Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Surprise! A green landscape plan

Sometimes the best things evolve and happen organically. Other times they don't.

Our front yard had evolved organically over the past 5 years that we've been in Humphrey House, almost like a nursery rhyme, "here a plant, there a plant, everywhere a plant plant." And you know what? It wasn't working. In fact, it failed miserably. Even though people tried valiantly to help us, we had no clue about various plant sizes - placing things in a tight bunch, too close to the foundation, putting tall plants in front of short plants, sun plants in shady areas - if there was a list of bad DIY landscape plans, I felt certain we were on that list. Well, all that changed over the weekend as I finally set things straight.

With Jen leaving town for the weekend, I promptly set off to surprise her upon her return, and ripped out the existing hardscape timbers and dug up almost every existing thing in our front yard and put the plants into spare containers. The only thing that survived were the coneflowers Chris from TinyBungalow gave us a few years ago and our weeping cherry tree. This gave me a blank slate, with lots of dead ground to play with.

The plan for our yard started with a goal: Create a sustainable landscape. Great, but what does that mean? Well, a landscape that is more native (adapted) to the local climate - able to withstand Chicago's winters and dry summers without extra care. A garden that doesn't need extra watering beyond the natural rainfall we receive. And a landscape that would be more pervious and help absorb stormwater on-site rather than directing it to the overburdened municipal storm sewers. Additionally, native plants also are more attractive to wildlife providing food and cover for birds, butterflies, etc.

But there were many challenges to meeting this goal:

  1. Aesthetics - we wanted something with year-round interest that didn't look like crap.
  2. Shade - our parkway has a Norway Maple that provides dense shade - and few hours of sunlight. Most aesthetically pleasing drought-tolerant plants and flowers thrive in full sun.
  3. Maintenance - I like the idea of quarterly yard maintenance rather than weekly mowing.
  4. Budget - always a factor, which meant trying to use many materials we had on-site
  5. Size - while not huge compared to many, we are dealing with 2/3 of our front yard, about 400 square feet, which could definitely stretch the budget. We also wanted some good vertical height to transition to the porch.
One of the nice things about delaying a landscape plan until July is that you can take advantage of season-end sales, which really helps with #4 above. I visited no less than 5 garden centers and deals ranged from buy 2 get one free to 50% off or more. I even got a 1/2 gallon healthy goldenrod plant for $1 at Lowe's just by asking how low they would go!

Well, it all came together so much better than expected. Once everything was cleared out and placed into extra planting containers, I laid down some flagstone pavers that had been left behind under the back porch by the previous homeowners. With a hardscaped footpath in place, I then played around with arrangements with the existing plants such as evergreen boxwoods, along with some new plants I had picked up. Fortunately some of the local garden centers have a nice distribution line with American Beauties. No, that's not a link to some X-rated site, it's a native plant landscape supplier. Combining this with the selection at the big box stores and our existing plants, I grouped the plants together in odd numbers and got successful results.


So what did we do? Well, using advice from friends as well as a native plant specialist, I selected:The hardest thing to find was an ornamental grass that can perform in a part shade environment, on about 4 hours of sun per day. I was careful not to choose Chinese Silver Grass, as that is classified as an invasive plant species in Illinois. But with a bit of help, I was able to locate an ornamental that was actually labeled "Full sun to Part shade", a Miscanthus feather read grass strain called "Karl Foerster". These will be great because the grass dies off and provides a clump of winter interest. And potentially neat colors in the spring and summer. Right now though, there's not much to look at.




While I was working, several neighbors came up and remarked on how improved things look. Of course, anything is better than the dead lawn that was there for for months. I'm not entirely convinced the spacing is "just right" for everything, but we'll keep an eye on the plants and adjust as the year goes by. In the meantime, it's had a truly transformative effect on our home giving it style and a natural prairie setting to our neighborhood.

10 comments:

Chris said...

Looks awesome. Nice array of plants too. I can't wait to see how it all matures.

