Wednesday, July 11, 2012

My Daughter's New House-Which is About to Get a New Landscape Design

Welcome to Louisville Kentucky and a brand new house for my daughter Liz to start a new phase of her life. Recently Mr. Fix-it and I traveled the three hours north to help Liz move into her beautiful brand new house. It is a house I simply love! I've never lived in a brand new house and I found this one to be most cool with a great contemporary layout that works so well for Liz that I feel the house will be perfect.
And here is the happy new homeowner after a long day of moving into the new home-a long hot very busy day and she's still smiling! That was more than you could say for me as I was pooped and hot and miserable on a very humid southern day.

As a housewarming gift I will be designing Liz's brand new landscape. Working with a blank slate is my dream. It is so much easier to design a landscape with no existing plants. Of course, with most new houses there are a few plants that were installed by the landscaper and they are really the subject of this post-or rant.

Here is a picture of the landscaper's package. It consists of exactly five plants. The five plants are two 'China Girl' hollies and three 'Schip' laurels. I bet you can notice the shrubs are all planted rather close to the house-less than two feet to be exact. Perhaps you are thinking that is my complaint? No, that is not it. I totally understand why the landscaper planted these shrubs (that will grow to at least 5-6' wide and run right into the house) too close to the house. He or she did it simply to save money on mulch. Two feet of garden space is a whole lot less to mulch than like six feet out from the house. I understand this is a pretty typical practice and kind of expect it.


The part I did not expect was planting two shrubs that will grow to 18-24 feet tall in front of windows that are a mere five feet off the ground! I just don't get this. Do landscapers even read the tags of the plants they are buying? I am sure 'Dwarf Burford' hollies would have done the same job as the 'China Girl' hollies and they would not outgrow the windows. I am rather incensed about this situation because while my daughter knows enough to know this is not smart planting, many other unsuspecting homeowers do not know enough to remove those shrubs right away and plant them in a better location. A location where they can grow to their full potential without having to be hacked to pieces several times per year for however long they live in their location. I've seen this kind of situation way too many times. You've seen it too. Almost everyone has moved into a house with overgrown shrubs that were planted way too close to the house. The solution is to either prune the heck out of them or remove them. Removing them when they are full grown is not an easy undertaking at all. I just don't understand why a landscaper can't take two minutes to look at the shrub he or she is planting and plant the right shrub or tree in the right spot-or don't plant at all....

in the garden....

Words and Photos Property of In the Garden Blog Team, In the Garden


  1. Oh boy do I know about this! The hedge in front of our retaining wall and the camellia bushes by the front porch are two such issues for us. This was not the builder of the house but the previous homeowners. I moan and groan every time I have to clip them. Grrrrrrr. The one that really gets me is when I see a new house with a Crepe Myrtle or Magnolia tree planted right next to the house. Say What???

  2. Uuuuuummm sounds like to me the person wasn't a landscaper at all. You might expect something like that from a newby gardener, we all do a little trial and error, but not a professional. Your daughter is very fortunate to be moving into such a lovely home. And the icing on the cake is she has the best landscaper around. :0)

  3. How exciting to be able to have a blank canvas to work with in creating a new landscape! My son and daughter-in-law just built a new house, too, but a landscaping package was part of the deal, so Mom didn't get asked to help. That hasn't stopped me from giving them some unsolicited advice, though:) The local nursery who did their landscaping did a pretty good job, though I was surprised they didn't wait until later in the season to complete it. They planted everything the week before the temperatures soared, and the kids have been watering day and night. They also had the front lawn sodded, so between the lawn and the shrubs, their water bill might be higher than their mortgage!

  4. Have fun with the blank slate!

    As for the builder's landscaping choices, I agree they are pathetic.

    @Skeeter - We have several crape myrtles around our house. One of them is planted WAY too close to the house (probably less than a foot away) but since there are no windows nearby, I just keep trying to prune its branches away from the wall. Another is planted a few feet away - again not near any windows - and has grown into a beautiful tree probably 15-20 feet tall. A third is (I believe) a dwarf crape myrtle that shouldn't have any problems 1-2 feet away from the house. Of course, if that 'dwarf' shoots upward and outward next year, I'll be eating metaphorical crow ;-)

  5. May your daughter enjoy turning her new house into her own home. What a great house warming present, your designing and planting her gardens. That's GREAT!


  6. Wow, Your daughter is a lucky girl to have you design her garden. Our landscaper made some bad choices too. Someday I want to tear it out and start over!

  7. Tina,

    I can see what you mean about the plants too close to the house. I love the house it is very cute. Not sure I like the stone around the window over the garage, just looks weird. Hey I'm getting paid to install two raised garden beds, we are bringing in the soil and making it ready to plant. Also a 12 ft garden bench with a purple back.

  8. It would be the plants where the builder cuts corners. At least you will be able to fix the problem before it really becomes one. You might consider writing the landscaper or the building contractor who hired the landscaper and give them a few tips. Let them know that there are better choices out there. Who knows? Maybe you can become a consultant to some of these developers who don't have a clue about landscaping.

  9. I like Walk2writes advice on this. Maybe the people doing the landscaping now how to dig holes and lay turf, but have no clue about the actual plants themselves. We also have a shrub right up against a window. I have to clip it all the time...

  10. What a beautiful house! I do know what it feels like to move into a brand new residence, though, as the house in which we live was built from scratch.

    Greetings from London.

  11. I'd say there is no where for this landscape to go but up. Congratulations to your daughter on her new house, and to you on a blank slate.

  12. Flowerlady, Mom will not be planting the gardens. Tho I am sure she'll help on the trips she makes to go shopping...I'll be the labor!

    All, I am blessed that mom is so talented and supportive. I look forward to her design as she has known me my whole life and hopefully understands my punk hippie style best. And thank you for the compliments on the house. I LOVE it and can't wait to finish settling in!

  13. Congrats to your daughter on the new house. How exciting. Momma sure is going to enjoy planning that landscape. Contractors need to have a landscaper in their list of trades people to do it right.

  14. simple answer is they don't care...they get a discount on bushes and plant them in a ro to save time, money and any effort...not really a lanscaper are they...they are merely a grass cutter and hole digger.

  15. Fun to design the new landscape. Right plant right place is so important!! That holly is REALLY not in the right place. geez, builders.