Need help for country property front yard landscaping!
January 23, 2013 in Design Dilemma
I live on 6.5 acres in the wine country (Sonoma County - California). We completely remodeled and rebuilt a small ranch house right before the market crash. The back of the property looks out to a one-and-a-half acre pond and although it needs work it's a lovely view. The front of the house is an entirely different story. I've been trying to figure out what to do with the front of the house since we remodeled. What landscaping/grass we have installed always looks unkempt partly because of what it is but also because the property is so big that it becomes impossible to manage given that my husband and I both work crazy hours and we have two children. It may not be clear from the photo but we have a circular drive with about 100 lavender bushes in the center (maintenance nightmare)!

The style of the house is modern country. I like grasses because they're clean and simple which I think would be a great foil for the house. I also love planting beds with traditional flowers and plants like heritage roses, hydrangeas (although the front gets hot afternoon sun), catmint, boxwood, lavendar etc. We definitely need hardscape. Since we're in the country I was thinking of a smaller sized pea gravel. I don't like asphalt or concrete. I will stain that awful front concrete walkway which was supposed to be brown but turned out pink. I would love any and all feedback.

I'm having computer problems and can't get my photos to load on iphoto so I'm just attaching what photos I have to give you an idea of site. Thanks so much!
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Ironwood Builders
Hi, I have loads of connections to landscapers in our area...I'm out in Forestville on the Russian River. Let me know if you need a referral? Seems like maintenance is a concern...have people for that too!
1 Like   January 23, 2013 at 3:12PM
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Ironwood Builders
Oh, and about the gravel...Nun's Canyon decomposed granite is a local favorite. On the drive, it compresses to a hard almost asphalt surface while staying more permeable on walkways...but still firm enough not to cause problems with the random high heel....just want a flagstone walk-off area before you hit the front door. I'm sure you've seen its yellowish tint in local projects before. Bordered by local fieldstone from Canyon Rock at $40 per ton, it is a simple solution to some of your hardscaping issues. A trip to SBI in Windsor would help!
0 Likes   January 23, 2013 at 3:22PM
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Pamela Bateman Garden Design
I, too, live on a large piece of property in the wine country of Northern California but I bet you haven't heard of it! The Capay Valley is a designated wine growing area of California. I grow hundreds of heritage roses around our farm house and would highly recommend growing some roses in your front yard. I hope the deer do not feed in your area or that would exclude the roses and many other plants. Yes, lavender does require a lot of maintenance if you have many of them. You should concentrate on flowering trees, shrubs and ground covers then add spots of flowering perennials and annuals. There are also many bulbs that we can grow in California and they require little maintenance after planting. ~To those of you that live in cold country we don't have to dig up our bulbs each year!~ Decomposed granite is the way to go as Ironwood Builders suggested. I find grasses require more maintenance than one would think. At the end of the season they need to be cut down to keep them looking tidy. Just a few grasses would be nice. Your climate zone is almost exactly the same as mine but we may get a little hotter in the summer. I am available for consultations if you are interested. Please see my web site.
0 Likes   January 23, 2013 at 5:26PM
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Thank you all for your comments. I am very open to working with someone but I'm gun shy. We did hire someone when we first moved in but the plan was so general that we never even used it. I'm very visual so this time around I'd like to see a visual representation/rendering of what the front landscaping would look like when it's all done and installed with a list of plants that would work. Ironwood Builders thanks for the recommendation of decomposed granite and local fieldstone as well as the source. I really appreciate it.
0 Likes   January 23, 2013 at 10:20PM
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Karen Brenner
I say "stop fighting the inevitable". Go natural. Grasses, roses. lavender. A real wild flowers look would go great with the house style with crushed rock as paths. Mix and match flowers . Better Homes and Gardens has lots of pics of that style on their website.No matter what you do you will have to have upkeep on such a large yard.Maybe its time to consider a gardener so you can enjoy the fruits of your labor
1 Like   January 23, 2013 at 11:20PM
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I think you're right. I will check out BHG. Believe it or not, we have a gardener. It's just a lot of property.
0 Likes   January 23, 2013 at 11:37PM
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Greenblott Landscape & Interiors
Hi Newton,

It looks and sounds like you have a large property to work with, which is great but can be very overwhelming. I would highly recommend taking a step back and develop an overall master plan for your property. Next, you can then develop your property in phases, ranking in what is most important to you as well as budget. Your style sounds modern and clean, but natural. Mixed grasses would work well along with mixed flowering and evergreen planting beds framed around your home. Think about a new pathway entrance with a natural stone paver. This would help pick up from the gravel idea you mentioned. You could then repeat and mix throughout the entire site where necessary.

Gather images that support your envisioned concept ...then make the move and call a professional.
0 Likes   January 24, 2013 at 12:21AM
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Ironwood Builders
I'll have some design time available in the next few weeks. I'd be happy to sit down with you and look at your ideabooks and begin developing a plan. A field trip to some local suppliers will be informative too.
0 Likes   January 24, 2013 at 11:44AM
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Pamela Bateman Garden Design
I am sorry your first experience working with a designer was not satisfactory. Perhaps there was a miscommunication problem. You might start an idea book on Houzz with pictures of gardens that you love and then contact your original designer who could rework the plan. With pictures of what direction you want to take your garden and a more detailed plan you may be closer to realizing your dream garden than you think.
0 Likes   January 24, 2013 at 4:52PM
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