Monday, February 15, 2016

The Suburban Garden

 I thought it would be fun to tour my suburban back yard. Come along--grab your Wellies and gloves. You'll notice that my house sits on a gently sloping hilltop. The front yard faces an established neighborhood, with 70s and 80s style houses and gardens. If you turn around, you'll see a tall backyard fence; just beyond is a new subdivision, with sprawling houses, brightly lit windows, and manicured lawns.

Below, just beyond the potting shed, you can see where my 70s yard ends, a place where the past meets the present.

My yard isn't manicured and tidy. . . but I'm not, either. I like a bit of wildness, especially in suburbia.

Below, you can see the tall rear fence. Along the sides, the shorter fence borders our vegetable garden.

Inside, I've got a small orchard and three raised beds.

A summertime view.

Moving out of the garden, to the potting shed, you may notice a black iron fence. Inside is a memory garden for the Yorkies.

Trellises line the side yard. In the distance, you can see older homes and mature gardens. This is a busy habitat, lots of song birds, squirrels, rabbits, deer.

From spring until fall, the new subdivision behind us is mostly hidden. I'm continually amazed at the abundant wildlife in a suburban area. When I lived in the country, I never saw rabbits, squirrels, or song birds (rarely), so I'm enjoying the wee animals on the hilltop.

Another look at the back yard. We're hoping to plant evergreens and shrubs. I like this idea because it will provide habitats for critters and solitude for humans. Boundary trees will eventually give year-round privacy. They will muffle noises and add a woodsy, private vibe. In front of the tree border, I'd like to eventually add a deep, curved border garden.

From the back fence, you have a view of the scraggly lawn and my shingled house. Lots of work to do here, too. Off to the right (not pictured) is a place so shady, I wonder if anything will grow. Maybe winter makes the yard seem empty? But maybe that's good; maybe winter helps us see the bare places? Oh, Spring, hurry up.

I found a few ideas at Houzz. I love the layers of this border garden--and the bird house is a must-have for a habitat.

This is a great example of privacy in a suburban yard--fences, lawns, and border gardens all work together.

I like the unstructured, cottage-style in this privacy screen.

I've always loved hydrangeas. But mine haven't bloomed in several years. Local nurseries say the Polar Vortexes are responsible. I don't know the reason. I just know that I miss these cheerful blossoms.

Coneflowers, black-eyed Susans, and butterfly bushes are on my list.
I found the perfect border garden in one of my favorite magazines, Birds and Blooms. I'm not affiliated with them; I'm sharing a source that I think you will like. The idea in this border (below) is to have less grass, less mowing, and more flowers (and habitats).
As a side note, I haven't shown our treeless front yard, nothing but fescue. Lots of wasted space, in my opinion, but I haven't come up with a solution, especially one that will work in a suburban setting. I don't want to terrify the new neighbors with acres of corn! The farm bureau suggested that we plant sunflowers. We're definitely doing that somewhere.

But the backyard is another story. Yep, this is what the fence needs. Trees, arbors, vines, layers, a curved border garden, less grass, lots of perennials, and practical birdhouses.

As I wrote this post, snow and sleet coated the road and rooftops.

I'm SO ready for spring. Are you ready, too?

Shared at:
Metamorphosis Monday
Tweak it Tuesday


  1. Oh my goodness, am I ready. It is -24C as I type this. Only one silly black crow at my feeders. But, thankfully, the cold leaves today and better weather on it's way. Your post was candy for the eyes this morning. I am thinking constantly about planting more flowers and adding shrubs, bird-houses and a potting shed. I just can't wait to start. It was a joy looking at your gorgeous landscape this morning with my first cup of coffee. :) Deb

  2. Oh come spring your yard will be amazing. I love all the wonderful outdoor spaces you have.

  3. Beautiful images. You have such great ideas for your grounds. It was fun to tour and dream of future projects with you this morning.

