Need help sprucing up the front and the yard of my 1st home
serginajean
February 11, 2013 in Design Dilemma
Hello as i am one of the Houzz website addict, i brought my 1st home last year, now need help making it have a decent curb appeal, Please help!!! since the pics we have removed all the plantings and messy trees that were oddly scattered over the backyard (all 18 of them) except for that weeping mini tree in front of the house. I am very open for all suggestions and very realisitc, I am even willing to do one little suggested project/thing at a time even if it means buying one thing at a time. I considered myself a very smart and savy shopper. I like low to no maintenace shrubery.
I would love some suggestions on my raised outdoor patio that come off my dining room. Based on these pics i also would like some privacy trees in those certain areas. I dont think Leyland would be good for that area since in broswing some pics it appears Leyland looks best as a wall with many of them line up next to each other. And considering we got rid of so many i dont think my husband would like that. I was looking at Thundercloud pulple Leaf or even Crape myrtles. Any suggestions?
As far as front yard i am clueless and open. Even willing to buy a new door and storm door. Tried painting it but clearly the color was not what i had expected.?
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Curb Appeal Renovations
First off, where are you located? That would help greatly as to what to suggest plant wise.

As far as front doors...personally, I don't like storm doors with front doors. Storm doors are for other doors. I think front doors should stand alone. Say HERE I AM! Should be that statement piece. Set the tone for the home. No storm door can ever do that. With that said, do you feel you need privacy at your front door? At mine, it is completely open. The glass is clear and it is a Craftsman style with side lights. Some would NEVER do that. They want/need privacy.

Does low maintenance mean to you no grass? Do you have water restrictions where you live? How do you water? Do you plan on putting in a sprinkler system or where you live do you get lots of rain?

I think for your patio area a vine would be beautiful, but again, I'm not sure where you live and a vine won't be evergreen so in the winter it will die back.

Look forward to some more info from you!
February 11, 2013 at 3:39pm     
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serginajean
oh sorry that would help to include my "zone". I live on in one of the suburbs of NY close to Manhattan
February 11, 2013 at 3:42pm   
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serginajean
I can do with or without a strom door. I just thought its good to have a strom door where I live. I was looking at of the ThermaTRU fiberglass door. i did put in a 5 zone sprinkler system last fall.
February 11, 2013 at 3:49pm   
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Curb Appeal Renovations
I like the Thermatru doors. Good choice. I'd find one that's pre finished. I can't tell but is the burgundy trim painted or a "baked" on finish? The gutters/windows? And is the siding vinyl or some other? I'm trying to figure out how locked into those colors you are for the front door!

On the side walk I'm assuming you need something that you can shovel...so it needs to be a relatively smooth surface, correct? Ideally I'd love to see you do a stone sidewalk that matches your house colors.
February 11, 2013 at 5:14pm   
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serginajean
Thanks so much for your ezpertise and suggestions.
The burgundy trims seem to be permanent and not chipping so good guess would be "baked" as you mentioned.
these are vinyl siding.
I really love the multi colored natural NY bluestone (not thermal) to redo the front stoop and back patio but not sure if that combination would even match my existing colors of burgundy/ brick/ stone in the front of the house.
Thanks much!!!!
February 11, 2013 at 5:23pm   
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Curb Appeal Renovations
I think you need to come up with short, mid and long term projects. And within those what you can and cannot do yourself.

What's most important to you?

Where do your friends/family/guests enter your home? Where do you enter your home?

Just looking at the front door, ideally I think a larger stoop and a covered patio would be awesome. I imagine you get quite a bit of weather up there! However if no one ever uses that door, it's a waste of $$!

I see you have a dog...so the backyard needs to be "kid" friendly, right?

I like the bluestone too, but think you're going to have to go warmer out front. Your house is too warm colored...

