Uncovered Front Porch/Landscaping Ideas, PLEASE!

LoraniumFebruary 28, 2012

Here is my house. It is a work in progress! We bought it a few months back (it was a foreclosure), so we have our hands full with each and every square inch! The inside is coming along, but with Spring right around the corner, we are getting eager to (finally) start landscaping. Any suggestions of plants you like best (and please tell me why!), and also, we are looking for decorating ideas for the porch. I want my house to feel warm and welcoming. I believe the landscaping will help tremendously, but I have this little uncovered area that I need to decorate on the porch and I am debating what to put there. The porch is concrete and runs from the front door all the way to the left side of the house. It is pretty wide, about 4 or 5 feet deep. Not sure if an all-weather bench would look good w/ some potted plants next to it, or maybe a potted bench...please share your ideas!!!

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I think a bench would be cute - along with some large potted plants or maybe shrubs. And I think something to the left of the front door would be good to balance out the entry (a topiary?)

    Bookmark   February 28, 2012 at 3:52PM
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Don't throw plants at your yard, especially other people's favorite plants. Head for the GARDEN part of GARDENWEB and check into the landscaping forum.

Make sure you make it clear what part of the country you live in - city and state. That is critical for getting good advice. My favorite Phoenix plants won't grow for you.

STOP, take the time to investigate what grows well in your area. Take a couple of garden tours.

My immediate recommendation is to make your sidewalk wider - at least as wide as the recessed entry. If you want a "warm and welcoming" feeling, something that forces people to walk single file up to the door isn't going to do it.

From that tiny bit of cement that cuts from the driveway to the entry walk ... all the way to the front door ... wipe out the skinny strip of lawn, yank out the sidewalk and replace it with brick laid on sand. (easy and not too expensive). Most people will walk up the driveway instead of a skinny walk, and it's less to edge and shovel if it snows in your area.

Make an "entry pad" so people can cluster in front if you have a group arriving, with a bench separating the pad from the lawn to the left.

Decide what your priorities are ... all-year color? Fragrance? Easy maintenance?

Here is a link that might be useful: DIY Landscape /design

    Bookmark   February 28, 2012 at 5:29PM
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Also, when you have a chance, replace that flimsy-looking column supporting the left side of the overhand. You need something visually substantial there.

    Bookmark   February 28, 2012 at 7:33PM
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You need a massive pot to the left of the door. Plant something tall and substantial in it.

I'd put in a curved hedge starting about where the car is but to the left of the sidewalk. have it curve around the right angle of where the sidewalk meets the front porch and then continuing in front of the porch. This will also help to balance the visual weight of the garage and provide some privacy for the porch. The curve will break up some of those right angles. If you like the angles, the hedge could follow the sidewalk instead of curving.

    Bookmark   February 28, 2012 at 8:42PM
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Pretty house! Congratulations.

Put on your thick skin before you head to the Landscape Forum.

I agree that the walkway looks odd with that skinny little bit of grass there. I'd be inclined to pull the walkway out too. If you don't have the money for all brick you can use the broken concrete to start building yourself a wider path. I have used broken concrete interspersed with brick on sand to good effect. Not everyone likes the look, but I love it.

A bench would look very nice there on your porch too. I think I would get a large pot for next to the bench and plant some cascading annuals or ivy geraniums in it.

It's important for people to know your zone before recommending plants. Not all favorites grow in all zones.

As for large shrubs and trees, you may want to look around your neighborhood to see what kinds of landscaping you really love, take photos, and post them on Gardenweb to see what people say about the different plants, their eventual size, and their maintenance. If there's a forum for your state, I would start there.

Good luck with your lovely new home.

    Bookmark   February 28, 2012 at 8:52PM
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I agree about beefing up your column, but you could also plant a flowering vine to grow up it.

What you choose for landscaping does depend on where you live and the daily sun exposure. Some of the forums on the garden side that might give you ideas are Shrubs, Perennials, Cottage Gardens, Trees. Check out the gallery on each of those for extra pics, but there are usually lots of posts with pictures on the discussion sides as well.

Although you didn't ask, could you paint the garage doors to make them less in-your-face white? It could be my screen, but they look much whiter than your siding.

