gracetabithalim

What to plant on slope for curb appeal? (Pics!)

grace clark
5 years ago

The side of my home (PA, Zone 6a) faces the road and the face it presents is vinyl and unappealing. I currently have a weeping cherry (circled in blue in pic #1) that I think will make a nice accent. I am removing the out-of-control forsythia to make way for what I hope will be a low-maintenance, deer resistant planting with great curb appeal. I am feeling overwhelmed. Please help!

There's six feet width of flat ground extending away from this side of the house (see pic #2), then a slope that drops about 45 degrees to the roadside. The weeping cherry is planted at the edge of the drop-off. I'm planning to put in a pathway (pavers) about 3 ft wide, leaving 1.5 ft of space for planting on either side of the path.

What could I plant along these strips that would help dress up the house, give some privacy, and perhaps provide a green backdrop for the weeping cherry? I'd love suggestions for what to plant on the slope that is perennial, fast-growing, weed-choking and evergreen if possible. Would catmint, moss phlox, creeping raspberry, strawberry, blackeyed susans fit the bill? I'd love to put in a selection of plants that would complement the cherry too.

I'm also in the process of (attempting) landscaping my entire 1.5 acre property (pic #3) and have a million ideas and even more questions, which I will probably post somewhere on gardenweb, but I thought I'd start here. Thanks in advance for your comments, thoughts, advice, etc!


Comments (30)

  • emmarene9
    5 years ago

    You need to say which house is yours.

    As far as the planting next to the house, you only have room for a not very dense ground cover.

    It looks as if someone once had the goal of planting a hedgerow but lost interest.

    Since you mention curb appeal I am guessing you want your house to be visible from the road. In that case I advise planting grass in that former Forsythia area. I just don't see how a plant that looks like it is at least twenty feet from the house face will help the look of your ' vinyl and unappealing ' facade. I see it looks like you have some plants near the door but I cannot see well enough. I like the weeping tree.

    What other projects would you enjoy? Will there be a play house for example. Do you want to grow vegetables?

    grace clark thanked emmarene9
  • grace clark
    Original Author
    5 years ago
    Thanks for your comments Emmarene! My house is the one in the middle (pic #1), and borders Altermoor Dr (pic #3, circled in blue dashed line).
    Glad you like the weeping cherry!
    I will try to edit the pics (cut and paste shrubs and trees) to better illustrate the look I'm hoping to achieve, and hope for some feedback from everyone here too. Will do this weekend.
    Re the curb appeal, I would like to plant shrubs and another tree or two that would draw attention away from the vinyl siding, maybe hide part of it. The previous owner had forsythia planted all along the bank of the property facing the road. This forsythia grew so rampantly it started drooping over onto the road and obstructing traffic. It's been mowed down repeatedly and will not go away. I'll probably have to use a pick axe and remove it.
    Again, I'll draw up a plan of the house and that side yard this weekend, with sketched in possible shrubs/trees.
    I've put in a small vegetable garden this year (20x20ft) that is visible in pic #3 upper right side - I love growing stuff!! There is an old grape vine just below the veg garden that needs work too.
    In the meantime I do appreciate your and anyone else's thoughts and input! Thanks again.
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  • PRO
    Yardvaark
    5 years ago

    Your first picture is the proper view but it is 1/2 mile away and distorted from being a panorama. If you could go to the leading edge of the road and take SLIGHTLY OVERLAPPING, PANNING shots that capture your property from a closer perspective, it would help a lot. Just post the pictures individually, not assembled into a computer generated panorama.

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  • grace clark
    Original Author
    5 years ago
    Thanks for the suggestion yardvark! I'll get to that first thing tomorrow.
  • grace clark
    Original Author
    5 years ago
    last modified: 5 years ago

    Hi everyone, hope your weekend went well! Here's the rough plan of my home and yard (sorry I'm not an artist!).
    The willow and mulberry trees are dying and will be removed. Also going to remove the forsythia.

    My main project is replanting the 45 deg slope on which the forsythia currently inhabit. The upper border of the forsythia is where the slope begins. I'd like to make pretty the entire area in front of the side of the house, down the slope to the road. Thinking of some sungold false cypress, bluestar juniper, gold coast juniper, blue fescue, purple smoke tree as complements to the snow fountain weeping cherry there. Maybe cover the entire slope with catmint or some fast growing, weed suppressing perennial.

    The sideyard just above the weeping cherry, I'd like to put in pavers for an informal pathway, and plant some low-growing shrubs that will tie the house to the ground while covering the vinyl facade.

