Blank slate and new style...need HELP please!


I recently lost my 2 story colonial to a tornado and now have a brand new ranch home.
It took 17 years to finally get the front yard gardens perfect before and now I am faced with a big, empty, very rocky area to beautify again. I am at a loss where to even begin.
I lean towards "cottage garden", but don't know how to incorporate it with this style house. I would love to add 1 or 2 small flowering trees since the previous front trees were all wiped out.
I live on a Main St in a very rural area where most are older 2 story homes that have plain lanscapes. There aren't any landscapers/nurseries nearby to get ideas from either.
The front will soon have a small porch, so the doorway will be dressed up more than it is now. The house faces west, and gets 5-6 hours of sun each day.
I am open to any and all suggestions. THANKS!!

Thumbnail by snackie
Prairieville, LA(Zone 9a)

Hi Snackie.

First, so sorry for the loss of your home. Hopefully no one was hurt.

I would suggest looking into one of the free interactive garden planning programs. They allow you to drag and drop images of plants so you can "see" what things look like. Many of them include complete info on plant size at maturity to ensure proper spacing, etc. These are good tools for a "virgin" landscape as you get a better idea of the end result...before you plant.

Here are some ideas for Cottage garden plans

Here is some info on best trees for your area

Hope these are helpful to you.

Kiowa, CO(Zone 5b)

Just an idea: have you thought about adding a white picket fence in the front, nothing says cottage more than that to begin with, lol. and an arbor gate. If you can put in a picket fence it could be lined with vines, shrub roses and varios other small flowering shrubs as a backdrop for the perenns that could come in next. I noticed a car in the back..will it be coming out the front or do you have another acess area from which to drive?
Might consider some small flowering crabapples, cercise canadensis (flowering redbud), or Chionanthis (gosh I hope I spelled that right) or even a Hawthorn to help set the scene too, remember to sight your shade trees to your best advantage also if putting any in. Will you be rototilling up the ground? And are you including any grass?

Got all sorts of ideas if you like...just give us a bit more info....
Come spring....if your willing to pay shipping I got ALLL sorts of perens. I'd be happy to share with you!!!! (I could share several boxes if you like.) And I have hundreds of Iris germanica that can be divided..... Cottage garden, now you're talking my style....overflowing with blooms... Can't necesarrily change the style of the house but we can have you add things to help pull off the theme...or try Have you thought about adding window boxes? Also might want to look at some books by P. Allen Smith. Some of his older books where his garden was in town (now he lives on large acrerage). He didn't have any grass, all flowers!!!

Could build another arbor/gate going into the backyard also, again drenched in vines...annuals or perenns. Am in the process of landscaping my own backyard, and it will be nothing but trees, shrubs and flowers...Got a gazillion seedlings coming up under lights now...and am sure I will have extra foxglove, Anthemis tinctoria, daisies, verbascum, salvias, Aquilegias (Columbine) and other goodies...just tell us more...

Hey moon...thanks for some of those links..will have to check them out myself. Ya never know where the next great idea will come's fun being able to borrow ideas from others sometimes too...

So'll have to give us more info.... is it a do-it-yourself project or do you have helpers (family) or plan on hiring someone to put in the bones so to speak before you dress up the yard how you want it? Kathy.

Thumbnail by warriorswisdomkathy Thumbnail by warriorswisdomkathy Thumbnail by warriorswisdomkathy
Contra Costa County, CA(Zone 9b)

Lay out the house, windows, street and any other existing features on some graph paper. Draw to scale. A small area might be done at a scale of 1/4" = 1'.
Start with the hardscape:
Porch, walkway, driveway, access from street to door (for company) and from driveway to door for daily use.
Car port? Garage? So you need access from the front yard to the back? Walkway to the side gate should accommodate a wheel barrow.
Does your climate need irrigation? Plan that while you are laying out the hardscape. Where will you tie in with the water? Where will the valves go?
The area looks flat enough not to need retaining walls or steps except to get in to the door, but think about a larger entry, not too small. Maybe 8-10' x 5' or more at the same level as the floor inside, or just one step down. Cover this area. If you are making a nice garden, you want a place to sit and enjoy it.

