to wither unless I give it half a gallon of water a day. I’ve found easy and effective watering method is plant nannies (clay spikes with glass globes full of water) and now I’m experimenting with plastic watering spikes ($1 each at attached to large soda pop bottles which some gardeners say only have to be replace once every two weeks, but the spikes have to be filled with water crystals, sand, etc. to work correctly.


Russell, KY(Zone 6b)

Be aware that "mature height" as listed on plants is an average ten year size.
It does not mean that plants will stop growing when they reach that size.
Better to look at the average yearly growth and multiply that by your life expectancy :)

Unless you enjoy moving plants.

Get a plan.
Map the sun/shade on both summer and winter solstices.
Stop wondering what specific plants you want and instead decide on where you want height, where you need volume, where your eyes are going to rest, where you need winter interest and structure, where you need a view from the interior of the house... then and only then choose the plants to suit each purpose.
IMO the quickest way to become frustrated and having to do everything over three times is to buy a great plant and then wander around looking for somewhere to plant it. Repeat that 100 times and you will have a mishmash mess.
Buy the plant for the spot instead.
But get a plan together first.
Measure, draw, research.... plan.

Wakefield, MA

I think your three box in front of the bay window is a great idea. Box is such a great evergreen shrub and easy to keep the size you want. You could let them grow together or keep them separate. I know lilac comes in various sizes. Is it one that gets big? Don't have any experience with lilac personally. But I do know it needs full sun. Will it get enough in that spot? If it ends up being moved, other tall part shade flowering shrub options to soften a northeast corner could be pieris (mountain fire?) or mountain laurel (tall variety), though mountain laurel may be more for a natural landscape than the front of a house. Pieris has a nice shape and will bloom for you. I agree that if you like perennials and such, you will end up deepening that bed. That's what happened to me! It just kept getting deeper and deeper. Not sure how useful scotch broom will be in that spot. I think something with more weight to it needs to be right up next to it if you do keep it there. I'm all in favor of evergreens around the foundation of a house. They provide good structure.

Here's a pretty picture of a foundation planting, Sounds like those in front are dwarf burford hollies. Might want to check if those are hardy in your neighborhood, as it only goes down to zone 7, so if you are on the colder side of zone 7 it might not work:

Another idea, I think part of what looks so professional about some houses' landscaping is the hardscaping. So, nice, low walls in a curved shape, pavers and such. If you think you can do that yourself, you have a blank slate to start with, so lots of possibilities there. I definitely agree with nice, clean edging for your front bed.

Also, another thing I've noticed is that raised beds look very nice. Maybe a large raised island bed in the middle of your front yard? I mean that the middle of it would be raised and then it would slope down to the yard level. You could do all sorts of things with it...a large boulder and a large (not dwarf) red Japanese maple in the middle. Could be beautiful.

North Wantagh, NY(Zone 7a)

Thanks everyone for the, I started working on the front and will post some updated pictures after the weekend... it's funny that you mentioned about a red Japanese maple which I do have in the front already. There was a lot of mixed-matched stuff around it which I removed.... I am trying to find a nice complimentary low growing perennial or grass to place around the tree.

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Kiowa, CO(Zone 5b)

Just a note about Maples. They notoriously have a very fine and fibrous root sytem and close to the surface. Be aware if you start digging under that tree you will be increasing the chance of getting suckers from the base of the tree, that's if you can get into the ground. Might wanna look at some reseeding annuals to grow, which would cause little root disturbance. Ie.: sweet alyssum, Jonny Jump Ups (JJ tend to reseed and are dought tolereant once established, as roots from the tree will take most of the moisture). Just a few ideas, and that Maple is gorgeous!!!

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North Wantagh, NY(Zone 7a)

Thank you. It's funny, I noticed two suckers yesterday which I took care of... The previous owners had a bunch of crap around the tree that I removed last spring. I think I will work on the stone ring I want to place around the tree island (the front is sloped about 60 degrees facing the street) so a mini retaing wall is needed. I like the idea of the annuals, thanks!

I did finish the front of the house. Will post pictures when it stops raining here.

Skyline, MN

I would go with a low maintenance program-
add some low maintenance grass (like a no mow grass) which will really get your neighbors jealous.
Then add a few low ground covers that are edible, like thyme, orgegano or that attract butterflies.
Highligh the area with a few profuse rose bushes (for rose hips) that birds love and reduce the over growth around the house to highlight a water feature near the front door, which always wow's people when they come to the front door. maybe something Asian for a soothing feeling but have a few sprinkles of color, like a Japanese maple.

North Wantagh, NY(Zone 7a)

after a few trial and error with placement I opted for an interesting design that I am happy with...

from right to left I placed a grouping of Azaleas which i hope to grow into a nice hedge under the bay window mixing purple, pink and white shrubs. Next I placed a Diablo ninebark tree form shrub to help fill the gap between the bay window and the next window and in front of that another spreading Azalea shrub that for lower coverage with about 12" or a little more of height. Next I am experimenting with a Yaku Princess Rhododendron which I may move a little but I opted for this one since it is known to grown more compact than typical Rhododendrons. Under the two high windows running the length of the foundation I opted for a row of five boxwoods that should form a nice hedge that will reach about 4' - 5'. I opted for lower coverage since we plan on moving the high window over more and replacing with a normal double hung more centered in the room which will move it over and I didn't want to plant anything I would have to move that may block the future window. I then opted for 3 crimson dwarf and 3 golden dwarf barberry. The only problem I am having is what to place at the end of the landscape. I was thinking of a nice tree like a crape myrtle or something else but I am open to suggestions.

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Hopkinton, MA(Zone 5b)

SeePax, you've created a colorful garden! As for the front perhaps one of the cold-climate crape myrtles would work, but I think those are smaller sized and I guess you're looking for a tree that grows large?


North Wantagh, NY(Zone 7a)


that's the problem though. I don't know if I want to go too large maybe 20' max height. The myrtle may be the way to go.

North Wantagh, NY(Zone 7a)

after taking my dog for a walk today I think I am now leaning towards a pyramidal evergreen shrub... problem is that the end of the foundation where I would put the plant gets sun pretty much all day... morning through noon then again in the afternoon from behind... I think I am leaning towards Berkman's Golden Arborvitae

Berkman's Golden Arborvitae

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Hopkinton, MA(Zone 5b)

SeePax, that Arborvitae is very attractive! You're lucky to have a place that receives full sun as most plants do best in full sun. Our garden is about 90% shade and every year I lament the plants I can't have because we don't have enough sun.


Los Angeles, CA

For starters, I'd place a tall, square 4-5 ft. wide trellis on the right side of the house to create a counter-balance with the three windows and the tree on the left. I'd take out the juniper trees entirely as they will obscure your view and grow too close to the house-- if you have to move them out anyway, might as well move them to the property sideline. I would plant a flowering vine to grow up the trellis (beautiful) and find flowers that will grow 4 ft. high (don't know what works in zone 7) along the middle, between the windows and the trellis, with shorter flowering plants (boxwood is also good) under the windows.

After that, think about how you would actually like to "use" the front yard. Do you want to sit there and read? Would you like a vegetable garden? Fresh flowers? Would you like to walk through foliage and hear running water from a fountain? Twisty path maybe? Another shade tree? Visualize what you'd like to see when you look out the front window, when you enter your home, when you walk through the yard? How about elevation? Would you like to see a mound on part of it? A small pond? Play. Look online. Google gardens... put up some pix you like. I don't know flowers but I do know design. Dmail me. Good luck! laurie

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