Monday, September 21, 2009

Front Yard Renovation: Part II: Plants in the Ground Ready to Grow

I am super pleased with how the front yard turned out. All and all, it was pretty painless having the seven tons of topsoil added in addition to having our front step, and two sidewalk tiles mudjacked back to their rightful spots (due to the settlement issue, our front step had settled about 3 inches below where it should have been). There were a few kinks in the process ie the electrical cord that leads out to our carriage light in the front yard was cut several times which required it to be patched several times which turned into having to replace and  trench a whole new line out to the light. Therefore, this requires a new project of seeding the four inch wide by several feet line of mud trailing through our yard, but all and all it could be worse.

Below is the view from the right side of our property line in front. The oranmental grass did a great job of growing in around the utility boxes.

Here is a closer look at the porch area.  Behind the Japanese Red Maple you will find 'P.J.M'. hybrid rhododendrons which will offer great flowers in the spring.  In front of the Japanese Red Maple we have two types of hydrangeas: mophead and limelight.

The below is a pic of the right side of the house.  Here we have boxwoods, limelight hydrangea, spireas, and several annuals planted.  We also had the landscapers put a flagstone path in to lead to the hose area which allows for easier watering.

Below you can see what the front entry looks like now.  We had a large surplus of decorate rocks all over our property from the previous owners.  We decided to incorporate them into the new design.

This view highlights the area in front of the garage windows.  Again we used some of the extra decorative rocks, boxwoods, crab apple tree (pre-existing), and some annuals. 

Below you can see how the flowerbed near the carriage light has been downsized, and filled with a bluestar mini-bush, a 'P.J.M.. hybrid rhododendron (pre-existing from prior owners), mini-irises (pre-existing), a red ground covering, and rocks. 

Below is the view of the utility boxes by the driveway.  Gone are the dying Junipers, and here to stay are the Yews.  It will take a few years for them to grow in, but it looks so much better already.

View from the driveway. Although it will take a few years for the bushes to grow in, I think the below looks so much better than what we started with in the beginning. All the new plants were a bit high maintenance this year because they needed to be watered almost daily to ensure they become rooted well (we had very little rain all summer and lots of heat once the plants were in the ground).

I love how it all came together. The only thing left to do is to seed the area where the new carriage electric line was installed in the yard. However, before that occurs, we will be aerating first since we have clay soil. Perhaps next year I will have flower boxes installed under the two garage windows on the left.  I think that would be the icing on the cake.

Front Yard Renovation: Part I- Cleaning up and Planning

One thing we did not expect to find the day we closed on our house was an insane amount of overgrown landscaping.  We placed our offer in March when the ground was covered with snow, and therefore, we had no idea what we were getting ourselves into when it came to our yard.  Some homeowners would be pleased to find lots of flowerbeds, but not my husband and I.  We were utterly overwhelmed with what we had going on around the house.  Our first summer in the house we decided to "try" to maintain what we had inherited.  We realized during this trial period that there was just too much going on for us to handle.  Therefore, we decided to downsize a few of the flowerbeds, and turn them into grassy areas.  We also filled in our small pond because it was just too much of a hassle to maintain in our minds (we also saw that down the road it would be a major danger area for children).  At any rate, I did not catalog our first summer nor the changes we made.  However, I have documented most of our  outdoor changes this past summer. 

First up, is the front yard renovations.  Essentially, we started off with lots of overgrown bushes, tress, and ivy.  Our other major issue was that we had some settlement issues, and therefore, we needed to bring in several tons of dirt to bring the grade up around the front of the house.  Therefore, we decided to remove most of the preexisting landscape, and start fresh once the grade was raised around the house.  The following pictures gives you a good look of what we started with in June.  Mind you, on the left side of the house, we had bushes under the windows where it is bare.  We removed those ourselves.  In the right hand corner of this pic you can see the  bed around the utility boxes that we cleaned up ourselves too.  The prior owners had planted a hodge podge of flowers around the box that didn't serve much purpose.  We decided to remove these flowers, and plant ornamental grass which would in turn grow high to cover the boxes.

We also decided to remove the Silver Maple tree from the front due to the extra work the pinwheels they dropped in the spring created, and then all of the leaves it dropped in the fall.  The tree did not serve much purpose, and we thought it would be nice to have more grass in the front yard.  We are more of the evergreen type of people (mind you we had 10 blue spruces planted in the spring so we more than made up for cutting this tree down).

The below view is from the driveway angle.  As you can on the bottom apart of the picture, the flower bed around the lamp post is overgrown with an overwhelming amount of Black Eyed Susans, and just begging to be downsized.

Below you can see the other utility box area that is on our property line with our other neighbor.  The browning Juniper was begging to be replaced with something else.  It just continued to look more and more sickly everyday.

The below pic gives you a better idea of all of the chaos we had going on in the flower beds. We decided to have the weeping cherry tree removed too because the placement would not work with our new design. We strived for clean lines and low maintenance.


As you can see above and below, these pics reflect all the plants removed from the flower beds in the front.  It was such a relief to have these cleaned up.

This picture gives you more appreciation for what a little hard work and lots of digging can do to the appearance of the house.

Now that we had all the beds all cleaned up, and ready to go, now what? Well, after lots of debate, and research, I went over to the nursery to help pick out some of the plants that I wanted to be part of my new design. I just love hydrangeas (I know they are a bit high maintenance, but they are so worth the extra work in my book), and boxwoods so these were absolute must haves. From here, I was  ope to suggestions. Therefore, our landscape architect went to work on his drawing...

.. To Be Continued....