Asked on Jun 9, 2013

Backyard Help Needed.

Jasenka Snajdar-DansCynthiaWanda sinnema


I have an odd shaped larger backyard that I need to improve. I bought the house new with no landscaping and have added a little here and there. The budget is VERY limited and I try to do most of the work. I will soon put a small retaining wall around the elevated patio, But don't really know what to do with the rest. Two years ago I made a small, inexpensive veggie garden that is now just ugly. And the neighbors are too close. When I sit on the patio or neighbors open their back door, the 6 foot privacy does little to provide privacy.
This is looking left with the patio behind me.
Next is the make shift veggie garden.
This is the lowest part of the yard.
3 years ago I started planting some Emerald Greens to provide more privacy from the neighbors closest to me. A couple of evergreens have died and will plant more ASAP. 2 Blueberry plants are on the far right.
This is the far right of the lawn and it is the most swallow and feels like neighbors are having a party in my backyard.
Now facing the house with left side of patio and small fence.
The rest of the patio. It will have a retaining wall in 2-3 weeks.
Back to the beginning of the panoramic view. Please help.
17 answers
  • Patricia W
    on Jun 9, 2013

    You have a great start, a big green lawn!

  • Carol Claremont
    on Jun 9, 2013

    When I bought my house 7 years ago,it had almost nothing in the way of landscaping and, even though the neighbors are a couple of acres away, we felt totally exposed to all of them. We have planted 20-30 Leyland Cypress trees for privacy because they grow 3-5 feet a year. Most were about a foot tall when we planted them and we have close to a dozen that are probably 20 feet (or more) high. They get huge and are evergreen so you will have privacy all year round - we planted some other things in the beginning but now only plant Leylands. I am in middle Tennessee - zone 6-7 so you might see how well they do in your area. They get fat as well so plant them about 10-12 feet apart. I don't fertilize them any more but in the early days, we gave them 2 doses of Quick Start and then used just an all purpose liquid fertilizer in the spring and summer. Hope this helps.

  • Douglas Hunt
    on Jun 9, 2013

    Brenda, taking on an entire yard can be overwhelming, so start with what your biggest issues are. It sounds like that might be privacy. You have a wonderful opportunity to create a mixed shrub hedge that will both screen your neighbors and make your yard more attractive to birds and butterflies. You can do this with a mix of evergreens-think of adding some hollies along with your arbor vitae-and shrubs that will get some size. Viburnums would be great. (I'm glad Carol has had good luck with Leyland Cypress but in general that is a plant with a host of problems, particularly when planted tightly for a hedge.) Look for plants on sale at the end of the season to save money, and start with smaller sizes, which acclimate in your garden more readily and usually catch up with their bigger brothers in a season or two. Check with a good local nursery. They may offer a design consultation at a reasonable cost, and should be able to come up with a plan you can implement over time as budget allows.

  • My .02 which ties in with @Douglas Hunt, either hire a landscape architect, or go buy one of those inexpensive programs to allow you to do it yourself. Figure out what you want to end up with (which includes the plants at full size / not what size you buy) & work back from there You definitely want some privacy screening so you might want to see what will work in your area & do that in Phase 1, Then you can start finishing it off in different phases. As for the vegetable garden, I would definitely go with a raised bed to not only make it easier to tend to, but to make it easier to mow around & keep the weed & grass seeds out of

  • Jeanette S
    on Jun 9, 2013

    Your fence is private, but you are still exposed because it is low (probably regulations). Sketch out your yard. Decide where the problem areas are. You may not want to deal with the entire yard right now, so pick your own private spot and work on it. A row of Leyland Cypress down the yard on 3 sides from where you want a patio later, will grow in place by the time you get ready to put in the patio. And you can have grass inside your private area and plant flowers or what every (room for a hot tub?). Setting the back line of trees back a little will open the corners and give you access to the entire yard. Over time, you might want to even fence off part of it for the family and part of it for gardening and the pets. Large open spaces are great, but not if you don't have privacy.

  • Kerrie Marquart
    on Jun 9, 2013

    Noticing the different colors of your fencing. It would look nice with some cedar stain on your side bringing some continuity and taking away the broken up look. Also, you could add a curved path partway down the yard with patio blocks (as many as you can afford at a time) round or square leaving a space between them. Add a corner interest where the fences meet with maybe a tiered flower bed or a simple raised space with birdbath and annuals planted around it. ♥

  • Jeanette S
    on Jun 9, 2013

    Brenda, a few paged father down, there is a post on "Easy Garden Trellis" that you could attach to the fence, make the stand off and put up trellises!

