How can I improve entry?

Bel Air, MD(Zone 6a)

As you can see from the photo the driveway is close to where I want to build up the new landscape.
My men doing the work want to take in the area around the lamp post, planting shrubs,etc. and mulch the area. It would curve in about 5 ft. from the driveway and about 2 ft. where I now have the garden.
My question is people getting out of their car would step in the mulch, what do you think about some stepping stones or something near the top of the driveway. Also do I want a dwarf tree like the ones now in the garden or would that be too much for the entry way. Anything that I would put in would be dwarf. Thanks for any suggestions Shirley

Bel Air, MD(Zone 6a)

Here is the photo

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Bel Air, MD(Zone 6a)

Another photo

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Bel Air, MD(Zone 6a)

This is how I envision it to be.

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Stanford, CA(Zone 9b)

sgtdot, is there any chance that you would consider redoing your path to the front door? Right now it's so unobtrusive that it feels as if there is no way into the house.

I understand budget considerations though. I'd love to have the answer to this question before anything else.

Bel Air, MD(Zone 6a)

Doss, in the second photo it shows the circular path to the front door. I will take a photo tomorrow.
The driveway and sidewalk was done not long ago so I don't think my dh would see changing it.
When you see the photo tomorrow maybe it will make more sense.

Stanford, CA(Zone 9b)

I did see the walk in the photo. If the walk is not up for grabs then I like your idea. One thing that I would change though (if I read your last photo right) I would make the planting area more generous around the lamp so you can plant in front of it too. It's a focal point and would look really great 'grounded' into the herbacious part of the garden. If you can think of a lamp post as a tree, you would put it in the interior of the garden rather than on the edge. I hope that this makes sense.

There's plenty of room for a small tree in that planting area, especially if you enlarge it for the lamp post but it's placement would depend on the other trees in the garden in relationship to it and the lamp post.

Are you talking about a path up the side of the driveway? I find that people get in and out just fine here and your driveway looks more generous than mine. But I would put some sort of low ground cover next to the driveway so that plants don't intrude into the driveway.

Edited to say, I'm just brainstorming here of course.

This message was edited May 3, 2006 6:34 PM

Sterling, VA(Zone 6b)

I have had a bed of mostly perennials along my drive for the past several years. I have to say that I have learned to not like a bed along the driveway. It was just such a pain anytime a passenger needed to get into that side of the car.

- Brent

Stanford, CA(Zone 9b)

Sounds as if Brent has a different idea. Would a ground cover that was walkable work, Brent? I really haven't had anyone complain. We do have landing areas on the street but you may have a long driveway.

The thought of stones just doesn't seem to make sense when you already have brick, siding and concrete going on. You don't want to really do anything that is going to draw attention to the driveway anyway.

Anyway, here's the planting area on one side of my driveway. The ground covers are ajuga and lamb's ears. Not particularly walkable though. You can see that a small tree can go in a small area. This tree is only about 10 feet tall though and it's hard to find a tree that small. What about one of the smaller magnolias or a weeping flowering crabapple tree? Those are really manageable.

Thumbnail by doss
Bel Air, MD(Zone 6a)

Doss, I like your idea and have made a copy of your garden to show to the workmen.
Brent, we have a double car driveway. I think if I do go ahead with the project people will see how pretty it is and park on the left hand side of the driveway. Its my DS and his family that park on the side by the lamp post.
Photo of the entry of our home.

Thumbnail by sgtdot
Bel Air, MD(Zone 6a)

Photo of Driveway, you can see it is very wide

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Minneapolis, MN(Zone 4b)

doss, the plantings by your drive way are beautiful.

sgtdot, I agree with doss about making the bed larger so the lamp isn't at the end of it.

I think that making the garden area more curved would be nice with the straight lines of the house and garage and the straight driveway. A nice curve would soften that.

Stanford, CA(Zone 9b)

The driveway sure looks wide enough that you shouldn't have a problem. My only problem is with raised sprinklers I've had to add. One was broken by a car backing up.

In looking at your house again, I'm not sure that I would put a tree in that planting area. Stand in the street and look at the house. The garage is so prominent that the house is unobtrusive. My one concern is that a tree in front of the house would hide it even more.

This photo is of the other side of the driveway - too much plant material but I'm a kook. However the weeping crabapple tree is only about 5 feet tall, very open and lacy. I'll post a photo of an even smaller crabapple.

Thumbnail by doss
Stanford, CA(Zone 9b)

Looking back at the other photo I think that the tree is still too large for your space. Here's another smaller crabapple. You can see that it's small in relationship to the tulips. Although one of the smaller magnolias would be lovely. Much more relaxed and structured. Depends on your taste.

What do you think zenpotter - would you put a tree there at all?

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Minneapolis, MN(Zone 4b)

doss-no I wouldn't put a tree in I would stay much lower than that because a tree would hide the house. Right now the garage is about all that you see at first glance.