So...let me know your overall goals...I know privacy, low maintenance, new front door...but what else?
February 11, 2013 at 5:53pm   
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serginajean
well glad you said set goals. I def want to get a new door. or even give it a new paint color at least. We all use the front door to enter the house
Then since we like to have friends over that patio need an uplift. Dont want to get new railing for it unless i know what kinda budget freindly flooring i will have. My husband and I are very handy. well honestly (he is) i do all the smart shopping and do all the assitstant he needs. We handy enough to refinish all the wood floors in the house and cut all the trees and roller till the whole yard.(think we pretty handy) as long as we can rent the tools anything and he is comfortable with the project we tackle it. He does have some background in construction.
Yes yard need to be doggy friendly i have 2 Poms and some day child friendly too.
so i think my important things that i would like are": new color front door or new door.truly that door is embarrasing), new plaintings for front and backyard. (i am sure i can enlist some fellow young nurses on a long weekend) in exchange for some food and drinks.lol
last but not least that ultimate patio redo since i know that can be coslty. BTW is there such thing as outdoor tiles? one that can work with my current house colors for the stoop and patio. As I realize i love the bluestone but that os wine taste on beer budget.
PS: Words cant describe how appreciative i am that you are even giving me time out of your schedule to respond to my questions.
February 11, 2013 at 6:15pm   
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claudiann
I don't quite understand the purpose of the covered area between garage and house. It looks unfinished so I would screen in the windows and add a screen door for now to give it a more finished look. I would let the weeping tree weep more. It doesn't appear natural cut so straight across and up so high.your back area is too small to enclose. I would remove the railings and make a multilevel deck.. I think the garage door should be the same tan color as is on the house. I think some low foundation plantings are needed along the front of the house. I would also paint the black railing in front to a tan. I like your door color. You might think about painting the windowbox the same color and add a couple of big pots that color In front of the structure between the house and garage. I'm not sure the edging adds anything and might add to weed whacking so I would get rid of it. A nice bigger light fixture would look good by the front door.
February 11, 2013 at 7:41pm   
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serginajean
i dont know about that open area either. I brought the house like that. i think they have a name for it. cant remember it right now.
but i like your idea of changing/painting the garage door color and the front railing in different color.
agree on bigger front lights.i already remove those edging.
Appreciate all suggestions. thanks
February 11, 2013 at 7:50pm   
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backbonemountain
There doesn't seem to be a path from the garage to the front door. If people park in your driveway, they need easy access to the door. The Christmas tree seems too big since it is in front of the window. The garage door needs to be painted one of the trim colors. A larger front porch would make it easier to come and go in and out of the door. You could bring your porch straight out a few more feet and have the steps go down toward the driveway if that is where most of your traffic comes from. As far as the back patio, you wouldn't need railing if you put permanent bench seating everywhere except where you step down. You could even have a new step down directly onto the grass. Make it wide enough to be inviting.
February 11, 2013 at 8:02pm   
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serginajean
oh yeah it is inconvenient cause when we park the drwy is directly in front of the house. therefore i have to walk towards front of the house. i was even thinking to change the entrance of walkway to be directly off the driveway. but i guess maybe it would have been weird to have 2 walkways. or maybe remove the old one all together.
Yes all the trees/shrubs in front of the house are gone, all except for that small weeping one.
as far as back patio i just dont know what material that would complment it considering the existing front fascade i have.
thanks much
February 11, 2013 at 8:09pm   
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grandmalucy12
You need 3ft. Flowers beds ! Take a garden hose and make curves across the front of your house . Then take a spade cut where garden hose is. Then plant taller plants in back and layer smaller in front . Use evergreens that won't die in winter. Spring plant annuals for color. You can make a pretty bed around tree.
February 11, 2013 at 8:24pm   
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serginajean
like the idea of bed around tree. Love perenials. had a crash course on perenials at my local nursery last spring. any suggestions what kind for under the tree? and not sure what you mean regarding 3 ft flower beds? are you refering to place directly in front of the house or around that small tree.?
February 11, 2013 at 8:32pm   
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Curb Appeal Renovations
porte-cochere! that's what you're referring too...that area between the garage and your house!

And I agree! There needs to be a walk way between the driveway and house...2 wouldn't look strange at all, because you still need one from the street. I'd tie them together...maybe where they come together, make it big enough that you could put a bench out there where you could sit in the evenings? Or put a planter? I'm assuming no one would take it?!

