Redoing Our Ranch’s Front Landscaping

We’re back with the front landscaping full monty. When we mentioned that the 50+ year old bushes around our house were overgrown, overcrowded, and dwarfing our short & stout rancher, we weren’t kidding:



Um, yeah. We were embarrassed. But we know a thing or two about scoring free landscaping labor on craigslist, so we put up a little ad for free azaleas and a few holly bushes (for people who were willing to dig ’em out and haul everything themselves) and before you know it, we had a cleaner slate to work with (while our monster bushes got bigger and better homes).


We were left with some annoying loriope (aka: monkey grass) which nobody wanted, and a weird brick ledge (which used to have giant bushes planted both in front of it and behind it)…


…but it was nothing a little digging/sledgehammering couldn’t solve:


Then it was time to amend the soil (rough it up and add some free compost from the backyard) and start planting some new plants that would grow to be the right size for our short little rancher (at the right distance apart to avoid any future overcrowding). Best of all, we can actually mulch the beds now (before everything was so packed it was really hard to rake, let alone mulch).


We left six azaleas (three on each side of the porch) and added three japanese andromeda (seen here in the back row) along with a dwarf alberta spruce on each side of the house for some height and balance. We also added some hostas on the house. Literally. We transplanted them from the backyard for zero dollars and zero cents.


On the other side of the porch we filled things in with some happy little boxwoods, our other dwarf alberta spruce, and a few more free hostas.


Mulching everything after planting it lovingly with some awesome brewed-all-winter compost was just the thing to make our new additions feel welcome and happy. Here’s a little cost breakdown: dwarf spruces: $50 for two, hostas: free from backyard, boxwoods: $57 for three, japanese andromeda: $57 for three, mulch: $15. Grand total: $179. Our goal was to keep the whole project under $250 so of course we’re thrilled.




And we can’t believe the new house that we get to come home to every day:


Not bad at all when you consider it looked like this when we made an offer three years ago:


What do you guys think? Anyone else planning a major landscaping overhaul this year? Anyone wondering how the heck we fell in love with our house when it used to look like this?


  1. says

    Wow! What a great job! Just curious if you’ve had the house re-appraised since you bought it, and how much value you’ve added overall? Keep it up! I love your site!

  2. heather710 says

    Great work you guys…it looks amazing!! Thanks for the daily reminders to vote. I vote daily & hope you win!

  3. says

    It is truly amazing what a little love and vision can do for an any space! Your house looks so wonderful now, cared for and welcoming. Great job! (again)

  4. says

    Looks great! We have a HUGE overhaul happening this week, should be done by Friday. Trees are coming out, beds are being widened and mulched, and lots of hydrangeas are going in. Stay tuned.

  5. Laura says

    My jaw just droppped! My DH and I are in the process of buying a house that looks exactly like your “Before” picture!! Maybe there is hope for us (and a lawn) yet. Thanks for all of your inspiration.

  6. Denise says


    Your landscape looks great!! I noticed a vertical fuel tank at the left corner of the house in one of the before pictures. Did you have it relocated or did you paint it to blend with the color of your brick?

    • YoungHouseLove says

      Good eye Denise! We actually painted it to match the brick (stay tuned for a post all about our camouflage project soon). The power of a little paint never fails to amaze me!


  7. says

    Looks amazing. The new landscaping really brightens up the home. I feel lucky that I don’t really have a yard to tend to (I live on the 3rd floor) but I do have a 27 acre stunningly green park with jogging trails, pond and fountain, and botanical conservatory just outside my living room and bedroom windows. It is so wonderful to wake up to such a lovely green view every morning.

  8. Nichole says

    Love it! Now I want to see some confederate star jasmine or some sweet autumn clematis growing on that trellis. It looks great without it, but I can’t see a trellis without wanting plants on it!

  9. JennD says

    Great job! I have actually been researching ranch-style house curb appeal… That is our summer project this year. We are having 10 trees taken down, removing a old yucky cement planter, and hopefully planting a nice bed of shrubs and flowers… Have you found any websites that have good ideas for ranches? Everything I find is for 2 story houses – where are all the ranch curb appeal websites? LOL :)

  10. Jill says

    WOW——-the transformation is stunning. You guys sure do good work!!

    I did my daily vote and the lead you have is narrowing (ugh). VOTE people and VOTE DAILY!!!

  11. says

    It looks so fresh and great! I’d be intested in a cost breakdown… are shrubs/plants mucho expensive? I know Brian and I have talked about doing some landscaping at his house but I think the cost has detered us some…. that and knowing the beds are all covered with small rocks and we don’t know how to dispose of them (maybe a Craigslist ad!).

    Also, even though the current beds are covered in rocks the weeds are OUT OF CONTROL. I’d be interested to hear how you keep your flower beds weed free without having to pick them every single week?

  12. tom says

    So your lawn looks awesome. Did you lay down sod or did you do it all by seed? If you did seed… what is your secret becuase it’s amazing?

  13. says

    Wow! Looks great! Shows off your porch really well.

    We are actually redoing our backyard, very slowly. When I moved in the home almost three years ago, I didn’t realize the mess I got myself into. We have lake front proporty every spring. This weekend, we discovered a problem with rats living under our shed. My compost is next to the shed. Any ideas how to protect it from my new pets?

    • YoungHouseLove says

      CostumeDiva- Here’s a post all about our recent reappraisal. Fun fun fun!

      Nichole- You’re totally right! We’d love some clematis to creep up our trellis, we just haven’t picked it up yet. Stay tuned…

      JennD- I totally feel your pain! We really haven’t found much online advice when it comes to ranch landscaping except for the advice that you should always take the time to select things that won’t tower over your house and make it look short and stubby. Our spruces will get to be 6 feet tall when they’re full grown and our japanese andromeda will be around 3 feet tall while our boxwoods will get to be about 20″ and our hostas will stay low and leafy. By layering with modestly sized selections (instead of other plantings which can quickly outgrow their placement and the house), we’re hoping that our landscaping will fit the scale of the house for years to come.

      Amanda- Here’s a little cost breakdown: dwarf spruces: $50 for two, hostas: free from backyard, boxwoods: $57 for three, japanese andromeda: $57 for three, mulch: $15. Grand total: $179. As for the weeds, our secret is included in the list above. Mulch does an amazing job at keeping weeds to a minimum, so it’s definitely worth the effort to put it down before they spring up each spring!

      Tom- That’s all seed, baby! We love Scott’s and we purchased two giant $60 bags and used ’em to reseed every fall and spring for the past two years to get things green and pretty. It was touch and go for a while, but it seems to have taken. Our secret is water water water (while you’re seeding) and do it in the right season (cool spring nights and lots of fall rain really help the grass take root- and save water). Happy seeding!

      Danielle- Hmm, do you have a lid tightly secured? Are they actually getting into your compost or just hanging out around it? I think if they’re somehow getting under the lid you could wrap a bungee cord around it to keep it firmly closed unless you’re actively dumping stuff in. Hope it helps!


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