2021 Area #3: Front Yard - Between Two Driveways (Priority or Not?)

Back at the end of February, I published my 25 point "to do" list for the yard and garden for 2021.  In that list, I included what I called two "priority areas" as #1 and #2.  The item in spot #3 was to work the area between the two driveways.

The first two priority areas are in the backyard, but this one is in the front yard and I didn't label it as a priority area before I published the list, so I'm not sure I can now.  Instead, let's just call this"Between Two Driveways".    I mentioned it yesterday as a potential location for some transplanted peonies.

This is a long, narrow strip that was - up until last fall - just turf with a very small Bald Cypress and a troubled Chanticleer Pear tree.  Our neighbors directly to the north of us have recently built their new house and moved in this past Fall.  As part of their new construction, they added a new driveway that runs parallel to ours - thus creating this long strip of land.  The Bald Cypress was planted a little too close to the property line it seems because the new neighbors moved their driveway all the way over to being right on the line.  Thus, making the tree within just a few feet of their driveway.  

I've covered this area before when I was talking about front yard tree planning and even called for a new tree here.  There is also an existing (for now) large Mulberry Tree that abuts the sidewalk.  It was pretty beat up during construction with all the excavation, I'm thinking that this tree will be in decline very soon, so I can't count on it for much longer. 

Last Fall, I made a fairly significant addition to this area by planting a small Red Fox Katsura tree in the shadow of the Chanticleer Pear tree.  My thought there is that the Pear is in decline and I'm going to have make a call on it soon - likely removing it completely.  I also added a series of Japanese All Gold Forest Grasses and Dolce Cherry Truffles Coral Bells in the newly created bed between the Katsura and Bald Cypress.  

But, I will admit that the creation of the bed was pretty schlocky.  I just kind of cut the turf at a right angle on one side near the edge of the circular bed that I created years ago for the Bald Cypress.  I also mentioned in this post about the recent Spring tulip tips that I originally laid down just wood chips in the bed and am planning on putting a layer of hardwood fines this season before moving to cocoa bean hull mulch.

Alright, with all that background, here's a look at the amended landscape plan for this area below.  Before we get into it, know that I made this amended plan before I thought about Peonies and I learned a little bit more about curvilinear bed design (more on that soon)  You'll see - starting on the left - the "Legacy, troubled" Chanticleer Pear followed by the Red Fox Katsura tree. That tree forms the left edge of this new bed that I carved out of the lawn last year.  It is, right now, mostly rectangle.  Running from tree-to-tree.  But, further along to the right, you'll see the new area that calls for some upright items, grasses and annuals.  Finally, I'm planning on giving the Lemon Coral Sedum carpet a shot down near the sidewalk like they do at the Morton Arboretum entrance.  


I'm leaving a curved area of lawn in this bed - across from the main lawn - that will carry the existing curved bed by the front walk and (I'm thinking currently) will be repeated down near the sidewalk.  

As for inspiration, I found this photo that formed a lot of my thinking - but augmented with some grasses.   In the image below, they use an evergreen as the backdrop and layered with annuals up front with a curved

Source via Houzz here.   This is NOT my photo. 

Here's how it would work together - with the 'in between' part and the part of the lawn that is on our main lawn below.  The idea is to kind of mirror the bed that is there already by our front walk and bring that same shape to both sides and have them work together.  This bed that is now "in between" two driveways becomes a pretty long, linear - but narrow bed.  

One thing to update here is that in researching bed design, I've learned that you shouldn't have 90 degree intersections with hardsurfaces and your beds.  So, the new bed in the lower right should actually look like this below - with greater than 90 angles:

Some of the considerations to these beds are the conditions - drought + salt.  

These would be getting quite a bit of sun throughout most of the middle of the day, so that's important to consider, too.  Finally, I'm pretty sure the huge hackberry that current exists at the sidewalk will begin to head into decline.  The installation of the underground utilities and the new driveway next door - coupled with MY driveway installation certainly has injured this tree in a pretty big way.  So, I'm thinking we should be planning to live without it in the coming years.  

I'm calling for a combination of some columnar trees, some intermediate-height grasses and some annuals in the plan above.  Perhaps moving peonies here makes sense - especially on the western end.  But, what else could go there? 

This story talks about this exact situation and recommends against one thing:  shrubs.  What do they recommend?  

"Consider perennials or ornamental grasses that don’t mind heat from concrete and heavy soil."

We have a trio of Karl Foerster Feather Reed Grasses tucked in against the driveway already, so it would make sense to repeat them in these new beds.  I guess I have to go off and start to research peony companions.  Or Feather Grass companions.  To make sure I'm covering my bases.


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