Chai
 
Reply Tue 14 Mar, 2006 12:08 pm
I'm thinking ahead.

Sometime between 6 months and a year from now, we'll get around to relandscaping the front lawn. Right now it's just a patch of whatever has been growing there for the past 20 years, with a cracked cement walkway down the middle, and a dirt driveway on the side of the house.

I love flowers, such as annuals and perennials, and I love spending my time walking in the park and on trails in the woods, but to tell the truth, I never have and never will enjoy the idea of digging around in the dirt under the hot sun. Planting, weeding, mowing, fertilizing, watering etc. are way down on my list of things to do.

I few times in my life, I've made an attempt to plant flower beds, and the results were dismal. The fact of the matter is, I've got a black thumb and don't have any desire to turn it green. We've already cut down on front yard space by building a porch on the front of the house, and later we're going to redo the steps going up to the porch so there will be two sets off stair going down from a landing in front of the porch.

Basically, I think we're going to have a piece of ground 36 feet wide and 25 feet deep to deal with. My husband says mowing such a small piece of grass is no big deal to him. However that would be one more thing to take care of, and that also leads to borders and flower beds and all that stuff. Plus, mowing the lawn in 100 degree weather isn't much fun.

Oh….and we used to have one big tree on the front lawn, but it was really old and dying, so came down. A new tree would be ok.

I don't want to pave the whole thing over with asphalt, I want it to look attractive.

I've knocked a couple of ideas around.

1. Making a large paved area in front of the steps, maybe 10 feet deep, then, in front of that, put in two large planters that would run the width of the yard. The first planter would be 7.5 feet deep (leaving 5.5 feet for plants) and maybe 3 feet high, and the second one going down to the side walk, maybe 1.5 feet high…kinda like steps. I don't know though, that sounds like a lot of money, plus still all that stuff to plant.


2. So, I start thinking about if the whole front yard was paved with stones or stamped concrete or whatever, and put big Roman urns in several places, where flowers, plants could be grown. Between the urns could be other object of interest, seating, statues, etc. Small greenery could grow around the bases of the urns, in smaller pots.

Does this sound like a ridiculous idea?

I've looked around on the internet, and can't find anything like this.

Would it be really expensive?

I'm open to ideas…really though, I'm not gardening. I want to do it once and be done, except for planting some annuals, or looking after a few perennials.
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dagmaraka
 
  1  
Reply Tue 14 Mar, 2006 12:36 pm
not a ridiculous idea, but one think to consider is that it will ge HOT in the summer. really hot. you'll be watering cement just to survive... and if you have to do that....well why not just water a nice lawn...:-)
0 Replies
 
Chai
 
  1  
Reply Tue 14 Mar, 2006 12:54 pm
Would it increase the temperature inside the house do you think?

That's where I am in the summer.

Fall, Winter and Spring are my times for being outdoors.

I'm thinking...people who live in apartments have sidewalks and cement right outside their front door...that doesn't effect the temperature much inside, does it?
0 Replies
 
dagmaraka
 
  1  
Reply Tue 14 Mar, 2006 01:01 pm
hmmm, that I don't know. Is it a shady garden? If you'll have sun baking on it, then chances are good it will get warmer inside. If it isn't, then it might not be that big a deal. Water's always good. Any chance of installing some sort of a puddle amidst the cement? A fountain/shallow pool/ one of those little ponds...? Then again, that's an open invitation for mosquitos.
If you live directly above the sidewalk, then you don't want to open your windows in the summer. The heat bounces right off and crawls insisde. might not affect the whole house though. there might be some compromise you can reach. how about cement most of it, leave some areas with dirt where you can put periwinkle or ivy - instead of grass. requires essentially no care whatsoever. maybe a bit of watering when it's obviously dying, but periwinkle especially is pretty indestructible.
0 Replies
 
shewolfnm
 
  1  
Reply Tue 14 Mar, 2006 01:24 pm
Chai Tea wrote:
Would it increase the temperature inside the house do you think?


yes yes and yes again.