    The kitchen at the back of the house opens out onto a somewhat flat 8 foot wide area that slopes upward away from the house, while also sloping upward west to east. I'd love to lay a patio 10 foot wide, that steps up to the grass lawn beyond. Maybe a low retaining wall that rises following the west-east slope.

    Husband is a DIY type who is currently renovating the interior of the house, and he intends to (eventually) build a deck at the front of the house, so I won't be adding any plants in that area for the time being.

    I kinda went overboard and ordered a crazy number of trees from various online nurseries, which I now will have to plant:

    • Nikita's persimmon
    • Native plum
    • Elderberry york & gold
    • Fig violette de bordeaux
    • Manchurian apricot
    • Serviceberry
    • Purple smoke tree
    • Jostaberry
    • Carmine cherry
    • Aronia
    • Dogwood yellow & red
    • Pilgrim cranberry

    I have roughly sketched where I'd like to plant them - including the empty expanse of lawn south of the driveway, and scattered around the property. I'd be happy to post my sketch here if there's interest!

    So much needs done, so little time! I'd love to hear your thoughts on landscape design for the slope and any other part of the yard. I'll take photos of the progress and (hopefully if it works out) the end result.

    Thanks in advance for all your help!

  • grace clark
    Original Author
    5 years ago
    last modified: 5 years ago

    And the next couple of photos show the west side of the property as seen from the road, taken from left to right. (click on link below) PICS OF YARD

  • PRO
    Yardvaark
    5 years ago
    last modified: 5 years ago

    Hi Grace. I laud your efforts at taking the new photos. The bad news is that they are not a PANNING set of photos, but rather a walking-along set ... which doesn't work out well for reassembling them. I put them together anyway, but as you see it messes with angles and how things are seen in the background. For taking a panning set, one stands in the same location for all photos and pivots the camera. In the case of trying to capture a very wide scene, one would take 2 or 3 panning SETS from different locations. Each set would be a separate scene.

    Let's start with the philosophy of our efforts. I believe that your are approaching the redesign with a mindset oriented toward GARDENING ... it's all about plants. Instead, I think you should think about the issues from a mindset of LANDSCAPING, where plants are like paint ... a fluid medium to be shaped and arranged in any manner that best solves the problems of FUNCTIONALITY and APPEARANCE, working out the former first. After determining what shapes, sizes and forms would solve problems in an attractive way, you would decide what plants would best do the job. Seems like you are buying plants and hoping you can find some problems for them to solve! That said, almost every landscape designer or architect has suffered at some point from the same condition as we all like plants, must have them and decide to worry later about how they fit in. (I'm still nursing along -- for more than a year -- a half dozen plants in pots that I can't find a proper location for and doubt it exists!) The danger of acquiring too many plants upfront and squeezing them in somewhere is ending up with a hodgepodge of individual plants scattered all over the yard.

    You've mentioned a couple times your dissatisfaction with the vinyl siding. Don't worry about this because, to the casual observer, it just looks like siding from a distance. If it's so bothersome, plan to solve the problem by residing at some future point. But until then, just accept it and don't use plants to cover it up. Use plants to enhance the architectural features and you will make the house look as good as it can.

    With the slope between house and road, I can see the need for a large scale groundcover so that you can eliminate mowing in that area. Where I would start is by observing locally what others are using in order to overcome this same condition. Please report back what the options are, despite what you think the downside to any of them might be. Keep in mind that you must eliminate weeds first and keep then out while "good" plants are establishing. There is nothing worse than a weed infested groundcover! Heavy mulch will be invaluable in the beginning. As a DIY project, you might phase it in in stages, making sure to not bite off any more than you can chew.

    Posting reassembled photo...


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  • emmarene9
    5 years ago

    I have the feeling that Forsythia plan may take a few years. Any part left in the soil will sprout again. I am not in your zone so I cannot recommend any plants. Would you consider shrub ground cover? Juniper maybe?

    You must have had spring fever to buy all those trees. Luckily you have room for them. I wish you had purchased two more weeping cherry. They could make a clump with the one you already have.

    grace clark thanked emmarene9
  • grace clark
    Original Author
    5 years ago

    Yardvark and Emmarene, thanks for your comments.

    Yaardvark, I am guilty as charged - i love plants and seeing what they do (flower/fruit/growth) and tend to acquire them just to see what they get up to in the garden, then can't decide where to put them. My back yard is probably going to end up looking like a fruit arboretum at the rate I'm going! Thank you for reminding me that I need to first reset my mindset and approach this from a Landscaping perspective. Based on this approach, I envision the side yard and sloped bank as a focal point with great curb appeal. In addition to the present weeping cherry that will eventually reach 12 ft, the slope could be planted with an attractive ground cover and selected shrubs, grasses, flowers for year round interest.

