bop29291

Front yard refresh Central Florida

bop29291
July 2, 2019

The Houzz Community provided such great support for my recent sidewalk design, I thought I'd make a separate page for my actual landscape refresh.

I'm open to any ideas or designs you can come up with. Hard to tell in photos but the front scale of the home is fairly tall. The garage doors are 10' tall and the elevation is a bit deceiving sloping down several feet from front of house to the middle of the front yard. Bedroom window is 4' from grade to sill. Front porch is about 2' from grade. Sidewalk is 11' from garage wall tapering down a bit and is about 26' long to longest point.

I don't know the names of the shrubs under the window but they have gotten big probably due to poor management/trimming. I'll include a close-up of the flower/leaves they produce and maybe someone can identify them. I'm not oppose to a complete do-over however I do like that the porch shrubs have the purple/red tones that go well with the stone colors.

The septic tank sits just off the front left corner of the house.

Comments (37)

  • bop29291

    mystery shrubs flower

  • PRO
    Yardvaark

    ideas for arranging layout



  • bop29291

    Nice work Yardvaark. funny how free thinking you can be when it's not your project. Keep them coming please!

  • PRO
    Yardvaark
    1. "funny how free thinking you can be when it's not your project." I have no idea what you mean by saying that. But "Keep them coming" sounds like you're looking for something much different. You should be specific, saying what and why.


  • PRO
    Dig Doug's Designs

    Your mystery flower looks a lot like Calycanthus "Aphrodite".

  • PRO
    Dig Doug's Designs

    some ideas:



  • bop29291

    Doug- Thanks so much for taking you time to do that. Very bold!

    Yardvaark- I read my post again an can understand how maybe you thought my comment about free thinking could have been some sort of a negative remark. Quite the opposite!!! What I mean is since the existing layout was done by me, I can't free myself to see something different or better. I so much appreciate your effort, advice and opinion.

    As far as my "keep them coming" comment. I think most would agree that seeing your largest investment spruced up with beautiful plants and colors by a professional will for sure delight, but doesn't necessarily mean the first rendering is "it", although you did nail the sidewalk for me;-) I was only inviting others to share their ideas as well. If I had ideas of my own, I would have given more direction. I'm trying to offer a clean slate for maximum creativity and not influence the design as a non-professional. Thanks again.

  • PRO
    Yardvaark

    "Keep them coming" and "... but doesn't necessarily mean the first rendering is 'it,'" has me thinking that you're viewing design as a 'numbers game .... "If I get 20 different designs, then surely there must be one that's just right amongst them. It might be the case it works out that way. However, that's not the sure way way to get to where you want to go. When you're presented with a concept, the better way is to critique it honestly, saying what works (from your perspective) and what doesn't. Then the process is moved on and a designer has an idea of what you're trying to get to. If a feedback comment is maximum generic -- such as 'nice work' -- then there is nowhere to go from there. And because we're working with concepts shown in a perspective view, there's lots of room for misinterpretation. Giving specific feedback will alert the designer if something is possibly being misunderstood. (I find that there is a tendency for viewers to take a drawing literally. People often think I'm trying to recommend specific colors when all I'm trying to do is indicate that one thing is different from another. Here, I'm trying to show that three of your existing plants are grown into a tree form ... but I'm sure there's someone who saw the drawing who thinks I'm recommending trees with twin, grey trunks! If there is not specific feedback, there's no way to react, explain, argue in favor of, or simply agree. Instead, it's a dead end.

  • bop29291

    Ok Yardvaark I think being new to the site I've underestimated your passion for helping others find what they're looking for and I guess since this is on the house I'm too intimidated to ask for redo's as. But no more!

    Here's a list of plants/trees I like and are very common in central FL, without limiting your imagination.

    Azaleas, Indian Hawthorne, Gardenia, Dwarf Yaupon Shrub, Loropetalum, Hibiscus, Italian Cypress and some taller grasses unsure of names.

    Magnolia, Crape Myrtle, and some types of palms similar to Christmas tree palms smooth trunk.

