Curb Unappeal to Curb Appeal

April 11, 2011   //  Posted in: Curb Appeal, Gardening   //  By: Emily   //  12 responses
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Let me jump right in. As I mentioned on Friday, I’ve been getting overly excited about springtime because it means I can finally contract someone to fix my gross driveway. I’m also amped to work on a landscaping overhaul in the front yard… umm, let me define “overhaul”. No, I don’t need retaining walls, no, I won’t be ordering in a truck of sod, and I’m not thinking about adding fountains (or fire features for that matter…this isn’t Yard Crashers).

I’m just looking to do a little something to improve this place and add a little curb appeal.

Curb appeal is lacking. But at least it's springtime and now I can work on it again.

The most frustrating part of gardening for me is… waiting. I planted azaleas two summers ago. They’re still tiny (they’re the teeny shrubby things in the picture above). I planted two hydrangea plants (they’re the teeny branchy thing in the picture above… planted closely together). They’re still tiny too. I transplanted an unidentifiable tree/bush two years ago, which started growing really well last summer, but now I think it’s too close to the corner of the house and brushes against the sunroom windows. Not really sure it’ll stay, or could stay without damaging the house someday. And (bad gardener alert) I even forgot to plant my tulip bulbs until New Years Day, so they’re a little behind the tulip growth curve compared to all of the ones I see popping up in other people’s yards. They’re kind of scattered throughout the whole front garden.

Front "garden" and I use that term very loosely. Left is the unidentifiable tree or bush I mentioned, and the tiny bushes on the right are the azaleas.

I know we’re just coming out of wintertime, but this garden is lame. I really hoped that these plants would fill in the space better. I guess I’m too accustomed to seeing azalea bushes that are oh, maybe 20 years matured. These baby-azaleas might be awesome if I nurture them until, you know, 2019. But as I said, I’m anxious, and my front yard needs help.

To show what I’m thinking about doing used theĀ Better Homes & Garden’s Plan-A-Garden tool. Here’s a little before (keep on readin’ for the ‘after’):

Bush, three azaleas, and a hydrangea. Too spaced apart; I had hoped they'd fill in more quickly.

Just a quick review, this free online gardening tool was pretty good to use but not nearly as comprehensive as I had hoped it would be, especially coming from a gardening magazine. My yard isn’t quite to scale because I had a limited space to work within on the screen where I could see it all at once; zooming out wasn’t an option as far as I could find. There weren’t as many plants as on floorplanner.com, but I suppose for the purposes of showing an idea, it helps to get the point across just fine.

Before even heading out to a gardening center or nursery, I wanted to have a sense of what shape this new garden should take given the available space. I had a few new yard changes to work with as well: Last fall, I had the front porch removed to make way for a smaller, more simplified staircase (it’s still in progress but weather and time permitting, it’ll be done before summer gets underway). Another change: I’m hoping to remove part of the driveway (the third parking spot that’s furthest to the left in that first photo). The removal of that asphalt should give me approximately 250 additional sq. ft. of awesome grassy lawn (grading and grassing is a separate undertaking for the springtime).

I have this hoarder tendency to save magazines (not catalogues, just magazines) because at times like these, I like to refer back to find inspiration. I whipped out a slew of magazines to peruse (Martha Stewart Outdoor, Cottage & Coastal Living, Better Homes & Gardens, Country Living, House Beautiful) and I’m excited to have found a few inspiring images/articles, although I should note that ironically both came from the April 2007 issue of Cottage Living.

1) This one is really something more suited for those pergolas on my back deck, but the lush plants along the fence are right up my alley. Pretty grasses and leafiness.

A pretty, vine-coated pergola overhang. I swoon over this. It'd be fantastic if my back deck looked like this someday. 2) And here I’m inspired by the layers of plants – tall in the back, short in the front, which sounds a lot like a garden mullet, but is very pretty and established.

Pretty use of lavender and hydrangeas... I wish I could make my yard look like this tomorrow. So I began sketching, and came up with this masterpiece. OK, not masterpiece, but worthy of… um… sharing. I imagine extending the front garden outward further from the house into an arch, or a series of scallops maybe, to allow for extra room for layers of plants. My own little mullet garden. I’m pretty much guessing at what will be planted at this point (still need to get myself to a nursery, which is on the list of things to do) but I’m envisioning green shrubbery in the back, with smaller flowers in the front, accented by ground cover (maybe hostas, maybe ivy). I moved the azaleas over to the left, and grouped them together for more impact. I’ll leave the hydrangea where it is and drop in some accent flowers around it. Maybe I’ll add some pretty lavender in there too (true story: I like the look but not the smell).

