Wednesday, June 19, 2013

A backyard landscaping tour

I love the gently flowing, casual lines of a cottage garden, and that's what I've attempted to create in my back yard. I keep adding a little more to it every year, so it is slowly evolving. Our house is a cute, 1929 bungalow. I think this informal garden style fits the house pretty well.

Since Shabby Creek's Summer Tour of Homes spurred me into blogging again, I thought I'd take the lovely suggestion of a commenter and provide a more comprehensive tour of my backyard.

Starting in the far part of the back yard, I have a gigantic black walnut tree.

These trees are toxic to some plants. I've found, however, that hosta grow extraordinarily well under the trees. I've also had luck with a bleeding heart. I'm including a helpful link that for plants that grow under a walnut tree in case you have one that you want to work around. I found several lists on University Garden Extension pages, too.

A closer look at the 3 red buds located at the far right of the backyard:
My original plan for this corner was this BHG plan for a "Corner of shrubs". I used the recommended substitution of red bud trees (rather than crab apple) because these appear on the "walnut friendly" lists. They've grown by leaps and bounds. I started with just one to make sure that it would survive. When it came back the following spring, I found the other two and planted them. I also tried out most of the smaller shrubs. They didn't fair so well. We sometimes get deer, but I think the main reason is that they were sensitive to the walnut tree.
My backyard has two levels that are separated by a limestone wall and stairs. I'm not quite sure what to do with this area of the lower level yet. There is an old, old lilac tree, lots of day lilies, some hosta and some Asiatic lilies. I think the lilac is on her last leg, but I am having a hard time letting her go.
On the upper level, we added brick that was underneath our back porch stairs. We pulled that out nearly 20 years ago and actually kept the brick. I love how it looks.

Here are some photos of the upper level:

Front side of perennial bed with names of some plants
Empty area that is slated for a longer, raised
vegetable bed (it'll have to be next year)
New additions this year - Russian sage, cat mint,
miniature golden cypress (I think)

An overview of the upper level
The prominent flowers are the yellow and white striped "wave"-type
of petunias and purple petunias with white edges.

A few more purple perennials that head up limestone
steps leading to our back door

Limestone wall with spirea (so kids wouldn't fall)
I love my backyard. There are weeds in some of the beds and a couple of areas that need worked on. I'd also love to put in a back patio of some kind, but I keep changing my mind - stone, pea gravel, just grass with some DIY benches...

The rest of the backyard has transformed slowly as I've pulled things out, moved things around, accidentally killed a plant :(.  I've tried to get mostly perennial plants in the backyard to save a little money.

In the sunny parts of the yard, I've tried roses and hydrangea that haven't thrived (although the hydrangea in front has done very well).

Some of the hosta came from the backyard of my grandmother, one of the hosta has the same name as my middle son, but most I bought from the big box stores for $2.50 - $5.00 a piece. They were little, but grew to a substantial size in 3 years.

Have you found plants that do (and don't) thrive at your house?

Happy planting!



  1. Nice job. I'm landscaping geek as well and keep adding every year. Then I curse myself when we have a drought summer like last year and I spend my whole summer trying to keep everything watered and alive!!

    1. Thanks, Cyndi. I always seem to "burn out" on gardening/landscaping when it gets really hot and humid (and everything needs watered and the weeds go crazy).



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