Anonymous said...

Thanks for your guidance, Chris - it looks fantastic! - Jennifer

Sandy said...

I think you did a wonderful job. It's beautiful and I'm jealous (of course, my lawn is slowly being taken over by wild violets -- I think they're pretty, but no one else does)

Double Glazing Oxford said...

Plants really add color to the surroundings. What you've done there is really fantastic. I conclude that you really have great passion when it comes to planting.

chenlili said...

michael kors purses
ugg outlet
michael kors outlet
ugg boots
oakley sunglasses
asics outlet
hollister clothing
air jordan femme
uggs outlet
ray ban sunglasses
roshe run
ugg on sale
gucci belts
louis vuitton outlet
hogan scarpe
louis vuitton outlet
ugg slippers
michael kors handbags
gucci belts
michael kors outlet
ralph lauren polo shirts
adidas yeezy
louis vuitton
moncler paris
mont blanc pens
michael kors handbags
toms shoes
ray ban sunglasses outlet
beats by dre
prada handbags
nike outlet
ugg outlet
louis vuitton outlet
adidas nmd
louis vuitton purses
ugg uk
oakley sunglasses
polo ralph lauren
rolex watches for sale
chenlili20160902

John said...

discount oakley sunglasses
ugg boots sale
mlb jerseys
cheap nike shoes
james shoes
adidas superstars
ray ban sunglasses outlet
jordan retro
polo ralph lauren
tiffany jewelry
2017213yuanyuan

Unknown said...

Quickbooks Support Phone Number
Quickbooks Support Phone Number
Quickbooks Tech Support Number
Quickbooks Support Number
Quickbooks Technical Support Number
Quickbooks Tech Support Phone Number
Quickbooks Technical Support Phone Number
Quickbooks Help Desk Phone Number
Quickbooks Help Desk Number
Quickbooks Customer Service Number
Quickbooks Customer Service Phone Number
Quickbooks Customer Support Number
Quickbooks Customer Support Phone Number
Quickbooks Pro Support Phone Number
Quickbooks Pro Tech Support Number
Quickbooks Pro Support Number
Quickbooks Pro Technical Support Number
Quickbooks Pro Tech Support Phone Number
Quickbooks Pro Technical Support Phone Number

Unknown said...

Quickbooks Support Phone Number
Quickbooks Error Support Phone Number
Quickbooks Error Tech Support Number
Quickbooks Error Support Number
Quickbooks Error Technical Support Number
Quickbooks Error Tech Support Phone Number
Quickbooks Error Technical Support Phone Number
Quickbooks Payroll Support Phone Number
Quickbooks Payroll Tech Support Number
Quickbooks Payroll Support Number
Quickbooks Payroll Technical Support Number
Quickbooks Payroll Tech Support Phone Number
Quickbooks Payroll Technical Support Phone Number
Quickbooks Enterprise Support Phone Number
Quickbooks Enterprise Tech Support Number
Quickbooks Enterprise Support Number
Quickbooks Enterprise Technical Support Number
Quickbooks Enterprise Tech Support Phone Number
Quickbooks Enterprise Technical Support Phone Number
Quickbooks Premier Support Phone Number
Quickbooks Premier Tech Support Number
Quickbooks Premier Support Number
Quickbooks Premier Technical Support Number
Quickbooks Premier Tech Support Phone Number
Quickbooks Premier Technical Support Phone Number

shengda xu said...

michael kors outlet store
coach factory outlet
coach outlet online
adidas yeezy boost
michael kors outlet
coach outlet online
polo ralph lauren outlet online
michael kors handbags
michael kors outlet store
longchamp bags
xushengda0522

shengda xu said...

ralph lauren
ralph lauren sale clearance uk
fake rolex watches
pandora charms sale
polo ralph lauren
michael kors handbags
discount oakley sunglasses
nike free 4.0 flyknit
michael kors outlet canada
coach factory outlet online
xsd7.28