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Design Dilemma
Design Dilemma

Total yard redo needed

Danielle BJanuary 25, 2013
It's 7 degrees Fahrenheit out here in Canada tonight, and we are planning to redo the backyard this spring. There is lots to do, and of course the budget is tight... I am looking for advice from houzzers with a fresh perspective. We plan to remove the garden shed and put in a new one on the side of the house. We also need to build a new deck to access the yard from the dining room. As you can see from the pictures, the cedar hedge is super ugly (not sure it can be salaged?), but we still need the privacy. The white fence is also there to stay. We would like to add a gazebo, to shelter diners from the afternoon sun and from mosquitoes. We have a load of salvaged pavers sitting in a corner of the yard; they match the brick of the house, we might use it as a base for the gazebo. We need options that will survive cold winters... Help!
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Currently redoing my entire backyard and pool now...live in Southern CA.
I took out a privacy hedge, because it was overgrown and parts were diseased. Unfortunately, it's gonna take some time for a new hedge to grow up. So if you can salvage the hedge, it's worth it. large plants that'll provide instant privacy are expensive.

If you need to replace it, I like the look of new cedar arborvitae hedges... Perhaps widen the planter area so they don't need to be sheared too often.

I would also do a planting bed along your white wall to soften that.

A gazebo or screened porch would be great!
    Bookmark   January 25, 2013 at 6:55PM
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Danielle B
Hi Mmilos, thanks for the suggestion. My husband has the same opinion: he wants to save the hedge. As much as I am against cutting down trees, I have to admit I am not a fan. Dense greenery attracts mosquitoes, plus at this stage, it just looks like a a tall green wall to me. The proximity of the hedge to electric wires also concerns me and I fear for my husband's safety when he goes to trim it.
Any ideas on how we could make it blend in better or make the yard feel less closed in?
    Bookmark   January 30, 2013 at 7:27PM
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How warm does it get there in the summer and how many weeks or months can you swim?
    Bookmark   January 30, 2013 at 7:31PM
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Take down those old hedges. It makes the backyard look old and closed in. It doesn't really offer privacy anyway. You will be surprised how open and spacious your yard will feel with them gone!
    Bookmark   January 30, 2013 at 7:34PM
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PS. We had a row of old cypress trees behind our pool. My husband fought me on it and finally they are gone and he said..Great idea!
1 Like    Bookmark   January 30, 2013 at 7:36PM
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Looks like the neighbor behind you has some larger hedges that will offer privacy. I agree if they aren't functionally adding privacy for you, take them out. Plant something smaller and prettier.
    Bookmark   January 31, 2013 at 8:06AM
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Don't know if you mean actual pavers or left over bricks from your house, but in Canada we have a hard freeze/thaw cycle and bricks that are not designed as hardened clay pavers or cement will not last. I made that mistake many years ago and had to redo everything. (I'm near Toronto )
    Bookmark   January 31, 2013 at 8:23AM
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I've seen flowering climbers trained up hedges. Clematis or roses might do. If you have a fence behind the hedge, or even if you don't, you can trim the lower limbs and plant flowering shrubs in between in the space you've made.
    Bookmark   January 31, 2013 at 8:41AM
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I'm not sure if you want to brush up against rose thorns when you are doing pool maintenance! We have a similar situation and last year I wanted a better focal point than my neighbour's house and also have a very tight spot at the end of our pool so I put up a very high trellis (already had virginia creeper and beautiful orange trumpet vine). It looks beautiful when it's all green and in bloom. Sorry, I just have pics of just after I installed it, so it doesn't look its best, but this gives you a better idea of the structure.
    Bookmark   January 31, 2013 at 11:01AM
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Keep the hedges for now but save up your money and replace them with a tall fence. Also consider adding a water feature with lighting. It will add a lovely focal point.
    Bookmark   January 31, 2013 at 11:54AM
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Danielle B
Mmilos: Unfortunately, the "taller hedge" you see is actually a "bad haircut". It is the same hedge, and it is roughly 5-foot thick, so it has become really hard for my husband to trim...

Designideas4me: summer can be quite hot here, up to around 86 Fahrenheit (30 Celsius). Unfortunately, our swimming season is short (end of June to end of August if we are lucky), especially since our two-storey house and tall hedge shorten the hours of sunshine on the pool. We will probably install a heating system this summer.

Maureenroth: Thanks for the tip, I didn't know house brick could not be used as pavers, but luckily, these are real pavers we got (for free!). We are in the Montreal area, it's even colder than Toronto... Love your yard!

Sigrid: I like the idea of flowering climbers, but I would rather have them climb a fence. I fear that the climbers would prevent us from trimming the hedge, and that the hedge would eventually invade the pool surround. But I do have another boring cedar hedge in front of the house, so I am saving the idea for that. Thanks!

Darzy: What were your winning arguments to take your hedge down? ;-)

nikitasmom: Lovely water feature, very spa-like (sigh!)
    Bookmark   January 31, 2013 at 4:12PM
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Denice Shuty
What's wrong with a green wall??? Hedges are a wonderful, space-saving way to get privacy, it just has to be the right plant . Something that can grow to 6 -10' tall and can be kept at only 2' wide, won't bend or crack with the weight of the snow, is densely branched, and lives a long time. Hicks Yews, Green Giant Arborvitae, standard Privet, and Columnar Hornbeam, to name a few. Don't buy the cheap old-fashioned varieties of Arborvitae that they sell at Home Depot, get the performance-bred newer varieties of Arborvitae. The ugliest things in the images are the neighbor's house, the power lines and telephone poles. You need to do something that focuses the view downward, not up and out. Make the ground plane interesting, plant tall skinny trees like columnar Pear or columnar Maple around the perimeter of your yard that will grow tall enough to block out the wires and neighbors from view. Gazebos are useless - because of their shape - you can't fit furniture in them comfortably. That's why you don't see a lot of round rooms or round houses.
2 Likes    Bookmark   January 31, 2013 at 4:41PM
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Danielle, I'm from Montreal, so I know how cold it gets. Even in Toronto, we'd never get in the pool without a heater. We keep it at 88 at least (we're weenies ;-)) If you keep the hedges well trimmed, prune no later than end of June they are much nicer than any fence, from my perspective. We have another area in our yard where I planted aspen to hide a light pole and they grew so quickly it was crazy, but they stay narrow and tall.
    Bookmark   January 31, 2013 at 4:56PM
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Danielle B
Thanks for all the plantings suggestions. I like the idea of drawing the eye down and away from electric lines with lower plantings. I will look up all these ideas. I'm a weenie too - looking forward to swimming in water that's above 80... lol
    Bookmark   January 31, 2013 at 5:50PM
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