    The septic tank is off the front left corner of the house, so planting anything with a massive root structure wouldn't be ideal, plus it's shallow above it.

    Thanks!

  • PRO
    Yardvaark

    That's not what I meant! I'm only asking you about layout, irrespective of what plants you might end up picking, I'm asking you if the layout works, or not. If it's "not", then I'm asking you where the layout shortcomings are. (for example, you might say you "don't want little trees in front of the garage like that."

  • bop29291

    The truth is I do really like what you did. I like the trees and I know those are just meant to represent trees, they look like a palm and as much as I thought I didn't want palms, I really like the look and the height. The front of the house is so tall, and the property continues to slope for 300 more feet so the height really helps.

    I also like the ground cover in the beds although I always think of that as hight maintenance from a weed perspective.

  • PRO
    Yardvaark

    The trees in front of the garage are what plants you have growing there now, I'm only saying that if you're going to have those at that location, it would make much more sense to grow them into something that's over your head rather than have them be something that is in your face. The other tree off of the left corner is a crape myrtle (I think) that is already there and I'm showing it grown out bigger. (Note the arrows on the plants.)

    Groundcover is easy if managed well, to the point of solid cover. (Get rid of weeds first with herbicide, pulling, digging, etc. and thereafter use Preen on a schedule as a weed preventer.) If groundcover is not attended at the beginning and becomes infested, It is a nightmare. The alternative is bare mulch (ugh!) or grass (aaw!)

  • bop29291

    While I like my Lugustrums I do agree maybe moving them elsewhere and something like you have is a better idea.

    The other tree and 3 others are Crape Myrtles I rescued and just planted there for lack of something else. I can easily remove them to.

    the dwarf Hollys I really like as they are fun to trim lol. Another poster mentioned them being "formal" and if they won't work near a palm I can move them too.

  • emmarene9

    I think you should remove the part of the hedge that blocks the porch as well as the shrubs under the window on the left side.

    If you like your little shaped shrubs and do not mind trimming them then you should consider a Japanese style garden.

  • floral_uk z.8/9 SW UK

    The 'mystery' shrub is Acca sellowiana, Feijoa aka Pineapple Guava. It wants to be a large shrub or small tree up to about 15 feet. If you want a good crop of fruit clipping into a blob isn't the way to go.

  • PRO
    Yardvaark

    I could live with tree forms at the garage islands, but now knowing that what you have there is Ligustrum, it would not be my choice, as those will get very beefy. Over time (in your lifetime unless you are elderly now) they will develop trunks 24" diameter, or larger.

    I only know pineapple guava as a small tree ... so it would not be my choice for lower shrubs or hedge. (It may make a fine large hedge ... but that would be somewhere else.)

    I believe it is the cushion shaped shrubs you are saying are hollies ...? Then it's what I would use below the window ... but just one. It's going to grow. And one also along the garage wall. I would not use them as a "groundcover" or mass shrub (which is generally a way of using shrubs that I oppose for being too high maintenance. BTW, there's not a lot of difference between the problem of weeds in groundcover vs. weeds in mass shrubs.)


  • bop29291

    Pineapple Guava! Yes that's what they alright. I had no idea as I've never seen any type of fruit on them. I have other places around the property I could use those and let them be free lol

  • bop29291

    Yardvaark-

    "I believe it is the cushion shaped shrubs you are saying are hollies ...?"

    Yes Dwarf Yaupon Holly

    "Then it's what I would use below the window ... but just one. It's going to grow. And one also along the garage wall."

    Those walls are over 14 feet long, I can't picture just one on each of those walls? And they are easily maintained at less than 18" or so if one chooses. You'd have to include that idea in some of your art magic for me to catch that train.

  • bop29291

    Disregard I see your original draft has singles.

