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smokey847 10-12-2012 10:49 PM

Planning a Landscape Reno
We purchased this house this summer to use as a rental for a friend of ours. She is an interior designer and has been redoing the inside and updating. Since it's fall, we want to re-landscape the outside front and also create a bed around the foundation on the left side leading to the driveway.

We are complete newbs and have no idea how to plan for this/what plants to use where in the most economical sense. Any ideas would be greatly appreciated. Thanks!

joecaption 10-13-2012 07:49 AM

Not sure how it works there but around here having a flower bed or mulch piled up againt a foundation, or bushes planted right under a window are not a great idea.

Flower beds or mulch will direct water that ends up under the crawl space.
Also planting trees up close to the house will shade the walls and can cause mold to form on the walls and can effect the foundation with the roots.

Why is there a bush right in front of that stoop?

Repaiting those shutters would be first on my list before they rot out.

user1007 10-13-2012 09:53 AM

First thing I would do is scale your plot to paper and mark what you currently have. Having scaled drawing will come in so handy for determining fertilizer, irrigation and lighting needs. It is a lot easier to move hardscape and landscape elements around on paper before planting. You can use graph paper or any of the free or inexpensive software programs that make sense to you.

You might as well have your local utility locating service come out and indicate where any buried lines are and transfer that information to the plan. It is not a bad idea to indicate where the water and sewer lines are also.

Be honest about how much time and money you or your tenant have to dedicate to landscape maintenance. I never had time to care the way I liked for my own yard and compensated with a family of Japanese-American gardeners. Don't plant what you cannot look after!

Next thing I would think about is how much turf you really want to maintain. It is easily the most expensive landscape planting to maintain. I would check with your municipal arborist for tree recommendations and ag extension from your county, state or University of Nevada may have a list of zerescape (landscaping with native plants) that would do well.

Definitely get plants away from the house.

If you are designing the interior nicely why not put some energy into design for the exterior? Many larger and real (not box stores) have landscape designers or architects on staff and will offer design work free or deeply discounted in hopes of you buying plant material from them. I usually worked independently but once was lead designer for a high end nursery in the Bay Area.

In any event, stop by the real nurseries in your area and get to know people in at least one of them. Staff will include certified nursery personnel qualified by more than an orange or blue apron.

Think about infrastructure and not just planting. Drip irrigation is wonderful conceptually and great for plants. Watering in gallons per hour, not gallons per minute, just makes sense for everything but turf. And as you know, there is a major fresh water battle brewing out your way.

Most any nursery will have a battered and bruised copy of the Sunset Western Garden Book on the counter. It has all kinds of information about growing and maintaining plants and an extensive selection guide in the back. I think your own copy, (hint, hint) will set you back $20.

A well designed and maintained landscape will add lots to the value of a property so it is worth sinking some money into all this if you have it. Phase things if you need to do things in stages.

smokey847 10-13-2012 09:56 AM

Thank for your reply. All shutters were recently replaced under an insurance claim from the previous owner, as well as all gutters, all garage doors, roof, storm doors, etc.

Here, all homes are surrounded by shrubbery to reduce the harshness, say, of a corner or the foundation in general. Many pour a foot of gravel around the foundation to drain the water and also grade the ground away from the house to keep water away from the house.

Here, I am looking more for suggestions on which plants to use and where exactly to place them. Thanks!

smokey847 10-13-2012 10:01 AM

Thanks, sdsester. I didn't see your reply until you. Thanks too, for always being eager to help.

I will look for one of these book, as this is not our only rental. The plan is to resell once the market picks up, so a decent landscape job will be a wise investment.

Do you, personally (from your experience), have any advice on digging the bed on the left side of the house there? i.e., killing grass, laying paper to keep the weeds out, shape of the bed?

user1007 10-13-2012 10:52 AM

Again I think your first step, rather than shotgunning this, is to scale everything out and come up with an overall plan. First decision to make is how much turf you want. Usually I would put in hardscape and constructed elements next. Then comes anchor trees and shrubs and after them perennials and then seasonal annuals. Finally turf. Obviously you want to plan for infrastructure as you go---irrigation, lighting, drainange, etc.

