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how many plants does it take to fill a front yard?

April 25, 2010

zora naki

Now that the giant pile of dirt is leveled, I have started to plant. Or at least, obsess about planting. I did have a landscape plan drawn up (hard to believe that was more than two years ago), but now I think that it isn’t what I want.

I want edible landscaping, along with some evergreen permanent plantings to help things along during the winter. I want it to look modern, but not rigid. I like chartreuse and lime green leaves, and red and white flowers and grasses. I also love palm trees and banana plants, but I have given up on them, because they require more babying to get through a winter than i am willing to dole out (I have kids – my TLC is being used up already).

The big question is how many plants and how (where) do you plant them? In straight lines? In groups? In patterns? I have no freaking idea, so I’m buying things and trying to figure it out as I go (lots of polls of passers-by, google searches, landscaping books from the library).

The basic rules:

  • buy multiples (odd numbers are best)
  • buy edibles where possible
  • arrange from lowest to highest
  • plan for the future (allow for growth)
  • buy plants that will survive with minimal care and attention

I hit up a liquidation sale at a grower and made some spur-of-the-moment decisions (60% off was a highly motivating factor, although plants were mostly unlabeled). I also bought some specific things I knew I wanted.

Here’s my plant list (with my guesses at final size in brackets):

5 euonymous – unlabeled but gold and green variegation, shrubby (size? but I’ve seen them grown into hedges)
4 rhododendron -vulcan red (5′ x 5′)
5 azalea -white (unlabeled – guessing 4′ x 4′)
1 magnolia grandiflora (unlabeled, but can grow quite large over time)
1 dwarf braeburn apple (on M27 dwarf stock, 6′-8′ adult height)
1 dwarf jonagold apple (on M27 dwarf stock, 6′-8′ adult height)
1 dwarf spartan apple (on M27 dwarf stock, 6′-8′ adult height) – the three apples can cross-pollinate each other.
8 euphorbia (various types)
12 carex (no idea, but they’re variegated and about 12″ high, i’ve seen them growing in sun and shade around here)
3 skimmia (existing – 4′ x 4′)
3 peony – white
6 choisya – 3 Sundance, 3 standard (can be as big as 8’x8′ but more like 3′ – 5′ height in our climate)
some miscellaneous grasses
a flat of creeping thyme to plant between the front path pavers

Still looking for a bunch of pachysandra to plant by the skimmia on the shady side garden (picture above) and some lavender to plant along the sides of the path.

5 Comments

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  1. kate #
    April 25, 2010

    I like the plan, and like what you’ve done so far. The layers so far remind me of that rad garden on 7th with the black house and lime green door.

  2. April 25, 2010

    I’m no expert, and it looks like you have the right idea already. In addition to your rules above, I like:

    -Groups of at least three plants in the same areas
    -Straight lines don’t look as natural as groups
    -Put taller plants towards the back, shorter up front
    -Think about what blooms when so you can try to have something blooming all the time in all areas, or at least avoid having a section that blooms all at the same time.
    -Experiment! Plants can be moved!

  3. April 27, 2010

    I love that house on 7th! I think they have an unfair advantage tho, with a landscape designer in house.

    Thx for the tips mh – I keep forgetting that i can always dig things up and move them around if it looks like crap. if it would just stop raining around here, i could get some more things in the ground.

  4. May 16, 2010

    Always remember to buy plants in multiples. The price is much lower and you get to save time for that.

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