  • PRO
    Yardvaark

    You can see in picture "A" that the present size of the yaupons is, or nearly is, the width of the window. The suggestion in my already existing "art magic" is that the shrub have a goal of growing a foot or so beyond the window width. Given how plants grow, it is not the least difficult to believe it could achieve this width (with less trimming/lower maintenance.) If, on the other hand, you are trying to replicate the existing full hedge across that wing of the house, you're radically deviating from my suggestions and would be on your own in doing that. (You didn't mention in any feedback on my drawing that you had disagreement, or that that was your wish ... so I'm not sure where you're going.)

    "Those walls are over 14 feet long, I CAN'T PICTURE just one on each of those walls?" I will make the point that rarely can someone who does not design plantings for a living envision the growth that is yet to come, or the space needed for it. In 99% of foundation plantings, the shrubs are too close to the house, and much too crowded. Even professionals are guilty of this. If one plants too close to the foundation and installs too many plants, it will still work. But it will be a pinched look, added trimming maintenance and the eventual removal of some plants. I'm simply making the claim that if you are following my pictorial suggestions, that is ONLY ONE SHRUB below the window. And it is probably planted about 3 1/2', or possibly 4', from the house wall. You need to convert all the ideas into PLAN form before doing the work. It is the plan form where it is made clear how things are arranged, the size of the spaces and the number of plants needed.


    BTW, even though you say it is dwarf yaupon holly, the look is 'Helleri' holly ... not that that matters as either would do. 'Helleri' is a lower growing, wider spreading holly. Still, it will get big.

  • bop29291

    I now see what you mean.

    I'm finding myself lost and overwhelmed in some of these details. I tend to find designs I like (in other topics and projects) and then copy them to fit my needs. I'm really not all that picky but I do need to see the ideas blended in to my specific pictures just like what we did with the sidewalk.

    I don't expect you to just keep making designs for free unless that's something you enjoy and want to contribute to the community here. I'm someone that will provide feedback and pictures of the journey for the betterment of the community. Otherwise I'd be interested in contacting you outside of the forum or via private message and arrange more of a formal project or proposal where you're compensated for your time. I just need more visual options.

  • PRO
    Yardvaark

    That's what I did ... blend planting ideas into a picture of your house. The next step would be to convert it into a plan. If you wanted to make changes to my ideas, you would do it in the plan. If you didn't want to make changes, you'd just convert the ideas verbatim.

    " I just need more visual options." Of different views of the same ideas? Of completely different ideas?

    BTW, where in central Florida are you?

  • bop29291

    I'm posting some photos of designs I find attractive to me along with a pic of my beds when I was remulching. I love the look of pine bark, but replacement and refresh of it every year or so can be a bit much. I like flowing beds that contrast sharply with the grass.

    I really like the taller trees you put in so keep those but maybe tweak the bed shape?

    I'm about an hour to hour and a half from you, but rather not post my specific location here.

  • bop29291

    my original beds

  • PRO
    Yardvaark

    "... but maybe tweak the bed shape?" To what? I don't have a way of guessing what shape you're thinking of.

  • bop29291

    I really like the bed shapes and most of the plants I have now since I created them. It wasn't until I posted here and people commented that I opened my eyes to new designs and or began to feel embarrassed about what I have lol.

    Since I did all of this myself and much of it at different times not planned out, I felt like I should have a professionals assistance with a new design, but I think I'm just going to incorporate a palm or two and do some rearranging/removal of others.

    I do appreciate your time and suggestions.

  • PRO
    Yardvaark

    No need to feel any embarrassment about anything. No one here expects people to show up NOT needing help!

    "... but I think I'm just going to incorporate a palm or two and do some rearranging/removal of others." OK, I hope you're going to do it on a PLAN before you do it in real life! (As the latter is much harder to change.) And if you want feedback on your plan, submit it here.


  • bop29291

    Yardvaark- Is this what you mean by a plan? If so I'd love to work from one. Personally my goal of posting here was to have someone come up with something similar to what builders do with their front elevation options (see below). As naive as it may sound, while I might prefer one design over another, or even my own, there's something many of us amateurs find reassuring about having the ability to say a "professional" designed this.

