New House, Old Yard

Due to drastic career changes, our previous relocation to Grand Rapids, MI has been rescinded, and we’re back in our home up in Indian River. Since we were never able to sell our home, moving into the home we still own is actually rather nice. I far prefer one house payment to two. :)

Now that we’re back up north, permanently as far as we can tell, we need to do something about our landscaping. After our home burned down a few years back, we never landscaped around the replacement home. And while the septic drain field being in the front yard means we have lovely green grass:

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We have nothing done to the house itself to make it look nice:

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Yes, the deck has a couple of shrubs, and in the summer had some flowers, but let’s face it, this is just sad. Unfortunately, when I had a landscaper come out, he wasn’t help AT ALL. Since he couldn’t fill our yard with trees (drain field, anything other than tiny ornamental trees are right out), he basically told us we were out of luck.

We’ll probably have to find another landscaping company, and see if they are more imaginative. As it is, we know we want flowers and a small tree, with a nice path along the front… but we have no idea how to plan that, much less build it.

Does anyone else have a drain field in their front yard? How do you go about landscaping when trees are out of the realm of possibility? Are we doomed to an ugly front yard with lush, green grass?

4 Comments

  1. Think about flower beds for starters. You can outline them with stones, pavers, timbers, etc. if desired; a trip to Home Depot, Lowe’s, or such will provide plenty of options. Some kind of edging is a good idea as it helps to keep the grass from taking over the beds. Native wildflowers are a good choice as they are more fitting for the local climate. If you choose flowers that bloom in succession and are of varying heights you will have color from spring to fall. Ornamental grasses work well, too, and can grow quite tall. I’m guessing that ornamental shrubs would be OK if the roots don’t go too deep. They should continue to stand through the winter to provide a visual accent and then you can cut down the dead grass in the sprint before the new shoots start up. Knockout roses are beautiful, available in a variety of colors, and bloom all season long. Hire a landscaper? OMG! I’ll bet a good garden center could give you lots of advice. The people who work in those kind of businesses usually do so because they love plants and often can give you good advice on what to plant and how to plant it.

    • Why don’t I proofread these things? sprint = spring and I see that I inserted the sentence about ornamental shrubs in between two sentences about ornamental grass. Best of luck with the project!

  2. The biggest thing you can do to keep your house from looking like it was just plopped there by an alien, is to plant shrubs and flowers along the front of the house–basically, you want things running along the front and side of the house.

    Day lilies are often a good option, especially if you get a reblooming cultivar like Stella d’Oro. You’ll be looking for plants that come back every year (perennials), that don’t grow too large or climb the house, and that are easy to mulch/weed around.

    If it were me, I’d dig up the sod from the edge of the house to two feet out, lay down landscape cloth, and then cover that with *clean* soil–you want something that doesn’t have weed seeds in it, or you’ve defeated the purpose of the landscape cloth.

    Then look for small shurbs to serve as visual anchors–if you want them. You want ones that probably won’t get higher than four or five feet, so they don’t take over.

    The around that, find some perennials that you like. As I said, I’m particularly fond of day lilies. Hostas are a god choice for a south wall. Or flowers that easily reseed, like coreopsis and black-eyed-Susans. You can also look for plants that draw birds, like echinacia (purple cone flower).

    Here’s my front yard from several years ago: http://klishis.com/notreally/archives/4912

  3. Topher says:

    Go for the Japanese garden look. Ornamental fruit trees (or even real ones) are GORGEOUS in the spring, and pretty the rest of the time. Put in some water features etc.

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