I would stay under 3 feet, probably closer to 2 feet and use a curve and colors to enhance the house. Once again we are out of my zone.

sgtdot are you thinking formal or informal?

Stanford, CA(Zone 9b)

Out of my zone too on the other side. :-)

I agree with your idea.

One question, sgtdot. I'm wondering about the diamond shaped tiles to the left of the path by the front door. Is there a reason for them? It seems as if you might be able to do something more fun there.

Bel Air, MD(Zone 6a)

Zenpotter, Not too formal.
Doss, I did have tulips and daffodils planted there, don't remember why I put the tiles there.
What do you suggest that I put there?

Bel Air, MD(Zone 6a)

Our house sits further back because of the garage.
In back of the garage is a country kitchen, then living room, master bedroom and bath, at the end of the hall is another bath room, the front has two bedrooms.
I agree the garage does stand out.
I am thinking about dark brown shutters, they were brown before but were faded out so I painted them a
light tan. The storm door is dark brown, the front door almost the color of the siding of the house.
We have lived here 6 yrs and the door was that color when we move in.
I am anxious to get this project started.
Every year I take on a big project much to myDH
dismay.

Stanford, CA(Zone 9b)

What do you love that goes in that sun/shade situation? What's the exposure? It looks about 18" wide, is that correct?

One thing that comes to mind if it's the right exposure is Hosta. You could plant annuals among them until they get large, and they will make the transition into the shade of the porch easily. Of coure if this is a southern exposure that won't work but we could come up with something.

I think that you want something that lasts all season with nice foliage. Annuals would work too but you may not want to put that much money or time into the space every year.

One more thing. I assume the bumpy red blocks that edge the garden will be removed with the remodel of the front yard, but I think that it would be better to use bender board (I prefer the artificial bender board), or something more natural. The blocks stop your eye at the edge of the bed and keep you from continuing up to the plants. If you like the look of an edged bed, then I suggest you use the same or close to the same bricks that are on the front of the house if possible.

Once the diamond shapes and the bumpy edging go, you will feel a better sense of peace in the landscape. Diamonds and bumps and bricks and concrete and siding is just a little overwhelming I think.

Stanford, CA(Zone 9b)

We were typing at the same time.

You are like everyone here. Always a project! By the way, have you used the hose technique to lay out a more curved bed that zenpotter suggested? Best thing to help you 'see' what it's going to look like after it's laid out and before you have lawn removed.

I think that you've done a good job with the shutters. They should be as close to the color of the siding as possible I think. I wouldn't turn them brown. Right now they are bringing the bricks and the siding together. j

What color did you want to change the door? I like the door framing the color of the siding. I sure wouldn't paint it darker. It looks as if it has a glass insert or is that just the storm door? (Showing my zone 9 ignorance here). You could do a fun door color and leave the framing the color it is now. Not red though. It will fight with the bricks.

Minneapolis, MN(Zone 4b)

I love flowering vines, how about one on the light pole? It is a bit 'cutesy' but why not. What is your sun exposure? What colors do you like? I think it may be time for you to take a walk and see what your neighbors have and also go to a few nurseries.

Some flowering shrubs would be nice, again short ones or shrub roses. You can get them under 3 feet. I suggest the shrub ones because they are easy care and would look nice in front of your house.

I can't believe I didn't ask for the sun exposure before. I have some plant ideas roaming around and want to wait for the sun exposure.

Pauline

Stanford, CA(Zone 9b)

Just for you I took my first ever photo of the driveway. Funny how we avoid some things. You can see that I have flower beds on both sides. At the bottom of the driveway there are 'landing areas' on each side to help people to park on the street. Of course it's generally good weather here so that makes a huge difference. Whatever you plant at the sides of the driveway it will have to be very tough so that when people can't see it in the winter they don't hurt it.

Thumbnail by doss
Bel Air, MD(Zone 6a)

Today I removed the tiles and brick and it looks better already.I think I will go with the Hosta and maybe some geraniums in between.
We get the morning sun in the front for several hours up near the house, further down it is there all day.
About the door, there are no windows in the living room, it opens up to a sunroom (which I enjoy year round) so I leave the glass in the storm door and it is open most of the time. I would like something that would not clash with the colors in the living room.

Thumbnail by sgtdot
Bel Air, MD(Zone 6a)

Two walls are a light tan and the others are light cream and I have lots of green in the room.(the roses were from my DH for my birthday)

Stanford, CA(Zone 9b)

I'm so glad that removing the tiles and the edging worked for you. Sometimes less is more. If that bed gets full sun all day maybe it would be a good idea to brainstorm other materials to go in that bed. I'd also continue the same plantings around the corner of the path to the edge of the driveway.

