It looked sweet when we finished it last year, especially if you ignored the fact that we had lots of landscaping stuff to attend to behind it. But these days it’s looking more like this:
That’s a whole lotta ugly going on.
The patio itself still looks great (and is weed free thanks to this step, while our un-polymeric-sanded cobblestone driveway is covered with them), but the “garden” area behind the patio has never looked worse.
We even learned from the Katherine (the certified landscape designer who recently came over) that some of the trees were diseased and dying (which we actually heard from the previous owners as well but didn’t want to believe) along with a big rhododendron bush that was completely dead. Bummers.
So she told us what to prune back, what to keep, and what dead or diseased things we should remove to give the living things a better shot at survival – and make the whole area look a lot less… well, ugly.
So first we removed the two diseased trees that were on their last leg (sniffle) and the completely dead rhododendron. Then we raked up all the leaves so we could actually see the ground again.
It was definitely a huge immediate upgrade. In person the open-ness is really nice. Things were sort of encroaching on the patio a lot when it was all overgrown back there, so now when you walk onto the patio you feel less crowded and worried you’ll get a stick in the eye.
But we still had some liriope to remove and a whole lot of bare spots that needed some planting (I’ve been meaning to paint our rain barrel to blend him in a bit more, but who knows how long it’ll take me to get on that…).
The next step was digging out all the random clumps of liriope to make way for some more intentional looking plantings.
So here’s the area behind the tree that we cleared to make way for some free bushes.
How does one get free bushes? Well, by transplanting them of course. Yup, it was another suggestion from Katherine The Landscape Gal. She pointed out these were much too big and on top of each other over here…
… so we dug them up…
… and planted the three nandina bushes in a group with the one that was already there next to our giant hydrangeas in the corner. Since one happy little nandina bush was already on this side of the garden, we knew they’d do well over here. And a clump of the same type of plant always looks nicer than just one of ten different things hanging out all willy nilly together. Ideally we would have transplanted four of them to end up with a grouping of five since odd numbers seem to work well in gardening, but we were working with what we have. Thankfully they look nice in their little pack and will continue to fill in a bit more.
Then we grabbed three new hydrangea bushes from a local nursery (after some price checking, a place called Great Big Greenhouse had the best deal and also offered a year warranty on them). They’re the exact same variety as the ones we already have in the corner – which are doing gangbusters, so we hope these guys will grow nice and big and bloom just as well.
Of course only time will tell, but we’ll keep you posted. Here’s everything all dug in before we mulched the whole bed (which looks awesome by the way- just forgot to snap photos so we’ll have to share those in our next landscaping update).
Between all the rain we’re getting (and the rain barrel that’s nice and full from previous storms which comes in handy for stretches of dryness), we’re making sure these guys don’t give up on us. Oh and in Clara news, she especially loves talking about worms since digging our new plants in prompted us to discover a few (she even said she had a dream about worms the next night).
Sure we still have the corner by the rain barrel to attend to, but we have plans for that. So we’ll get there, someday! It’s definitely a nice discernible difference from the mess we were working with a week ago. There’s something really rewarding about landscaping work, although it’s bound to get you dirty and sweaty, just due to the fact that it’s such an obvious before and after. Something pretty and green can be found where there were only leaves and weeds the day before.
And the whole area is looking especially cheerful with the trees in bloom too.
Here are things from the other side (yup, Clara really did make it her job to be in every pic). This shows a few places we still have to work on (the bed near the house could use some smaller-scale greenery and of course we have the whole corner with the rain barrel to tackle)…
… but it’s definitely a lot easier on the eyes than this debacle.
It’s so crazy to me that the shot above was only taken about a week before the after pic on top of it (see all the buds on the trees that were about to bloom?).
Now they’re doing their thing. So pretty.
Here’s another before…
… and after.
And another. I can’t help it.
Ahh, much better.
