Asked on Apr 06, 2018

Looking for design help

by Sjt29229935
Hi Everyone,

Gads this got long. I hope when I hit submit it all comes through.icon

I have a cement fountain that needs to be painted. It has a multi-color effect right now, mainly brown, black and a soft yellowish color that blends with the clinker brick on the house. I tried oil base Rustoleum and it sort of stuck two years ago, but not that great. I called all the paint stores, pool stores and garden centers but they were no help. Basically said it couldn't be done. Hard for me to believe there isn’t something out there people use to repaint their fountains. Sure would appreciate advice.

Also, as you can see, this is a work in progress. The pictures aren't the best, sorry. They are from early last spring when I started ripping the place apart. Right now everything here is snow covered. Let’s hear it for spring in Michigan.

I’m trying to keep the genre along the lines of a simplistic, oriental garden. Removed all the 40-year-old ewes that ran from the front door to the railing on the left and across the blank space to the right between the end of the porch railing and house. I need to find ground cover and plantings to finish the front of the house. I ripped out all the blankety-blank Baltic Ivy and now trying to find a very simple, low maintenance replacement. White stone will be way to stark against the brick and not sure I want the battle of the bugs with bark. I guess sand could work if not too stark. We do get leaves in the fall and I hope to find something that isn’t a pain picking those out. Plus, there is a very strong wind that whips across the front during storms. This is the north side of the house, so whatever plantings used need to be low light. The two short ball trees on either side of the steps can go because they are in rough shape. I also ripped out the bushes on the left corner of the garage and planted a really beautiful strawberry/vanilla hydrangea tree between the two windows. I can add a few more plantings and possibly a sculpture piece. I also want to design a little area for hummingbirds and butterflies close to the fountain so I can enjoy them when I look out the kitchen window.

To the right of the porch where the house comes forward, I have barberry bushes alternating with a bush that is a light green. Sorry can’t remember the name but you can see one in the picture. In the blank spot to the right of the birch tree I usually put in coleus or something annual because my husband wants that opening clear to drive the tractor on the porch to blow snow in the winter. Yeah, I know, he won’t let me paint the kitchen cupboards either. Men sometimes. There are two big, round planters on the porch that I fill with tall spikes, geraniums and trailing ivy. I am more than open to other options and will move plantings to achieve better balance. I am not opposed to redesigning the contour of the gardens either. When you finish this, I have the entire back of the house to do too. icon

Will deeply appreciate any and all suggestions!! Thanks so much in advance!
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Pretty sad, huh? Between here and the front corner of the porch is where I want the hummingbird and butterfly sanctuary too. I do put out an ornamental bird bath and butterfly pool in the summer.
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The tree in the corner and the one between the windows behind the fountain are ornamental Larches that have S curves. Hard to tell from the pictures. Last summer I planted annual ornamental grasses around the base of the fountain. You can see a corner of the tall planter by the railing.
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There is a small red maple between the front porch and the dinette windows. You can see the round planter on the porch. There is a duplicate on the other side. They can be relocated.
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That little globe tree can go and be replaced with something else. The area on both sides does need something with height. Oh yea, the upper porch by the front door could use something too. If you enlarge the picture you can see there are three different height, moss and stick planters. They too can be replace/ moved.
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Bushes to the left are gone and so is that awful Baltic Ivy. The strawberry/vanilla tree is between the windows.
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  13 answers
  • Sharon Sharon on Apr 07, 2018
    Can't hardly see the fountain and area, but generally in your climate, paint isn't gonna stick for long, I would go with a concrete paint, or if its concrete you could stain it and seal it.
    As to oriental garden, why not visit or study some Japanese gardens, its a real art form that I love and have appreciated for over 60 years. Once you see the plants they typically use, I would visit your local nursery and see which ones would be appropriate for your climate and exposure. Rhododendrons, azaleas, wisteria, cypress trees, pines, japanese maple, dogwoods and of course cherry blossum trees are popular. flowers.... most popular is the iris. Water features and rock gardens are incorporated.... the garden should be viewed in all four seasons.
    Pinterest has many good pages on the art....[]=japanese%7Ctyped&term_meta[]=gardens%7Ctyped

  • Estasban Estasban on Apr 07, 2018
    Have you considered talking to a Landscape architect? Perhaps for a small consultation fee you could get a basic outline and advice of how best to reach your goals. Some Adult Education Classes in landscaping for home owners may be offered at your local college or by an senior center.
    sounds like you have some work ahead, so have fun with it, it'll be worth it when your done.

    • See 2 previous
    • Sjt29229935 Sjt29229935 on Apr 10, 2018
      Thanks, Estasban. We have a 2 year college in town and 4 year not too far away. I will take your advice and ask if they need a "class project". Appreciate your suggestions.

  • Jewellmartin Jewellmartin on Apr 07, 2018
    Remove the Etruscan vase from the fountain. Replace that with an oriental figure made for fountains. Keep the larches because they go with the perfect oriental garden. Mulch comes in many colors now, as do rocks. Simple wooden chairs and benches would be nice, as would a pergola. Best wishes with all the details. ☺️

  • Redcatcec Redcatcec on Apr 07, 2018
    Too much information, sorry.

  • J.l22631146 J.l22631146 on Apr 07, 2018
    Hi Sandy,
    I think you have too much questions/concerns for a simple answer.
    I would suggest contacting a designer for a consultation and an overall design concept. Online design services available.

  • 2dogal 2dogal on Apr 07, 2018
    Yes, you do digress. What is your main question? I thought it was about painting the fountain - then I got lost. Please break it down for us.

