It’s hard for me to believe that I’ve finally completed this project. When I moved into my home in February of 2014 I immediately planned on redo-ing the front landscaping. I had so much going on the first year that I decided it would wait until this year, and I’ve been thinking about it since then. The landscape didn’t look appealing and didn’t make much sense. The plants were unusually placed, ugly, dying, and overgrown.
As a novice, I knew I couldn’t go into this without doing some research and planning. I didn’t want to make big mistakes and wind up with a front landscape that was just as poorly planned at the original. I also wanted to keep it low-cost, so I didn’t plan on paying a landscaping service to come out and do the work for me.
If you want to redo your landscape but don’t know where to start, I’d say a good place is right here. I’ll share with you step by step how I redid mine, tips I learned, mistakes I made, and how I managed to keep it relatively low cost.
First, because I’m a lady of instant gratification and this entire project has been 1.5 years in the making, I’m tired of waiting. Here are the before and after pics:
Not everything went the way I wanted it to, I had to change plans and layouts several times. But when I walk outside and look at how it turned out, I’m happy. I know the flowers and the new shrubs, though skimpy in appearance now, will fill in, and this is going to look exactly how I wanted.
Here’s how I did it:
Do your research. Get on pinterest. Google landscapes. Take a drive and scope out other well-done front yards. Figure out what colors you want. Figure out what planting zone you live in. Go to your local greenhouses and garden centers to see what options you have. Stare at your front yard for hours and hours (just kidding. kind of).
Then, get out your crayons and markers. Not kidding. Start drawing, outline your landscape, how it currently is and how you’d like it. Make a list of what you already have planted, what you want to get rid of, what you like to try and transplant, and what you’ll keep as is. Make a list of what you want. I did this probably half a dozen times.
Prepare your flowerbed. Start with removing all trees/bushes/plants that you don’t want anymore. I tore out my large juniper shrubs, a dead tree (not sure what it was), and the small spreading sharp juniper. This was the most enjoyable part, I felt guilty killing perfectly alive plants, (but I HATED them) and tried to find better spots for them (in the backyard) but ultimately, disposed of them.
Next, weed your garden and figure out how you want to do your edging. I decided to re-dig my edging to match the layout that I wanted. It required that I re-edged the ENTIRE thing, this took several days. To keep costs down, and because my house is on a hill, I did not place stone/block edging, no matter how lovely it is, it just wouldn’t be seen very often and can be pricey. I did place a plastic edging to prevent grass and weed spread and to give a cleaner-looking mulch line.
At this point you would also lay down a weed barrier if you wanted (news paper, that black meshy stuff, etc). I didn’t because the majority of my bed was already established and weeds weren’t too bad.
I also had 2 loads of topsoil delivered and added this to the bed for healthy soil (my soil is heavily composed of rock and shale – which made edging and digging AWFUL!).
Make your final plant decisions. I found a super handy (though a bit timely) website that allowed me to do this for free. Try it out here 🙂
After months of researching different shrubs, trees, perennial and annual flowers, I made a list of what I needed to purchase and a list of the plants I already had that I wanted to transplant and/or keep where they were.
Go buy your plants and supplies. This is the list of everything I purchased, along the way. I had already purchased the edging and unfertilized top soil prior to the big plant trip. I used Lowe’s, a local garden center, a local landscape supply co., and a local flower tent for all of my purchases. Here’s the breakdown below.
