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Design Dilemma
Design Dilemma

Need help with landscape design

shanleigh123November 6, 2012
I would like help with landscape ideas for this part of my backyard. Not sure what to do with this area. Also, I would like to stain the concrete on the porch and would like to know what color would look best. The house is dark red brick with dark grey mortar and antique white vinyl siding. Would appreciate any ideas for both projects.
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Take out the grass up against your house. The grading also slopes into your house so you could have water drainage issues. Put in a large planting bed about the width of your porch and sweep it over in front of your AC unit. Have a landscaper regrade so the water drains away from your foundation. Get some variety of plants (a large tall shrub near your porch to anchor it and hide the downspout...smaller shrubs in front of your AC to hide it but at few feet away to not restrict airflow).
I don't think I'd paint or stain your concrete. It looks in good shape and goes with your mortar color.
7 Likes    Bookmark   November 6, 2012 at 1:02PM
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i think a blue stain would look great against the red brick, could paint poll blue to match...how about a brick path from porch area to a garden..sounds like you want to change the grass?....plant some trees, shrubs, drought resistant, add a gravel path..not sure what climate you live in? add a water barrel where drain is from roof....this website has a alot of gardening pictures i use.....
1 Like    Bookmark   November 6, 2012 at 1:10PM
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Use wooden decking or wood look-alike. Float it over the existing deck, but larger and all on onet level. Deck could be dark gray in tone or brown. Put the AC condenser behind a small fence enclosure.
    Bookmark   November 6, 2012 at 1:46PM
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Ross NW Watergardens
Hard with only one picture, from one angle. But the thing that jumps out is the a/c unit. You will want some evergreen shrubs to screen that.
2 Likes    Bookmark   November 6, 2012 at 2:51PM
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You can add a tub of flowers between the porch and drainage line parallel to the porch with the same gradient
Waterfall can be placed in front of the air conditioning unit so it will be covered with enough surrounded space for the unit maintenance.
Garden chairs can be placed with a table with an umbrella in front of the fountain or waterfall surrounded by a 3 meter diam. ring of flowers with a walkway to the entrance of the house
Swing seat can also be placed with the chairs
Some Ramblers can be implanted next to the wall as a backdrop for the session
you can use all or part of these ideas.
3 Likes    Bookmark   November 7, 2012 at 4:20AM
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Terry Widner
A couple of things..... it would be most helpful to know what part of the world this house is located since certain plant materials only do well in certain Horticultural 'Hardiness Zones'. Also, as someone else mentioned, additional photos from the other perspectives would be most helpful (a drawing with dimensions (and magnetic orientation) would also allow for more custom assistance).

It also looks to me like the A/C pad is a little below grade. It appears from the photo that the ground slopes back toward the house in that small area beside the porch. If so, I would definitely consider running the downspout underground via a 4" corrugated pipe so that it discharges away from the foundation of the house.

Beyond that, I would consider plantings that would serve as a 'barrier' between the porch and A/C unit, which would hep to muffle the sound and soften the 'view'.
1 Like    Bookmark   November 7, 2012 at 12:42PM
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I agree that the grass right next to the house needs to be removed and shrubs and flowers planted in its place. And make the edge of the planting bed flow rather than cutting straight across. The grading is another issue which could be dealt with at the same time. If you want to put in something to add height and hide the downspout, make sure it's a shrub and not a tree so the roots don't cause problems down the road. And since we don't know where you live to help with specific plants, go to a local nursery. You can probably get free advice there on what plants work well in your area.

I also agree that the cement looks fine the color that it is and appears to be in good condition. I would save my money on that project and put it into plantings and maybe a small fence to hide the AC unit and to keep plants from growing too close to it.
    Bookmark   November 7, 2012 at 1:02PM
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Thanks to everyone who responded. I really appreciate the great ideas!
    Bookmark   November 7, 2012 at 3:28PM
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Lankford Associates Landscape Architects
Hi There,

I am a landscape architect in the Pacific Northwest that specializes in residential design that can be done in stages to meet schedule and budget.

The first concern I see is the dangerous single step in the middle of your patio. This is a real ankle breaker and single steps like this are the number one reason for injury in landscapes. The monotone of the concrete makes it difficult to see and it breaks up your patio into two unusable spaces. I would first suggest adding concrete, pavers or stone over the lower level to bring the total patio to one level. You can add two steps to the lower lawn area for access and also increase the size of the useable patio by doing this. There is enough depth between the lower level to the upper level to simply pour concrete over the existing lower level and form in two steps at the edge. You could also wrap the steps around the lower level to tie the patio into the sides and back of the yard.

Adding a small bench along the side of the patio between the post and house (one without a back), will help the useful space and increase the feeling of making the patio a room. I also suggest a small screen on the side of the ac unit to hide it. You could plant between the patio and ac unit screen.

I often use simple vertical and horizontal lath screens hung on the side of blank walls to help break up the sterile wall. These are made of 1x2 with a 1x4 frame. These can have vines grown on them or be left blank as a simple geometric form against the wall. I often up light these with simple 12v. lighting for a dramatic effect at night.

It is important to get the slope so that water flows away from the foundation. By sloping from the foundation out to the edge of a plant bed, drainage can be set in the plant bed edge to collect any water. I would make the plant bed edge in line with the post or in line with the edge of the patio to give you enough room to do a layered planting. Medium shrubs with their foundations hidden by smaller plantings along the edge of the plant bed where you can enjoy the colors and contrast. I think you need a mixture of evergreen and deciduous shrubs to create the bones that will carry the plantings all year long. A larger bed would also allow you to plant in front of the ac unit to help reduce the impact on the landscape.

Since I don't know what area of the country you live in it is difficult to make suggestions for the types of planting that would work. If you would like to contact me directly, my email scott@lankfordarchitecture is a good way to do this. I would be happy to suggest plants that would be appropriate for your region. You can also see an example of my work in the Houzz website under Seattle region, professionals, Landscape Architects, Lankford Associates, or you can access my website at www.lankfordarchitecture.com. Hope this helps and good luck.

Scott Lankford
    Bookmark   November 8, 2012 at 11:46AM
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For some ideas check out www.blushirt.com
    Bookmark   November 10, 2012 at 12:03PM
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