I really wish I had snapped mulch pictures because it’s even better looking. Oh well, at least the mulch is holding it down and keeping weeds out and moisture in. Yay mulch. Update: Couldn’t resist sharing a Mulched & Fabulous pic, so I ran out and got this for ya:
It’s definitely a far cry from the view before:
This next picture is my favorite of the entire lot because I said “Clara, you’re in mommy’s picture!” and she squatted and closed her eyes and said “Where’s Clara” as if she were invisible.
Which must run in the family, because it’s exactly what her daddy did here.
What can I say? The girl has good hiding genes.
What are you guys planting? Do you have any favorites? I never thought I’d be buying hydrangeas since they always seemed to be out of my skill level (how can something that pretty not be super high maintenance?) but after 15 months of not killing the existing hydrangeas (which get bigger and more gorgeous each spring) we decided to go for it. And nandina is always a really easy one for us (we had that at our last house and it always did well), so here’s hoping I didn’t just jinx myself. Anyway, I’d love to hear what action is going on outside in the garden or on the porch or wherever else you get your plant on.
Does liriope multiply? I wonder if the previous owners just got an entire truck load delivered.. because you have the stuff everywhere!
Our hydrangeas have gotten huuuuuuge in the 6 years we’ve been in the house. I have to aggressively cut them back every year and they keep coming back for more.
Yes, it spreads by thickness every year! We have approximately five million tons of the stuff. Haha. And so happy to hear your hydrangeas are such strong bloomers. That’s awesome!
Amy @ this DIY life says
Stef – I have to do the same thing with my hydrangea! Everyone I told I was cutting it back gasped so big, I thought I was going to be sucked in. I’m so glad to hear that someone else *has* to cut theirs back. We just about lost half of our front porch the first summer we were in our house. Have you tried starting any of your cuttings for other places? I tried but it didn’t work, so I’m looking for a regular person who has had luck with it :)
Amy – I didn’t even know you can root off the cuttings! I may try it out now. I’m veggie gardening pro but pretty lousy with flowers/landscaping. I just hack the hydrangea back every year for fear of it eating our deck. I’ll try a cutting and report back on your blog if it goes well!
I mean seriously, is there anything you don’t do? The patio looks great!
Haha, well thanks! The rest of the yard is looking pretty terrible!
It looks great!! It’s amazing what a different a little leaf raking/plant removal/mulching can do for a space! We did a similar project last weekend- check it out:
Looks great! Love that little garden!
Heidi S. says
It is nice to see your garden taking shape! I am a big fan of Nandina (very nice winter interest with the berries and reddish leaves). I also like hydrangeas. It looks like you got the endless summer variety. I have a couple of those and quite like them, since it lengths the bloom cycle. Don’t be afraid to trim the hydrangeas back either, since they can get overly large if left untamed. I recommend trimming them in the fall. Trim back the branches that had flowers on them, since they won’t flower again on that branch (the newer branches without flowers will typically bloom the following year). They also work so well in vases that I take advantage of that and do my a fair amount of my “trimming” while they are in bloom. Here is what is blooming up here in my garden in PA:
Thanks for the tips Heidi! Gorgeous garden!
heidi your garden is fantastic.
Kristen @ Popcorn on the Stove says
Haha – love those last two pics of Clara and John. So funny!
The backyard looks great! Definitely an upgrade (mulch definitely helps!).
Lindsey @ arkadian belle woods says
Lookin’ good Petersiks! I love your patio! I think everyone has some yard/patio/deck flaws right now trying to clean up all the yuck from the small winter we had!
It looks fantastic! It gives me hope for our nasty looking yard (that needs to be completely dug up due to dead/dying plants and a lot of unwanted ivy).
Hahaha. I love the “I can’t see you so you obviously can’t see me” thought process. It’s like the kid who always hides facing the corner. Um… hey buddy.
We have a hydrangea at our house that I can’t wait to see bloom. We moved in last June, so I never got to see what color the flowers are. So oddly excited!