    I've taken new photos and hopefully did it correctly this time Photos Click Here

    To cover difficult-to-mow slopes, neighbors have used creeping juniper (potted plants are expensive, slow growing, sometimes die off and leave unsightly brown patches), pachysandra (possibly too sunny on my slope, common), grasses, fern, ivy.

    In my case, I need to first remove the forsythia. I applied glyphosate and covered with black tarp, which should weaken the forsythia a little. Next i'll use a pickaxe and hack out as many roots as I can find. Then pile on a couple inches of topsoil, cover with jute/straw to keep it from washing away. Maybe sow seeds of black eyed susan, or plant strawberry/catmint etc on the entire bank to get it established. Then mulch. And put in shrubs and other plants as I go along. I'll try to find some time to draw a sketch of what plants i think will go where in the slope.

    Emmarene, yes I have a very bad case of spring fever. I don't know if I could afford juniper as a ground cover - I think it would require a large number of plants to be put in and juniper is somewhat expensive?

    Thanks again.

  • PRO
    Yardvaark
    5 years ago

    Personally, I think you're building some difficulties into the preparation. I don't know how difficult it is to get rid of forsythia with glyphosate. It may take repeated applications (after partial regrowth). And some patience. (I usually figure on taking an entire summer to get completely rid of established woody plants.) But I don't think the black plastic/tarp is necessary. If the Glysophate isn't working well enough on it's own, add herbicide with 2,4-d (such as Weed-B-Gone) to the mixture, each at their normal mix ratio. The combination will take care of almost any weed whereas either on their own only kills certain things.

    I would definitely not install any new groundcover or shrubs until all of the weeds/grass in the bed is gone and controlled. Otherwise, you will have a gigantic mess on your hands. Nothing worse than groundcover invaded by weeds. Sometimes, it's impossible to separate them and all must be dug up and replanted. The best thing to do is define the bed, kill all the unwanted plants in it, After they die (first time) mulch heavily (at least 3" with free mulch from tree trimmers or the like). Don't rush to install new plants, but some are ok. The weeds will come back so you don't want to be spraying new plants when you kill them. After a time or two of repeat spraying, the weeds will simmer down dramatically. and you can install new plants without their being in imminent danger of their being infested by weeds. While your are preparing the bed and getting rid of weeds, you can be creating new groundcover from cuttings to in order to save $$.

    At the risk of starting WWIII, for the kind and scale of area you have, I would choose some type of ivy as the permanent groundcover. In particular, if it grows well there, English ivy would be choice. While many complain about it, saying it's uncontrollable, I found that, after caring for a 1/4 acre of it for many years, not to be the case. (This is in Atlanta area.) It's advantages are that it's easy to start from cuttings so a monster amount of it can be gotten for free if you have a nearby source. (Someone be happy for someone else to offer to trim the edge of it!) If one wants it kept off of trees, a once per year clipping at the base of the trunk (5 minutes per tree) will work. Don't try to remove the vines from the trunk. Just let the leaves fall off. It can be kept of a building by spraying the leading edge with glysophate once or twice per year... or by manual cutting, if preferred. Where the edge is visible, it's better to cut manually with an edger ... but that's only once per month or so. For the groundcover area you're speaking of, it would be good to limit to one type of groundcover. Adding more will add significantly to the maintenance and "busy up" the design. The groundcover, like lawn, should be what unifies all the other plantings. If you want the sloped area next to the street to look good, you'll be fairly ruthless about limiting the variety ... though I'm not saying to make it plain and boring.

    I took a quick look at the pictures and that's exactly how they should be. I look at them more later.

    grace clark thanked Yardvaark
  • PRO
    Yardvaark
    5 years ago

    Adding a picture with ideas about basic landscaping...

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  • grace clark
    Original Author
    5 years ago

    Yardvaark, thanks for stitching together the pics of my yard and adding those plants - what a great visual on how to frame the house with plants. I really like the tree that you placed on the right corner of the house - it looks so good there. Maybe I could plant that 10 foot purple smoke tree there.

    I'm also starting to see that I will need to patient and smart about removing the forsythia completely before attempting to put in any ground cover. Your suggestion to use only one type of groundcover for the entire sloped area along the property was a lightbulb moment for me too. Of course it would unify all the other plantings and would clearly demarcate our property, making for great curb appeal. Thank so much.

