Thursday, June 17, 2010

The Front Yard Finale!

After laboring for 2 1/2 months on our back yard makeover, we completed the entire front yard in just 3 weeks! This whirlwind pace wasn't a result of any superhuman effort on our part, but simply because the front yard is much smaller and had only a few tree roots to slow us down. You cannot imagine the relief we felt when we began planting and our shovels actually went down into the soil WITH NO RESISTANCE. Let me tell you , I was practically dancing. In fact, I was so energized by this unexpected miracle that I singlehandedly planted nearly every plant in the front yard in one day. We laid them out according to Lisa's design, and I went to it like a possessed Ms. Greenjeans. The rapidly rising heat and humidity certainly provided extra motivation for me to finish quickly.

Rick was not idle. While I planted, he measured our pathways and auxiliary parking area and installed edging, shell and pea gravel. We have discovered during this project that we each have unique skills. My talents are better suited to planting and overall design/aesthetic decisions. He excels at math, measuring and putting things together. Together we make a successful home improvement team.

Unlike our back yard, the front has only one pathway and we chose pea gravel for that to make it less visible. It intersects with a large auxiliary parking area covered with washed shell which gives us a parking space for visitors, further prevents any rain runoff from leaving our property, and buffers our planted beds from the dust and dirt of the road.

The rest of the yard is a combination of native and non-native plants, with many shrubs that will eventually grow large enough to really take up some space. Lisa put several plants with reddish foliage or berries in our front yard to complement the brick red trim on our bungalow. That's another benefit of having a landscape designer -- I never would have thought to color-coordinate my home and yard!

Following is a list of the plants we used. I have noted plants I am especially impressed with or think are especially attractive with a "Love It!" remark. 

Among the native plants in our front yard are:

1. Oakleaf hydrangea (Love It!)
2. Beautyberry (Love It!)
3. Simpson's Stopper
4. Dwarf Walter's Viburnum (known as Mrs. Schiller's Delight) 
5. Blue Stem Palmetto

The non-native plants include:

1. Variegated Fragrant Ginger
2.  Meyers' Liriope ( this is a really pretty, dense liriope developed by Rick Meyers, who owns the oldest nursery in Hillsborough County. Love it!)
3. St. Bernard's Lily (Love it!)
4. Red Cordyline
5. Holly Fern
6. Red Fountain Grass
7. Coleus
8, Yedda hawthorne (This a somehwat unusual tree form of Indian Hawthorne that has very showy pink blossoms in the spring. Love it!)

Many people have asked us where we bought our plants, shell and other materials. In my next blog entry, I'll provide a complete list of the nurseries and landscape supply businesses we used. We really spread our money around among a variety of different businesses and feel proud that we did our part to stimulate the local economy!


  1. It looks great! I love that wildly-red looking grass. Is that Red Fountain grass? It seems redder than normal. How nice not to have to mow the grass in this heat. I bet you're thrilled with the results and ready for a break.

  2. I've been following your blog and am really impressed with how everything turned out! We are in the same situation in that our entire back yard needs to be scraped and completely redone. It is so overwhelming! I've been thinking about having someone come and scrape all the grass/weeds but maybe we can do it ourselves...with the Bobcat! ;) Congrats. It looks great. I'd love to know what your budget was....

  3. Hi Susan,

    The red grass is red cordyline, a type of dracaena. Lisa put that in our landscape as another red plant to highlight the red trim in our house. I wasn't sure I would like it, but now I am a fan. It requires no care and it is just getting thicker and fuller all the time.

    I do have red fountain grass too and that grows rapidly as well. And I actually saw an even redder fountain grass called "Fireworks Red" at Kerby's Nursery earlier this year.

    Thank you so much for reading my blog. I love hearing from people!

    And, for my SW Florida Gardener friend, the total landscape makeover was about $3,000. This included landscape design (which was about $500 for our small yard, a very reasonable cost); all materials such as shell, mulch and edging; and of course the plants. Plant costs varied from under $2 for a 1-gallon liriope to $50-$60 each for our small trees and some of our more unusual shrubs, like the oakleaf hydrangea and the chaste tree. We have about 8 coonties in our landscape and they were $15-$20 each for small 1-gallon sizes.

    The cost would have been easily double and probably as much as $8,000-$9,000 to have a company install the landscape for us. So, yes, you CAN do it yourself and save a lot of money!


  4. Finally, the long wait is over. It feels so good to see that what you expected had become real. Landscaping plays an important role in beautification and brings a smile to everyone who sees it. So, if you can't do it on your own, hiring a professional landscape designer is worth it. It's good that they are now available online to give you a free consultation.

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