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Backyard Design Dilemma

March 10, 2019

These two photos show my south facing backyard patio area and side area.

The side area needs something as it is so bare. That awful grass is gone now

replaced with lovely sod. Yes, there is a space in the row of cedars that isn't great.

I can't think of what would fit in this space. Any ideas?

Thanks, Dawn

Comments (16)

  • tdemonti

    How about a freestanding, ornate gate.

    dawntopolnicki thanked tdemonti
  • kitasei

    That hedge may seem boring but it is a perfect backdrop (on both sides!) for many things that otherwise get lost without one.

    dawntopolnicki thanked kitasei
  • Embothrium

    For the record the very much planted tree that your "cedar" hedge appears to consist of is Thuja occidentalis 'Smaragd'. Since you are topping it to produce a formal effect it will look best of each specimen is allowed to merge with the next, to form a solid green wall.

    Many local plantings of this have been having random individuals die in later years, based on what I have observed here I think much of the time the problem is severe mite infestations during summer sucking them dry. If you start to see a dull appearance during hot weather inspect yours closely - maybe using a magnifier - and ask about corrective action at a local independent garden center if mites are discovered (tiny moving specks and fine webbing, more fine than that of spiders).

  • dawntopolnicki

    It was a solid wall and then we hired a guy to "prune" the tops. He got a little carried away. Hence the hole! This hedging is about 8 years old. I took out a lot of the brown, dead parts of it (in the middle of each one) and didn't see any webbing. I'll check for mites. Thanks

  • Embothrium

    They are most evident during hot weather, I wouldn't expect to see much now in my area (presumably you are also somewhere in the PNW or Lower Mainland, otherwise for best possible results here indicate where the planting is located geographically).

  • dawntopolnicki

    Yes, it was during the hot spell last summer that I was "cleaning up" the hedge. I'm on the east coast of Vancouver Island (Parksville).

  • michaelspokane

    If you could give us some dimensions, and show how the first photo relates to the second (I have a guess) it would be helpful. Also, who's property is beyond the gap?

    My immediate impulse, when I can see the boundaries of a garden, is to obscure them. "Picture Frame" plantings with an open space in the middle give no reason to explore. If the whole thing can be seen from one spot, why go out there? Installing an island bed, with a densely growing tree or two, along with smaller shrubs and perennials, will hide the boundaries of the garden and actually make the whole seem larger. Plus, you'll have less lawn to mow and more room for plants!

  • dawntopolnicki

    The top photo is the one I need help with and it is facing west. It is city property beyond the boundaries of the hedges (the gap). The photo with the patio furniture is facing east. Thanks

  • Izzy Mn

    I would plant a tree in that area , a little height would be good. One that doesn't end up getting too big, ie; not a maple. may tree lilac. Do birches like paper or river birch grow in your area, they would add more interest and dimension. I would go to a good nursery and see what they have to offer. They carry a better variety than the big box stores do and someone who know more.

    I ended up with a bunch of small trees that won't get more than around 20' -25" because of height restrictions near powerlines. Ended up with a great variety not available from big box stores. Flowering crab, Serviceberry, and a few others can't remember names and lost the tags and can't figure out what they are.

    dawntopolnicki thanked Izzy Mn
  • PRO

    We see that the shrubs are in beds which terminate at the opening .... making it appear as an intentionally created "gateway." Is there a need for access between inside and outside of this opening ... even if only occasionally? Does your property end exactly at this opening? The street that we see beyond the opening looks quite a bit distant. Are you prohibited from planting anything outside of this opening? (Usually, homeowners are not prohibited from planting on their side of the city walk and often, even in the parkway, so long as it isn't unsafe.) Are you trying to increase privacy for the patio area?

  • Embothrium

    Now that bronze birch borer has finally made it out here from the East local paper (and European, as well a Himalayan) birches are being hammered. Affected trees look topped, as upper branches are tunneled out, die and break off.

    A paper birch would become too big and dominating for this planting site anyway. River birch however is borer resistant and there are small growing horticultural selections of this species on the market. (In the US anyway). Definitely one of these would have to be used because the typical species is, like the paper birch a large growing tree. With for instance more than one example growing in Seattle having been determined some years ago to have average crown spreads in excess of 60 ft.

    dawntopolnicki thanked Embothrium
  • dawntopolnicki

    Thanks for the information on the trees. In answer to Yardvark:

    -the outside of this opening is our front yard; no the property doesn't end at the opening.

    -no, we're not prevented from planting on the city part.

    The city part, is on the other side of the hedge and it has river rocks on it which is fine with us.

    With the hedge, privacy isn't an issue. It's what to put in the yard that will "spruce up" the area on our side of the hedge (i.e. plant beds, fire pit, etc.). Thanks, Dawn

  • Embothrium

    Probably a big enough project to hire local services for. Garden designer, landscape designer or design + build landscape company. Houzz (click on FIND PROFESSIONALS, above) may have pages from people serving your area.

  • PRO
    Flores Artscape

    The patio area is very nice! Have you thought about a partial fence or a gate?

  • PRO

    If privacy for the patio was wanted, a small section of hedge planted outside the existing hedge, a few feet away from it, would be an easy way to block the view so outsiders could not see directly into the patio area (along the lines of how privacy is created without using doors at airport bathrooms.) In this way access could be maintained. However, if that's not needed, I don't see the reason to close off the opening ... unless you were going to fill it in with matching arborvitaes for a solid hedge.

    Insofar as just "sprucing it up," it looks like what it really needs is improved grass. But you say you've already done that. Another possibility ... the mulch bed below the hedge could be filled in with low groundcover so as to look at green instead of brown ... but it's such a small sliver of bed that it wouldn't make a huge difference. The bed could be widened and filled with groundcover for effect.

    As far as planting something up against the hedge, I'd be careful about doing that because it's sure to cast shade and create a permanent hole in whatever portion shades the arborvitae surface. In other words, I can only see low, groundcover type plantings being safely placed against the hedge.

  • Embothrium

    Also don't want to get so close with anything you can't access the hedge easily, if the maintenance pruning is to be continued.

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