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scandi_queen

Landscaping under trees near flowerbed

scandi_queen
4 months ago
last modified: 4 months ago

We recently bought a house and are looking to update the landscaping in the front yard. One side of my house is pretty shady, and after trimming the trees and trying to get grass to grow, we have accepted that we need to look for another solution for this section of yard after hearing from landscaping companies that it will be hard for grass to take here. One suggested turning the area around the trees into a flowerbed and planting some ornamental shade tolerant grasses, which I think could look nice if done properly. I'm just not sure of the shape of the flowerbed and what to do with the existing one that's lined with stone that's in front of my house (which I think is too narrow).

Most of the landscaping will be updated at some point to be more formal, with hedges and some juniper trees, but I want to fix this yard problem first since that might involve changing the flowerbed arrangement.

There's also a neighborhood trail that runs alongside my yard, so that gives me pause too in determining what to do here. My house faces north north-east with the first picture taken in the afternoon, and the last two taken around noon. We are located in zone 8.

Any ideas for what I can do on the left side here under the trees are very appreciated!






Comments (21)

  • Donnie Loftus
    4 months ago

    Can you do hosta, various ferns (Japanese painted ferns will give you color other than green at least) ostrich ferns will give you some height and will spread around so watch for that and dig out as needed, bleeding hearts, columbines. Most all of those can deal with mostly shade areas. And are pretty low maintenance, and should return year after year, larger each year.

    scandi_queen thanked Donnie Loftus
  • Yvonne Martin
    4 months ago

    Find a landscape architect to help you design a pleasing and practical arrangement. You can execute it over time.

    scandi_queen thanked Yvonne Martin
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  • Embothrium
    4 months ago

    Landscape designer would be sufficient. Notice FIND PROFFESIONALS tab at top of this page, maybe somebody serving your market area is participating.

    scandi_queen thanked Embothrium
  • tira_misu
    4 months ago
    last modified: 4 months ago

    Beatiful house and beautiful yard with mature trees! I'd look into shade tolerant ground covers. You might have to deal with dry shade depending on the trees you have. I have tried so many of them to grow under some Norway maples and find the most reliable and pretty ones are sweet woodruf, deadnettle and periwinkle. If you want taller plants, make sure you chose some that don't require too much water as the roots from the trees will suck a lot of the water. I would also take that opportunity to add some spring flowering bulbs!

    scandi_queen thanked tira_misu
  • scandi_queen
    Original Author
    4 months ago

    Thank you everyone for the ideas! @Donnie Loftus I love ferns and hostas, so I'm glad those were mentioned. I've never heard of ostrich ferns, but will definitely be looking those up. @tira_misu Thanks for the compliments! This house is a dream come true. Where I need the plants is actually quite wet when it rains, as all the water runs down the gutter and drains into down spouts on this side of the yard. It then runs to my back yard and down the fence. So I definitely need plants that can help with reducing the water buildup on that side of the house. The landscape designer I spoke with suggested Asian jasmine or mondo grass for that side of the yard, and I just can't get myself to do that. But it's definitely worth talking to a few more to get other ideas.

  • scandi_queen
    Original Author
    4 months ago



    What if I add some cast iron plants around these trees? Does it look weird since the trees near the sidewalk can't have them going all the way around?

    I was also thinking to extend the flower bed further away from the house on the far left side where the camellia is. That would help eat more of the dead grass space and give more room to plant shrubs and annuals in the flower bed.

    I realize my winter picture makes it a bit difficult since there's no other green in the photo!

  • Christopher C Nc
    4 months ago

    Is this a South Carolina zone8?

    Yes the bed on the left side of the house is too narrow. Make a larger single bed that runs from the house façade all the way over to the community path. Aspidistra, Cast Iron Plant mixed with a select fern would make a nice tall, leaf eating groundcover and could fill the whole space. Do not plant rings of it around the trees. Plant it as it's own drift among the trees. Add in more camellia and that whole corner is filled and done, with whatever real estate you want to give it.

    You did say you would be putting in a new more formal landscape for the rest of the landscape. This shaded corner needs to work with that. Keep that in mind. But if you can do camellias growing in aspidistra and fern among the trees that would look sharp.

    scandi_queen thanked Christopher C Nc
  • scandi_queen
    Original Author
    4 months ago

    @Christopher C Nc I'm in North Texas around DFW. Thanks for your advice, all good ideas! Yes, I do plan to do something more formal with the entire front, which I think has been part of what's holding me back a bit with this area. But I need to get the dirt under control, so will need to start here first.