  4. Oh yes, I am so ready for spring too! I loved living in the country because our landscape could be more natural. With closeby neighbor yards in a subdivision everything must be trimmed and perfect...though we are far from perfect. We bought a house with no landscape, so the neighbors brag on us for having something. ha! Being in a subdivision in the woods helps us some. I know your grounds will be beautiful, and I enjoy seeing your plans and reading your thoughts. sheila

  5. Try a Pee Gee Hydrangea...I have cold weather here and mine always blooms...hope that helps. Meanwhile I have enjoyed your winter and summer views! :)

  6. You're off to a good start with great ideas. I love the idea of making a green wall to create visual beauty and privacy. It's pretty tough up north here with the winters and that polar vortex dropped us down well below zero for good spells a few years in a row. Everyone was complaining about the hydrangeas not blooming. I'd leave the ones there alone and see what happens. The absolute most reliable one I've planted are the Limelight Hydrangeas- I just love them. They've bloomed each year (and I've cut them down in the fall and they still bloomed) reliably. My 2nd best is the Endless Summer Hydrangeas. I was trimming them though and ended up with only late blooms. The Annabelle's are showy and I love them too- tend to have weaker stems and can fall but overall it's a great plant. I have a few more that to me are fussy including the PinkyWinky Hydrangea but I think it would do well in your area. I had real poor luck with the PeeGee Hydrangea- but again it's pretty cold here and it wasn't getting enough sun where I planted it. I moved it last year but that means it's got to catch up again. I always read up on each plant to make sure my zone is going to work. We're a zone 4/5 but if it just says 5 (or warmer like 6) I find it doesn't work too well for us. The real issue can be late frosts and that can happen to any area- so you can go out and cover them if you know you're going to have one. Magnolias are fantastic too although it's a short blooming period for us anyway. I've had mine get hit late with frosts only to brown off the edges of the pretty flowers and sort of ruin their beauty. I love lilacs too but be careful what kind you choose. The old fashioned lilacs tend to ramble and spread- best to be put somewhere not too important. There are a lot of newer varieties that behave better nowadays. Boy this is making me real hungry for spring!

  7. I love a bit of wilderness too :) Lovely winter snaps.
    We don't have much snow here in Scotland, but I miss spring like crazy too. We're almost there, just a few short weeks!

  8. Your gardens will be so pretty when you get your hands in the dirt and start planting your flowers.I love doing that. I was at the 99 Cent Store today and they had beautiful bulbs to start - glads, and all sorts of bulb plants for $1.00 each. I thought why not give them a try - they maybe really pretty.
    You have so many pretty areas to plant and I am looking forward to seeing what you do. I also like less grass and more flowers.

    Hopefully Spring is just around the corner. I lost some of my hydrangeas due to the drought that we are experiencing. We can't water but two days a week and that is really hard when the temps are high. Hopefully your's will come back.

    Have a great week.

  9. I'm loving the plans you have for that backyard and more privacy. There are usually a couple of reasons Pee Gee's don't bloom. I'm not sure about the polar vortex tho, if the bush had already sprouted leaves, then the vortex hit that would explain it. But several years of not blooming, might be either the soil needs amended or that something is now blocking it and it's not getting enough sun. If my memory is right they need at least 5 hours of sunlight to produce blooms. I'm sorry it's giving you trouble, but I know what you mean. Over the years I have bought about 14 peony bushes and every year, more than half of them never bloom. So I have to dig them up and try again, but they are notoriously picky about how deep they're planted. I have my fingers crossed for your hydrangea to bloom!

  10. I have live in a colder climate than yours, and in my area the Endless summer hydrangeas don't do well - they don't bloom reliably. In my area, I have 'Limelight' and 'Pinky Winky' as well as 'Incrediball' (like an Annabelle, HUGE white blooms and LOTS of them, and 'Invincibelle Spirit' (kind of like a pink 'Incrediball.' I think there are lots of hydrangeas that could do well in your area. Read about them on the net and maybe learn more from your Master Gardener course. I don't do anything special with mine, just use compost every 1-2 years - as I try to with all the gardens. With the Endless Summers, I did add acid (sulfur) to the soil to try to make the blooms blue; they are pink in alkaline soil. However, as noted above, many years they have very few or zero blooms and I ended up saying goodbye to them. Liz has some good ideas in her comment above. I believe she lives in northern Michigan so her climate would be harsher than yours. Happy gardening! You have an incredible space to work with!

  11. I can't wait for the unfolding. What beautiful property...spring and summer will be so fun!

  12. That was a fun stroll! Your piece of Earth is beautiful and, I just love your gardening ideas.

  13. I love seeing your potting shed sleeping quietly under the blanket of snow! She looks like she was meant to be there from the start with her singled roof to match the new shingled facade on your house! We've had a soggy few days and winter overall, I'd prefer to have a little snow over cold rain.

    I love your inspiration photos too. It's been ages since I've seen a Birds & Blooms magazine, thank you for the link and reminder. I enjoyed reading Liz's comment above about her hydrangeas. We planted some Limelight Hydrangeas that bloomed without fail or fuss. I'd like to plant some more this spring since they can tolerate drier weather. Much fun to plan and dream of spring. ♥