splaker

Some advice on a grass/shrub/perennial combo for front entrance..

splaker
May 11, 2019

Hello folks,


I am trying to get this bed right (ongoing quest!) and I would like to go with a miscanthus malepartus as an anchor, and at least a couple of or few more grasses. I have some blue fescue in my backyard, a Karl Forester and a Hameln fountain grasses to work with. I also picked up a variegated feather reed grass, which would be a nice contrast. Already planted is a itea merlot, which can be moved or left in place to work alongside some combination. I am thinking size wise, about 8' feet in length, in a semi-circular fashion. Instead of going with all the grasses, I could just use a 2 or 3 grasses (malepartus, variegated reed, blue fescue?), and add a dwarf evergreen and perhaps a perennial. I am trying to create a bit of a privacy screen with this project by adding the taller grass(es) as you can see there is an adirondack chair adjacent to the door where I often sit. I don't know if I am overthinking this and making it more complicated than the site needs to be. Here are a couple of pics of the planting site. Thanks for any input!



Comments (17)

  • PRO
    Yardvaark

    We can't really see how this looks with your house in the background. Too, we don't know what the goals are ... the effect you're trying to achieve. In general, I think you have to be careful with adding beds to the outside of a walk, as two undesirable effects are possible or even likely. One is that the walk will feel confined and restricted. If plants hang over onto it, it actually may BE restricted. This can lead to a feeling of being penned in or as if one is being guided by a corral. The second possible undesirable effect is blocking the view of what should be visible from the street. In a typical setting you want people to see the entrance of the house, and the clear path to it. The path does not need to be seen in its entirety, but it should be obvious where it starts and ends. People want to know where they're going before they get there. I don't know the miscanthus you're using, but many of them are very large. That said, it's possible to conceal a portion of walk with a planted island, but avoid making the island stretch long, along the side of the walk. It is better to make its shape blocky ... as one might make a quarter circle where the walk and drive intersect. Any bed along a walk will look better if its edge intersects with the walk at 90*, not any other angle.

    splaker thanked Yardvaark
  • splaker

    Logical points... I see what you're saying... So avoid a semi-circular design... what if I create a "blockier" bed and shift the focal point closer to where that tiny shrub and small rock is currently planted so as to avoid "blocking" the doorway entrance? The malepartus is a big miscanthus, reaching 7' when in flower... i was going to add smaller grasses so as to avoid created a wall of grass/vegetation.. and perhaps a dwarf evergreen (for example I have some blue star juniper I could transplant there). The "effect" I suppose I am trying to achieve to create some minor level of screening and some structure to the entranceway. Not sure if I am explaining this correctly. Should I add another picture of the overall entranceway from the road?

  • PRO
    Yardvaark

    "The "effect" I suppose I am trying to achieve to create some minor level of screening and some structure to the entranceway." Screening means to block the view. What view are you trying to block? You'd need to SHOW it in order to have people give any kind of reasonable feedback on it. And what does it mean to "give structure to something? I don't think that actually describes anything. At least not accurately.

    Good landscaping is an integral treatment of a piece of property as a whole ... dealing with whatever functional and visual problems exist ... solving them all (what can be solved) with plants and non-living outdoor materials. In order to do this, one must appraise an entire view/scene at a time ... not just a piece of the scene, as there they wouldn't have any context for whether something "fits," or not.

    If you've seen other threads, you've probably noticed I ask for photos of the entire spread ,,, showing the house, some foreground and space beyond each end. IMO, that's they only way you can achieve things that "fit." For the most part anyway. There are always exceptions to every general rule.

    splaker thanked Yardvaark
  • splaker

    Thanks... I will post some more pictures. Regards...

  • splaker

    Or, I could abandon the "tall grasses" and go with low, mounding shrubs and perhaps a few shorter grasses (fescues, for eg..)