  • scandi_queen
    Original Author
    4 months ago

    @kitasei2 Thanks for the observation! I was hoping when the trees got leaves it would look more normal. I'm on the fence, that's why I've asked y'all for help :). The hard part about that area is that it's so narrow, so anything I do with the trees will probably butt up against the existing flower bed. If I could find a groundcover that doesn't look grandma and is easy to clean out of, those elm trees produce tiny leaves that are a nightmare for about 4 months, then that would be my top choice. Mounds/berms around the trees with something planted in them is my second (and most likely option). So that is my challenge, how to make this narrow area look nice and flow with the formal design I want to do later to the front. I will probably contact a landscape designer at some point, I'm just too busy right now to deal with that, lol.

  • Christopher C Nc
    4 months ago

    Another issue I see for your re-landscaping is the tree left of the front door in front of the large window set. It looks much too close to the house for long term comfort. Design wise, hiding the house front and window like that is not ideal. It may be best to relocate it or remove it now before it gets any bigger. Do you know what kind tree it is?

    You can take a warm hose out there and lay it out in different larger bed shapes to help you visualize a new bed configuration.

  • littlebug zone 5 Missouri
    4 months ago
    last modified: 4 months ago

    It’s a lovely lovely home. Don’t hide it with trees/shrubs etc right up against it - I wholeheartedly agree with Christopher about the spreading ornamental right in front of the windows. I can’t tell what it is. It looks like a nice tree but in a very wrong place. The shrubs to the left are also way too close to the house.

    Since you’ve already said that grass won’t grow in this spot, expand the bed to at least 2x or even 3x as deep as it is now so you can mulch a very wide swath next to the house. Don’t fight Mother Nature. She always wins.

    Again, it’s a beautiful home. (I’m envious.) It deserves a fine, well thought out gardening plan.

  • krnuttle
    4 months ago

    I have not chimed in but think you have a beautiful house. If it were mine, I would soften the lines and extend the bed on the left so it is closer to the sidewalk. I would add flowering bushes like azaleas, etc. Possibly a small flowering tree. Crepe Myrtle would also be a possibility, though it can grow large. This spready types of plants would contrast and emphasis the architecture. I would balance it on the right with similar plantings. In front of the windows I think I would add some of the ever blooming roses in strong colors. ie red.


    The color would change your house from looking like an architectural beautiful funeral home, into a home people lived in .


    I agree with the comments about the small tree in front of the windows. If I were planting it I would have placed it near where the short plant is near the edge of the flower bed. Again highlighting, not concealing the windows.





  • Pam Fisher
    4 months ago

    consider a "rain garden" in that shady area... would contol/absorb the runoff and add interest as well. Added bonus: less to mow/maintain. Would be dependent on HOA rules/approval.

  • scandi_queen
    Original Author
    4 months ago

    Thank you for all the input! Very much appreciated!

    The tree in front of the window is a Japanese Maple, and like y'all I'm not sure why they planted it there.. We also had a Magnolia in the corner (the one that's empty now behind the Goshikis) that was getting very close to the roof so we had it removed when we trimmed the trees. There are a lot of curious landscaping choices that were made by the previous owner. We have considered moving the maple, and if we do extend the flower bed we probably will. It's a very nice tree so I want to keep it, just maybe not in front of my house. Can those be successfully transplanted, or are they very fragile?

    @littlebug zone 5 Missouri Totally agree that the flower beds are too narrow! That might be the first place I start, getting a good shape and expanding them.

    @Pam Fisher Yes! I've been doing some research on them and they are so cool. Thanks for mentioning that.

    @krnuttle Thank you for the suggestions! I love Crape Myrtles but I don't think we get enough sun in that spot for them. The short plant is a Camellia, but moving the Japanese Maple here might be a good solution too.


    Lots to think about! And I truly appreciate everyone's input. It's always good to have some ideas before talking to a landscape designer and y'all have provided me with several :)


    Here's what the landscaping looked like in the listing, if you're interested :) We have removed the magnolia on the left and relocated the Nellie Stevens on the right. There is a lot of liriope and abelia there in the front.