    • Sjt29229935 Sjt29229935 on Apr 07, 2018
      Sorry about the confusion. Sometimes more isn't always better. I originally did want to know about paint suggestions for the fountain, however, since doing entire landscape, thought I would combine the two questions. I also see the comment about oriental style was incorrect. LOVE the look, but not sure it will do the house style justice. In reality, I want simplisity vs being inundated with flowers, etc. Thank you, sorry to overwhelm everyone.

  • Johnavallance82 Johnavallance82 on Apr 07, 2018

    Simple oriental design= Large Rocks and Gravel raked into a pattern or to taste) Large Plant Pots filled with Trees - Or Large Pond with Bridge or Stepping stones.

  • Kaye Kaye on Apr 07, 2018

    If you are inspired to do it yourself - I say do it. Experts are great but think of everything you will learn. I agree with taking off the vase and replacing it. I would consider a white stone base of rock it will really pop your vegetation and give it a very oriental feel. What I have observed with Japanese gardens is that less is more. Resist the temptation to buy more until you have marked off you space and laid ground tarp and put it stone. In Japanese landscaping, areas are defined. I would consider placing the fountain back or considering a smaller fountain. Good Luck.

    • See 1 previous
    • Kaye Kaye on Apr 07, 2018

      I hear you! I am always in a battle with my up-cycling and much preferring clean lines!!

  • Bijous Bijous on Apr 07, 2018
    Okay, lets start with the porch:
    1. Put a water wall on the solid brick wall
    2. Paint your front door red
    3. Place a large urn - copper is best for this look - in the corner next to the door and add bamboo sticks.
    The space where the fountain is:
    1. Your trees are going to get big and it will become a crowded area.
    2. You need a focal point.
    3. Let's keep your tree in the center and remove the rest.
    4. Bring in large boulders to replace the tree in the corner and use black gravel and black river rock in and around your center tree. Plant short mondo grass and use wired lanterns for light.
    Place where your small bird bath is beyond the porch:
    Replace the small bird bath with your larger fountain and top the fountain with a more fitting statue (see below)

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    • Sjt29229935 Sjt29229935 on Apr 07, 2018
      WOW!! Now that's what I call an amazing reply!! Thank you immensly, Bijous! Tour de Force on all your fabulous suggestions! Can't thank you enough. Excited to start implimenting your ideas.

  • Sharon Sharon on Apr 07, 2018
    Personally, I would go with a lot of flowering shrubs.... I would check out your local nurseries for advice, and note down each side's exposure i.e. north, south etc. so they can help you select the right ones.
    I wouldn't plant a tree that close to the house.... roots can mess up a foundation and moisture can cause mold. Relocate them further out... if you want this garden to be private, you could make them part of the boundary of the garden edge.
    I like your little topiary shrub, to make it more Asian, simple prune some branches out to make it more asymetrical.
    Most small gardens have a specimen feature tree like a red Japanese maple, cherry blossom tree, dogwood, or a pine.
    I don't love the ground cover, I think I would remove it, put down landscape fabric, and do gravel and rake it for a Zen garden look, then let your tree and fountain be the focal point. Then add a few flowering shrubs like azaleas, a boulder and some moss. But if you like it, tame it into an interesting curvey shape....

    • Sjt29229935 Sjt29229935 on Apr 07, 2018
      Thanks again, Sharon. You are just a plethora of wonderful ideas, information and suggestions. I'm very appreciative of all your help!

  • Alberta Coulter Alberta Coulter on Apr 07, 2018
    Perhaps instead of paint, you could maybe sand blast the concrete pieces and stain them with concrete stain. It comes in many colors and they do it to garage floors and counter tops all the time. It might last longer than paint and perhaps look better. Oriental gardens are supposed to be calming and peaceful. Flowering shrubs, perhaps. Some that bloom in different seasons and one focal point.

    • Sjt29229935 Sjt29229935 on Apr 07, 2018
      Thank you, Albert. I will definitely look into the concrete stain. Right now that garden is neither calming nor peaceful.

  • Lagree Wyndham Lagree Wyndham on Apr 10, 2018
    I worked at a nursery and we would custom paint concrete fountains and other pieces of concrete for our customers and it would hold up for pretty well. I did one for my parents about 8 years ago and it still looks good. For an antique Bronze look we would start with a latex base of "chicken crap" tan (yes folks thats what it looked like). Then we would mix a clear concrete sealer(oil base) with a latex black and brush on. Ye
    s oil and water do not mix, but this allowed for it to get that aged bronze look. It is basically same process for antique copper look , just use a green/teil base.

    • Sjt29229935 Sjt29229935 on Apr 10, 2018
      That's very interesting, Lagree. I think you may have painted my fountain and concrete planters because the base color is that "chicken crap" yellow /tan with black and brown overtones.  Is there a specific brand of paint you used? There are some paints that are better quality than others and wonder if it also applies in this situation? Thank you so much for the information! You have given me a viable solution and I very much appreciate your input.

  • Lagree Wyndham Lagree Wyndham on Apr 11, 2018
    There was no specific brand as for as the latex paint was concerned, the sealer was no specific brand either, just a good quality paint and sealer. When i get home I will check to see what I used on the last one I did for myself.

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    • Sjt29229935 Sjt29229935 on Apr 25, 2018
      That's OK, thanks for trying and the great suggestion. About to remove it's winter tarp and tackle the fountain and front for the summer. Visited a magnificent Japanese garden last weekend, but too early in the season to get many ideas, so have to return in about a month. In the meantime, I can paint the fountain base and look for a new top. Excited to get this project started.

      Thanks again EVERYONE for all the fabulous help and inspiration. All your ideas are deeply appreciated!!