Need advice and ideas for front bed area


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Old 04-09-08, 10:09 PM
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Need advice and ideas for front bed area

Hi all,

We finished building our house last June, but ran out of money for the landscaping, so we've been doing it here and there. One of the last things to do, oddly enough, is the front of the house. My wife and mother in law have commenced planting, without no real plan that i can see, but it needs much more. I think the grade needs to be brought up to the sidewalk height, but i'm not sure. We live in Florida if that helps or matters. Any ideas and advice would be greatly appreciated.

Thanks,

Steve




 
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Old 04-10-08, 02:57 AM
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Good morning, Steve,

I don't know too much about Florida landscaping, but I have a couple of questions, if you don't mind...

I see there is no gutter or downspout on the front of the house, so when it rains, water floods that bed and washes over the walk-Does the water only puddle like that for a few minutes and then soak into the sandy soil?

So, it would seem to me that raising the soil level would take water away from the house, but any mulch would be washed over the walk.

Also, the mulch you have placed atop plastic, next to the house concerns me. I think Florida is a problem area for termites, is that correct? In Virginia, we don't put mulch within four feet of the house, and placing mulch closer can actually void the termite treatment warranty.

So, I would recommend mulching with rock, both because of the termite factor and the wash problem.Also, since your fountain is simulated rock, it will help blend in.

As for plants, I usually look at public spaces with similar circumstances to mine...same sun exposure and area, take some pictures, decide what I like from each picture and go from there.

Connie
 
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Old 04-10-08, 09:11 AM
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Soil is usually brought to within one inch of sidewalk to accommodate sod or grass grown from seed. Upon first impression, the soil looks poor and there appear to be potential drainage problems. Because grass is growing to the right of the entry way, there may be hope for sod or seeding for grass in the area.

If grass is desired in that area, then a soil test should be done to determine what amendments need to be made and soil prepped for sod or seed. The area has a unique opportunity to be a focal point upon entry and mulched, as indicated, with either organic or inorganic mulch to eliminate the need for grass and to conserve moisture around bedding plants.

It sounds as if you recognize that the landscaping is proceeding without a plan. A consultation with a landscape designer can prove to be very worthwhile. A landscape plan can be drawn up. The most practical plan for those with limited budgets is to have a plan that can be completed in stages as budget allows. This can be DIY or hired done.

There are a lot of good books on landscaping and lots of tips online. Drive through area neighborhoods and study landscaping and plants used. Take pictures of the ones you like. Study them and ask yourself why you like them. Local nurseries often have someone on staff who has landscape design experience.

Do not be an impulsive plant buyer. Study the plants and their characteristics such as size at maturity and required space in landscape, if appropriate for the FL climate, your growing conditions, care and maintenance, and common pests and diseases.

The best landscapes have been planted with lots of forethought in regard to spacing, height, etc. They provide year round interest with something to which to look forward every season. Beds are best planted with tallest plants at back and as layers progress to front of bed, where there are the shortest or border plants. A mixture of evergreen and decidious plants contribute to seasonal appeal. Annuals can be added to beds for color. It is important to choose drought tolerant plants, especially if you live where summers are extremely hot and dry. Planting native species is recommended. Always take into consideration light and soil requirements.

Water features are popular for focal plants in beds. They are best surrounded by plants that soften their appearance in the bed and complement the hard water feature.

Keep in mind that the foundation beds and the large entryway bed will be the first impression that people have when they drive by your home or walk up your sidewalk. These areas should say welcome, and they should be memorable. Again a landscape designer is well worth it to address drainage and planting issues. Curb appeal is extremely important when it comes time to sell.
Why curb appeal is important: http://www.buyowner.com/learning/Curb_Appeal.html



Photo Credit: floridacurbscapes.com



Photo Credit: landscaping.about.com



Photo Credit: kimberlandscapes.com
 
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Old 04-11-08, 10:26 PM
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Thanks for the great responses. We will be getting gutters one day in the future, but probably not any time soon. As you can tell from the sandy condition of the soil, it's not the best for planting, but the bahia grass we generally use down here seems to grow very well in it. The soil that sod is grown in usually only lasts 3-7 years. The rain washes most of it into the ground, but the grass usually stays put. My yard, especially that area, doesn't get a whole lot of direct sunlight, so that helps keep things green. When they sodded the yard, we didn't put any there because my wife planned to landscape the whole thing.