It's usually better not to do two different plants alternating. I'll be thinking about plants that might do well there. Although You could go on the hosta group and ask if there are any recommendations from them for full sun. I'd perhaps plant violas along with hosta if you want a little color. They bloom pretty much all summer if you cut them back when they are done. I don't know what my problem is with geraniums.

Bel Air, MD(Zone 6a)

View of front entry

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Bel Air, MD(Zone 6a)

After removing the red diamond blocks

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Bel Air, MD(Zone 6a)

Where the Hosta will be planted, it just gets the early morning sun for maybe 2 hrs., I have planted geraniums there before and the did good.

Bel Air, MD(Zone 6a)

Thanks Doss and Zenpotter for your advice, sometimes you think everything look nice and after you make a change, it looks 100% better. I can not wait to finish this project.
Am going shopping for shrubs, and flowers tomorrow.

Novato, CA

This home suffers from the all to common architectural faux pas called " Welcome to my Garage".
It is exasperated by the other common architectural misstep of utilizing the driveway as part of the front entry walk way.

This is a very difficult and common problem with contractor designed tract style homes that requires a good eye toward proportion in order to inject additional hardscaping to service as a welcoming path while at the same time not add to the " hey paradise put up a parking lot ooo la la lala " look .

The best looking designs that have addressed this problem incorporate the use of segmented stepping pads that have a judicious amount of greenscaping interplanted inbetween the stepping pads that create a lovely sense of real entry.

Shrubberies planted on the fringe of a driveway where there is already a known challenge that people step into the landscape is not going to cut the cheeze.

This is where form does follow function, but this form really has to be carefully analyzed so as to not create problems ( trampled softscaping ) as well as not as to the asphalt jungle look.

some of the best examples of overcoming this architectural disease can be seen in upscale front yards in southern California where this unfortunate architectural stylation was born.

Stanford, CA(Zone 9b)

I guess we are back to talking about installing a new walk. Think that you could talk DH into it?

Minneapolis, MN(Zone 4b)

sgtdot-taking the red diamonds out really makes that are much nicer.

Stanford, CA(Zone 9b)

sgtdot - you really moved on that change fast! I can see that edging plants along the left hand side of the walk will make a big difference. I hope that you get some beautiful geraniums. The bed behind the bumpy blocks looks as if it's been allowed to relax.

One more thing you might try is to take what's on the porch off and see if you like that better. The porch is narrow and I think that it might look more welcoming without being full of items. Once you have plants up the planting area by the walk, I don't think that you'll feel the need to dress up the porch.

If you don't like the photo of the porch cleared, you can always put the things back.

Minneapolis, MN(Zone 4b)

I like the idea doss has of clearing the porch, it is easily done and you can put it back if you don't like the effect.

I have tried out the hose to mark off the garden bed?

Stanford, CA(Zone 9b)

I've been thinking about the door and with the the pastel and neutral living room, I don't see quite how a bright colored door is going to work. You don't want the door to be the focus of the room, certainly. I'd leave it white. The only other alternative would be a moss green I think but I don't think that you want to darken the door.

Bel Air, MD(Zone 6a)

Today I went to the Farmers Market and bought Hosta plants, then to a nursery and bought Verbena plants.
As you can see I have them in the ground already.
My workmen cam by after I had finished planting, they said the hosta would get very big.
Did I make a mistake, I can take them out and put them in the new garden
They look good now.
My workmen will be here next week to start removing the sod, bring in top soil and then start planting.
I want to get a better view of the house from the side
looking from the street. The garage does not look too bad that way.
We have the only rancher in the neighborhood, it's 21 yr. old. The others are split level or two story.
We like the rancher it is all the room that we need.
I have to say, we have the best looking lawn in the neighborhood.
I mow twice a week because we have Chem Lawn service. Also it is a small lawn.

Thumbnail by sgtdot
Stanford, CA(Zone 9b)

Good work! What is the name of the hosta cultivars you got? Some get big and some don't. Hosta's come in so many sizes and you may have lucked out. If they are big, you can let them grow and then replace them with smaller cultivars.

And I like the verbena and I like the porch with less on it.

One thing I have to say is that I really appreciate your willingness to jump in and try new things. It's so fun to brainstorm and see some results. You've been great about that.

Bel Air, MD(Zone 6a)

I do not know the name of the hosta, when I go back to the market next saturday I will find out.
I am not good at names of flowers.
I appreciate all you suggestions
Hope you have a nice weekend. Shirley

Stanford, CA(Zone 9b)

If we find the name of the hostas Shirley, we'll be able to help you find out how big they get. They can range anywhere from 6" to 6'. You certainly won't hit either end of that range.

Minneapolis, MN(Zone 4b)

Shirley-You are amazing you jump right in there and do it. The hostas look good and the porch is so nice with less on it. Did you already have the ferries or are they new too?

Pauline

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