When I moved into my house, the front yard looked rather like this:

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This screenshot was from 2011 when the Google Maps truck drove by and took a snapshot of the house for street view. The interior of the house was being worked on, but the exterior was not. And, pretty much by the time I moved in a couple of years later, the only difference between this photo and then was that the bushes and trees had been allowed to continue to grow. It was, to be blunt, a bit of a mess.

Well, I’ve been working myself stupid trying to improve the curb appeal of my house. And, as of this morning, it now looks like this:

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And, from a couple of different angles:

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The previous owners had covered up all the flower beds with super-thin plastic (like the cheapest painters dropcloths you can buy–thinner than Seran Wrap) and then covered that with wood mulch. Grass, bulbs, other flowering plants: all of it was simply covered up. The had taken huge swaths of the lawn and decided to turn them into flower beds, but then had done nothing to fill them up. It was ugly, it was poorly tended, and the person who had bothered to actually put the plants in didn’t have clue #1 what they were doing. No consideration was paid to how much sun an area got. Nobody ever watered or pruned anything.

I started last fall. I pulled out as much of the plastic and the mulch as I could from the beds in the front of the yard. I decided to re-plant grass on the large hill that runs along the front of my property, because a’int nobody got time to maintain that many flower beds. I planted three blueberry bushes (which should reach 4-6 tall) and three hydrangea bushes (one in pink, one in white, and one in blue) along the front of the fence. I pulled all of the rock borders up, pulled out the grass, doused liberally with Roundup, and replaced the rocks. (Eventually, I will install a true retaining wall.)

In the flower beds, I have been spending money like an idiot. I’ve put in so many plants. I’m still learning the soil a bit, and getting a sense of the light patterns at different times of the day/year. I dug up the rose bushes that were scattered all over creation on the property, and relocated them into a single rose bed that will get ample sunlight and has good drainage. (There are still random roses coming up in various places all over the property. I didn’t realize that roses spread and procreated like this!). I put in perennials all over the place. I have put in several annuals and herbs as well. I spread over a dozen bags of new mulch down.

And then there’s the pruning. Holy Hannah, the pruning. One of the most wonderful things about the Northwest is that you don’t have to do much to keep plants alive. Our weather is mild, we get plenty of rain, and there’s a few months in the summer with lots of nice bright, but not overly hot, sun. However, if you don’t keep up on your pruning, the plants will take over your house, eat your pets, and make out with your teenage daughter. I’m constantly fighting back blackberry vines, ivy, and my forsythia bush.

But man, I really like the way it is starting to come together. Give me a couple more years, and this place will be one hell of a suburban oasis.

Below is a gallery of all of the flowers that are currently in bloom in my front yard. The lilacs are done for the season (I have 3 of those), and some of my perennials are summer-bloomers so they haven’t opened up yet either. And most of my hydrangeas are still working on opening up. Click on any of the photos below to see the full-sized image.

  • Colin R

    They say your never done gardening. But you have made a great start turning this one around.