Calling the green-thumbed: My front garden is a mess, and I suck at making things grow. Plz halp.
I am determined to make the garden look better this year, and now that spring is starting to creep up, it's time I get myself in gear. I used an online garden planner to map out what I have now, which you can see here:
Current garden layout
(anywhere you see a decimal measurement, just round up to the nearest whole number. The online garden planner wasn't completely user-friendly)
Photo of front garden in happier times
Here are the problems/salient details:
1. The two lavender bushes I have (one English, one French) are freaking HUGE, and I'm not completely sure how to groom them. That information, first and foremost, would be appreciated. I do love the lavenders, though, so I don't want to ditch them, just make them less overwhelming.
2. The catmint exploded last summer; I had no idea it was going to get so unruly. Plus, the purple blossoms, next to the lavender, is an awful lot of purple. The unruly catmint and the ungroomed lavender make for a really messy effect, and I hate it.
3. There are three shrubs in a row against the porch. Not sure what they are, but in the fall the leaves turn a lovely shade of crimson, so they're keepers.
4. There's an unidentified tree to the left of the porch. Not sure what it is, either, but I'd like to keep it as well.
5. In front of the tree are three small stonecrop that I planted. They seem to be doing ok, but I won't be devastated if they go.
6. In front of the three shrubs are two iris bulbs I've planted. They're doing ok, but again, I'm not devoted to them.
7. To the left of the lavender, and on the smaller garden on the other side of the path to the front door are three holly bushes. I really kind of hate them, as they aren't particularly attractive. I'm all for ditching them in favor of something else.
8. In the smaller garden to the right of the path to the front door is a Miss Kim lilac that I planted two years ago. It's doing pretty well, I'm happy to say, and I do want to keep that.
9. I've tried for two years in a row to get daisies to grow just behind the stonecrop, but they wither and die within a month of planting.
10. I'm trying to lean towards perennials, because I just don't have the time or the inclination to plant new stuff every spring, even though the brighter colors of the annuals are appealing. Ideally, I want to plant something and be done with it, aside from occasional seasonal care.
I'm really not very good at gardening, so whatever I end up doing needs to be fairly low maintenance. We live northwest of Philadelphia, which according to the zone maps is 6b. This used to be farmland, but when we dig up anywhere there's quite a bit of shale. Our house faces SSE, and the main part of the garden gets a good amount of direct sunlight, although the little garden to the right of the path is mostly shaded, thanks to the shape of the house.
So! Given all this information, what would you recommend? Please treat me like a complete moron in your directions, because I really am not far from that, although I am an eager student.