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?
heather s. says
Looks great! (psst…you spelled hostas wrong in one of your paragraphs above)
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!
Great work you guys…it looks amazing!! Thanks for the daily reminders to vote. I vote daily & hope you win!
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)
What a difference! You guys did a great job!
Molly Rosedale 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.
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.
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?
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!
melissa @ den design studio 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.
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!
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 :)
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!!!
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?
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?
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?
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!
I could kiss you guys! I have been wrestling with what to plant in front of my house and just bought a boxwood and dwarf arborvite (can’t spell that sucker) – I love what you did, and now have the finishing ideas for my own transformation (will send photos one day!) Thanks!
The ‘after’ is a great improvement. You obviously don’t have deer patrolling your neighborhood or your hostas would not have survived.
A note to people cutting down trees: any trees that you leave standing will celebrate by branching out in the newly reclaimed sunshine.
Cecily T says
Looks great! The biggest before/after difference that I notice though is actually having some sun in your yard and grass growing. The front beds look tons better though.
Here, we are getting ready to put in food beds. We are getting our soil amendments delivered this weekend and I’m ordering asparagus and berry bushes (must…exercise…restraint) today so they can go in this weekend as well!
Our front bed is probably a fall project at this point. Whoever laid out the bed didn’t do such a good job on the symmetry, so we need to dig stuff up and move it around, as well as add some things.
I just got 2 new whiskey barrels for my herbs as well. We need more beds so badly, but I’m going to need a landscaper to terrace our hill at some point.
Amie A. says
That is so simple and beautiful! I love the bright, cheery greens of the leafy plants in front and the Spruce trees…so fresh looking.
[email protected] says
Looks great! This reminds me that I need to get to work on my yard.
Beautiful! We did the same thing with our front beds when we moved in. Wish we’d thought of the Craigslist idea…instead my husband tied the plants up to the back of his jeep and pulled them out. It was a sight for sure!
If you need to rid of any more lirope, please let us know…we need some to line a walkway and I can’t fathom spending $3 per plant for it!
What a beautiful transformation!
We are currently renting a house that came whit a very large but horribly ugly yard. We don’t plan to stay here forever,but because it is a rental we don’t want to overhaul it. We are doing little things here and there that are more labor intensive than expensive hoping to make an improvement.
I love reading your posts! Great transformation!
Sierra Nething says
I can’t believe you guys totally transformed the front of your house and upped your curb appeal for $179! very impressive! I like your idea of getting rid of the brick edging around the flower bed that was already there. You didn’t keep yourself boxed in to what was already there, but decided to make it your own and color outside the lines! LOVE it! I also love that you used your inside trick on the outside of the house by adding splashes of white flowers to brighten everything up. You have such an eye for all of this.
man i can’t believe you just bought your home 3 years ago! what a transformation!
my hubby and i are in the process of buying our first home right now and i’m so excited… we should close in the next week or so! we like the layout and it has enough space for a growing family but it needs some updating! i cant wait to work on those projects the next couple years- and am so glad i have your blog to turn to for inspiration!
That looks GORGEOUS!!! I can’t wait to start our landscaping!! :) Quick question, when you mulch, do you use the black garden edging or just lay the mulch where you want it?? I wasn’t sure if the edging would actually be worth the money or not?? xo
We just cut/edge the grass into the shape that we want for the mulching bed and then follow the line of the grass with our mulch. Using garden edging guards certainly can’t hurt, but we have had pretty good luck just laying the mulch where we’d like and edging the grass around the mulch bed once a year for a clean look. Hope it helps!
Beautiful. Did you used dwarf boxwoods? We are going to replace some very old very overgrown bushes in front of our house soon and are thinking dwarf boxwoods would fit and give that waxy-leaf look year round.
Meg- Yes, we went with a slow growing variety of boxwood that will only get around 2-3 feet wide and tall so they don’t outgrow their placement. They’re definitely great for that fresh green look all year round.
Mary- We’ve been meaning to grab some creeping clematis to grow up that trellis (which we placed there add interest to the big flat plane of brick and mimic the grid shape on the front porch). Stay tuned…
Voting daily :)
What is that back trellis on your chimeney for?
What a great idea for getting rid of unwanted plants! I love that not only did you score free labor, but that the plants didn’t end up getting thrown away. The place looks amazing!
Great job…you really have me thinking. I also have a brick ranch and have scoured the library and bookstore looking for landscaping ideas. I haven’t been able to find anything. I have monkey grass and nandinas which I really don’t like…at all!!! Thanks for the inspiration!
I’ve been in process of planting and updating our landscape for the last couple of years (the previous owners took the plants with them or primarily used annuals). A couple of budget tips I’ve used:
– If you’re willing to wait a bit for growing time, you can often get smaller plants for cheaper (especially early in the season). They don’t add quite as much instant curb appeal, but they’ll get there.
– In my area, one of the local garden stores has a huge 1/2 price perennial sale every fall. Fall is actually a great time to plant perennials as it gives the plant time to focus its energy on its roots for a stronger plant come spring! And who doesn’t love 1/2 price?!?
PS: Your yard looks great! I love the updates – so much better than those old scraggly things.
I like the new landscaping, but what I really want to know is how you got all your grass to come in after looking at that before picture.