Sandy soil like that area does soak up the water. It doesn't stay puddled for long. It rained pretty much all day that day i took the picture, so it was a good time to photograph it. I think if the whole thing is mulched, it will eventually wash over the sidewalk just as you said, especially without some sort of order, so i will be putting some sod down around the edge to hold things in. I thought the soil level needed to be brought up and evidently i was correct.

A lot of people in Florida are using the rubber mulch these days. After checking with the wife, ours is cedar mulch. It deters some sort of bug, I'm just not sure it is termites or not. My landscaper buddy told me to definitely not use pine mulch down here. I do like the idea of using a rock-type of mulch in that area. Until i get gutters. It would hold up much better.

My own idea was to build up the planing beds using some stacked stones about 6 inches high and then backfilling, but they just put down the weed barrier and mulch and called it good. Building a shirt wall, even 6 inches high, would do a lot of keeping the dog from running through it all the time like he does. In our original house plans, the builder was actually supposed to pour the left hand bed with concrete and a short and simple railing was supposed to run from the entry pillar to the wall of the house, but that never got done.
 
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Old 04-12-08, 01:28 AM
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Good Morning, Steve,

I don't think I'd put sod or a stone border until you get some gutters installed, otherwise, that water will be trapped in that space. Now, the excess water is running over the walk, but if it is impeded, it will drown what might be planted toward the front. I don't know if you would get water in the house, but you'd certainly be prone to mold and mildew in that area, especially if it is somewhat shady.

I think it would be good to take your pictures and a soil sample to your local nursery or co-op center for some free advice from someone who is specializing in your area.

Connie
 
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Old 04-12-08, 12:25 PM
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Here's kind of what i had in mind. Please excuse my poor photoshop skills. I would expect to see more or different plants in the bed. I think i would probably rock the back area by the front window as well.





I've got to do something right now with it, as it is an eyesore and more importantly, it allows the dog to track in major amounts of sand into the house. I'm thinking as long as i grade it from the house to the sidewalk, the water should run off pretty well.

I do agree about taking the picture to the nursery. They'll know much better what kind of plants and flowers will fit and what they will look like full grown.
 
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Old 04-13-08, 04:22 PM
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Wow, Steve, you're really good with that photoshop!

Yes, I think you're on the right track, as long as the water can get out so it doesn't stand around the foundation.

We'd love to see a picture when you've finished. (A real one )

On the DIY home page, there's a section called, "I Did It Myself". You can post the before and after pictures.

Connie
 
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Old 04-13-08, 05:11 PM
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I think you have the idea. The serpentine edges for borders eliminates straight lines from landscape. This should be carried over into other beds around the house. One easy way to achieve the serpentine look that you prefer is to lay down a water hose and move it to shape the bed how you like. Sprinkle along hose with lime or flour to mark the edge for digging out the bed.
 
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Old 04-14-08, 08:59 PM
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Thanks for the hose tip. I think i've seen people do that on TV before, but forgot about it until now. Hopefully we can get the fill, sod and everything else for this weekend.
 
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Old 04-21-08, 09:22 PM
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Rock and dirt has been ordered. Plants purchased last weekend. We should have something going towards the end of the week if i can get off of work. Will snap some pics when i get a chance.

Steve
 
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Old 04-21-08, 10:41 PM
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Thanks for the update. Lookin' forward to more pix. Sounds like you are on a roll. Let us know if we can help.
 
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Old 05-02-08, 09:24 PM
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Well, i think it turned out pretty good. I hate having large gaps between plants, but these are all spaced out according to their expected growth. Plus, if the rocks turn out to be too hot for them, there will be less replanting. In hindsight, i should have used mortar to secure the wall stones like i originally wanted to. Right now, they seem pretty stable. There's actually three layers of stone wall. The back filled area has a pretty good slope towards the sod for good drainage. I didn't expect to have enough rock to do the opposite flower bed, but i did. Now, I just need to paint the water fountain to match its surroundings a little better.


 
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Old 05-03-08, 02:01 AM
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Thanks again for sharing. Beds look very tidy.

Sod looks very thirsty.
 
 

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