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Plant Selection Sggestions For Design

Discussion in 'Landscape Architecture and Design' started by mcw615, Nov 24, 2010.

  1. mcw615

    mcw615 LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 473

    Hello Everyone -

    I'm an located in Central/SW Virginia - Hardiness zone 7a. In this picture client just bought the house, and would like to remove and re-landscape the entire front gardens, up to and including the removal of the two emerald arborvitae on each corner of the home. She is looking for a 'Elegant but formal' look. She is not looking for vast amounts of color. Any plant ideas for the foundational course?

    I was looking at incorporating:
    - Japanese Maple
    - Otto luyken laurel
    - Japanese Barberry
    - Nandina
    - A few striped liriape
    - Daylilly
    - Golden Euonymous
    - Abelia, Glossy
    - Chamacyparis bush
    - Hydrangea

    Any other ideas and maybe how would you design this?



  2. AGLA

    AGLA LawnSite Bronze Member
    Messages: 1,776

    How people photograph a landscape tells me how they look at it.You appear to be looking at this as spaces to fill rather than how the plants will support the bigger issues.

    You have a house with a huge amount of exposed foundation and at least two stories over it with a very short front yard crammed in pretty close to the abutters on either side. Ahouse is usually the most dominant feature of a residential landscape and this one is magnified so much by these situations.

    Youneed to step back, envision the house with no plants and ask yourself how that looks. Then, in a very abstract way, try to envision what you can do to that scene to make that house fit the site, what you can play off of on adjacent properties to enhance this house, and what problems you can mitigate both on site and off site by what you do in your landscape on this property.

    I can't tell how much room you have to work with from left to right, but I would look to spread my planting as wide as I practically can in order to settle that house down by broadening the base. Whoever designed the walk helped you out a bit by supporting the idea of settling the house both by breaking a line going straight to the house and by forcing a focal point on the ground in front of the house - a very good psychological affect that I like to use as well.

    The walkway shape is something you can build off that will reinforce some good techniques to calm that house down because it helps tie in anything that you do off to the sides out in front. Again, your pictures don't show the big picture, but it looks like this house would benefit greatly by having a tree a few feet off of the sidewalk (the one that looks like it is running parallel with a road?).

    If the budget is there, some stonework to retain a large raised bed (18-24") coming off of the sides of the stairs and swings out toward the street and then curls back AFTER it gets to the ends of the house. That will calm down that 4' of brick and allow you to use smaller plants along the foundation successfully. It also adds a fore ground and middle ground to a landscape hat has little room - that actually adds visual depth to short spaces. You could go evergreen above the wall and play with more deciduous summer color in front of it.

    Take some pictures from farther away and see what the "big picture" looks like. ... and show us, of course.
  3. mcw615

    mcw615 LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 473

    AGLA - Thank you very much for you response, that was very useful information. Yes, creating a raised bed would surely be one of the best solutions to this site. Having that much of foundation showing with little garden space does not make much for an eye catcher. I believe the client would work with a wall. Your input for how to view a home was also very helpful. Instead of considering the overall appeal, I was thinking what plants to fill in these areas to make it look nice, instead of a solution.

    Now..were you considering a stone wall as in Stacked Flagstone or stone with concrete?

    I am going to try and upload another picture of the full frontal view of the house, as well as the quick 30 second CAD sketch I did on the wall to get your opinion.


    Attached Files:

  4. AGLA

    AGLA LawnSite Bronze Member
    Messages: 1,776

    If you look at your new picture without thinking about what you are supposed to look at, where does your eye go? Mine goes to the blank wall of the neighbors house. What can you do to stop that? You can try to completely block it out, but that might cause other problems - the thing to do is interupt it with a small tree that will distract from it rather than completely cover it.

    Wall mateials are best selected by someone in the region and with an idea of what fits the neighboerhood. The wall itself is will be a stronger element than the material it is made of. Your regoin seems to use red brick more than anything else, but a local stone would be nicer in my opinion.
  5. mcw615

    mcw615 LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 473

    The solution for that problem is we have already discussed on planting a crape myrtle slightly offset on the property line, mid-way in the front lawn.

    Around my exact area I have not seen much of red brick being primarily used other than for foundation. To be honest since I have never installed a stone/stacked flagstone type wall I am not 100% sure how to do so, but I am sure with a little research or asking the guys at the stone yard they should give me insightful instructions.

    My opinion, I believe a Belgard Celtik Wall with 90mm(primary) with a combination of a few 135mm will probably best compliment the house and flow with the neighborhood. Though ultimately, that would be most up to the homeowner.
  6. LizzieLandscapes

    LizzieLandscapes LawnSite Member
    Messages: 36

    It's not a good idea to try to incorporate natural stone when you have an existing brick foundation such as that one.. Native stone will certainly look out of place. She wants formal elegance. So whatever elegant plantings you decide to plant on one side, you would plant the same ones in the same places, on the opposite side, to match. That is the definition of a formal landscape.