  • PRO
    Yardvaark

    The first picture is a plan. But you don't need a plan that elaborately drawn or colored. You just need something that is accurately drawn and SIMPLE, that would start out looking along these lines, except without the double line for the mowing strip. Then, the bed lines and plants (simple circles) would be added.

    The second picture, labeled "Elevation 3" is technically a perspective drawing. An elevation looks straight on at the house, in the same way that the plan looks straight down, like a map.

    Earlier, you received two perspective"inspiration" drawings that showed the front of your house, but with new plants added to the yard layout. If you liked either of those drawings (in which the ideas happened to be radically different from one another) the ideas contained in them were free for the taking, with the next step being to convert them into a PLAN view (on a drawing similar to the one directly above.)

    What happened quickly afterward was that you seem to lose interest in any of the ideas shown in the perspective drawings, and seemed to have no interest in converting any of them into a plan view. (I suggested doing that but you didn't express any interest in following through with it.) You expressed interest in working with a professional, but at the same time expressed interest in achieving something entirely different from the inspiration pictures ... "I'm really not all that picky but I do need to see the ideas blended in to my specific pictures just like what we did with the sidewalk." And that is what Doug and I already did. But you are not saying that either one of these works for you. Instead, you are intimating that you want to start over, which for me, would be going in circles as I would produce the same general concept.

    I would help direct you if I could understand where you wanted to go from here. You either want to start over, or you want to incorporate ideas that have been shown to you (the bulk ... not necessarily every last one), into a plan. It can only be one of those things.

    BTW, I do not necessarily, or even often, specify exact plants in my perspective "inspiration" pictures. I show plant forms, approximate sizes, and placements ... organization. It's up to the homeowner to have some input on the exact plant personalities they'd be interested in incorporating into their yard. So, a small, multi-trunk tree in the drawing could be a Japanese Ligustrum, or it might be a be a triple-trunk Roebellini palm ... or a crape myrtle ... or a Vitex. But it could not be interpreted as a live oak or single trunk Mexican fan palm or a daisy! The inspiration drawing is not intended to lock in every detail, but give an overview of the overall look.

    Now, how can we get you directed ...?

  • bop29291

    As I eluded to in my last post, maybe I'm only looking for justification in my own design (not entirely true) as I like a hedgerows but maybe they're "out". I like larger (to scale with the house) flowing beds. I like/don't mind seeing fresh pine bark. That being said I like both ideas but Dougs had just a bit too much going for me in that design, although have viewed many of his other threads and like many of them as well.

    Maybe I'm not good at answering your questions. I feel if I tell you how the beds should be shaped, and what plant types I want I'll just end up where I'm at???

    I think I preferred yours mainly because of the trees, but didn't want to move forward for the bed shape and not being fully on board with the single plant in front of the window idea.

    I also can't believe the amount of time and dedication you guys have to helping people on here. Thank you.

  • PRO
    Yardvaark

    "... but didn't want to move forward for the bed shape and not being fully on board with the single plant in front of the window idea." Okay ... but why has it taken 3 weeks to say that?? I think part of the problem here is that you are trying to communicate design things by using words. (Much of the time, it barely matters what anyone says. When they show the picture, it's all different from what they said! This is one of the main reasons I tried to urge you to communicating in PLAN form.) When you say "change the shape of the bed" ... well, who knows what you could actually mean? What would a changed shape look like? If you drew that changed shape in a plan, we'd know exactly what you're talking about and would be able to respond back in a way that you could see the difference. But if we can't ever get to a plan -- which I can't understand why you're resisting -- it's not possible to know what the differences are.

    And "can't get on board with a single shrub [below window]..." Is it that you can't get on board with the concept of what is shown below the window? ...Or that there is a debate on exactly how many plants are required to make it? If it's the former, you should be speaking up about what you think it should be instead. If it's the latter, you can put in put in 100 shrubs if you think that's what it takes. I'm just giving you a heads-up that you'll probably need to take 99 of them out at some point. I don't necessarily care how many it takes. I only care about what look is produced. Clarify if the disagreement is the concept or # of plants to achieve it.

