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. Only regret is not adding a simple dry creek bed under the downspout.
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?
Fabulous job! You should be so proud. I need to do some outside work too. I should look at this again Friday night to inspire me to get to it this weekend.
I love your new landscaping, it looks gorgeous! I had a front yard overhaul this weekend as well. It has been raining for the last two weeks, so at the first sight of sun- I booked it outside. I was happy to pass on some of the unwanted plants that I pulled up to a neighbor who was walking by and asked for them. No one wanted my monkey grass either. So far it has proved to be (and I think will continue to be) a huge pain in the butt to get rid of! All the work was worth it though. I am so happy to have lots of pretty new plants and flowers to come home to. Thanks for all the tips and pictures- you guys did a great job!
WOW! What an amazing transformation from 3 years ago!! I especially love the plants with the white flowers! gorgeous! :)
Sorry Sherry, for some reason I missed your price breakdown in the post- sorry to have to ask for it! Thank you though… what an improvement for such a small investment- it’s fantastic!
Oh gotcha, well maybe when you win that $5000 from bhg (cause you will, I vote everday) But the landscaping is still looks beautiful, keep up the great work!
Look at your cute little home! I just love it! I can’t wait to own a home one day… AHEM… you wanna come decorate? It’s a short drive to Pittsburgh ;-)
Ashley H. says
What a crazy difference!
I’m terrified to start getting involved in the landscaping that is much-needed in our front yard. So this was a little inspiring. Everything you planted looks pretty easy to keep up on, which is definitely what I need.
LOVE the after! And for less than $200.00! You all are awesome!
Wonderful landscaping! Did you post the bricks on craiglist for someone to take? Gotta love recycling old building materials.
We actually kept the bricks on hand (we’ve heard that having bricks that are original to your house is a good thing in case you ever want to add a staircase or a pillar or even patch something on the house in the event of an emergency. But craigstlist definitely would have been our method if we didn’t want to keep ’em around!
Gorgeous! Your approach to home renovation is so refreshing and inspiring. Love the site!
Chelsea Ahlgrim says
I can’t believe how great it looks! A little sweat goes a long way, eh?
Lisa Accetturo says
Ok, so I may have missed someone ask you this before but I am new to the blog and have seen those super cute glass spheres hanging from your porch, and have been trying to find where on this super informational blog you have posted where you found them!! Can you share?! I love them and want some for my front porch! And like I said I am a new reader (and commerical interior designer by trade) and LOVE LOVE LOVE all the ideas you have.. everything looks great!
We actually made them with light covers from Home Depot! Here’s a link with the step by step breakdown. You can also find a slew of other tutorials on our How To page under the header. Hope it helps!
Michelle Kersey says
I bought some hydrangeas last summer for my ranch… after the normal planting season, so I got them for more than 1/2 off. They still took off and did great! Can’t wait for them to grow together and form a hedge. I now need to move around some of the boxwoods that are behind them and I totally understand about the Loriope! I hate it! I’m thinking about either moving it somewhere else or just “gifting” them to people. My mom has lots of hostas at her house and will be gifting me some of those once I’m ready for them. I think our ranch houses will have a similar feel :) Flowering shrubs, boxwoods, and hostas! It’s a great transformation you two did! Oh, and I know why you bought the house… you two can see the potential in things… I’m the same way.
Amy G says
Your “after” photo isn’t taken from the same distance as the “before” was — did you cut down the giant trees in your front yard, or have you just maneuvered around them in your “after” photos to keep the pretty house and front garden the focus?
Yup, all the trees that you see in the before picture except for the two that you see in the after photo were removed. We needed to allow more light into our house and the big split oak tree was actually dangerous (it was dying) so our home inspector recommended having it taken down. We love the more open look from the street (we no longer look like the one house in the neighborhood that’s hiding before a forest). Hope it helps!
I am fairly new to your blog but i have fallen in love…. my qyestions is about your trees, did you get them cut through Craigslist or through your insurance? We have the same issue as you did with trees in the way of our natural light, and would like to know which route you went with either CL or Insurance (if CL i will give it a try so that I can also be “thrifty”.
We actually hired a licensed and insured tree company to tackle our trees. You definitely don’t want someone getting hurt on your property (they can sue you!) or a non-expert messing up and causing a tree to fall on you, your house or the power lines (yikes!) so it pays to hire the best man for the job. Of course we got a number of estimates and went with the one that best fit our budget. Many of our trees were huge so smaller companies couldn’t handle them, but the good news is that we got some of the cost of the tree removal written into our offer for the house (so we paid less at closing to offset the price of some of the tree work). I guess if yours are very small you can probably get someone on Craigslist to help, but be careful! In the end it was definitely money well spent to have a pro dealing with the giant oaks that used to reside in our front lawn- and we love coming home to a lighter house with less moss and mildew on the roof and a much more inviting yard (which of course upped our whole house’s value). Hope it helps!
My wife and I recent bought our first house as well, I just finished running new wiring to rooms that (believe it or not) had no outlets at all, and added cat6 jacks to most of the rooms too.
Now that we’re starting on some minor landscaping, my neighbors stopped by and had a chat about our mailbox. It came with the house and they told us that they were trying to get the whole road to convert to a single style (if not color) of box. They kept trying to convince us how great an idea it was, and I have to say we were kind of put off. We couldn’t figure out why anyone would want the same mailbox in front of every house, or why people didn’t think it was rude to suggest it. I’m not trying to insult you guys, it’s a free country, but they got all angry and stormed off when I asked why we would want to do that. Could you articulate why they were interested in cloning the mailboxes? I only ask because I saw you suggest the same thing.
I like the trellis that you attached to the chimney by the way, it gives it a more positive focus than just “that part of my house that sticks out”!
It’s totally a personal preference thing, but just like we mentioned in our previous comment…
“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…”
All of the houses and landscaping in our neighborhood are extremely varied, so it’s not like it would look like a street full of insanely similar homes and mailboxes, we just thought it would be charming to drive down our hilly street and NOT see the mailboxes, and the easiest way to not notice them would be if they all blended together instead of clashing and looking like a mismatched hodge podge of plastic, metal, paint and wood. Again, it’s a personal opinion thing though, so do what makes you happy!
Brittany S. says
Do you mind me asking what tree company you decided to go with? My boyfriend and I just closed on our new home in Richmond. We are very excited, but also kind of bummed about the fact that one of the (only) two trees in our backyard is dead and must be removed. Sigh! I definitely see some tree planting in our future.
Love your blog!
We went with Shady Tree Service (William’s the owner and he’s great). Just google around for the info! Hope it helps.
How did you go about planting grass seed for such a big lawn? Did it take a long time for it to grow to the point where you could start to mow it? Both our front and back lawn are in need of new grass seed badly! We live in upstate NY…any ideas?
Here’s a post with that info for you (we used a pushable grass-seed spreader and walked around seeding the yard): https://www.younghouselove.com/2008/05/welcome-to-the-jungle/
Hope it helps!
Thanks for the tree removal recommendation Sherry! We went with Shady Tree after getting estimates from four different tree removal services. Shady Tree offered the best deal and did a great job!
So glad to hear it! Love those guys!
I love your idea about getting free craigslist landscaping work! So funny, I never would have thought of that but it’s genius!! The new plants look great, by the way.
You guys are both a blessing for me. I love to read your do it yourself projects and think you are inspiring. Your home is beautiful and you made it your own. Now, please come help me… lol…
Aw thanks Bethany, you’re so sweet! Be right over, haha!
Fantastic, this looks so much like our brick ranch home. Now we need the “after”. Thanks for the ideas!