Brandi @ His Shabby Her Chic says
That is quite an improvement! I can’t wait to see it all grown in.
Clara is too funny!
HAHAHAHAH! So cute! I love the Ninja skills. I love your back yard! Mine is huge dog poop filled grassland. Someday! I am also so jelly of your dogwood! Mine just died, and yes, I cried a little.
So sad about your dogwood Brandy!
When we bought our house, we swear (and so do the neighbors) that the previous homeowner did NOTHING on the yard for years! So we’re still taking back the yard from the wisteria, vines, and other overgrowth. Wisteria is lovely, don’t get me wrong, but it chokes trees to death and spreads like the plague.
My husband and I are pretty good at ripping the ugly out…but we stall on putting new stuff in. Oops! Looks like I need to start stalking Groupon and Living Social for a landscape designer :)
It looks so tidy now! All of your before pictures look similar to our yard but our’s is 10x worse. It’s overwhelming! We are having a company come out next week to give us a quote to remove some large, dead trees and I’m scared to find out how much it’s going to cost us! (But I suppose not as scared as I’d be to pay for the repairs if one should fall on our house!)
We finally finished our kitchen (anexcellentadventure.blogspot.com) and now moving onto the next project – the yard. If only it were as simple as planting a money tree to pay for all the un-DIY-able jobs!
Congrats on your kitchen Lizzy! And good luck outside!
You guys are the masters of making small tweaks and having that make a huge difference! Wow, what a change!
I was so worried when I read the title – I was all like, “Oh no! Not the pretty patio!”
Those garden beds look great in the after shots, and the mulch makes it even better.
It’s autumn over here now and the rain’s finally started (more than a month in), so I’m looking forward to having green lawn again. I’m thinking I should put something down on it like water saving crystals for when summer hits again though, to try and help reduce water usage next summer. Must look into that!
We LOVE hydrangeas – easy to care for, beautiful, and work so awesome for cutting to bring inside. A great filler for those glass vases you’ve got in your bathroom :)
We just dug up a bunch of daylillies that were here when we moved in and planted sunflower seeds. We passed the daylillies (which we have tons of!) to firends and family. We have hydrangeas also – they bloom in a beautiful shade of blue.
We are tackiling out front garden this year as well. Keeping some stuff and pulling some out completely. I was never a gardening person but I really love it.
Have you considered some type of veggies for over by the raib barrel? We did tomato last year and they were delish. Nothing better than eating your own grown food!
We would love to do a veggie garden- although it feels like time is against us since things should already be in the ground. We do have some herb seedlings planted since we know Clara will love to see them sprout up, and maybe next year we can add some raised beds in a sunnier spot (it’s pretty shady over next to the rain barrel).
Heather S says
Your growing time is so different than MI- we can’t plant anything until late May due to frost usually!
Kala M. says
When we finally buy our own house I plan on planting some Hydrangea and Pieris japonica ‘Scarlett O’Hara’. We used white and green hydrangea as one of our wedding flowers and I just love the big flower balls on each plant. I think I may try to do white and blue. I also love ‘Scarlett O’Hara’ plants they have these little branches of tiny bell flowers that are so pretty. Lastly, I want to have a vegetable garden. We had one at my parent’s house when I was little and I loved it. We grew green beans, tomatoes, yellow squash, and we even tried broccoli and corn one year.
Julia @ Chris loves Julia says
Staring out the window yesterday afternoon, I told Chris, “I wish Yard Crashers would come.” Gahh!
I think this title should have been, “I got 99 problems and the patio is just 1.” :-)
Hahaha, true dat.
HA! GMTA! I was getting ready to post that an alternate title should be: “I got 99 problems but a bush ain’t one.”