    Ivy actually grows rampant in the woods and parks around here, and some consider it a weedy pest because it outcompetes other native plants and reduces food for birds etc etc. I did try to plant four pots on the right most slope a few years ago, but did an awful job of it and spent many hours pulling weeds out of the ivy and trying to keep it alive. You're absolutely right about there being nothing worse than a groundcover invaded by weeds. I'm going to do it correctly this time.

    I'll get hold of some ivy and a few other groundcovers that I find interesting and think have potential, and try propagating them this year, hopefully to plant out next year. I got a musk strawberry vars profumata and capron last year and didn't take care of it at all - the capron died, but the profumata escaped its pot, suckered and now is growing over the weeds in that part of the garden. I am intrigued by its hardiness and the possibility of having a fragrant edible ground cover. I'm also keen on acquiring some catmint and seeing how it does in my test garden area.

    I'll update soon with any progress. Thanks again, much appreciated!!

  • PRO
    Yardvaark
    5 years ago

    I know all about how some people consider English ivy a weedy pest. WWI & WWII were fought over it here. Nevertheless, when you need groundcover for a large area, it is not feasible to use things that don't have some get up and go. The key to it, I think, is learning to control it. I'm sure you have other possibilities, too, and maybe more local research on it will bring more ideas.

    Purple smoke tree would be great for off the corner of house.

    I'm showing BASIC landscaping. I know you have many things to find places for. It may be possible for you to subdivide an area of planting in order to add variety. Just be careful to do it in a way that makes some artistic sense. Instead of thinking about plants when you do it, think about shapes and their size and how things are fitting together. I could see the groundcover area being divided into as much as three different areas ... four if push came to shove. (divide, more or less, where the dividing lines run front to back, not side to side, which would end up looking like rows. It should be more like sections that are side-by-side.)

    Many groundcovers (like ivy) can be propagated very quickly. From cutting to rooted transplant in one month. One can make hundreds directly in the ground in a short amount of time in a bare, shady (not too shady) spot.

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  • emmarene9
    5 years ago

    Yardvaark have you ever heard of ivy being mowed? I would want it to stay compact. It will be an area too large to shear manually.

  • PRO
    Yardvaark
    5 years ago

    Not specifically and purposefully mowed, I haven't. But I've seen plenty of it that creeps into lawns and gets mowed inadvertently. It seems to tolerate some mowing but not complete and continuous mowing. Seems like it could be petted into some kind of pruning submission with some experimentation.

  • PKponder TX Z7B
    5 years ago

    It's not ivy but I mow my asian jasmine every spring, mondo grass too. It looks so much better with fresh foliage.


  • grace clark
    Original Author
    5 years ago

    I've come up with a sketch of the property and where I think the plants I acquired might be a good fit. Mostly thinking of putting them in the frontmost yard (far right) which is currently wide open space. I think the line of spruce trees would make a nice backdrop for other trees and shrubs, and perhaps reduce the mowing area. However, I'm wondering if it would look better with a single well placed large/spreading shade tree and minimal shrubbery instead of a collection (hopefully cohesive) of native trees.

    Landscaping entire yard · More Info


  • grace clark
    Original Author
    5 years ago


    Landscaping entire yard · More Info

    Front most yard. Wildlife has been tearing up the sod to get at the grubs. RV will be moved.

  • PRO
    Yardvaark
    5 years ago

    as the spruce grow and cover more of driveway, how will they be dealt with?

  • grace clark
    Original Author
    5 years ago
    Yardvaark, thanks for the question The spruce came with the house and were set far enough back from the driveway when planted about thirty years ago. They can be seen behind the RV.
  • PRO
    Yardvaark
    5 years ago

    But they have low limbs that will impede the traffic flow unless you cut them off. You will bite the bullet and raise the canopy when forced? If the that's the case they will not be a backdrop to he proposed plantings, and you are cutting off the rest of the yard as viewed from house. IMO, it would be better to develop screening/planting at the perimeter rather than cut off your yard at the drive.