And since the willow is near the corner of your yard, I wouldn't do a circle around it, I would take that whole corner of the yard and turn it into a bed...that would be beautiful. However, I'd pick mainly perennials that are suited to your locations with a small area for annuals that you could add just for color.

And agreed...you need to add some curves to the beds in your front yard. The best way to do this is with hoses. That way you can mold them the way you want.

One of my favorite landscapers in my area is Neil Sperry. However, I'm not sure what we plant down here, Texas, would survive there in NY!

Personally I think what would be beautiful in your yard are japanese maples...again...not sure if they'd take your harsh winters. They burn up here unless they're in the shade.

Since you've gotten rid of all the shade...drive around and look to see what grows well in your neighbors yards. I know I've seen azaleas growing great up in your area...but they get huge. Hostas. Hydrangeas. Lots of plants we can't grow as well down here!

Don't know if you can get Pavestone up your way, but I'm sure you can get something like it... http://www.pavestone.com/pathway-gallery/ Of course down here they do lots of natural stone...it is beautiful as well, but I wouldn't think it would hold up as well in your winters.

Again, for the front door, I think if you added a porch cover, like this one, it would make the world of difference. You can see the before and after here.
February 12, 2013 at 1:35pm     
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serginajean
thank you again.
will def start looking at japanese maple and azaleas over here. Since they sell both up here im assuming they both can survive.
and yes a walkway from door to driveway is in the plan. thought of it prob is not sure of material. but will look at pavestone that can complement the house
Thanks much!!!
now that i know the name of the area between house and garage maybe i can come accross pics for ideas. Thanks again
February 12, 2013 at 4:54pm   
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Curb Appeal Renovations
another thought! I'd invest money for a landscape designer. Have them lay out a design for you. Front and back, naming all the plants, etc. This way, you and your husband can work on it as your budget allows. And...a rule of thumb...buy SMALL plants. They grow quickly. You don't want to buy big plants and in a couple years have to rip them out!! Especially since it sounds like y'all are going to be here for a while! And there are people that will do this for you. Go to a really nice garden store and ask them who they would recommend.

On the back porch area...I'd recommend something that would stand up to your winters. A composite decking that will last many years. Don't put in anything that will require maintenance. It just isn't worth it. Trust me!

And...you might even think about a heated walkway. Again, I know it is pricey...but if you can not have to shovel snow...it might be worth it. Don't know if it works if you get FEET of snow...but it might work well for the front porch if you redo that! If nothing else...if you redo any of the floors in your house...think about heated floors!
February 13, 2013 at 8:18am   
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serginajean
I had couple landscape designer come in n was willing to pay for the design. They told me 1k for the design alone or unless I use their services it would be included. I thought that was a bit steep. As far as the decking I have a 21x15 area directly behind the garage accross from the patio seend on the picture, which I was intending on putting either the trex or timber tech which would be way less expensive. But I thought since there is alread stone/hard surfacing on the raised patio all it may need is a facelift....thanks for all ideas. But yes. I am looking for a design. I think that's important.
February 13, 2013 at 8:56am   
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serginajean
As far as heated floor in few years when we redo main bath n master bath the way we would want them we would def add heated floors.the present bath were done 5-8 yrs ago so they r workable. Heated driveway sounds expensive. Wow..it doesn't get that bad up here as far as snow..
February 13, 2013 at 9:04am   
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Curb Appeal Renovations
ice...snow...not having to mess with it...yes could be expensive for a driveway...but a front stoop? a walkway?