Eventually (or immediately if you are full of energy), you could widen the walk and change it from a straight one to one with a curve or two that joins the sidewalk further away from the driveway. We did that and it wasn't all that awful-we did have someone jackhammer the old concrete walk before putting in a flagstone walk. For you, a brick walk would be lovely. That would give you room on both sides of the path to plant with more than just perennials. Having a curving walkway bordered with mix of shrubs, hostas, and flowers can make a very welcoming entrance. Oh, and check out the Hosta forum, too!

Your home is pretty and I know you will have fun making it even more so with your landscaping. Oh, and I see a rock garden on the hill to the right of the driveway. Can you tell that gardening is my passion? :)

    Bookmark   February 28, 2012 at 9:40PM
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I don't see any exterior lighting. Am I missing it or is there none there? Some lights on the garage walls and maybe even a post light at the end of the walkway would be my first starting point, THEN worry about decorations.

Definitely agree about widening that walk way, and beefing up the porch columns.

But if the budget is looking for a quick fix, you could put a nice little bench there...even if you don't sit on it, with some potted plants at the base it defnitely adds some charm.

I guess we'd need to know more about your location, budget, skill and time frame to make more suggestions.

    Bookmark   February 29, 2012 at 12:33AM
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Bumblebeez SC Zone 7

Until you decide to paint and really renovate, put a big pot,
24" diameter (top measurements) minimum next to the post and fill it with lots of stuff good for your area and start looking at things you can really do to change the exterior look. Take your time.
Congrats on the home!

    Bookmark   February 29, 2012 at 2:01AM
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Definitely replace that support with a structural fiberglass column. A slightly tapered round one would add a nice contrast to all the square shapes, but a square column would work also.

A large pot with a profusion of flowers to the left of the door, and a bench if you really have room. Don't do it if it will make the space feel cramped. I would also do a narrow bed on the yard side of your concrete walkway in front of the left side of the house (looking at the picture left) . If you have major renovations planned for the outside I'd stick to annuals for the time being to pretty it up :) landscaping is best left until everything else is finished, unless you are putting in trees a good distance from the house.

    Bookmark   February 29, 2012 at 8:44AM
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Paint out that too stark white with a cream to tan color, or maybe even the right taupe. That means painting the garage doors too.

Since the shed roof over the garage is mainly decorative, I'd see about attaching some very thin lattice work to it so that you could have a vine cover it. Dig out an 18x18 hole and then amend it with compost and manure by the right hand post (I'm assuming that there is one even though it doesn't show well in the pic?) and plant a Sweet Autumn Clematis there. Those are suitable for almost every climate and can go from full sun to partial shade.

They climb by twining their tendrils around support (You can use a fishing line trellis to begin with for invisible support) and won't damage the house like a trumpet flower or something that climbs by little attachment suckers. It's a large growing vine, and will gain some size rapidly. It blooms in the fall with thousands of tiny white star shaped blooms that smell like vanilla on sterioids. It's also semi evergreen if you are in a warm climate.

You can cut it to the ground and/or thin it out every spring to check the condition of the roof and paint, so it won't interfere with home maintainence. (Don't cut it back at all until about year 4 or 5 though. Let it gain some size for the roots first.)

    Bookmark   February 29, 2012 at 8:54AM
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These are all great suggestions, thank you! And we are definitely interested in replacing the walkway with a curved, wider one. Does anyone have any pictures of ones you all have done? Just to get more of an idea?

And the column is also another area that we look forward to replacing. Right now it is cast iron and painted a dark green. Also, we replaced our front door recently so it is no longer that green one in the pic. It is a nice, fiberglass "oak" door w/ a beautiful glass oval center.

And, we are going to paint the garage to match the siding. Right now it is almost a pink white and just looks awful! We are unsure about what color we are going to use for the shutters, but black or a light brownish-green are options I am playing with.

Keep the ideas coming, we are loving everything so far! And any pictures you can add w/ your suggestions are appreciated (I am a visual person and do so much better if I an see it!).


    Bookmark   February 29, 2012 at 10:59AM
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@Loarnium, Please post pictures of what you have done when you are finished. There are some similarities between your layout and ours, and since I have failed at having a flower garden in the area where you have the patio, I have decided to create a small seating area in its place. I am having a difficult time finding ideas online. I have posted on here and have gotten some helpful tips, so I will be using them when I begin the project. I am in the process of pricing out pavers etc. and still gathering ideas.

I would love to see what you do with the space and potentially steal some ideas, so please post some pictures.


    Bookmark   February 29, 2012 at 3:07PM
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