Looks fantastic, especially with the mulch…. oh how I wish we had a garden. At the moment we are making do with planting tomatoes and leaving them on the window sill and hoping they don’t die :-) http://madeinmorningside.blogspot.co.uk/2012/04/you-say-tomato-i-say-tomato.html
Looks great! Now I can’t wait to get outside and start sprucing up the yard. Unfortunately I’ll have to wait another month or two since there is still snow here. (Newfoundland, Canada)
Sarah @ onecraftyhome says
Your patio is looking great! I love the improvements…and the picture of Clara pretending she can’t be seen!
I’m getting such a kick out of Clara! I wish there were blogs when my kids were little so I could remember all the cute stuff they did. Love hydrangeas, but I doubt if they grow here in Montana, so I bought a potted one at the grocery store to keep inside. Hope I don’t kill it! The yard looks great!
The Undomesticated Wife says
It’s difficult for me to find plants that do well in our Texas heat/drought. Like ferns..I’d love more ferns, but can’t do them outside. Or dogwoods. I’ve had luck with iris and canna lilies..I don’t feed or water them, and they grow like crazy. So I just leave them be.
I have two rain barrels. One I spray painted a color similar to my brick (sort of taupe-ish) so it would blend a little better. Then I wrapped the barrel in weather-resistant lattice that the previous owners left in the garage. I planted four honeysuckles around it (two of which survived) and then as it grew, wove the vines through the lattice. You can’t even tell there’s a barrel there now. :)
Vidya @ Whats Ur Home Story says
Looks really lovely. I’m big on hydrangeas too. What are your thoughts on adding a rug to the patio/deck? I’m kinda debating about it on our deck. It sure looks good in all those magazines but I am worried how hard it would be to maintain. Don’t want to spend money on something that would end up being a hassle to maintain.
We thought about adding one to our patio but didn’t want to cover those pretty cobblestones we lovingly laid! Haha. But if you have a patio or porch that you think could use some warming up, it’s definitely a nice way to create an outdoor zone. I think they’re meant to be outside so hopefully it’ll hold up! Anyone have any experience with them?
We have an outdoor rug on our deck that we got at Costco. We’ve had it 2 or 3 years and it still looks great. It probably helps that it is on a deck and there for rain/moisture can drain and it dries faster. Not sure how it would do on a more solid surface, but it is great to step out on bare feet and not worry about pesky splinters. Hope this helps.
[email protected] says
I love hydrangeas! They are so pretty! Our yard is definitely in bloom! And we have some beautiful hot pink, white and purple azaleas blooming, but they are hidden in the back yard! We want to either transplant them, or get a few matching ones for the front.
I so need to get some kind of rain barrel this year!
We had to pay heaps of extra money for water as the last summer was very dry for a very long time (and then very wet, but also for weeks) and I had to water all the very thirsty plants out on my balcony. I just don’t know where to put it and how to fill it – there’s no rain spout on our balcony. Need to do some research.
MUCH better! What a huge improvement against the pre-patio days (fence, patio, plants – wahoo!).
I hope you will reconsider using nandina, though. They are beautiful and have great four season interest, but they are incredibly invasive and crowd out natural plants. Even though you may keep them under control in your yard, you have no control over where the seeds end up!
Thanks for the tip Kristen! We did learn from Katherine that we should just pluck up any small offshoots or sprouts before they get too big. And keeping the area mulched should help contain them. Here’s hoping. Of course we’ll transplant them again if they give us trouble!
The patio does look wonderful! I would like to second the tip about Nandina, though. Although it may behave in your landscape, it can be a nasty invasive exotic plant to surrounding forests, especially in the South. You guys are so cutting edge on being Eco-Friendly in your home – you may want to contact your local extension agent and check out the plants that are a threat in your area to continue your practices outside, too!
Thanks VickiP! We have heard the tip about contacting our extension office and definitely plan to work some native plants in but had never thought about learning which plants are a threat in our area. Good to know!
Yes — this really looks lovely!