Roundup and rototilling will work on just about anything. There are other short term soil prep chemicals but most require a permit. You will get matching arguments for whether to use landscape cloth or other barriers.

Generally, when planning your new landscape think about skipping the stupid tradition of plants up against the house. And if you must, plant them far enough away to get to all sides of them and plan for the ultimate mature size. People and even contracting pros often plant too close to structures and it always causes problems.

The other thing to think about when you layout your design is graceful curving shapes. As a practical consideration it is a lot easier to mow a lawn where the wheels of the mower can sweep around them without backing up to handle right angles?

Look into some companies like BorderMagic that have adapted curb pouring technology for landscapes. Some of the patterns and colors they can pour are quite beautiful and provide a nice permanent separation between planting beds and turf.

Again, I would check out what design resources your real nurserires will avail to you. Obviously with tenants, yard maintenance put on them is a crap shoot?

user1007 10-13-2012 10:58 AM

Just to clarify. I was assuming this rental was in Reno, NV right? If there is another Reno in Tennessee or I missed a nuance, the Sunset book is not going to do you much good as it is mainly for Western states. There will be counterparts though. Check some out from the library before buying.

Some landscape design software comes with at least reasonably half baked ideas for plant lists. No substitute for your local nursery though.

user1007 10-13-2012 12:17 PM

Silly stupid me! I now realize your title is "Planning a Landscape Renovation" and not a Reno, NV landscape! "Dugh", for my Homer Simpson moment.

All advice stands except for the Western Garden Book. Though.

Also, don't forget a soil test at some point. I guess some states/universities are still doing them for free. They are not expensive for a residential property and can save you lots.

smokey847 05-21-2013 10:26 PM

Finally getting around this week to begin the landscape project--boy did time get away from us! Planning on placing another holly bush on the right side of the home so that it will hopefully eventually catch up with the mature one on the left. then it will be a matter of filling in the the space between the porch and corner. I'm still not to savvy on the popular art of layering the landscaping to look fuller. Any suggestions on something that would look good in the back, and something that would be appropriate in front of it? This definitely needs to be low-maintenance because it is a rental.

We also plan to dig a bed against this wall of the house because it faces the road. We were thinking maybe a crepe myrtle for the middle, but are unsure about under the windows. Thanks for the ideas guys and gals!

smokey847 05-21-2013 10:44 PM

We've also got three nandenas to use that were planted elsewhere on the property.

user1007 05-22-2013 12:52 AM

Could you post another picture or two of the different sides of the entire house? It is hard to consider the one facade out of context. A very quick plot sketch with some basic dimensions would be helpful too.

Do you have a budget number in mind?

Is there an automatic irrigation system or watering is up to the tenant? Tenant mows the lawn and does maintenance or your do it or have a service? Tenants are likely to be adults or young families?

All the planting in front are too close to the house so try not to repeat that if you plant a matching holly on the other side. While we are symmetrical seeking by nature, sometimes a landscape that is not so provides more interest.

Have you thought more about whether you want to keep that much turfgrass?

smokey847 05-25-2013 06:52 PM

The facade I posted is the side you can also see in the first photo. We will only manicure the front and this side, as it is on a corner and there is no back door.

There is no irrigation system--watering is up to the tenant (whom are likely to be an older adult or young family), which is why we are going for low-maintenance. We'll keep the grass as is.

I drew out a ROUGH sketch today. It turns out that a friend gave us several young shrubs to use, so it is now just a matter of placement.

We now have: 3 small nandinas, 6 red-tipped photinias, and 1 golden euonymus, and 4 crawling juniper ground covers. We bought a small boxwood to even out the shrubs in front of the porch--two on each side, and also a crepe myrtle for in between the two windows on the side facade. The only thing we really have left to buy is something for the right corner.

So I guess what I am really needing now is placement suggestions. We are also open to salvaging the four knock-out roses that are currently in the foundation bed (to put elsewhere) for some layering. Thanks!

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