  • krnuttle
    4 months ago
    last modified: 4 months ago

    It is just begging for red Knock Out® Roses (everbloom) under both sides of the door under the windows. In Raleigh NC, ours bloom nearly all year, with minimal trimming. They are in a bed in front of the Front-porch.


  • scandi_queen
    Original Author
    4 months ago

    That sounds beautiful! I'm definitely interested in the low maintenance plants, as I like to do the yard work myself, but don't have endless time for it.

  • dchall_san_antonio
    3 months ago

    I'm in North Texas around DFW.

    You should have led with that. Your zone means much less to us than your location.

    Regarding the use of cast iron plants under the trees: that would work if they were evergreen, but on the second day after leaf drop, the cast irons will turn gray from the sudden sunlight. If you like the look of cast iron, then ginger would work.

    Growing grass is no problem in there when you have the right grass. St Augustine will do very well under the trees and in the sunlight. I had it growing under huge live oaks in an area that got no sunlight throughout the year. That same area also had Asiatic jasmine, so that would work. I've seen entire yards done in AJ sculpted to make it very interesting. With AJ you have to trim it horizontally every few weeks and vertically every few months. It gets the fragrant flowers in the spring, but not that many of them. Otherwise, once it is established, it grows with normal rainwater and no fertilizer.

    If you have a landscaper, get his/her opinion on the drainage. Now is the time to get that fixed so you can enjoy living there without worrying about where the water will go next time it storms.

    scandi_queen thanked dchall_san_antonio
  • scandi_queen
    Original Author
    3 months ago

    @dchall_san_antonio Thanks for the tip re location. I haven't been in this section of the forum much, so wasn't sure what to put exactly. Next time I'll lead with that!

    The rest of my yard is Bermuda :( so I'm very reluctant to incorporate a different grass type (like a broad leaf) that will have to be treated differently. I've had some landscapers suggest Zoysia for that area, because it's more shade tolerant, will blend in with the Bermuda, and won't need different weed killer/pre emergent, etc. Was that bad advice from them?

  • dchall_san_antonio
    3 months ago

    Yes, St Aug would take slightly different care to do it right. And, eventually the St Aug would spread to cover the bermuda essentially choking it out. There are a few varieties of zoysia which do okay in the shade. Be certain you can get what you want in North Texas. You might have to special order, but it can be had. And a special order should not cost (much) extra. The only thing that makes it special is that the local nurseries don't normally handle it. Whatever you do, do NOT try to overseed the thin bermuda with seeded varieties. They are different enough that it will look weedy together. And the seeded ones don't do well in the shade anyway.

    I'm going to post a pic of my old house in San Antonio. It has Asiatic jasmine, ginger, cast iron, St Augustine, and some mondo grass.


    The picture above shows a patch of discoloration in the St Aug. I should mention that this area receives about 3 hours of direct sunlight ever since a wind downburst took out the neighbor's tree and part of one of ours. The oak trees provide a full canopy above, but the sun sneaks in in the late afternoon. The discoloration in the turf is mondo grass. That is what it looked like after 20 years of spreading out. The original patch was about 1 square foot. The point is that if you want mondo grass, buy all you want up front and don't expect it to spread for you. The base of the trees is cast iron. You can see some sunburn spots. Considering how little sunlight filters through the oaks, that plant is highly sensitive to sunlight.


    Here on the left side, of the left side of the front, the grass receives a few hours of sunlight following removal of an oak. The long leafed plant to the right of the double windows (on the left) is ginger. The pile in the walkway is St Aug dug out by my wife to delineate the bed of cast iron.

    Our lawn was struggling in a drought, and this was our watering day. That is not all our yard, but it is all jasmine. Ours had a metal landscape border to keep it out of the grass and to keep grass out of it.

    scandi_queen thanked dchall_san_antonio
  • scandi_queen
    Original Author
    3 months ago

    @dchall_san_antonio Thanks for the pictures! This gives me a better idea of how some of these plants would look. And I never considered ginger, but it has a neat shape to it, thanks for the idea! The Asian Jasmine I think will be too much maintenance due to all the Elm trees and their tiny leaves.

    I'm really considering pushing my flower beds out a good couple of feet more, maybe close to that middle tree. Then the scale would look more in proportion to the height of the house. I'm just not sure if I want to keep a curvy line, or go more modern and straight. My neighborhood has all curvy, and only some use a stone border, the rest are borderless. I can't decide which I like better.