Need Help/Advice/Opinions On My Landscape. Maybe I'm Wrong, But Something's Not Right

Before I go posting to some gardening forum I figured I’d ask any dopers with an asthetic eye or green thumb for help and advice on my landscape.

I finally got my landscape planting done (believe me when I tell you it’s more physically grueling than roofing is) and I’m not thrilled with the way it came out.

A little background:
I’m not the type of person who has an eye for what looks right with regards to landscaping, so I called in a favor and had a professional give me a hand. The problem with using a pro is ego. Now that everything’s pretty much buttoned up, I want to change a few things (without bouncing them off of him). I can get just about anything I need at wholesale so cost isn’t the main concern. My goal is to have a landscape that looks nice, full, symmetrical and green throughout most of the year.

The problem: I don’t like the way the planting bed in the front of the house came out. Overall, it looks OK, but there’s something about the front that looks wrong to me. I think I need a denser, taller layout with other types of bushes.

Here’s the front from the center (I guess I should’ve picked up that damned Pennysaver before I took the picture) and from the side.

Doesn’t the main bed in the front of the house look barren?

It has a few Repandens (Spreading) Yews (Taxus), some Non-varigated Euonymus with Prunus on the end. There’s a small Hydraenga (which I don’t like) and a couple perennials for color. Planted together it looks sparse. I realize everything will grow in over time, but I was thinking of moving the bushes there forward and planting something a little taller and not so green behind them. I was also kicking around the idea of tearing out the Hostas out that around the Magnolia tree and putting in a spreading blue juniper ground cover.

Basically, I think the front of the house (which you see from the street) should look as dense and full as the backyard – which has a much nicer mix of plants, with Cypress, Arborvitaes and Laurels in the background and smaller more colorful bushes and perennials in the foreground.

Any opinions or help would be appreciated. I prefer to get advice from laymen or hobbyists this time around and if need be, joining a garden forum.


This is all MHO. I am not a landscaper although I have racked up considerable yard time.

I think the House-Front-Left looks fine, and will look that much better next year when it fills in. As far as House-Front-Center I think you need to add something a little bit taller to the mix, even as far as adding a Japanese Maple or a small topiary type evergreen. I don’t know the names, but most of the gardening centers have those cedar type small trees that have twisty turny branches, the other bush I have in mind looks similar to a weeping willow, but I think there are thorns on the branches. Overall, it drapes very nicely - kinda like a half opened umberella.

The windows right there at the front are tall, yet all your plantings are fairly low, which may be making things look “off”. There is nothing tall to draw the eye from the bed up in natural progression to the house. Cannas would be good as well and come in a variety of colors. You could put those under the windows or in the bed adjoining the entrance way.

You may also try putting up one of those decorative banners, that will provide attraction and motion without having to plant something else.

Also not a professional – but a pretty rabid gardener.

You’ve really got to take the long view on things – if you plant stuff too close together or things that will get too tall, you’ll have problems later on. The canna suggestion is a good one – if you get enough sun there and if you’re willing to dig them up every year. You’ve got to decide whether or not you want the window blocked or not. If so, you could go for some bushes that will grow fairly high – I recommend against arborvitae, since one in the row always dies and it ends up looking dumb. Holly would work, with good year-round foliage – or maybe an oakleaf hydrangea (huge, lush green leaves, white flowers that dry and remain in the fall, then peeling bark and interesting shapes in winter. Neither of these would be hard to keep at the height you want.

What twickster said. Especially about the holly.

Could you be a bit mre descriptive re: what you’re looking for? Do you want more color? Do you just want to break up the green? I think it looks lovely, personally, but I like to keep things simple.
Do you want seasonals? Perennials?

I note you’re in New York state, so a lot of the things that work for me probably wouldn’t for you. Cherry trees are beautiful, but are you looking for something as large as a small tree?

Just an observation: You don’t look like the type guy who would care about such things.

Kudos to you, dude. :smiley:
I agree with the suggestions above and although it seems sparse now there is a reason as described by twickster

As Maureen suggested a cherry tree would be a wonderful addition near the front windows.