MIL made that mistake.
The front windows / rooms are hot as hell andeven with solar screening, you can feel a diffrence and she says she can SEE a diffrence in her bill...
0 Replies
 
shewolfnm
 
  1  
Reply Tue 14 Mar, 2006 01:24 pm
at least here in texas that is.

Humidity+ hot stone = oven
0 Replies
 
Chai
 
  1  
Reply Tue 14 Mar, 2006 01:24 pm
yeah, periwinkle and lantana are good...they take care of themselves.

Mabye a border of that around the whole yard, and Stone and Urns of dfferent sizes with flowers and greenery in the middle, various heights to create interest...see, I'm good a decorating indoors, so I keep thinking of this area as a room.

no, no shade, the only tree is gone.
0 Replies
 
Chai
 
  1  
Reply Tue 14 Mar, 2006 01:32 pm
shewolfnm wrote:
Chai Tea wrote:
Would it increase the temperature inside the house do you think?


yes yes and yes again.

MIL made that mistake.
The front windows / rooms are hot as hell andeven with solar screening, you can feel a diffrence and she says she can SEE a diffrence in her bill...


how about that idea above using a border of drought resistant plants?

Picture this....Front of house with windows....
In front of that a porch that is 7 feet or so deep.....
steps going down parallel to the porch...3 feet wide.....
border of periwinkles 3 feet deep....

That's 13 feet away from the house.

Then, the paved part would be 19 feet deep....

then 3 more feet of flowers...then the street sidewalk.
0 Replies
 
roger
 
  1  
Reply Tue 14 Mar, 2006 01:32 pm
Naturalize it. Around here, I would use rabbit bush, of which there is a dwarf variety. A juniper of the low growing habit might be nice.Does Indian paintbrush grow there? Anyway, yes, paving will heat the house in the summer, and covering the whole thing with colored gravel is just horrible. If you can get a goodlooking large rock hauled in to focus attention, consider it.

Ask osso bucco.
0 Replies
 
ehBeth
 
  1  
Reply Tue 14 Mar, 2006 01:34 pm
The more paving there is, the hotter it's gonna be.

It's the same problem up here in Ontario.

Thank goodness they're bringing in some local bylaws against removal of green space - public and private.
0 Replies
 
dagmaraka
 
  1  
Reply Tue 14 Mar, 2006 01:35 pm
that could work. stones will be ultimately better than cement, especially because the earth can breathe a little underneath - won't get so hot.
0 Replies
 
ehBeth
 
  1  
Reply Tue 14 Mar, 2006 01:38 pm
Stones really aren't a good alternative. They get plenty hot.

Naturalizing is probably the easiest alternative for a non-gardener. Once they're in, native perennials don't need a lot <if any> fussing.

The local extension service is a good source of information about appropriate local native plantings.
0 Replies
 
Tico
 
  1  
Reply Tue 14 Mar, 2006 02:29 pm
Something a friend of mine did:

She had planters built around the perimeter of her yard, different shapes and heights for interest. With planning, the planters can be built over several years, to spread the cost. You can build the planters right on top of whatever you have now, just cover the ground with many layers of newspaper to kill any weeds that may grow up through the really good soil that will fill your new planters. Eventually the newspaper with compost and disappear.

(My own little annual flower trick: If I've bought annuals in pots with some room for growth, I just plunk the whole pot into the soil. If they're in cell packs, I transfer them to larger pots and plunk them into the soil. As the perennials change through the season, I might move the annuals around to fill in spots. If I want a big punch of colour, I buy a few large hanging baskets of annuals and plunk them in after cutting off the hanger. At the end of the season, I remove all the annual pots, dump the contents into the compost bin and take the pots back to the nursery for recycling. Once the compost is ready, I top up the planter boxes with it.)

Raised beds like this make for easier work planting those annuals and perennials. She also used a lot of tall native grasses -- almost no work at all once they're planted. Just make sure that the planters are small enough that you can reach all areas of them without having to climb into one.

