Weird garden layout needs help- any suggestions?

Discussion in 'Garden Design' started by jlswilton, May 11, 2009.

  1. jlswilton

    jlswilton New Seed

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    I have a semi-triangular/hexagonal area in front of my house (two, actually- but one is a perfect triangle, and the other is like a hexagon of sorts) that I can't seem to figure out what to do with. Several previous owners tried to do things with this area that didn't really work out, and the result is a hodge-podge of plantings and a really unfortunate layer of pea gravel (about 4-6 inches deep in spots) that makes this area tricky. I would come in with a bobcat and tear it all out except that I don't have the money and I do like the dogwood tree planted in the middle and don't want to injure it. :-?

    Anyway, you can see in the pics that there is just a mess of stuff planted here. The part up against the house has about a two foot overhang over it. When we moved in there were out-of-control azalias all along the edge of the house but they had grown away from the house toward the light and water and were pretty ugly and spindly, so we pulled them. It is a pretty sheltered area. I have a nice bleeding heart and an astilbe by the door that grow well. The peonies are ok but they aren't together, it's like someone just threw them in there with no regard for how tall they get or that they don't really spread much. There are shorter plants behind them and basically 3 'clumps' of them in random spots.

    My problem is that I want some winter interest and color throughout the summer. This area always looks bad but especially in winter because everything but the tree dies to the ground. It is a flat, brown mess in winter. I also need it to look good from 3 sides, which is tough for me. I think the smaller area will come together ok, it is a more 'conventional' spot to plant, but the large area has been vexing me for 5 years now, and I am ready to do something about it! I can dig up the gravel one spot at a time but haven't figured a way to get it all out without hurting the tree and killing everything in there.

    This part of the house faces North and East so does get some morning sun but it is filtered. By about 11 am it is pretty shaded for the rest of the day. I wouldn't call it 'heavy' shade, just really diffuse and not much direct light. Oh, and I do have an irrigation system in the larger part, if that's helpful.

    Sorry for the super long post but the economy is bad and I can't afford to hire help, and I am perplexed about what to do. Any help or suggestions would be appreciated!

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    Funky garden space ( photo / image / picture from jlswilton's Garden )





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    Another view ( photo / image / picture from jlswilton's Garden )





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    Smaller triangular section ( photo / image / picture from jlswilton's Garden )
     
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  3. eileen

    eileen Resident Taxonomist Staff Member Moderator Plants Contributor

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  4. Earthworm

    Earthworm New Seed

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    Hi,
    If it were mine, I would ripp everything out, including the path (shock, horror) :eek: and start agind, leaving the tree you like. Realign the path to a curved shape which will change the existing bed patterns. I would then take the opportunity to rebuild the soil and choose a limited palate of plants (5 at the most)that suit the microclimate and your preferred style and plant them out in massed groupings. Try focussing on foliage, texture and plant forms and the contrasts between the plants and the building itself. By keeping the range of plants simple, you can have more fun with the elegance of the design. Put in some solar lights to highlight the Dogwood trunk at night and you'll be the talk of the street.
    Have fun! :D
     
  5. jlswilton

    jlswilton New Seed

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    Oh how I wish I could tear it all out. I'm in real estate so needless to say, my income has been suffering. No money to do a rip out!

    I will check the link, thanks for sending. An awkward shaped garden is just what I have!!

    Thanks for the suggestions so far, keep em coming!
     



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  6. toni

    toni Mistress of Garden Junque Staff Member Moderator Plants Contributor

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    I wouldn't go ripping everything out yet. There are lots of plants that you can move to other parts of the beds. Those you don't care for or have too many of and no place else to put, pot them up and give them away.
    It probably would be a good idea to dig things up, pot them temporarily and amend the soil with lots of good compost.

    What plants do you have there? It looks like some of them are planted the wrong location so a little creative rearranging is in order. If you don't know what they are, please take pictures of them individually and post them in the Plant ID forum... http://www.gardenstew.com/forum-30.html
    then you can find out their planting requirements, etc.

    You can soften up the straight lines of the walkway by having 'draping' plants along there so they will drape over the edge and hide it.
     
  7. Earthworm

    Earthworm New Seed

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    Hi there,
    Sorry I didn't mean rip them out with the vigor of a Roman Emperor marching on Tire....sure pot them up and sort them, give them away etc. My suggestion was more about being able to see the space obejectively without the current shapes. (Sorry that real estate isn't quite doing the thing at the moment, you should try being in garden design!!!! Luxury item to be sure).

    But by having a clear look at the space without trinagular/hexagonal/gemoetric arrangements you may be able to come up with a more natural and organic solution to designing the entrance to your home.

    Hope you post the changes as they happen.
     

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