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Discussion Starter #1
I need some landscaping ideas on my new house. All I want is something simple but nice. I want to fill in the area's in front of the windows. What would you recommend?



 

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Let me first congratulate you on a fine design, but I would have the builder place a bigger slab at the front entrance. That grassy area in front of each pillar does not look right.
I think what will go good to complement this design is a stone bed (there are many types to choose from) and then add artificial flowers and plants. If you plant real plants or flowers, then you will have to keep them watered, fed and trimmed during the growing season and you do not want to block the windows too much due to security reasons.
I installed a wishing well, waterfall, landscape timbers to my garden area with the artificials. The artificials look so real; you have to touch them to tell the differance. Here are some pictures:
 

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The best 1 hour job starts with 1.5 hours of planning. I suggest a weekend walk around your neighborhood with your camera. Take lots of pictures of things you like in other people's gardens. Go to the library and thumb through a home and garden magazine. Get a notebook, label it 'Gardening 2009' and start taking some notes. I think some ornamental grasses would look pretty with your architecture - plus many don't need much (if any) extra watering once they're established.

First off, I'd add some colorful planters in front of each column - HD, Lowe's Walmart etc. all have some very pretty pre-planted pots/urns that can give you some instant pizazz. This will 'pretty' things up while you come up with a plan.

When you select plants for the long-run, you will need to consider (amongst many things):
1. How much sun does the area get? what direction does it face? Is it shaded by other plants/trees? How hot does it get at the hottest time of the day? etc

2. What is the make up of the soil? Clay heavy? Sand? Acidic? (your local county extension office can help you get your soil tested) Do you need to add compost?

3. How wet is the area? How quickly does the soil drain (see: clay? above)? Do any downspouts empty there?

4. What kind of plants do you like? Evergreen shrubbery? Flowers from summer to fall? Butterfly garden? Herb garden?

5. How much work do you want to put into your garden? Annuals require yearly replacement. Some bushes and plants need frequent pruning. Do you want to water? Do you want to xeriscape?

Me, I like perennials with annuals to supplement until the perennials get going.
 

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Discussion Starter #4
I don't think the builder will add the extra slab. He is still in the process of fixing other things that needed attention. That might be something that me & my buddy could do later. If I wanted to lay down some of that rubber mulch how would it look? Like the mulch & a few types of plants. I just need something simple & not over the top. Just really want to make the front of the house look nice. I don't want a lot of clutter either. Something that is easy to maintain would be great too because I would rather spend my time working on my car. Lol...
 

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I have no experience with rubber mulch and I think that material is better suited for a playground. Stone, the size of 3/4 to 1-1/2 would look much better. Make a visit to a quarry or stone supplier or visit them online to see more pictures of homes with stone landscaping.
It appears your builder is cutting corners. That slab in front of the step should begin at the outside corner of the pillars. I would complain about it and say its not acceptable and see if he will replace it.
If you go with organic mulch, it may become attractive to dogs and cats.
 

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I would lay a landscape fabric down. Then a layer of pretty stone. Then I would put a few planters/urns on top of the stone.

A few japanese maples in containers would look good as well, one on each side of the door. You can trim them like bonsai trees when/if they got too big. A JM in a container shouldn't get over 4-5' tall.

 

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I have no experience with rubber mulch and I think that material is better suited for a playground. Stone, the size of 3/4 to 1-1/2 would look much better. Make a visit to a quarry or stone supplier or visit them online to see more pictures of homes with stone landscaping.
It appears your builder is cutting corners. That slab in front of the step should begin at the outside corner of the pillars. I would complain about it and say its not acceptable and see if he will replace it.
If you go with organic mulch, it may become attractive to dogs and cats.
Thanks for the info! The builder won't do anything else on this house. I already had him pay all my closing cost ($5800.00), install a fence, tile the front porch, install garage door opener & add the wood faux blinds. New construction homes in my area go for about $103 sq/ft & I got this one for $94 sq/ft plus all the extra's. Plus our housing market is not that bad over here. Original price of the house was $180,000 & I got it for $160,000
 

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Fake flowers & plants?? :cry:

Just put in plants that do not need much water
Aloe, cactus, there's a ton of them out there

What one person likes another doesn't
Kind of hard to point you in any one direction

A rainbarrel to catch water would take care of that need
 

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I like the ideal of the JM maybe as a center surrounded by some short grasses and a good mulch for the base Take all three put them together and I would look real nice be very low maint.,give a little color I would also as suggested add a small planter to the pillers(IMHO)just something to add a little color to the place.You might even put a couple small lights around the front of the place to highlight it
Rj i am sorry but even from the pictures you can tell those are fake and they might work in Philly due to 6-8 months of snow ice and cold but south Tx is a different animal and those would melt lo