  • PRO
    Yardvaark

    If one is going to plant along the outside of a walk, the shorter plants are the less offensive the planting strip will be. Again, there are exceptions, but without seeing conditions, one has to rely primarily on the general rule. Another general rule that may apply, is that the shorter the plants are, the wider they may need to be. A low string of plants edging a walk might look ridiculously out of scale, but made wide may make an acceptable statement.

    splaker thanked Yardvaark
  • ken_adrian Adrian MI cold Z5

    dont recall where you are.. its always helpful to include it in the scenario ....


    is snow shoveling an issue .??? ... if so.. it might dictate the size of the new bed ...as to where you pile snow.. etc ...


    i would start with a new bed in the lawn.. on the non-house side of the walk ....


    i would probably make it 3 to 5 feet wide ...


    and then i would worry about design ...


    on the far side of the house.. i would probably get rid of that big green blobs .... probably not within this project... but i would keep it in mind.. so that what i plant in the new area.. it will be integral when you continue in that direction ...


    in other words.. take the time to develop a 2 or 3 year plan ... for the whole front of the house ... if you have the budget and ambition.. to do it all at once... go for it.. if not ... plant ahead ... if it took me all summer .. fall is a great planting time ...


    if the new bed were all that you might do this season ... i would just use it as a nursery bed... with the idea ... that i would move them around.. as the project continues over the years ...


    too often.. peeps do a small area ... and then.. it turns out so good.. they decide they want to redo more.. but then realize they need to redo the first part .... to make it look good with the second part ....


    ken



  • ken_adrian Adrian MI cold Z5

    when i got my first house.. i took a couple adult beverages.. and my lawn chair out near the street ... and just sat there on evening .. and just stared at the house .... and came up with all kinds of ideas ...


    in the second pic... whats on the bottom left .... whats in the middle of the lawn ... if its anything but bare lawn .... whats the sense of designing at the house.. without taking that into account ...


    ever play GOW?


    ken

  • splaker

    Very strange - my climate zone doesn't appear any longer next to my handle... DOn't know how that happened. I am 5a north of Toronto canada.


    I will pot pics to get a better sense of what I want to achieve... as for the big evergreens, they will eventually be torn out... i inherited them. And snow is not an issue.. I have room to put it elsewhere. thanks

  • NHBabs z4b-5a NH

    Speaker, I can still see your zone infor when signed in via Gardenweb, but not when signed in through Houzz. To make it so that folks using Houzz can see your zone location, click on My Houzz and choose Edit profile and settings. The second section down is called Profile Information, and the first two blanks there are for your first name (publicly displayed) and last name (publicly displayed). If you add your location info and zone there as part of your name, it will show for readers regardless of whether they are signed in via Houzz or via GardenWeb. As it currently is, only those signed in via GW can see your location info, so folks like Ken who sign in via Houzz will be asking for that info.

    splaker thanked NHBabs z4b-5a NH
  • splaker

    Does this give you a better perspective?





  • splaker

    Guess not! Thanks anyway folks... I'll plunk that miscanthus and a few other shrubs and see how it looks and can always change it down the road. Grasses are easy to move

  • splaker

    Interesting...

    thanks

  • ken_adrian Adrian MI cold Z5

    as for the big evergreens, they will eventually be torn out...


    ====>>>


    man that is some prime lawn ... sometimes i miss my lawn warrior days ... but never mowing every day or two in spring.. lol ...


    and that was my point.. whether you remove the old immediately.. make an integrated plan for the whole ...


    if all you got done this season ... presuming you arent whipping out the checkbook and paying for instant gratification ... was to make the beds.. for fall planting.. then i would consider it a success ....



    splaker thanked ken_adrian Adrian MI cold Z5
  • NHBabs z4b-5a NH

    I would add nothing else on the outside of the walkway. Screening just doesn’t go well with a front door. If you want to add privacy, move the chair further down to use the tree for screening or add a trellis with vines between the house and the walkway, but again, it would be best to have it farther from the door so it isn’t blocking the sight lines to the front door.

    The reason you are in the predicament of wanting more plantings on the outside of the walk is the the walk is too close to the house for the bed along the house to be particularly useful. You have a lovely walkway, so I imagine that it is unlikely to be moved. This may be why you aren’t getting much response, because there really isn’t much place to plant without blocking sight lines to the front door. To my eye you have pretty much maximized the plantings in this area, and if it were mine, I would move any shrubs such as the Itea already in that area.

    splaker thanked NHBabs z4b-5a NH
  • splaker

    NHBabs, I am starting to lean toward just leaving as is... I think you are right about this! Thanks! I will find another spot for the miscanthus and that little Itea Merlot (which did not seem to fair to well after it's first winter up here).

  • NHBabs z4b-5a NH

    My Itea Little Henry slowly faded away over several seasons until I eventually shovel pruned it. I don’t think that it is quite hardy here, though where I work along the seacoast, there are a good number of Itea that look great.

Need help with an existing Houzz order? Call 1-800-368-4268