I think you could find someone less than $1,000. I forget what we paid for ours, but we have an acre. It was close to that. Google master gardeners and see what you find. Master gardeners will also do designs. However, you also pay for what you get and if you have a great plan that you can work off of...that would be worth it!
February 13, 2013 at 9:20am   
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serginajean
Thanks again. I will google that asap..
February 13, 2013 at 9:41am   
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EasyTurf
Have you considered artificial turf for your yard? There is an EasyTurf Authorized Dealer installing in your area (http://www.metrograss.com). EasyTurf is the most realistic synthetic turf on the market, and gives you a worry-free, maintenance-free, lush, green lawn year-round. When the snow melts in the spring - your lawn is already the best on the block. Check us out, and let me know if you have any questions - http://www.houzz.com/pro/easyturfdesign/easyturf
February 13, 2013 at 10:13am   
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serginajean
Oh haven't thought of that.but ill start doing some research of that product. Thanks.
February 13, 2013 at 10:50am   
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Sweet Caroline Garden Design
Some good suggestions above -especially enclosing that unfinished area between house and garage. Is the weeping tree movable ? It is definitely in the wrong position and I'd recommend having a couple of muscle-bound friends dig it up and transplant it in the backyard. Your front lot looks small so its important not to have trees and shrubs that overwhelm the space. A mixture of broadleaf evergreens, deciduous shrubs, perennials and annuals would complement your home's traditional architecture. A walkway leading from the garage to the front entrance is practical and attractive. Use the best materials you can afford here. From the walkway to the street remove sod and use an evergreen groundcover . I've doodled a design that is is a low-maintenance and lawn-less and will look good in all seasons. If you have room near the front entrance place two great looking containers that you can plant with seasonal color .
February 13, 2013 at 3:14pm     
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Sweet Caroline Garden Design
P.S. If you can dig up that Alberta Spruce evergreen and move it over toward the covered patio near that little recessed area it would look more balanced. If you're doing it yourself take it in stages -get the walkway installed as it will disturb everything else. After that, selecting shrubs for the background planting ( don't place them too close to the foundation ) then removing sod, improving soil and planting ground cover follow. Do a rough sketch with measurements and photos to your local garden center and seek their advice/help . They are a very valuable source especially if you are buying the plants and landscaping material from them.
February 13, 2013 at 3:24pm   
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handymam
Good ideas here.

You should rent a power washer in the spring and wash off the green moss on the back foundation and the stone on patio. You might want to do the driveway and steps too while you are at it. It will definitely clean up the area and make it prettier until you do whatever else you paln on doing.
February 13, 2013 at 3:32pm     
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serginajean
Genious!! Love drawing.. That's all I ever wanted.. Though I knw its one thing having the professionals draw it up and excecute it n another thing to have done by homeowners themself. But anyway I love it.. Will attempt to do that. What would u consider to place in those planters n "decidoius" plants /perenials that will last in NY. Again that's low maintenance. I kinda like my weepin tree.its really pretty with nice colors n the changes it goes through in spring/summer. and was think making a nice flower bed around it. Alberta spruce has been out already. I do have sprinkler system place already with enough heads for my "future "landscaping needs. I made sure I requested that..and yes powerwshasing the whole house is in work when it get nicer out.. ... Thanks guys..genious!!that's why You are the professionals..
February 13, 2013 at 3:46pm   
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Judy M
A Porte cochere is something a vehicle could drive under or through. where I live we call what this house has a "breezeway". They were generally built to allow a person to travel from their garage to their house without getting wet. Many of them evolved to be closed in completely.