If that is not an option, to compensate for the sparseness closer to the house I suggest you do some planting along the sides of the driveway right up to the house. Something with color. It would create a more aesthetically pleasing and “welcoming” look and take the eye away from the newly/sparsely planted.

IMO, I agree that you need height on the left (nearer the front door) of the windows. I don’t know the mature size of the plants your landscaper has chosen but if you have the room, try a smaller ornamental-type tree. Perhaps one that blooms with a nice fragrance to greet you and your guests.

If space is an issue, a marvelous temporary choice would be a trellis or obelisk ( with a climbing rose or clematis.

Remember that anything with height and fullness can be a hiding place for intruders.

Holly can be your friend, in that respect.

Thanks for the confirmation. Had a few friends over who basically confirmed some of the sentiments here. I got a few ideas now and next Spring I’m going to modify the front bed.

I like Lyllyan & twickster 's Cannas for highlight color suggestion

thatDDperson, I actually had Blue Princess Holly in the beds and transplanted them…I might put some in at the corners.

Ruby, the trellis idea was something I was considering, I left enough room in the middle of the bed for stepping stones down to the lawn…a trellis may be a great highlight.

One of my more gifted friends, with an eye for such things pointed out "imitation is the sincerest form of flattery. It’s to that end I’m going to “borrow” some ideas from this house down the block. I really like the blue spruce in the one corner and the Old Gold Junipers with their yellow accents. I think the Red Japanese Maple in the rear center gives it a nice twist…and you definitely can’t say their landscape looks sparse.

My, that does look nice! Borrow away!

Ooh, yes, I like the neighbor’s house. Lovely.

I think if you’re going by what others have suggested, you’re on the right track. You might consider also some different leaf shapes. I love the “bladed” look of daylillies and irises. I also have an amsonia that I love. It doesn’t flower for long, but its gray-green, willowy leaves provide some nice relief from the other stuff in my garden.

Remember that during the first lean seasons, you could fill in a lot with Annuals. Zinnias and cosmos have some tall varieties, and are easy to grow. It’s way far into the season as this point, but some places may still have annuals which they want to get rid of cheap. And thought they are not tall, petunias can be your friend. Surely someplace has some petunias–that one fowerbed is just screaming for some color.

I hate them personally, but Sedum “autumn joy” are also good fillers. They turn pink-reddish in the fall, providing color when the rest of the garden looks tired out.

That is nice!

“I don’t know the names, but most of the gardening centers have those cedar type small trees that have twisty turny branches…”

Hollywood Juniper is the common name.

Environmental Psychologist checking in. Have you thought of anything from the Willow Family. Weeping willow’s are amazingly aesthetic. I like the Japanese Maple as well. We have one in our yard. It’s hideous in the winter but for 7 months out of the year it’s really nice. I live in Connecticut so we have essentially the same seasons.

MY GOD MAN! You only have a 1 car garage!!! :open_mouth:

I’d pawn that place and run screamin’


(It looks okay to me! Let it grow some before you decide it’s gruesome)

Your plantings look very nice, and they will look lovelier as they fill in. Be careful of planting too close to the house-- you can destroy the pleasant openness of the yard. Have you considered rocks or statuary? Or a copper sculpture that might hang on the outside wall?

i love weeping willows and according to feng shui you should only plant them in the front… that said there is one draw back to weepies, they LOVE water, love, love, love, water, in only the way a newfy could possible understand.

weepies, like newfys, will seek out water like a missile. they will go through concrete, they will bore through the thickest pipe, they will find water counties away and wrap their water loving roots round about it. if you have any, and i mean even the slightest hint of piping in your front yard DO NOT get a weepie. if you have a cute little non-man made creek wandering through your front yard go for it.

i also love the japanese maple, check out they have many to choose from, all sizes and shapes. i bought a wonderful “koto no ito” this spring, it is a wonderful tree with lovely lacy leaves. unfortunately winken the wonderful loved it too much and killed it with affection one morning. you shouldn’t have this problem with the tree in the front yard.