Thursday, May 22, 2008

Front yard design

When we first moved to this house there used to be a lawn with two large trees competing with each other. The one partially seen below is some sort of elm and is part of the parking strip like most single dwelling homes we have here in California. The types of trees vary. When we lived in another town a few miles away, we had a camphor tree. Those are nice, they are not necessarily deciduous. They tend to lose their leaves a little at a time. But the street we live on now were originally planted with elms. Since this is an older neighborhood (homes are 50+ years old), a few of the trees have succumbed to disease. A few neighbors have replanted with other types of trees. The other tree we had in our front yard was an ash tree, but it was diseased. So when we landscaped the front yard we took that tree down and replaced it with a crepe myrtle.
When we redesigned the front yard we repositioned the front walkway and converted the driveway from plain old ugly concrete to paving stones. Another big change in our front yard was getting rid of the lawn and designing for more native type plants. This has been a work in progress for the past 5+ years. As you can see in the photo above we have woolly thyme and a few sea pinks and a little sedum planted as ground cover. We also added Stella d'oro daylilies for more color. This is the time of year when our woolly thyme blooms, and it is so attractive when one walks or drives by. I wish it would bloom all spring and summer long.
Last year we wanted to add some height in the middle of our front yard. So we thought we would try planting a clematis. It looked good for the first couple of months, but then it was another plant that seemed to say "sayonara." We decided to pull out the plant once we knew it was dead, and still have not figured out what will do well in that spot. Our front yard faces south, but we are competing with the next door neighbors' palm tree which shades much of that part of the front yard. But what to my wondering eyes should appear about two months ago, a "new" growth coming up. My husband and I decided to just let it grow to see what it would be, and then only a week ago (when the temps were extraordinarily hot) we noticed that this plant was going to put out some blossoms. Well, once it did, I realized it was a clematis. We're not sure, but we think the plant may have come up via seeds that were dropped from last year's blossoms. Is that possible?
Below are more photos of the Stella d'oro daylilies. Note the woolly thyme around the daylilies. Well, we may still have a lot of work to do in the front yard, but we think our parking strip is looking good. Is anyone else redesigning their yards or doing new landscaping this year? I'd love to hear some of your ideas.


Red said...

you should add to your post (or do another) describing all the hard work saving that tree and getting the thyme & other plants to do what we wanted it to do! I don't know if it ended up how you envisioned, but it's finally exactly how I envisioned it originally.

ooo... do you need pics of the way it was before???

all that work really paid off... hopefully that same can be said in a couple years of the rest of the front landscape... it's good, but not quite perfect yet :D

mon@rch said...

A yard full of flowers . . . that is exactly my kind of yard!

RuthieJ said...

Looks great Mary! way better than just plain grass!
I would like to expand and re-do the garden in front of my house, but funding (and time) always seems to be limited.

adampaul said...

Looks lovely! Way better, and less resource-intensive than grass. Kudos for working on getting the natives in, and lucky you to have volunteer Clematis - that's such a pretty plant.

Mary C said...

Hi Red - that could very well be another post. I don't think we did much to save that tree. Our big thing was hiding the exposed roots, etc. and making the parking strip area more attractive. Visually, this is the best time of year because the woolly thyme is blooming and that makes it better than I had originally envisioned it. Yes, I could use a photo or two of the "before" look.

Thanks Monarch - believe it or not a yard full of flowers takes less maintenance than a boring yard of just grass (lawn) -- all that mowing for what!? How can one enjoy a monochromatic front yard?

Hey Ruthie, thanks. May I suggest (and only because I've seen it in magazines) doing a few square feet at a time. That way, both time and money wouldn't be such a burden.

Hi Adam - thanks. As another Californian you know that grass is a useless resource around here. And most of the year it is unattractive. As for natives, the grasses we've planted are miscanthus sinensis. But then I guess we can't say my rose bushes are native, can we? At least they are attractive and non-invasive. :o)

Red said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Red said...

The sea pinks are natives too... so were the Coral Bells - but they died or were murdered.

The heath's we have aren't California native, but they are Pacific coastal... don't forget the salvias - especially the fuzzy purple one (santa barbara)! I don't know about the lantana, but maybe it's native.

And above all, everything planted is drought tolerant and at the very least drought resistant at a young age.


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