  • grace clark
    Original Author
    5 years ago
    Yardvaark, thanks for your suggestion - i totally agree with you that the line of spruce trees presently flanking the right side of the driveway (re the layout sketch of the property), artificially cuts the property in half and blocks the view of the front most yard. I hear your concern about the spruce trees encroaching onto the driveway as they grow bigger. I'll take a pic tomorrow and seek your kind opinion as to whether this might still happen - I don't think they are going to get any bigger but maybe they will? I'll post the pic first thing tomorrow. Thanks!
  • grace clark
    Original Author
    5 years ago
    Line of (mature?) spruce trees flank driveway. Plan to plant native plums, manchurian bush apricots and elderberries on wide open space next with spruce as backdrop. Or maybe a single large spreading specimen tree?
  • PRO
    Yardvaark
    5 years ago

    As these trees grow, their lower limbs will encroach on the driveway space. With the large tree nearby casting shade, it's likely that the spruce will develop some "thin" lower foliage on that side. Eventually, you'll be forced to head back the lower branches in order to keep the driveway clear. If you leave lower branches on opposite side of tree, you'll be looking into a dark, cave-like affair as the border to the drive. The alternative is remove all lower branches (like normal trees) and maintain a view below them to the rest of the yard. At the point where you must decide, you might not want a lot of stuff planted on the other side that continues to block the view. If it was mine, I'd limb up the trees to retrieve the view and plant new material toward the property boundary. What's going to be the use of that yard? It looks like a future vegetable garden to me! Surrounded by a Belgian fence would be charming as heck.

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  • grace clark
    Original Author
    5 years ago

    Yardvaark,

    Thank you. That is genius! Those spruce trees are already so large that it didn't occur to me that they would change any. But of course they are going to encroach on the driveway years from now, and the most sensible thing to do would be limb up those trees... consequently it makes perfect sense to plant any new trees/shrubs toward the property boundary. That area was formerly planted with fruit trees. I would love to put a vegetable garden in there but hesitate because it might not look tidy enough for a front yard. I had to look up Belgian fence - wow, ok, that would be a showstopper. Wowie, lots of food for thought. Thanks again!

  • PRO
    Yardvaark
    5 years ago

    The Belgian fence (made of dwarf fruit trees maybe) tidies up any veg. garden! Not as bad to create as you might think. Install tall posts at intervals, not in concrete as they will be removed later. Run wire at horizontal intervals on the posts. Tie the plants to the wire. It's a very fun project. And it IS a showstopper.

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  • emmarene9
    5 years ago

    You might need a crew to help you care for so many plants but since you are so enthusiastic.......What about a grape arbor? You could make your own jelly.

  • junco East Georgia zone 8a
    5 years ago

    I would much prefer the creeping raspberry over the ivy. I used it in my zone 8a garden and it did exactly what you want a ground cover to do. Make sure it will thrive in your area and check it out. Also look at the contoneasters--there are even evergreen groundcover ones.

    You could consider a small grove of trees at the street end of the front yard. Perhaps serviceberry or Redbud, both are listed for your zone. There are also viburnums that would be a feature in that yard.

  • grace clark
    Original Author
    5 years ago
    last modified: 5 years ago

    Thank you all for your comments! I spent the weekend celebrating my baby girl's second birthday, getting sunburnt, and gestating garden design ideas inspired by your suggestions :)

    Yardvaark, the more I think of it, the more I'm liking the idea of a Belgian fence. It does sound like a fun project!

    Junco, I have serviceberry and was thinking of including it in the grove of trees somewhere on the front yard - a little concerned that it will run rampant and takeover other plantings though. Re: creeping raspberry - I definitely want to get some for my test/holding bed and see how they do here. I think it would look great on the slope if it could outcompete the weeds.

    Emmarene,

    I do have my little helper who enthusiastically waters the plants and picks up grubs and worms as pets, but that's about it. My husband is not fond of gardening. He has agreed to help me put up a grape arbor to support the 40 year old concord grape vines that came with the property, so yes! I am looking forward to making all sorts of grape-y yummies. I made some wine and canned grape juice one year, but the grapes have been awful (mummies most years probably too damp from laying on the ground).

    I made some corrections to the layout that better shows how the bend/curve of the road 'hugs' the frontmost yard, and I situated the Belgian fence where I think it will not obstruct the view of oncoming vehicles, for vehicles coming around the bend (hazardous). Maybe I could make a curved fence to follow the bend of the road? I also moved the grove of trees/bushes back against the east property line. At the moment, with no plants in that area, I get a clear view of what's around the bend as I approach it (driving), and I think that it would be good to keep the view unobstructed.

    Thanks again in advance for your thoughts. Hope everyone had a wonderful weekend!

  • grace clark
    Original Author
    last month
    last modified: last month



    Five years after starting the project, the creeping juniper are making progress covering the slope that extends along our road front. The original forsythia hedge that was taken out still sends out suckers every once in a while. Below is close up curbside view of house - weeping cherry stayed short but looks pretty cascading down the slope. Ninebark and spirea on right and on left under the spruce tree are hostas, columbines etc.


    Below we added a sidewalk this year that runs along the house