Cottage garden generally suggests narrow, rambling gravel paths, but for the main entrance from the street and from the driveway a wider, safer solid walkway is much better. Concrete or pavers, or you could do flagstone on a concrete base. It can be less formal, curves rather than sharp angles, but it must be inviting and safe to walk on a 'dark and stormy night'. Curving layouts are more difficult in small spaces, but can be made to work. Secondary paths can be narrow, winding gravel paths. You can also build mounds into the layout. The better drainage in these mounds will be the best place for perennials and shrubs that prefer drier soil. Make the mounds away from the house so the water is not trapped between the mound and the house.

A minor variation on the fence is a split rail fence. Then grow things like sweet peas, climbing nasturtiums, and black eyed susans.

Do you want any lawn out front? If you do, then have it on both sides of the entry walk, and meet the walk in a way that makes it look like one lawn, with the walkway cut through it. Lay out these curving areas with a garden hose, make changes until you are pretty sure that is good.
Do you want some privacy at the windows? Stand inside the house, and sit, look through the windows and decide where to place trees and what size they need to be. Probably fairly small if they will block the view from the street. Perhaps a couple of groups of 3 small trees. One group to the left of the entry walk, one to the right.


First off I want to say "THANKS" for the replies.

Themoonhowl...thank you for the links. I checked them out and will be going back to them again. Very useful!!

Warriorswisdomkathy...I would LOVE to receive some perens. I lost sooo many when I lost the house, but managed to salvage a few. There is a gate in the fence behind that car. If you look at the bottom left of the pic, the sidewalk ends for the driveway entrance and then there is another 30 feet of sidewalk on the other side. The funny thing is, on the other side of the drive is a picket fence that didn't get torn down with everything alse. I was trying to decide whether or not to go across the yard in front of the house with it again. We will be doing the work ourselves. That is more satisfying and it will be done exactly the way we want. I can't wait to get my hands dirty. We will be renting a stone rake first and then have topsoil and mulch dropped. After that, the fun begins.

Diana_K...I do plan on having a lawn. The pic doesn't show it but the property is very big. The house alone is 64 feet. There will be a walk from the sidewalk to the (future) porch and a curved walk to the driveway. The walks will be some sort of stone since we are surrounded by quarries. We are debating if we are going with a garage because it would have to be sideways as there is not enough room left to fit one next to the house and be within code. When I stand inside the house and look out the windows, I see the rocky barren land and get frustrated. haha It is hard to picture what I want but all of the suggestions are sooo helpful.

Once the major decisions are made, I will be posting pics of the progress. Again, thank you all but keep the ideas coming!!

Prairieville, LA(Zone 9a)

You are both welcome. I find that looking through links like that not only gives me ideas, but can point out some potential problems that may not have occurred to me...I also find having Zone/area info on plants can alleviate making the wrong choices and spending in the wrong places...not to mention doubling the work.

The idea of a nice little picket fence is cool, but you would not have to fence the entire appear to have enough room that you may want to consider creating "garden rooms"...say a cottage garden to the right of the door that encompasses the porch area also with a pretty picket fence running from the edge of the porch, out a distance and the in , placing a gate across the sidewalk leading to the door....and extending just past the right end of the house, or to the driveway on that side. To the other side of the porch, you could have a bed with foundation plantings and possibly a path leading to the left side back of the house with another bed along the path....this could also hold a small patio area with seating or a fountain and be anchored by a pretty blooming tree at the front edge where the path would shift to that side of the yard.

That is why I feel a planning program is helpful. They allow you to experiment with a number of ideas, print them out and then while sitting outside, look at the plans with a critical eye. They also give you mature dimensions for the plants.

Should you choose to use graph paper, once you have the basics, house with door/porch,and window locations and the area you want grass to be mapped out to scale, (including water lines, electrical,gas, cable, phone lines/meters) run off a few copies of it....those dimensions will not change...and you can do a number of designs and have them in hand. You can also do one with hardscape, and then do tracing paper overlays that add the skeleton (trees and shrubs and foundation plantings) another that spots perennials and garden art like benches, fountains, etc, and then a final one that shows areas for annuals, containers and garden jewelry.

Most importantly, know that there a lots of folks here that are willing to add their experience and help if you have questions....and, have fun with it....the garden will be uniquely yours.

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