    "Maybe I'm not good at answering your questions." It depends on what "good" means. If it means creating untold amounts of mystery, you're absolutely the best!!! (LOL :-)

  • bop29291

    Lol if you have to be good at something!
    So moving forward...

    I like the bed everywhere but where I circled. I'd like to see it terminated further down the walk a bit, and I also prefer it to turn out for easy mowing.

  • bop29291

    "Is it that you can't get on board with the concept of what is shown below the window? ...Or that there is a debate on exactly how many plants are required to make it?"

    It's at least the concept because that's my only reference at this time, but could be tempted. I just prefer or I"m used to hedges.

  • PRO
    Yardvaark

    I would speculate that the overwhelming majority of landscaping that homeowners create is on account of their seeing and copying various commonly used landscape solutions .... not because they've thought through the effects of what they're doing. They're 'used to it' so that's what they think they prefer. Because they do not know a better alternative. With bringing the bed alongside the walk and visually in front of the entrance, you need to be careful that none of the plant material in this bed has much height. The higher it is, the more it makes the walk seem confined and the more it hides the path to the entrance. The more the path is obscured, the less "welcoming" the entrance seems. This is the most I could stand to do that, as I believe that doing more is crossing the line into bad effect.

    (BTW, the drawing does not purport to show everything you could do, It shows the basics of what you should do. There is always room to add a little more 'spark.' One just has to be careful that they don't add so much that the effect becomes cluttered or busy.)

    What is the literal difference of a shrub below the window vs. a hedge? The hedge would take 3 plants in a line to make, instead of just one. And by what I'm showing in the drawing, I'm making a suggestion to trim it rounded. The tendency of a hedge in front the foundation is, at some point, to look smothering, as if the plants, instead of decorating the house, are oppressing it. I don't really have concise way to explain it, but I've spent many decades observing it and find the smothered look to be less good than the non-smothered look. If we were to draw an interior decorating analogy, there is a style that lines the walls of a room solid with furniture. You might commonly see this in people's homes, but you're not so much likely to see it in Architectural Digest, which aspires to higher design standards. To me, the hedge is blocky and looks clunkier. Don't misunderstand ... am I saying it's evil? Not hardly! It's something I've used myself at earlier times in my professional career. But I rarely use or recommend it now because I think it's inferior to the alternative. There would be times when a foundation is ugly and must be hidden. But that is not much the case with most houses built in the last few decades.

    One other point about shrubs and hedge, that I am reminded of by looking at your first picture, you need to learn to trim these properly. Their bottom are always wider than their tops. Or at the very least, they are not narrower.

    Keep in mind ... we are still working in PERSPECTIVE VIEW. By looking at the above drawing can you tall exactly how many feet out the bed extends from the house face? No! you can only speculate about it. In plan view, we could tell exactly to the inch.

  • bop29291

    I agree. I think that bed is a great look. Next?

  • PRO
    Yardvaark

    You would convert the ideas to a plan view. Which is a relatively simple thing to do. You need to create a base plan first, with everything drawn to scale ... which is nothing more than measuring the basic elements (house, walk, drive, property line, tree trunks, etc.) and accurately drawing those measurements out on graph paper, or by some similar method, real or virtual. If you have access to a CAD system, you could use that. I have come to prefer MS Paint, as it has a grid that can be turned on and off and is fairly easy to use. For "painting" you need a touchscreen and stylus, but for simple line drawing it is possible to do with a mouse, using the line tools -- rectangle/circle, etc. If you don't want to do the plan drawing yourself, you can hire a landscape designer to do it. (But they will likely want to interject their ideas, as would I!) You can take a stab at the drawing if you like, post it here and get feedback if things need to be fixed. If you flat out do not want to do it, I could do a planting plan for you (by remote) for a fee, but not before Aug. 10 or so, as I have too much going on until then.

  • bop29291

    Yardvaark- I sent you a private message

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