We too have a southern ranch home and are slowly renovating the 1950s landscaping. Our extension office said that the biggest environmental threat from nandina comes from the dispersal of seeds across a wide range by birds and other wildlife. So, the problem is not so much the potential for the plants to spread within our yard, but rather the potential for our plants to provide seeds that then are carried into other people’s yards and into natural areas. If you visit our state parks you can see these plants crowding out the native vegetation. Nandina is beautiful, though, so if you like the look but they are invasive in your area please consider removing the berries or planting one of the sterile varieties sold at nurseries and garden centers. We are further south than you (zone 8), but wanted to pass this information along in case someone might find it helpful!
Such a great idea! It’s so easy to remove the berries so we can definitely do that to help!
Looks SO nice. What type of tree is that flowering one you have? It’s very pretty!
I planted 2 blueberry bushes last night, and last fall I planted about 150 bulbs of many different types of flowers, and it’s been SO fun this spring watching them all come up!
It’s a dogwood. We love that guy! Wow- and all those bulbs must be gorgeous!
Krystle @ Color Transformed Family says
I think it looks great. I don’t exactly possess the green thumb either but my husband and I have great success with bulbls (canas, tulips, Easter lilies, and other). All oh need is an area with full sun (mailbox) and they take care if themselves.
emily @ go haus go says
I recently had to remove a dead tree and it was a little sad but had to be done. It’s looking fantastic!
Its nice to see how you are taking your landscaping projects, one thing at a time. Our yard still needs so much work, that I know its going to be years before it looks the way we want it to look. We did a patio last year and the yard remained grassless, but we just seeded a week and a half ago and we’re patiently waiting for it to grow!
Any plans for a veggie garden? I bet Clara would love that.
She would! We’re thinking we might not have time for a full veggie garden with so many other outdoor things going on, but we’re planting herbs with her. Can’t wait to see her face when those seeds sprout up!
Looks gorgeous! I need to get out in my garden now!
It’s hard to tell from the pictures, but I wonder if your hydrangeas are a little too close together? As some of the other posters mentioned, they get really big, and although you can prune them in the fall, endless summer and similar varieties bloom on both old and new wood, and you’ll get much bigger/better blooms if you don’t prune too much. The old wood will produce huge beautiful flowers. If you spread them a little farther apart you won’t have to prune every year.
Thanks for the tip Laura! The pics are deceiving since we planted them at the recommended distance on the tag. They’re about the same distance apart as the giant ones in the corner, so maybe it’s just the photos that have them looking close?
Jessica @ Quirky Bookworm says
Ha! I love the “if I can’t see you, you can’t see me” mentality that toddlers have. So great!
1) I am obsessed with hydrangeas. They are so pretty and full. 2) I die (a la Rachel Zoe) over Clara. She is too cute. Great work outside!
Jen W says
Clara is ADORABLE. She even made the “before” pics look good! :)
Devon @ Green House, Good Life says
Looking good! I’m perpetually working on my yard, but I’ve taken some time off lately to coordinate and then go on a garden tour of my block. Working on writing up the post now….
Sierra Nething says
I am in love with your pink dogwood tree! I saw one in person on a family vacation in Yosemite and I can’t wait to plant one at my house. Can you tell me a little more about it? How long is it usually in bloom? The rest of the year is it mostly just green leaves? Or just pretty bare?
We love that thing too! It’s usually green and leafy from spring through fall but in the beginning of spring it gets those pretty pink flowers. They probably bloom about three weeks? Maybe even a month? It’s a nice long time and then they fall off and it’s all covered in green leaves. It’s only bare in the winter. Hope it helps!
Sara Johnson says
I hope your next post shows the table with some decor on it! I have a glass coffee table that I’m getting ready to replace before my son can walk and now I’m thinking I should put it outside! haha
P.s. Love the painted bathroom ceiling. Going to do that asap! What do you think about painting a hallway ceiling same as walls?
I would do it in a hallway too! Might keep it from feeling as narrow/closed in! Good luck!
looks beautiful!! nice work. i’m envious of how lush everything is there. texas? not so much.
