After I posted that series of pictures of how my front Welcome Garden looked in 2010, I felt very dissatisfied. In fact, I almost didn't post them! Yes, I was sure to use caveats such as "this is a work in progress", this is an "experimental garden", "I don't baby this garden" and "this is only its second season and it still needs to fill in", but still, I felt this garden is not all it could be or should be. Time to plan a renovation!
Above: I'm actually fairly happy with the garden area close to the sidewalk, although it does need another couple of years to fill in. However, the area in the centre of the yard and directly in front of the steps needs help. Big time.
I actually consider it to be a skill to view a garden and be able to see what it will look like in a couple of years. This prevents you from planting too many plants too closely and then having to move them all in a couple of years when they reach a more mature size. (This is a skill you don't learn in a couple of hours BTW, but it comes with experience or a garden coach can help you with that if you are planning or renovating a garden.) But in my own garden this sometimes makes me a little blind to what the garden really looks like RIGHT NOW. I tend to view it through rose-coloured glasses which make all the plants look like the full-sized, lush, healthy specimens that I expect them to be in a few years. Photos on the other hand, or at least my photos which I didn't crop or alter, show the naked truth. This garden lacks an overall plan.
To be fair, I am dealing with someone else's mistakes (planting 5 large spruce trees in a small front yard? What were they thinking?) And I'm also developing the garden myself on a very limited budget of time and money - this includes the tree-removal budget! But parts of the front yard developed in stages over the last 7 years with no real plan and it kinda shows.
Above: I first broke ground almost 7 years ago with this small bed. I needed a place to plunk plants that I was bringing from my old house. Over the years some things have survived and some have not thanks to the competition from surrounding spruce trees and my general if-the-plant-doesn't-grow-with-minimum-care-it-doesn't-deserve-to-be-in-my-garden attitude.
But really, I can't look at those pictures of my front garden without cringing. Time to add structure! Time to add a more formal layout! Time to add focal points! Or, at least, plan for them (as this year will be the year of the pergola, hubby has promised!) It is my hope that if I have a plan that won't be implemented until 2012 then at least this year I won't waste a lot of time and money doing things in this garden area that will just get undone later.
Here's one possibility for a new front yard garden design. It is the front yard in plan view with the house at the top. This design actually doesn't make any major changes to the front area near the sidewalk, but adds an open, patio area at the base of the stairs (the width of the sidewalk where it meets the stairs is currently too narrow), as well as a second, circular open area, mulched for low maintenance, with some extra interest using buried timbers (or possibly brick?) in a radial pattern and a birdbath as a focal point. The existing sidewalk will be edged in the same cobblestone and the concrete will be stained to match. This is a minimal cost design as it makes use of most of the existing sidewalk and only requires a fairly small amount of new cobblestones.
This is just a rough sketch, not to scale and showing minimal planting detail (but I promise you, there will be no grass!) But for my own purposes I'm just trying out different layouts before I spend too much time on designing plantings. I'd like to get out there and outline this layout with a couple of hoses in situ and really be able to visualize what it would look like. Suddenly I can't wait for the snow to melt!
Here's a photo of a neighbour's upgraded regular concrete sidewalk that inspired me to re-use the existing concrete sidewalk.
From the archives:
- garden planning: front yard garden design
- what grows in my front Welcome Garden: 2010 reflections and 2011 planning
- my favourite plants for a sunny, low maintenance front yard
- how do I get rid of my lawn? (front yard in progress)
- why should I get rid of my lawn?
- what kind of mulch should I use?
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