Sketch of the garden, as I'm starting to envision it. And… then for fun I threw it into the BHG program to see how it might translate:

An updated garden thanks to the Better Homes & Gardens Plan-A-Garden program.

Fortunately for me in this eager state, not much of this is contingent on the driveway work, so I could get started on parts of it right away, although I hesitate to do major work until the tulips are done blooming (and they’re still only 1″ out of the ground) and the azaleas have done their thing. Until then, I’ll work in areas that aren’t effected and start to track down the plants I want to buy and get the bed in ready-to-plant shape.

Anyone else doing some lofty curb appeal gardening this spring?


Comments
  • Cait @ Hernando House
    7 years ago - Reply

    I love the BHG mock up!

    I’m planning a deck (just found more inspiration pics on Desire to Inspire) and maybe some drough resistant grasses or whatever (again, I’m a plant-killer). Or maybe a lot of gravel. I’m not sure.

    • Emily
      7 years ago -

      For deck planning itself, check out the Lowe’s deck builder. It was really helpful in helping to calculate the types/number of boards you’ll need. The bad part is that it doesn’t take into account the local zoning codes (we knew we had to go deep below the frost line but the system didn’t calculate that automatically) and also the web SKUs don’t match the local store SKUs so if you DO order from Lowe’s they have to do a more manual process to set up your order… In any case, I’m looking for more ideas for around my deck as well – and I’m hoping that the pachysandra I planted last summer explodes into lushness… So I can transplant excess to other areas of the yard. :)

    • Cait @ Hernando House
      7 years ago -

      Thanks so much Emily! I’m hoping to plan a deck sort of like the one in this post, but I’ll be sure to check out Lowe’s deck builder!

    • Emily
      7 years ago -

      I LOVE the ones in that link you shared. So pretty, and also well-accessorized. I’ve gotta work on the accessorizin’. I’d love to see photos when you’re done!

    • Cait @ Hernando House
      7 years ago -

      I will definitely be posting about it when we finish :) For now, it’s just a lot of planning. Today I posted an uber long post with inspiration pictures and a BHG mock up at the end.

    • Emily
      7 years ago -

      Yes! I like it! And wow, I’m really digging that retaining wall/fence photo that you shared from The Brick House!

  • Ashley @ DesignBuildLove.co
    7 years ago - Reply

    Your drawing is too cute!!! I love the BHG tool. I’ve been sketching some outlines of my gardening plans… very very roughly (aka- not sharable for the blog), so I will have to try out this tool! And maybe the one from Floorplanner too!

    Thanks for sharing! Can’t wait to see your results!

    • Emily
      7 years ago -

      Thanks Ashley!

  • Fred @ One Project Closer
    7 years ago - Reply

    I can’t wait to see the results. We re-planted our garden a few years back with all perrenials. They are really starting to come alive… In our area, we have to really avoid things that deer like, which, it turns out, is a lot! Kim has succeeded in really putting a good design together that only requires a little maintenance.

    • Emily
      7 years ago -

      Ahhhh years of waiting! Will I ever make it that long! My parents have been dealing with deer for as long as they’ve lived in their rural home and it’s quite the annual procedure to wrap the bushes in burlap and cover other shrubs with wooden tents and dangle bells and beads in trafficked paths and boy, oh boy, I’m guess I’m glad I live in too-urban an area to deal with deer on a regular basis… the bunnies, however… little hoppers ate all of my poppies last year, grr.

  • betsy
    7 years ago - Reply

    We are finally downscaling our traditional lawn to a “contained” midwest prairie landscape. Two reasons, well three: beauty, low maintenance, less water/mowing (greener!). I use the word contained because we’re not able to go full-on prairie in our neighborhood. We’re going to seed some areas with a low-mow fescue for the lush lawn feel, but other than that we’re going all the way with native perennials (most of which are deer resistant). After scouring many books and magazines, we utilized a landscape designer for the first round of ideas, however I’m going to checkout the BHG tool you’ve mentioned to re-tweak the concept.
    We’re also installing a new entryway — got a little bit of scope creep, but it’s so exciting! Thanks for sharing your ideas!
    and good luck with your project!
    betsy

    • Emily
      7 years ago -

      Sounds well thought-out, Betsy! I like the sounds of the low- maintenance with prairie vibe. I’d love to live in a wide-open-prairie-type space someday where the gardens can flow naturally around the property. Would love to see pictures if you have any (especially once everything is lush this summer).

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