Jodi T. says
I’d love to see a “how to” on digging up plants/ bushes. There are a few in my front yard that died due to the Texas drought last summer. I’d like to pull those out and maybe transplant a few to fill in the gaps… Who knows. Everything looks great!! Can’t wait to see more of your landscaping escapades :)
I wish we had a long involved method, but we just dig about a foot around the base of the bush on all sides and keep digging until it’s easy to lift the bush or shrub out of the ground. Oh and it’s easier to dig when the ground is moist. Hope it helps!
Lindsey B says
I was going to say the same thing – we transplanted a small boxwood and it took a full day to dig it up and move. I figured we must be doing something wrong, but we just dug around the root ball.
Also – did you remove the trees yourself? Did you dig those up or cut them down? Did you leave the stumps? I am wondering because we have some huge bushes we want to cut down (and I know we couldn’t dig them out b/c they are about 7′), and I’m not sure if we should just leave the stump or grind it. I’m also afraid of digging them up b/c they are very close to the front porch’s foundation (which is just concrete block) and I’m afraid to damage it. Grinding costs $$$ though.
I used a reciprocating saw to cut them at the very very base. So we have very low-lying stumps that we were able to cover when we mulched.
The hubby and I are about to undertake a MAJOR re-do of our yard. We used to have the prettiest yard in the neighborhood (trust me- he’s very competitive with our neighbor). We’re changing the type of grass we have (currently tall fescue and going to bermuda) because it’s easier to manage, not prone to fungus and will require little work on his part. We’re also redoing our flower beds. Taking out boxwoods and putting in more hydrangea (I get a new hydrangea plant for every mother’s day). I think I want to put in some gardenia and camellia bushes too. I’m tired just typing it out, and we haven’t even started yet.
Sounds so pretty!
Missy G. says
I love your landscaping posts. It’s a DIY that I can actually do! Any tips on how to find a Katherine in my local area? And do you think that she would have been worth the full amount?
Now that we’re getting things done her advice totally feels worth the full amount. I’d google “certified landscaping expert” and see what comes up! You definitely want someone who knows their stuff. Oh and maybe you can ask for a referral from a local nursery? They probably know folks who have lots of experience!
Ashley Z says
Looking great!! In the first ‘before’ picture, I don’t see the fence, did I miss when you guys put that in? It looks like a nice, safe space for Clara to run around (and not run away :))!
Oh yes, here’s the post about adding that about a week after the big patio reveal: https://www.younghouselove.com/our-little-pre-party-post-patio-project/
Erin @ One Project at a Time says
I’m so jealous of your Groupon deal for the landscaper. I feel like I could do so much more if I had a plan, (what grows best where, what I can move, etc…) the house we bough last year has this crazy system of garden beds built into the retaining wall in the back, so it’s been a hunt to figure out what’s planted, what we should move, etc… I can’t wait to build raised beds and plant a big garden up in this space though. I’m going to get started as soon as our 3rd bathroom reno is done. (One project at a time they say…)
Haha, good luck Erin!
Yay, what a change!! Our apple tree is in bloom, as well as the dogwood and purple irises. Just planted 2 blue hydrangeas to block the compost bin from view of the street.
Can’t wait to get my veggies going here soon!
molly s says
love it! that’s DEFINITELY a project hubs and i gotta get to work on this summer – our backyard is what some would call a “dumpster fire” – it’s horrible. like, embarrassing. really embarrassing. gotta fix it. hopefully i can report back with a positive outcome once we get to work on it.
also. clara is ADORBS.
Aw thanks Molly- good luck with your yard!
One of the most fun things about hydrangeas is that you can change the color of the blooms with just a little tinkering with the PH of your soil.
I love hydrangeas (I had them in my wedding) but my Dad calls them the “dusty old lady flowers” which makes me laugh. I think he has them confused with mums.