If you don't have much garden experience, I'd recommend getting a
landscape plan from a landscape architect. Plans tend to be relatively
inexpensive; it's hiring people to implement them that costs.... A
landscape architect should look at the whole space, not just a specific
patch, and help everything flow together. Which is not to say you have
to landscape your whole yard. The plan would look at the area in
relation to the house and yard, not just the porch, so all the elements
around your porch could be better balanced.
As far as plants go, perhaps you should start by thinking about what
overall effect you want. Are there colors or textures you particularly
like or dislike? For example, I find I like a "fluffy" quality to
plants, a kind of visual fullness, so I like things like coreopsis and
Russian sage, but some people like strong, spiky vertical lines or
neatly rounded mounds. Do you want a manicured look or something less
constrained? Do you want to focus on a few terrific plants or do you
enjoy the blend and contrast of different plants mixed together?
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