Oh and by the way I really love the place congradulations on a great buyl
 

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Clasact,
For over 30 years, I worked hard at growing plants and flowers and always had nice looking flowers on the first bloom on my Florabunda roses, but afterwards the blooms were smaller and not healthy looking. I had two tree florabunda rose's and two regular. It was a challange just to deal with the Japanese beetles and they always won. I think I was getting visits from stray cats who may have been using my mulch as litter. I do know that one or more of them were using my wishing well as a litter box. I was never able to grow anything there. So four years ago, after noting the poor performance of the roses, I threw in the towel and decided to go with artificials. Sometimes, people walking by, will touch them to see if they are real. At least the Kentuckey bluegrass is real and I get comments on it and the garden.
 

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Rj my friend didn't mean to sound harsh,The grass looks great one day when I'm done with the million other things I have to do I may get mine to look that good.Ya might want to put a bit of cat nip out that will take care of them and if your wanting color you might also try a couple of those miniature JM they are nice grow well up here and with pruning you can keep them short.I know how hard it is to grow nice things up here and with your confined space its more of a challenge so you do what ya gotto do
 

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Leah Frances-
Excellent questions!:thumbsup:

All I want is something simple but nice
The idea of the container Japanese Maples is nice but I think the OP has more of a plant it and forget it plan in mind.

I could see some miniature gardenias in front of the windows as an evergreen frame and some groundcover sized perennials (hellebores maybe, or dianthus) at the front, mulched with mini-nuggets or pine straw.
 

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I like that JM also. I believe I will try one for next season. I am busy right now with other home improvements and also need time to research their needs. Is that the actual color? I know that color films sometimes will enhance the color much more then it actually is. Does it keep its color all season or do the leaves turn green later?
 

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GT: I think that with the architecture and color of your home (which is gorgeous BTW), I'd also go with stone mulch. Don't bother with the little bags they sell at box stores or garden centers - find a stone supplier in your area, borrow a pickup truck and pick some up. Easy peasy.

As for plants, Leah Frances gave you some great starting off pointers. You'll need that information to decide what to plant. Container gardens are wonderful in that you can move the plants easily that don't do well in certain locations. Don't forget that you have a large porch and you can also have a container garden there with specimens that you use in your garden.

Some things to try are knock-out roses - they are very low maintenance (no dead-heading, no pruning), various sizes/colors of hosta do well in shade and sun, annuals such as wave petunias fill in nicely, and ornamental grasses are all great choices for your space.

Head over to the Better Homes and Gardens website (www.bhg.com) and look at their various garden plans and idea pictures (click on "gardening" at the top of the page). I use this site all the time for new inspiration.

Good luck, and please post pictures when you get some plants in, I'd love to see them!
 

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Looks like a great home.

I would find out which direction your home faces. Does the area you are concerned about get any sun (southern facing)? Does the design of your home cast shadows over the area that limit the amount of sun? If yes, grass is not going to be a choice. It may look nice for in the short term but eventually it will begin to die from lack of sun and become choked out by weeds.

Since most builders remove (and not replace) the topsoil, especially in the area graded for the building envelope and impervious surfaces. To test your soil just do a ball test. Soak a fistful and see how it forms. Sandy will just fall apart. Clay will be a muddy mess that oozes. The best soil will hold its form while holding the moisture. This is loamy soil. We all wish we could have this type of soil. A mixture of sand, silt and clay in equal parts.

No matter your soil type you will want to make sure you have at least 4 inches of topsoil mixed with hummus/compost/organic material. They sell it in bags or you can have it delivered. This type of soil is called a lot of different things like garden soil, compost soil or some other name. Once you have that in place I would go with an evergreen ground cover. There are so many choices (check what ones work in your USDA growing zone) you will find one you like. Because your spaces are confined by cement, the cover will not begin to overgrow the space. Beware of certain ivies that will climb. Next for color and contrast, I would find a shade loving ornamental with a limited mature height (check this first because too many times people will plant a tree or shrub and don't check to see how big and broad it will eventually become). You have a lot of choices that don't include fake plants and gravel/rock gardens. You can have a natural, low maintenance "lawn" even in those small areas with some Internet searching and a trip to a good nursery with a knowledgeable staff.

Good Luck,

Jamboy
 
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