The State of the Exterior: Fall 2015

At the end of last Spring, B and I started putting a landscape plan into place for our front yard. The last time we chatted about this, the shrubs were planted in front of the garage and the perennials were in, but small. They’re still small, but I’m noticing that some of the spreading perrenials are starting to spread their root systems, so I think by next Spring (the creep year of the sleep, creep, leap pattern that B tells me plants follow when establishing their root systems) I think we’ll really start to see the fruits of our labors. Over Labor Day weekend, we took advantage of a 50% off sale at our local Tree Farm and bought the four trees that we needed for the front yard and B planted them all one morning while I was at the zoo with the kids and my brother and his kids. We needed 3 compact evergreens and an ornamental tree, and we had to stray a little bit from the designer’s specs just because of sheer size (and availability) of some of the plants, but we found some similar trees and are ready to watch things grow!

The main reason we hired the landscape designer was because we felt like we were dealing with some challenges that were beyond our skill level. Mainly, the front driveway. When we bought the house, I loved that while the garage was in the front, it didn’t absorb the entire front of the house. But, we had no living shrubs, so our whole front yard was cement, gray rock and a little grass. We needed plants and I had no idea where to begin, and I didn’t want to piece it together over the next several years.

 upgrading builder grade landscaping side garage

The shrubs we planted in front of the garage to help soften all of the gray rock and brick are growing nicely. I’m excited to see how these round out as they mature.


shrubs in front of side facing garage

The designer we worked with specifically chose plants that will spread and mound, helping to soften all the rock that is in front of our house because at the time I didn’t want to change the rock. I wonder if I should have nixed the rock, but we can always swap out the rock for mulch or something softer later if we think the landscape still needs it. I’m hopeful the perennials will do the trick.

planting flowers in rockbeds Our neighborhood used rockbeds to distinguish property lines when the area was being developed. This is where our neighbor’s rock bed meets our rock bed. We planted a compact Juniper tree that will grow quickly but stay relatively narrow (about 6 feet wide) to block the direct view of the neighbors house, and add some year round greenery. I think this single tree will be the biggest difference maker in our front yard as the plants and trees all mature.

compact conifer

On the opposite side of the driveway, we planted three trees – two more compact junipers (these will stay even narrower than the other, growing only 2-3 feet wide, but tall) to add some year round greenery and visual height to that side of the yard, and an ornamental, flowering tree.  updating builder grade landscaping

Our Shasta Daisies love this sunny little garden spot, and the spreading perrenials are doing beautifully here. We planted the same flowers on the other side of the house in that rock bed I showed you before and they get a little more shade and aren’t quite as happy there – so we’ll see how those survive the next couple seasons.    low maintenance flowering landscape  I know it’s all still pretty small and hard to see from the street, so I’m mainly blogging about it now so that I can look back to see how they’ve grown. A growth chart of sorts for my trees and shrubs 🙂 Since I don’t have one for my children. Expect an update next Spring 😉


  1. So glad you like the plant choices. It was fun working on your project. Can’t wait to see it evolve over time. You should get many years of enjoyment out of it.

    -Abby Rupsa
    Botanical Living, LLC

  2. Oh, I love this and I can totally see how great it’ll be when the planets and trees get bigger – it’s already looking great as is! Also we have both rocks and mulch in various places and the rocks are so much more convenient – much easier to maintain, especially with a dog around, and always look like new, whereas mulch fades and has to be topped off, etc.

  3. It’s looking awesome already! You’ve made such smart choices and I love the plants. As for mulch vs. rock, I love the look of fresh mulch but it’s such a pain to refresh all the time. We just had far too many garden beds in our last house that I felt like we were constantly mulching. We may have mulch in a few spots at the new house, but I”m using it with caution. 😉

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