    One suggestion you might want to think about is removing the lawn on both sides of the front, along with the rest of the landscaping you are removing. Then plant the front yard as a formal garden, instead of a basic, boring, run-of-the-mill, lawn with foundation plantings. You don't have to pack it full of plants, you can use mulch and other things in with your plantings. It's best to keep it simple when it comes to planting a formal garden, You don't want to use too many different kinds of plants. Pick 5 or 7 types group them, repeat and mirror.

    You want to choose plantings that have a naturally formal habit. Tall, semi-tall, medium and short plantings, starting from a large focal plant/shrub in the center of each side and planting down in a circular fashion. It's hard to explain. I'll draw you a picture of what I am talking about today sometime and post it up this evening. I gotta run right now.

    There are some other ways as wel,l that you can choose to go with this, in order to give your customer the look that she wants.

    Are you using Sunset planting zones or USDA planting zones? I need to know that before I can make plant suggestions.
  7. LizzieLandscapes

    LizzieLandscapes LawnSite Member
    Messages: 36

    Oh P.S. in my opinion that front area is too small to think about building any kind of wall there. That would make the area look and feel even smaller.
  8. LizzieLandscapes

    LizzieLandscapes LawnSite Member
    Messages: 36

    For a list of problem free shrubs for Virginia click this link,
    Virginia Cooperative extension, there are some really nice flowering shrubs on their list.

    Here's a list of some Virginia native shrubs that I picked out that you might consider using. Of course you can't use them ALL but you have a wide selection to choose from in your state.
    All will grow in Piedmont, coastal plain and mountains
    You will do your homework concerning the plants individual needs before you make your final choices...won't you?

    Ceanothus americanus- New Jersey Tea

    Clethra alnifolia- Sweet pepperbush-'Sixteen Candles'

    Cornus mas- Cornelian cherry

    Hydrangea macrophylla- Bigleaf Hydrangea is a rounded shrub that prefers moist, well-drained soil. Flower color varies, depending on the acidity of the soil. It is blue in acid soil (< pH 5.5) and pink in alkaline soil. Flower buds may be killed in Zone 6a, but this species does well from Roanoke eastward. Cultivars that vary in hardiness and flower type, and cultivars that flower on new wood, are available

    Hydranges arborscens- Smooth Hydrangea
    is tolerant of wet soils. It tends to form colonies slowly, and the cultivar ‘Sixteen Candles’ remains compact. Its very fragrant white flowers open in July. There also is a pink-flowered cultivar is a low-growing, native shrub that produces pretty white flowers in July. It prefers partial shade, but can be grown in full sun with supplemental water. It can be cut back every year because it flowers on new wood. Try the cultivar ‘Annabelle’
    Ilex verticillata- Winterberry

    Rhus copallinim- Flameleaf Sumac

    Rhododendron prinophyllum- Rose azalea

    Viburnum dentatum- arrowood Viburnum is a multi-stemmed, dense, large shrub. It is adapted to a variety of soils and can be grown in sun or partial shade. It has no serious pests or diseases and is valued for its durability and white flowers.

    Viburnum plicatum var. tomentosum - doublefile viburnum is a medium to large shrub, depending on the cultivar. It has a horizontal form and very showy white flowers in May. The berries are also quite striking and remain on the plants for about three weeks in early fall. Some cultivars also have showy fall foliage color.

    Viburnum dentatum* (arrowwood viburnum) is a multi-stemmed, dense, large shrub. It is adapted to a variety of soils and can be grown in sun or partial shade. It has no serious pests or diseases and is valued for its durability and white flowers.

    Lindera benzoin- Spicebush

    Sambucus canadensis- Common elderberry

    Kalmia latifolia- Mountain laurel
    ( a slight correction just because I can't help myself)
    you said
    Incorporating (in our context) means adding plants in with the existing landscape plants. You are going to rip out the existing plants and replace with all new landscape plants. So you wouldn't be incorporating them, because you are starting from scratch.
    If you meant incorporate them into your design, your not really doing that either. you are thinking about what kinds of plants you might use in that landscape.
    In my opinion Barberry, striped? liriope (liriape?) and Nandina have been way overused by everybody, everywhere and for way too many years.)
    (when a plant is "striped" you don't call it "striped", the proper horticultural term for a plant like that is " variegated ".
  9. LizzieLandscapes

    LizzieLandscapes LawnSite Member
    Messages: 36

    Aren't you coming back to check your thread mcw? Well no matter. I have one last comment. The center area in front of the steps, was built to hold a good strong focal point. I would choose a tall piece of statuary for (elegance) in that area or a water feature. Whatever it is it needs to be tall and in proportion to the house. I'll try to show you a few examples if I can figure out how to upload pics on here.




    DIY Garden water fountain completed with Ups-A-Daisy planter inserts.png

  10. LizzieLandscapes

    LizzieLandscapes LawnSite Member
    Messages: 36

    Get the idea? They are not cheap, but well worth the investment for an area such as that. Anyway, good luck.


    bubbling fountains 002.jpg



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