Just thought it might helped if you understood the reason it is there!
February 13, 2013 at 3:50pm   
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handymam
I see that there is no grass under that tree out front by the road. Probably too shady for grass. I am guessing the city owns the tree, but you might want to plant some pachysandra ground cover out there. It grows in shade, stays low, and stays green, and no mowing!! Also, you may want to plan a garden along the front edge of your lawn and soften it with curving edge shapes. You would be able to solve the grass not growing in the corner (again, possible because of the shade from the tree by the road.)
February 13, 2013 at 3:52pm   
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serginajean
You right...that's what was listed on the house plans @ the building dept.. Thanks
February 13, 2013 at 3:54pm   
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handymam
A nice perennial that grows well in NY is peonies! Day lilies and hostas are also local favorites. (I am from Long Island originally)
February 13, 2013 at 3:56pm     
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serginajean
Omg.. Those are exactly what I had brought which seemed to be popular up here last spring and hope they come back this spring. Maybe I didn't plant them close anough. Cause they def did not look full and pretty.. Well guess I will be back @ the nursery n get more.. I was planning a getting : more hostas, white daylilies, roses n Paeonie. . Was even thinking tulips if they perenial. As far as annuals up here mumbs seem to be what's popular. Thanks guys. Now will work on proper placement for them.. Any suggestions is welcome ANYTIME.. Thank You fellow HOUZZERS
February 13, 2013 at 4:06pm   
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serginajean
Anyoneone knows the name of this lovely plant too? I really would like to incorperate that too. It remeind me of being in carribean and warmn weather. I like them a lot. N sure hope they survive here. I saw it @ a local masonery store here n they had no idea what it was.
February 13, 2013 at 4:12pm   
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serginajean
Sorry for mispells.... So much for autocorrect...
February 13, 2013 at 4:14pm   
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Sweet Caroline Garden Design
The plant above is a canna lily and it would have to be dug up every Fall because its an annual in your area. You could use these in your planters for the summer color. Visit the garden center for advice on what to plant for your area. I'm sure the weeping tree is beautiful but it appears to be placed almost dead center and it would be the first thing to stop your eye , therefore its a big distraction to the landscape as a whole. Before you even begin planting I would do some research by reading magazines and books on the subject .
February 13, 2013 at 5:05pm   
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serginajean
So right... They would be great in a planter. Does that mean I can bring them in the garage n water them there so they can live. ? Or I have to dig them up n bring them inside house or leave in planters and bring them in.and yes I have been looking @ option w/landscaping since the day I close on that house last year. But every suggestions help n does bring out new light. Great learning experience... Thanks
February 13, 2013 at 5:14pm   
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Sweet Caroline Garden Design
You can google Canna lily and it will give you the info, serginajean. After digging them up you cut the leaves off down at the base of the bulb, knock off the dirt and store them in a paper bag in a cool indoor spot. An unheated garage is too cold. I strongly recommend you visit Amazon.com and check out the gardening books on designing your own garden .
February 13, 2013 at 5:20pm   
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serginajean
Thanks!!!great.. On amazon/ebay now...
February 13, 2013 at 5:24pm     
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EasyTurf
Another option for replace grass in shady/hard to grow areas is EasyTurf - it looks and feels like real grass, but there's no watering/maintenance hassle.
February 13, 2013 at 8:08pm   
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Carolyn Hennes
There are a lot of low maintenance roses-Knock out, Easy Elegance, Carpet roses-some are upright, some low growing, come in a variety of colors-all have been selected to bloom all season long, without spraying or dead heading. The day lily idea is good, too. Select ones that are reblooming. Hostas are good because the foliage has interest even when they aren't in bloom. Don't fall into the trap of buying one of this and one of that...repetition is the key to good design.
February 13, 2013 at 8:51pm     
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Tres McKinney Design
It looks like the flag stone facing was added at a later date than the brick. If you intend to keep the flagstone then I recommend that you paint the brick in a similar tone found in the flagstone. Then paint the house's siding a darker gray/taupe color with a couple of shades darker trim. Remove the storm door and paint the front door any color of your choice. Paint the garage door the same color as the siding as to not distract from the front door. Adding a porch over the front door as curb appeal renovations suggests is a great idea. Consider hiring a landscape designer if you can find it in the budget. It is pretty easy to make a $1000.00 of mistakes with the wrong plantings in just a few seasons. It could be money well spent.
February 13, 2013 at 8:55pm   
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serginajean
Thanks for all the suggestions!!! Lots of options.
February 14, 2013 at 4:26am   
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Susan Jacobs
Used to live in Northern New Jersey - pachysandra grew with virtually no help from me. Also had a Japanese maple which was very happy in that environment.
February 14, 2013 at 10:48pm   
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serginajean
Thanks very much, all great suggestions..
February 15, 2013 at 3:57am   
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Curb Appeal Renovations
does mondo grass grow up there? That could grow in the shade...low maintenance and once planted, you never have to worry about it again!
February 15, 2013 at 7:15am   
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