Then, she stripped all the turf off her lawn (this was the hardest work) and replaced it with 4"-6" of wood chips. She gets the wood free once a year from local landscapers who are happy to have somewhere to dump it (otherwise they must pay to dump it at a landfill site). Occasionally a weed pokes it way through, but not often.

It's cool, environmentally friendly, cheap, and almost no work. Looks great, too. About once a month, she goes out to pluck an errant weed or two and do the zen thing on the wood chips with a garden rake. Finish it off with a table/chairs/umbrella group, a fruit tree, or a really large interesting rock.

Just something to consider.
0 Replies
 
Eva
 
  1  
Reply Tue 14 Mar, 2006 02:39 pm
Oh, I do the hanging-basket-in-the-ground trick too, Tico! (I do remove the pots, though.) Even easier, I plunk them, pot and all, into fancy glazed ceramic pots! (Use an empty plastic container to prop them up to the right height, snip off the wire hangers.) Then I can move them around wherever I want them...and no digging!

Chai...sounds like you mostly need some foundation plantings. Small trees and shrubs. Shade is not just decorative in Austin...it's necessary.
0 Replies
 
Chai
 
  1  
Reply Tue 14 Mar, 2006 02:55 pm
Yeah tico, I like the ideas of the long planters...since I don't care to get down and dirty on the ground, I don't mind planting some perenials once every few years....

with planters or urns you can stand sit while you work, and there is a limited amount of earth to deal with.

When I've mentioned the Roman style urns, I realized that is really what I'm looking for. When I picture a Roman garden, I see a lot of walkways and open areas that are paved where one can walk about, interspereced with flowers, and maybe a place to sit, and a sundial......More formal looking.....In my neighborhood, lots of people have rocks/boulders in their landscaping....I really like that, but not for me, because, well, the rocks sit on the ground, which you have to weed....I'm really trying to minimize the amount of earth that's not in a pot that I have to look after.

My concern is not to look really odd to the rest of the neighborhood, as in looking too sterile.

Did I mention I hate digging in the ground? Laughing
0 Replies
 
dagmaraka
 
  1  
Reply Tue 14 Mar, 2006 03:06 pm
haha, maybe you do need cement wall to wall. at least you can park your car right on top. or even charge others to park there! $$$$$$ ka-ching!
0 Replies
 
dagmaraka
 
  1  
Reply Tue 14 Mar, 2006 03:11 pm
http://www.signaturelandscapes.com/images/bk%20patio.jpg

this is the sort of a compromise i meant. some cement/stone/gravel seating area, and green area around. i'd do periwinkle instead of grass. then you can have some shrubbery in the back. no care required. (maybe trim the shrubbery once or twice a year, but that's it).
0 Replies
 
dagmaraka
 
  1  
Reply Tue 14 Mar, 2006 03:14 pm
Check out theIntimate gardens for lots of other designs that might work
0 Replies
 
Chai
 
  1  
Reply Tue 14 Mar, 2006 03:21 pm
No No Dag! Laughing

that's not what I want, really, I want it to look nice, that's why I like the perwinke/lantana border idea.

and all the flower urns! Don't forget the flower urns! HUGE urns 3 or 4 feet tall. Urns with patina and class coming out [email protected]

Think Roman empire! I don't want to get tacky with a Venus deMilo, but maybe I can get Eva to pose for me on Friday evenings. Lots of people walking around the neighborhood Friday evenings.

Yeah I know Eva, we do need a tree...Now that the stupid sycamore I absolutely hated since the day I bought the place is gone, it's definitly missing.

Actually though, it wasn't there last summer, and it made no difference in our AC bill.

Trees, something else to take care of Rolling Eyes Have I mentioned I kill plants by looking at them?

Inside, I have, oh, 3 or 4 vases filled with good silk flowers...I just spray some silk flower cleaner on them once in a while. That's gardening for me.
0 Replies
 
Chai
 
  1  
Reply Tue 14 Mar, 2006 03:25 pm
dagmaraka wrote:
Check out theIntimate gardens for lots of other designs that might work


oh man, there's just no much GROUND in all those pictures.
0 Replies
 
 

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