When the stay at home order began for our state, I knew I was going to need a big project to keep me sane for the next few weeks/months. One area I had wanted make major improvements on last year but didn’t have the bandwidth to tackle was our garden.
It needed A LOT of hard work, so it was the lucky winner for our major quarantine overhaul project. Landscaping is also an area most homeowners see an instant ROI on, which also made it a safe financial & sweat labor investment given the current global climate. Our lot isn’t huge (its 1/3 acre), but the heavy overhaul that was needed in some areas (plus our learning curve!) still made this a +3 month project.
Here’s some of the highlights from the overhaul with before & after pictures. Since we’re located in the northeast, the after pictures are amplified even more since barely anything was in bloom when we started.
Removal of ‘rubbish’ trees: I don’t know the formal name for these, but they’re the wild trees that are basically weeds which go so tall and wide they eventually become trees. They are invasive and difficult to remove – the back section of the yard had 2 separate areas of these that were ~50 feet each. We spent ~3 weeks just pulling each of these out.
Removal of tree stump: In the circle bed out front, there was an old tree stump that had rotted out over the years. Our next-door neighbors who have lived here for ~40 years said it used to be a willow tree, but it was cut down ~20 years ago. We had originally wanted to plant a magnolia tree in honor of our first wedding anniversary (traditional gift for first year is paper), but we ultimately decided the power line was too close for our comfort and planted a hydrangea (our wedding flower) instead. This visibility bed is full sun, making it perfect for delphiniums, lilies, and other show-stoppers.
Edging: There were zero edges on the property, and there were a lot of places where the grass had grown into the garden, and the flowers and vines had grown into the grass. We removed all of the weeds from the beds, transplanted the flowers that had overgrown into the grass to other sections of the garden, removed the vines that spilled over into the grass, and finally edged every bed in the garden with a simple flat shovel.
Relocating plants: The homeowners before us had planted shrubs too close to each other in the front and side beds, which was hindering them from growing and not a good use of the investment (always read the label to see how big they are going to get!). We moved 5 large azalea shrubs to our new empty beds in the back (where the rubbish trees had been) and transplanted some and lilies that had overgrown into the grass areas. This also helped reduce the overall investment for the project.
Planting ~25 plants: This was by far & away my favorite part of the project. Or at least selecting the new flowers was … digging the holes for them not so much (although that part was great exercise!). We are located in zone 5, and our garden has a mix of full sun, part sun, and full shade areas, which gave us a lot of flexibility on plant selection. Personally, I love pastel (especially white), deep purple, and bright pink flowering plants. I also really wanted the garden to be in bloom from early spring to late fall, so I mapped out the garden and how it would flower:
We ended up planting forsythia (the big yellow shrubs that bloom first in April), blue & white hydrangeas, white roses, dappled willow, boxwood, rhododendrons, azalea, bee-balm, lilies, pansies (which grow back here – usually they are annuals!), salvia, ginger, delphinium, spiderwort and a bunch of others I’m already forgetting their names. Here are some of my favorites that are currently in bloom:
Mulching: Nothing too exciting here – I prefer the dark brown mulch, and we easily used five yards of it. This is always the final step for gardening, so it was indescribably fulfilling to get this down and finally be done with the project!
Even though the project is ‘done’ at this point, I’m always looking for new flowers – and already have my eye on the section under the tree for next year. What’s your favorite plant? Would love to read your comments below!