And the list of what I wanted to purchase:
– 1 Emerald Green Arborvitae tall shrub: $26.98
– 4 Dwarf Boxwood small shrub: $6.98 ea
– 3 Golden Globe Arborvitae small shrub: $6.98 ea
– 3 Concorde Barberry small shrub: $7.98 ea
– 1 Rose Glow Barberry medium shrub: $21.98
– 2 Concorde Japanese Barberry medium shrub: $24.98 ea
– 2 Forever and Ever White Out Hydrangea: $16.98 ea
– 2 Daisy plants: $7.98 ea
– 1 Purple Salvia: $7.98
– 3 Purple Osteos (I originally wanted purple irises but my delphinium plants got so tall I opted for smaller perennials for size contrast and these flowers caught my eye): $3.33 ea
– 8 4-pack White Petunias: $1.98 ea
– 2 Black-Eyed Susan: $2.98 ea
– 2 Dianthus: $2.98 ea
– 2 Geranium: 3.98 ea
– 1 6-pack Ageratum: $1.98
– 1 White Peony: 24.99
– 4 bags Shrub and Tree Fertilized Top Soil: $2.50 ea
– 3 Discounted bags of Fertilized Top Soil: $1.00 ea
– 2 Truckloads of Topsoil: $60
– 2 Truckloads of Mulch: $60
– 4 20′ Rolls Plastic Garden Edging: $4.95 ea
Total Cost: $429.35
What I already had:
– 2 Purple Salvia
– 2 Pink Phlox
– 1 Large Blue/Purple Hydrangea
– 3 Azaela
– 2 Rhododendron
– 2 Purple/Blue Delphinium
– 2 Rose of Sharon
– 1 Rose Bush
– 2 Holly Bushes
– 1 mum
Dig up the plants you want to transplant and lay all of your plants out the way you want to place them. Spend what feels like a lifetime moving certain plants forward, backwards, sideways, slightly oblique, and tilted just 1 cm to the left until you get the perfect image of what it will look like 😉 (you will do this. trust me).
I wanted to tear this Dwarf Japanese Maple out and place it in the area that the Pink mum was. It was meant to be the focal point of the house entryway area. Unfortunately, the trunk snapped, as I had feared it would, and it wasn’t salvageable. I wept for what felt like a week. I killed this beautiful thing and now my landscape project was completely ruined.
Sigh, after moving through the 5 stages of grief, I eventually moved on, and had to go back to the store to purchase something for that area that was the color I wanted, though not nearly as beautiful. In the meantime, I kept the project going by using the broken tree as a guide.
Butterfly garden layout ^ : Black-eyed Susans (2) in the far back at the 90 degree corner of the house for a tall pop of yellow, you can’t see it in this photo. Right in front of them are 2 hydrangea plants that you can’t see either.
2 Concorde Japanese Barberry in the top left of this photo. Starting from the bottom left there are small golden arborvitae (2), (sad dying Japanese maple in the back 😦 ), a hanging planter, white peony bush (I wound up moving this and putting the mum there), and in the front are my bordering white petunias.
Dwarf Boxwoods (4) and Dwarf Golden Arborvitae (3) with bordering white petunias laid out.
Dig and plant. Use fertilized top soil to plant. This will take you forever. It will probably also leave you dehydrated, in rhabdo, and dying of heat stroke. Grab some Gatorade, brush the sweat off (this will give you a dirt mustache, just go with it), and suck it up, because by this point you will literally rather die then not finish this project. (this is not medical advice, I shouldn’t have to say this but, yea, I have to, sorry for all of you with common sense out there 😉 )
Fertilize and Mulch.
Nitpick for several days. Make everything perfect. Take a million photos.
I’m so happy with how it turned out. It was so much work with preparation and then the physical labor of digging and planting. It does get pricey but it’s so much cheaper to redo your own landscape than to hire out! Try not to get discouraged with how “skimpy” it looks at first, all of your flowers will bloom and your bushes/trees/shrubs will fill in. I added a puppy “welcome” ornament to my largest skimpy spot in the entryway (it matches the pup that will meet you at the door, though she’s afraid of the thing). Don’t forget to water anything you planted or transplanted daily (if you are in a semi-dry and hot climate) the first season. I plan to do an update post next year to document growth and changes.
Thank you for reading! Message me with questions and comments!
Thanks for stopping by!
Delphinium and Salvia blooming in the butterfly garden
Peonies bloomed before I ever got mulch down
My Peonies in a mason jar