It was certain quite an effort, but we raked all the leaves and mulch and debris up to start fresh with some roughed-up dirt and just used Scott’s grass seed (we purchased two giant $60 bags) to fill things in. We’ve reseeded faithfully every fall and spring for the past two years to get things green and pretty. It was touch and go there for a while, but it seems to have taken. Our secret is water water water when you’re seeding (if the seeds dry out and burn they wont germinate) 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!
You guys are magic makers. love it.
Wow, it looks so great! You’ve really updated the front of your house. Thanks for the cost breakdown too, I would have guessed it cost a lot more. I can’t believe how expensive landscaping is, you did a great job of staying within a budget. We were planning on making several new beds this spring but after the first two, I think all others will be on hold since things cost a little more than we hoped. I kind of wish we had started with the front of the house, but we’ll get there someday. You can see what we did here:
We did plant a small cherry tree in the front, I’m hoping it grows quickly :-)
question about the hostas – do they really spread out? We are planning on planting a few between our house and the neighbors but I wasn’t sure how many I needed.
Hostas are awesome because they disappear into the ground every fall and pop up all tiny and cute each spring (only to get bigger and rounder as the season progresses). Each year you can divide them so you can definitely plant three and have six by the following year, etc. Hope it helps!
kristin jo says
You guys have helped me so much with my 1940s post-war rancher, you have no idea!
I have been debating about taking down a ginormous blue spruce that now dwarfs my house, kills all the grass below it, and spreads needles, cones and branches everywhere.
Now I am thinking — yes, do it!!!
Thank you so much for being so consistantly optimistic and helpful! I”m glad to see you went up in the ranks on voting this weekend.
I’m 25, single for a bit longer, and I rent (an amazing victorian)….but it’s so encouraging to be reminded how simple a some compost, a few plants, and some mulch can be. I”ll say it, I”m a fan. Thank you!
Hard to believe it’s the same place!
We bought our home two-and-a-half years ago and we’re just getting around to the gardening aspect and finding out that we need to deal with a grub infestation. (The “up” side to the grubs is the extra fauna they’re attracting ;-) ) We’ll stay the course and, hopefully, in the next 3 to 5 years our yard will look as beautiful as yours.
I’ve been voting for you daily! Hope you win.
Wow! What an improvement! My husband and I have been trying to pick out some new plants for the front yard, and after seeing those gorgeous hostas, we MUST have a few of those! Do they need lots of sunlight, or do they prefer shade? Your entire porch/front yard makeover is just beautiful! I’ve been voting daily! :)
I love the plants you picked, they go very nice with your house. I am in the same boat with you and several others that posted, it’s hard to find landscaping ideas for ranches. We’ve been hitting Lowe’s and Home Depot almost every weekend lately and planting like crazy. We planted a bunch of hostas too, they are one of my favorites, so easy.
We must be on the same page this year, b/c all we have done to our house in Yorktown, VA is landscape, landscape. We doubled the size of our deck in the spring and are working on mulching and planting the flower beds. Then in the fall, we’ll be completely re-grading our backyard and putting down all new grass. I cannot wait to share before and after photos.
Kristi Whitman says
We just bought our first home in December, and like you, inherited some ugly monster bushes in the front yard. We are doing to have to do some major landscaping out there, so your post is inspiring and motivating. Good tip about the free Craigslist labor too! I will have to try that one.
As a fellow Richmond resident, I’d love to know your go-to nursery. I know you all dig Lowe’s/Home Depot, but how about Strange’s? Great Big Greenhouse?
We actually got everything for our front landscaping makeover from Home Depot, but we have found great deals at Great Big Greenhouse and Sneed’s on occasion (we got a beautiful crepe myrtle from GBG last fall) so they’re definitely both worth perusing as well!
Cara Beth Buie says
That looks so great! You guys have done so much already to improve your curb appeal!! Our front yard makeover was last year’s project for us, and we have been sooo happy with the results! There’s just nothing better than pulling into the driveway after a long day at work and seeing green grass and happy plants
LOVE THE AFTER PICTURE. SO BEAUTIFUL! Question: What is the green stuff on the chimney? Can it be power washed or is it like moss or something?
The green stuff is good ol’ Richmond mold, and it totally needs a good power wash. It can also be sprayed/scrubbed with a water & bleach solution but we’d hate to let bleach run into our new planting beds so we’ll just have to wait to rent a power washer.
Megan S says
Great job! I am so motivated now to tackle our landscape- very similar situation. Thank you for the tips and congrats on your success!
I have to ask. Have you upgraded that ugly mailbox out on the corner from the before photo. Nothing worse than an ugly mailbox. Besides…I know your answer could be an entire blog post about mailboxes. That’s how you two roll. :-)
Good question Kristy! We did a little mini makeover with some paint and two sets of stainless steel street numbers (one for each side of the post). It actually did a world of good but my secret dream is to start a neighborhood initiative where everyone on our street gets the same classic and clean mailbox so they all match and it looks that much more charming driving down our street. I know it might sound a little Stepford, but everyone has different mailboxes with different colors and materials and I always think about what a huge neighborhood upgrade it would be. But could I convince a bunch of strangers that we should all spring for the same post and mailbox… and could we all agree on one model? We shall see…
Love the look of the new landscape! I’ve been thinking about moving some plants around, including our hostas, and a few others. My goal is to have all white flowers in our front yard (actually it would be a “moon garden”….) but it might take some time! Great job for staying under budget too!!