Do you have an opinion on these newbie landscape plans?

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I am a newish homeowner in zone 7(a) and I'm about to overhaul our front landscaping this spring (from the previous homeowner). I am not known for having a green thumb and am looking for perennials that are super low maintenance. The space I am going to overhaul gets very full afternoon sun. The Japanese maple is burnt to a crisp every summer as well as the hostas and hydrangeas, but I think my husband really wants to keep the maple where it is. We are planning to build a small retaining wall to flatten the slope on the right towards the driveway and it's time to get rid of the white stone "mulch" and awful landscaping fabric. If it's not overwhelmingly difficult, I plant to rip out all the huge bushes.
So now my question--I am terrible at planning what plants go together. I had my heart set on pampas grass until I read on here that they are invasive and impossible to eradicate if so desired. I'd like to lay out some plants I like below and make get some opinions and possibly suggestions for complementary plants.

  • Pink muhly grass (personal favorite so far!)
  • Blue fescue
  • Purple coneflowers
  • Blue spires Russian sage
  • Lavender of some sort

These are some of my favorite plants that seem to thrive in my zone with full sun and minimal love. I'm not sure that they necessarily go together though.

Am I on the right track? What other plants should I look at? Thanks for your thoughts!

q do you have an opinion on these newbie landscape plans
I'd like to get rid of the bushes on the left. The japanese maple in the middle would be impossible to get out, especially without destroying it. My husband is set on keeping it.
q do you have an opinion on these newbie landscape plans
The slope to the right is where we plan to put a retaining wall. Open to leaving the large hedge on the right.
  8 answers
  • Ken Ken on Mar 12, 2018
    Thanks for all of the information! My best recommendation is to go to the nursery where you plan on buying your replacement shrubs with all of the information that you have supplied to us. There will be personnel there who can show you plants, the ones you mentioned and others, and recommend what will work well together. It's what they do best.

  • Cindy Cindy on Mar 12, 2018
    Hi Leigh, You have your work cut out for you. OK, here's my thoughts. I think the bushes on the left of your front door could stay. A good trimming would help. The area to the right of your front door could use some love. If you are going to remove the white stone, you might want to keep it. You are going to need filler after you install the retaining wall. Save yourself a little $$ and use what you already have. You could use five gallon buckets to hold the rock in the meantime. As far as perennials go, I like your list. Just remember to put anything with greatest height when mature in the back of the bed. Then graduate plants down towards the front. Also, your list contains mostly blue hues. You will need a pop of color in at least a couple places so your blue plants won't melt together. I like the idea of something in the bright yellow family. Whatever you choose, put some of that same color on the left of your door. Don't put your contrast color all over the place. (one here, one there) Make groupings instead. 6 or 8 plants to make a group. Wow. Sorry for this length. I guess I got carried away. I hope this helps you.

    • Leigh Leigh on Mar 15, 2018
      Thank you so much for your long reply! This is exactly the advice I was hoping for. And you're spot on, reusing that stone for drainage was one way I convinced my husband to go along with my landscaping schemes :) And I love your suggestion for a pop of yellow, I think that's just what all that blue/purple needs. Thank you!

  • Nancy Turner Nancy Turner on Mar 12, 2018
    We also redid the front of the house, the shrubs weren't in the good shape yours are though, that was why we got rid of all the shrubs along the house. The previous owner rented the house out for a few years and they lived out of state, so the renters did not take care of anything outdoors, other than the lawn. We made the west side of the house into a sitting area using pavers. If you take out the shrubs on the left side, you could do that, just take it out a little further than the shrubs are. We used pavers, put an outdoor love seat, two end tables and pots of flowers. We use it (weather permitting) all the time to watch the world go by in our neighborhood. I can't really advise you on what you should put in for flowers, we have a huge maple and elm in the front yard, so have to use all plants that can handle almost no sun once the leaves come out. I only get sun before the leaves come out, so at least I can have spring bulbs that get the sun they need (I love them, so I was happy I could get them).

    • See 1 previous
    • Nancy Turner Nancy Turner on Mar 15, 2018
      It looks like you get some pretty good shade on the left side of your house, that would be a good place for a seating area and also you could plant some of the plants over there that needs more shade. I always have a double shepherd hook out front with tuberous begonias hanging to give some brightness to the shady area. We always get the bright orange red and the vibrant yellow, I think I like the yellow the best and it would help brighten up your garden if you do use some bright yellow for contrast. Have fun and make sure it gets done the way you want it done, you have good areas to make your front really stand out.

  • Chris aka monkey Chris aka monkey on Mar 13, 2018
    okay, i think i would just pull out the bush that is next to your stairs and that is where i would plant the lavendar so you can smell it entering and leaving,i would put the beautiful pink grass towards the back and have three areas with it in, and the sage in two areas close to the pink grass and a little in front of it, i would plant the blue fescue in front of the big green hedge scatter your coneflower in the front and i would get something else that is pink to scatter with the coneflowers, the hosta and hydrangea are expensive plants i woulld plant them in your back yard close to the house in the shade and remember as long as you check if the plant takes sun or shade you can plant whatever your heart desires gardening is supposed to be fun and i am sorry to tell your hubs but the maple does not tolerate sun and also it can grow from 20 to 33 feet kinda big for that spot and the roots might grow under the foundation i would move it to the back center of your yard, hope this all helps a little xx

    • Leigh Leigh on Mar 15, 2018
      This is exactly the advice I was hoping to get on here, thank you! I think we really do need to move the maple. I'm guessing it's a dwarf variety but it is definitely unhappy where it is. By early summer all the leaves are burnt off. I love your ideas for arranging the plants and I will remember, gardening is supposed to be fun :)

  • Ellis Ellis on Mar 13, 2018
    The maple looks like one of the low-growing, wide spreading Japanese maples. It really would be better in an area out of the sun, perhaps at the far left corner, where it will get some shade. It's really not a very deep planting bed, so beware of planting anything that will eventually grow wide.
    A very important point is not to plant stuff too close to the foundation. You want to leave some breathing room, so that you're not watering the plants and your foundation all the time. The space allows you to get to the house for chores like window washing, and it just looks better not to have the plants smash up against the house.

    I like nandina plants near the front door (they're very colorful) and you can find varieties that don't grow large. Take a look at them.

    • Leigh Leigh on Mar 15, 2018
      We are relatively new to all this so I really appreciate your reply--I wouldn't have thought about leaving space to wash windows and such. Much appreciated! I think you're right about the maple too. I'll have to convince my husband to help me move it somewhere it will be happier. I will check out nandina plants too. Thank you!

  • Lisa S. Lisa S. on Mar 15, 2018
    Remove the stones that are being used as "mulch" . These stones heat up in the summer . They cause the soil to dry out. The heat kills the roots and the the plants. Take them out and replace with cedar mulch. The plants may be happier.

  • Christierei Christierei on Mar 18, 2018
    I would add prostrate or trailing rosemary ... especially pretty growing over the retaining wall. Also add some black mondo grass. I love the nandinias too. The plants you mention look good in Summer and Fall. Nandinia is great year round. You have nothing going on in the Spring. Do you like bulbs like daffodils or tulips ? The tall grasses get cut back in early spring and blue fescue stays pretty short. Your other plant suggestions will die back in winter.