The landscape designer I met with while in North Carolina sent over his proposal diagram on Friday. Part of me just wants to move forward with an expert's recommendation, but the other part of me wants to know what's going on. So I spent most of Saturday familiarizing myself with all the different plants he has recommended. And of course, I found several things I want to change.
I don't know how readable this is, but this is his plan.
The direction he got from me was minimal—as little lawn as we can get away with and still meet the HOA requirements, low maintenance, things that bloom throughout the year, and stay within the budget. We'll have a lot of deer, so that's a concern too.
I think he's hit the nail on the head as far as low maintenance goes, but I can easily see ways to limit the lawn (like planting beds at the front of the yard). But, if we actually wanted to put something in those beds, I can see that we could have gone over budget, so I guess he opted for lawn instead.
One of the things I'm not thrilled with is the abundance of holly in this design. He's used 4 types of holly—Nellie Stevens Holly (the traditional spiky-lobed kind), Carissa Holly, Dwarf Burford Holly, and Compacta Holly. Hollies in general are deer resistant and low maintenance, and I like the Dwarf Burford Holly as a property line border along the driveway and the berries will be pretty in the winter, but I do not want to deal with that Nellie Stevens Holly. I've had to trim one before, and believe me, it's not an enjoyable task.
I'm going to ask to change the Nellie Stevens Holly to a Sioux Crape Myrtle, which is also deer resistant. And instead of an evergreen with colorful berries in the winter, it would have summer blooms and beautiful fall foliage.
I'm fairly ambivalent about the other 2 hollies, but I do want to change out the 5 Compacta Hollies he has drawn on the side of the house next to the driveway. When I see pictures of these shrubs they remind me of formal hedges, and I really don't want that look. That, and they're fairly plain. I'd like to have something with a little more visual interest right there since I'll be looking at it every time I leave or return in the car.
My thought was Bear's Breeches—but I have read that these can be invasive and difficult to get rid of if I change my mind, and certain varieties are thornier than others. I do, however like the bold foliage and the architectural interest the blooms provide. Still looking at possible alternatives there.
Now, right next to where I'm thinking of putting the Bear's Breeches, the landscaper has placed Gulfstream Nandina. Oh, good heavens, I love this stuff! If I can't come up with a good alternative for Bear's Breeches, I may just have him swap the placement of the Compacta Holly and the Gulfstream Nandina. I'd also like to put the Nandina on the front of the house in place of the Indian Hawthorne he's drawn directly in front of the porch.
Indian Hawthorne blooms in the spring and is a good alternative to azaleas in areas that get full sun, so it's a good plant for the front of the house, but deer apparently love Indian Hawthorne. I might as well ring the dinner bell if I plant this stuff. Gulfstream Nandina is deer resistant, and even thought it doesn't technically bloom, it does provide visual interest all year long. It's supposed to have a bronze foliage color in spring, a deep blue green in summer, and color can range from orange to red in fall.
The landscaper also placed some Indian Hawthorne around a Kousa Dogwood where the driveway and walkway join up. I had been thinking about Hypericum (mid-summer bloom) or Peonies (late-spring bloom) here instead, but the more I read about Peonies the less they seem like a good alternative. Other options might be a Beautyberry (summer bloom with purple fall berries) or a sterile Lantana (spring, summer, fall blooms, and attracts butterflies). I'm still pretty stumped about this area, though all of these options are deer resistant.
The Blue Star Juniper he has in front of the dogwood and along the driveway next to the Dwarf Burford Holly is a concern. We had some kind of juniper monster in the front yard of my childhood home and I hated the stuff. There were always spiders nesting in there and it left some nasty scratches. Not to mention it overtook the entire planting bed. I remember when my parents finally tried to pull it out; between chainsaws and winches, they finally got them out, but it was not fun. Anyhow, if these remain low-growing mounds that won't spread, I'll go with it, otherwise I want to change them. Maybe some Glacier Blue Spurge.
Then there's the Emerald Green Arborvitae he has drawn as foundation plantings on the front corners of the garage. I'm a little concerned that these could get out of control and become too big. That, and they're deer food. I'm thinking Black Lace Elderberry. Mom has one of these in her yard and it is gorgeous! It's deer resistant, the huge clusters of tiny summer blooms are lemon scented, it gives edible fruit, and birds and butterflies like it. It may be too bushy for a corner planting though. Oh! I bet this could be a good alternative, instead of the Bear's Breaches, for the Compacta Holly I want to replace!
He also has several Camellias Sasanqua around the house. Camellias are beautiful, but I'm not sure I want them in my yard, or maybe just not so many. Particularly the 3 clustered at the corner of the kitchen next to the Gulfstream Nandina. I don't have a suggestion for an alternative, though. And they do tend to flower in winter/spring, so that color would be nice.
Other plants that the landscaper has included in his design: George Tabor Azalea, Endless Summer Hydrangea, Ruby Loropetalum, Pink Muhly Grass, Knock Out Rose, Bonanza Gold Barberry, Kleim's Hardy Gardenia, Purple Coneflower, Becky Daisy Mix, and Dianthus. I like all of these, though I could easily plant the last 3 on my own.