  • Karen M
    on Jun 9, 2013

    how about an oasis or two in the middle of the yard? or can you plant a tree that will grow huge in the dead middle? The two-family VERY urban house of my childhood had just that: a nice big elm dead center and believe me, that was unusual for inner city living! I guess it depends on what you envision happening in your yard? will there be kids who need to play stickball or is yours an adult oriented lifestyle? Another major question is how long will you be calling this place "home?" If it's your forever house make a long term planting plan and chip away at it as money permits!

  • Mikell Paulson
    on Jun 9, 2013

    I had 2 & a Half acres a few years back. I put a large island garden in the middle with trees and shrubs, a few bright annuals , then lawn and then trees along the fence. I think by looking at your pictures, I would start with your patio area first! Then you will enjoy it more and vision what you will want in your back yard! Have fun, look at pictures in magazines and save the parts you like! Use your imagination! Have fun with little steps!

  • Sharron Cygan
    on Jun 9, 2013

    I agree with the one poster who said get professional advice. It sounds expensive but it really isn't. My local garden center has professional garden designers on staff and I hired one to help me with a small garden project. They only charged me $75 to come out and look at the space make recommendations and draw me a diagram of recommended plants. Also, If I purchased the plants from them, I got a one year guarantee. That being said, what you want to do there will always depend on where the yard faces...north, south, east, west? That will help you plan. Flower beds are great if you get lots of sun. But obviously, privacy is part of your plan so others have made some good recommendations here. Just bear in mind some of those trees and shrubs that are good for privacy are also tasty snacks for deer if you have them in your area.

  • Gbomb44
    on Jun 9, 2013

    Find a qualified landscape designer and pay for a landscape plan that works with your budget, what you pay for the design fee should save you money in the long run. Buying the wrong plants and placing in the wrong location cost lots of time and wasted money.

  • Christine Ellsworth
    on Jun 10, 2013

    Garden a small section at a time. Look for discount plants at Lowe's. Many time they discount plants in the back of their store..Many magazine have idea's and how too's. You can clean the fences and find discounted stains in the paint sections for a fraction of the price to make the fences look brand new!

  • Bob T
    on Jun 10, 2013

    I agree with starting small. Be careful with planting trees that may become too large and shade the whole yard, if you plan on growing vegetables. You can be creative on your own for very little money. Beg for extra plants from friends, or start things from seed.

  • Wanda sinnema
    on Jun 10, 2013

    How exciting yet overwelming for you. a few tips: break down the jobs.. Step 1: A GOOD DESIGN and PLAN.. what BOTHERS you the MOST, work on that 1st. Go to FREE week-end classes at the local nursery, look online, most publications have websights with millions of ideas, and many colleges have students who need landscape design projects. STEP 2: SPLIT THE REST INTO PHASES, sometimes over 2-3 yrs, don't be in a hurry,,,it will look different with every season....STEP 2: put frame work plants in first, then the rest..TAKE a WALK , a park, zoo or neighborhood and photograph any plants or styles you like, take them to the nursery if not tagged, they can identify them, you can research varieties for your needs: ZONES, LIGHT, MOISTURE, SOIL, PETS to CONSIDER, FAMILY activities, children....GETTING PLANTS,,, Farmers markets and plant swaps are a great place for bargin priced plants, especially perrienals,,,, one plant in several years has to be divided,,then giving you 3-4 (dahlias, day lillies, ice plant, iris, peony to name a few),,,be patient..Post a notice on a public bulletin board for plants,,gardeners are usually HAPPY to share....spring is the best time for sharing,,, Garden in pots for the 1st year or so.... amazing how a couple of tubs with a big dahlia or day lilies in it makes the rest less annoying..ANNUALS only last ONE SEASON, can get expensive, unless you start your own from seed..LOOK for annuals that say "SELF SEEDING" marigolds and cosmos are two.. let some go to seed, you can pick the seeds and scatter where you want for next may have 20 the following spring....remember GARDENS ARE NEVER DONE,,, ALWAYS a WORK IN PROGRESS...have FUN.

  • Wanda sinnema
    on Jun 10, 2013

    I also suggest a 3 RING BINDER,,,, photograph your plants, tags, date and KEEP receipt,, if they WORK or Don't...You Don't want to repeat a variety if its a dud for you. Many nurseries will give credit if you have their tags..SIGN UP for email as preferred customers, many unadvertised sales. If you want a certain plant, they have it 40% off, its on your plant list it can be a big savings.... especially with large plants or expensive ones.. have fun

  • Cynthia
    on Jun 21, 2013

    Just do a small section at a time. I'd start with the area in front of the patio and get it to look nice. Then start working around the fence so it's easier to cut the lawn and edge. Just take your time. Good things come to those who wait is what my husband told me. Finally got mine done after 5 years, but it's beautiful and I enjoyed every minute.

  • Jasenka Snajdar-Dans
    on Oct 17, 2013

    in the fall time, Espom salt could cover on the grass for next spring will be so green??

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