Requesting Help From My Less Landscaping-Challenged Readers

Thursday, September 13, 2012

I am hopelessly landscaping-challenged.  
Case in point: This is what my pool area has looked like for 4 years:

 I actually like the way the white fence bounces light back into the kitchen, but boy does it look unfinished and boring out there!  One of the reasons I have never done anything with it is that I feel like it would cost $20,000 to do it right (the fence is about 40 feet long). 

But the other reasons is I just have NO idea what to do.

 We kind of like this wild brush growing off to the left.  It keeps growing and growing and might eventually cover the whole back fence. Problem: It is full of poison ivy, and could take YEARS to grow all around.

 So, I think I'll leave it over that section of the fence on the left. 

But here, where the white fence starts, is where I need help.  Can you see the hill?   We built that up when we put the pool in so that the fence would be higher and give us more privacy.   But another problem, besides being ugly, is that it is awfully hard to mow.

 Here is a longer view of it. (What a gorgeous fall New England day!!)

 And where it meets in the corner. (To the right is another issue I'll get to later)
I've had lots of ideas on what to do, but am so unsure, so I thought I'd ask you guys. 

One, I could rip the grass off the top of the hill and plant flowering trees every several feet. 
Concern: they will drop their leaves (not sure that matters much to me in the winter). 
Second, more serious concern, what if they grow too tall and the pretty part becomes too high and doesn't block the house behind us anymore?

Another idea: A row of these (hydrangeas?) in a bed with mulch? 
Problem: they won't give privacy, but will they look nice?

What do you think?
Oh, and I don't care for arborvitaes, which is what everyone tells me,
so I really don't want to go that route :)

 This is the awful other side of the yard.  
Do you think I should take down the trees? That is the big debate!

PS - I had to share my daughter's outfit with you today.
I think she looks like the cutest thing ever and I couldn't stop squeezing her before she got on the bus!!

My little fashionista in the making :)
And God how I wish I had that bum!

So anyway, any thoughts on landscaping ideas would be GREATLY appreciated!!!
Thank you so much for any ideas!!

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Fletcher @ High Cotton Style said...

Could you grow a vine in an x pattern all the way across the fence?

Jessica said...

Trees could work as long as you make sure not to get any with invasive root systems. There are dwarf trees and trees that don't grow very tall, too.

If you keep an eye out on Craigslist in the spring you can find people splitting perennials and giving the extras away, so that would cut costs. Since it's sunny or partially sunny you have lots of options; I'm jealous!

Robyn said...

What about building in some low lying shrubbery along the hill. Maybe some junipers and bark mulch. Little maintenance and looks good if you section it off with some railroad ties.

Splendid Sass said...

I would use schrubbery and a fountain with monkey grass around it maybe. A graden pool? I am one of the trial and error people that add and remove until I get the look.
Your daughter is adorable and she looks so cute!
Happy Thursday, Stacy.

Anonymous said...

I think some hydrangeas would be great where the lawn is now. I put some around my pool and I love them. In three years they were huge and beautiful all season long. People always admire them. I don't know what the sun situation is? Morning sun? Afternoon sun? If it is sun all day, hydrangeas won't do well. But there are many new hybrids. Have the people at the nursery help you choose. I wouldn't put trees near my pool. I have trees around my pool, and it is a lot of
trouble- leaves, and pollen constantly in pool. Love your pool!

Acquired Objects said...

I was going to ask you what location but you said New England where I am...perfect. There ae quite a few dwarf trees you you plant along the fence that grow 8-10 feet and then under plant them with your hydrangea in-between. You will have a leaf problem come fall no matter what you plant so I suggest you buy a pool cover first. PLenty of dwarf trees out there that don't require work too. Now is the perfect time to plant since you need the trees to take root before the January hard freeze. I just planted a few trees myself in NH. Good luck with your landscaping!


Brenda Murphy said...

There are some great grasses out there that require no maintenance and bring a zen aesthetic to an area. I have about 6 different kinds and a couple of them get quite tall, they turn flaxen in the fall, and look gorgeous over winter, so that you have a nice focal point. Also, grass blows gently in the wind, which is also a nice view and restful. If that was my area, I would take out the grass just beyond the patio stones and mulch it, planting decorative grass and maybe some sedum which in the summer are lovely green and in autumn bright yellow flowers, pinks or whites. The garden would have a strong sculptural presence(hey throw in a beautiful sculpture!), just as you home has. Have fun!

Barbara Bussey {The Treasured Home} said...

No offense, but I can't see you splitting perennials. You could go to the most popular nursery in your area. They may charge you a bit, but it would be worth it to get plants placed properly...sun exposure, etc. they might also credit the charge if you buy the plants from them. A hedge like podecarpus (spelled wrong, I'm sure) or something column- like that can grown out and up and stay pruned to the height you want would work, with hydrangea in front and english boxwood as the border, creating three levels, for interest. Your home is traditional, so your gardening should be too.

Now as far as your daughter, she rocks that outfit, and she has he hand on her hip for full effect.

Mrs. Green Jeans

Taylor Greenwalt said...

Shoot, isn't it frustrating when you are creative and you know what will look good, but there is a budget!I have been there!
Try creating different living areas. Maybe some planters around the deck and against the wall. Separating the space into little inviting areas.

Shirley@Housepitality Designs said...

Stacy...your daughter rocked that outfit!!....As far as the landscaping is concerned...after owning 6 houses, we have found that when we hire a landscape architect just for a plan, it has been so beneficial as to not making any mistakes...we have done so much landscaping on our own and have made numerous mistakes as far a as plantings in the wrong areas, etc...when you hire a consultant just for a plan and do the actual landscaping yourself, it has saved us money in the long run...We love creating different zones in our area...our next project is a fountain and english garden surrounding it...I am with go with a traditional garden...your yard is very beautiful and spacious!

Donnamae said...

I think you should get a professional to give you some ideas. If you work with a local nursery, they will often draw up plans, if you agree to use their plantings! It won't cost as much as you might think...and if you do the work yourself, you will really tone those muscles! Haha! ;)

carolyn bradford said...

Oh…I love what Debra and Taylor both said…can you work all of that into one idea!? Your daughter is a doll! I would keep squeezing her because before you know it she will be married and grown! Ok…back to the pool! My favorite things we planted around ours ( and yes, I know I live in Alabama…) River Birch tree…beyond gorgeous but the roots are now lifting up the stamped concrete and my pavers…sort of glad tho cause I want bluestone and just grass….the other is our Japanese Maple with Azaleas planted all around and espaliered trees on the house….those would look great on your fence as would the ivy in an "X" like someone else mentioned! Isn't it great to get so many opinions?! I know whatever you decide will be beautiful!

The enchanted home said...

OK my two cents.....assuming your weather is sutiable for my advice, which I think it your objective to hide the fence or mnimize it somewhat? I love the look of a white painted fence but do agree it needs some warming up. My first thought was a ton of hydrangeas, they grow like crazy and would be a nice buffer not to mention their blooms are incredible and bloom all summer long!
If you want to eliminate the grass, you could plant the entire hill with pakasandra (sp?) or ivy, it is maintenance free, looks beautiful is lush and green year round and the final thought is to do both, plant the hydrangea across the entire fence, then the ivy or packasandra in front.......just a thought! We have used both successfully!
Your daughter is a cutie pie!

Johane Lachapelle said...


you might want to check the beautiful garden of acountryfarmhouse blog for inspiration (lots of hydrangea).

Johane from Montreal