Sunday, May 06, 2007

A Blank Canvas (need some suggestions)

When we moved to this house, there was a porch on the back which we affectionately called "the room to nowhere." Literally, you couldn't get to it from inside the house. On top of that, the crazy former owners decided to close it in, complete with windows and a door. Which of course rotted out because they never did it right. Here is one of the few pics I have of that monstrosity (because really, why would you want a picture of such a thing?)

Last summer we tore off that room. Actually my husband did the tearing but you know I did the supervising! And he built this awesome porch and no - we're not closing it in!

So now we're finally getting around planting around the patio and that's where I need some suggestions. Bless my hubby's heart, he dug it up exactly like I asked, so there won't be a need for any kind of border or weedwacking (you can't see the beautiful straight up and down cut he dug). But this is where I get stalled - picking out the plants. Do I go with my Monkish, perfectionist tendencies that want everything symetrical or do I try to make it look casual, like I've got things all effortlessly under control? I'm thinking low maintenance, and things that we can easily keep under control.

Oh and then . . . while we're on a roll here . . . here's the fence, which sits to the left of the yard when sitting on the porch. It's about 48' long and runs about half the length of the yard so we still have lots of wide open spaces! Notice the "dirt" - that's where an old metal shed used to stand, which we've finally gotten rid of (seriously, we think the guy had stuff buried under there, we kept uncovering junk!" So what if anything should we plant over here? I'm so excited to create an inviting space for my feathered friends, not to mention bring a little of God's beauty back here. Oh and I'm tickled at the thought of being able to put up my hammock without wondering if the neighbors are watching!

Any and all suggestions are welcome - just don't point me to home and garden websites! They kind of frustrate me for some reason. I'd rather know what works in real life!


gail said...

Oooh, I'm so not a yard person! I'll have to think on what might be good for me in the South may not work for you. But one of my gardener friends told us to take a long garden hose and kind of lay it out in curves/lines etc. to mark off areas for beds. That way it's not straight lines. I would say go for a casual look, not all symetrical. You might pick dwarf varieties of some shrubs to use that would be slow growing...we used dwarf nandinas and dwarf hollies in spots. Then you could add in some perennials and annuals for color depending on sun/shade. And I think it's always good to do odd numbers of things for plantings.
Something else might come to me later!
Be sure to take lots of pics!

Tami Boesiger said...

You've got some work cut out for you, Dianne. I'm glad it's you!

Hey, I tagged you. Check it out.

Becca said...

Hi Dianne ... so glad to find your blog and looking forward to reading it.(And yes I filled in for Stephanie on WORD last week and found it to be a lot of fun). God's Peace!

Becky said...

Oh that is overwhelming isn't it? I tend to get intimidated with a blank slate. At first I thought how fun it would be to have something climbing all over your porch railing, but I have changed my mind. First, it is so pretty why cover it up? Second, anything climbing and blooming would mean bees and how could you ever enjoy the sitting if you have to be swatting.

Here is my advice, and I have no idea what I am doing. Choose either cool colors (blues, purples, whites) or warm colors (reds, yellows) depending on what kind of feeling you want. Then you need to figure out whether you are full sun, full shade, part something or other. And that may change through the day too, so take some notes on that.

Go to the store and see what you love, and decide whether it would go in that sun/shade thing. Tall things in back, shorter in front. If I were you I'd plant some plain green too, like a liriope. Where do you live? Or drat, I can't remember. You can do some research online about what will grow in your area.

Don't try to make your yard look like the one in Southern Living. That is not real life. And be prepared to redo and replant for a few years till you get it right. Some things you just have to learn by doing.

I hope you'll post pics and have fun along the way. Perhaps you have a green thumb friend who can walk with you around and make some suggestions.

Dianne said...

Oooh these are great ideas, people! Gail, I like your idea about the curved lines . . . especially around the fence area. I'm not planning to plant all along there but a few planting areas (1-2) and that would be the ticket!

Wow Becky - you are a wealth of info. You're right; I have to remember this is a work in progress (hence the name of my blog, eh?!) You're right about the bees too - partly my reason for not wanting a bunch of flowers around there.

I will post pictures. This has been nine years in coming . . . I'm like a kid in a candy shop. I have to remember not to go crazy!

Christina Berry said...

I'd put a trellis or two up along the fence and plant some jasmine or clematis on them. It will break up the line of the fence and they grow very quickly--at least here in Oregon. I always loved to pull up at my old house--the driveway came to the back fo the house--and see my purple clematis mixing with the white jasmine, draping over the top fo the fence and making my yard look like Eden to the neighbors. Oh, and the smells!

Christina Berry said...

It's late. My fingers are dsylexic. "fo" = "of".

But while I'm on here, you could put a butterfyl bush in the corner of the yard and enjoy more nature that way. Just make sure to trim it down each year or you'll end up with a butterfly tree. ;-)

gail said...

Looks like you have some good ideas to start you off with! While spreading mulch today I thought of another plant/perennial that I really like...hosta. They come back each year, some will put out just a stalk of a flower, they grow in the shade and stay very low to the ground. So if you have a real shady area that might be something to look for too.
I just bought some sun coleus to plant; they take full sun and are easy to grow. No flowers but showy leaves that get red/burgundy in the sun. Only drawback is it's an annual and has to be replanted but might be good to try once and see if you like it!

Dianne said...


Katrina said...

I am so NOT the person to ask, but I just wanted to say that I totally love the porch. I have fond memories of the old porch (and lots of yummy food on the table inside), but the new-and-improved porch looks very inviting!