Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom.
1 Corinthians 3:17

Wednesday, August 23, 2017

4 Money-Saving Landscaping Tips and Our Backyard Progress

With school starting next week, summer is nearly done. And you know what? I'm ready. ;)

We've been here for about a year and a half, and I love how things are looking outside. I've made my lion's share of mistakes at our other homes' so this time around, I feel like I know exactly what I want, and I don't have to factor in too many re-do's to make it happen.

There were two large (and horrible) trees in the fenced in area beside the pool when we moved in. I can't find a picture now, of course, but if I do, then I'll add it. They looked just awful. A real thorny, overgrown mess, and one was completely bare from the middle down. I'm thankful those were the only things we had to contend with, not like our last house. Ugh. ha ha

When those two were removed, we were starting with a clean slate. Sort of. The stumps and roots were huge and we were nervous about digging so close to all the pipes and wires for the pool, so I designed a plan to simply hide them. It's working great!

TIP #1:
Stagger your bigger plants and bushes along the back

Such a simple thing but it adds incredible depth to your garden beds. It also helps to disguise trouble spots, like hiding pool equipment.

The stumps are right behind the arborvitae, barely noticeable even when standing right in front of the garden. The photo below shows an angled view, but the arborvitae have skyrocketed this month and cover them so much more. This was taken in June, when the roses are in full bloom but the day lilies are just beginning to bud up.

I purchased those two ever-blooming rosebushes from Lowe's last year, and they are incredible! Like, truly incredible. They have a slow period in July but have since perked right back up. I LOVE them!

Then the lilies peak and add gorgeous color and fragrance. The butterfly bush on the right (in back) is just beginning to grow- I was getting worried about it, but now it's huge! Also, I can't seem to grow Veronica very well, and I just may have to find something else purple to take their place. Any tips for me?

Yeah, it looked great for about two weeks, and then it dies a long, slow, painful death. Now it's just a clump of brown mini stalks. They started off well...

Here's what it looked like last summer when we first planted. I'm really pleased with it all. :)
Last summer, the daylilies were too small to bloom, but this year, they exploded.

TIP #2: 
If you've got your sights set on perennials like day lilies, astilbe, daisies, coreopsis, and lots more, and you're looking for a way to save tons of money, stick with the smallest plant when you buy because they grow so quickly 

Here they are this year...

...and this is last year, teeny tiny, and half the price (or more!) of the bigger plants. You can hardly see them!

TIP #3:
Take the time to prepare the garden bed before you plant

No, it isn't fun. But then again, neither is having to do all that work after the fact, and having to pay attention to delicate root systems and such. Plus, it looks so much nicer!

I thought I'd be okay with simply planting right into the grass, and even though this bed is being done in stages, it would definitely benefit from some mulch to tie it all together. I knew this, but I had a new baby and was exhausted, so it simply didn't happen until this year. I sure wish I had made myself tackle it at the very beginning. I knew better.

We purchased these five arborvitae from a grocery store, and at one point, I did not think they were going to make it. I was so mad at myself! What was I thinking? Thankfully they've survived and are growing a ton right now.

That pitiful little corner in the picture above was home to all the empty plant pots for, um, a year maybe. So bad. When I see those dead, orange Christmas wreaths still hanging up in April, I get a little smug and make judgments. Well, here's my dead Christmas wreath, ha ha. Judge away! Earlier this summer, it got a quick and easy reno.

It doesn't look like much right now, but next year it will look much fuller. The hostas were planted somewhere else but I wasn't committed to it, so they were added for free. The petunias in the front were leftover from that big clearance sale purchase, and the hydrangea in the back, also on sale, was under eight bucks. Well worth it!

One evening I started digging up all the grass, and this thoughtful guy came right over to help. He did a GREAT job and we finished in record time. I was so, so thankful for his helpful attitude and hard work. In case you ever get down about your little babies growing up, remember this. It helps. A little. Sigh.

TIP # 3:
If you can stand to wait, save some money and purchase annuals after the first "batch" has gone on sale, usually in mid-June here in the Northeast

I picked up several flats of petunias for under ten dollars! Petunias (in larger swaths of the similar colors) and other compact annuals add the perfect touch of color to empty garden areas. This was pretty boring before! (You can see that there is still a patch in the back that needs to be cleared out and mulched. Two words: budget and time. Running low on both these days, ha)

 This is too cute not to share, from June when the daisies are in bloom. :)

This is our side yard, outside of the fenced area. There's a major slope but here, unlike at our last house, I'm happy to simply let it be for the most part. This area is a nice backdrop for portraits, like Isabelle's earlier this year.

TIP #4:
Plant a living fence in the fall, and include several different types of plants

The only reason I added the small island was to gain some privacy for the pool since our neighbor's house sits high on the hill overlooking us. Super nice neighbors, but still kind of weird when we're out there swimming. :) I purchased all the plants after they'd been marked down in the fall. If you're using your garden bed as a living fence, choose at least two or three taller plants or shrubs, and vary them up a little bit. We would have planted a small fruit tree, but didn't want additional leaves and such blowing into the pool, but that's a great option too.

The other plants here are coral's bells and a cousin of sand cherry, whose name I cannot remember...oops! Will have to look that up!

A close up look at how things are filling in. All except one willow on the left (hill)- I can return that to Lowe's and they'll replace it, so I'll need to do that soon. The island plants look small now, but hopefully they'll take off next year. Willows grow quickly, usually anyway, so I had expected them to be quite bigger by now. The main shrub that will grow quite tall is a giant arborvitae. I'll add things if it seems sparse next year.

This is the real reason why landscaping matters to me: it creates a welcoming and pretty space to hang out together. And it looks terrific as a background in photos, which adds a wonderful quality to them.

I cannot imagine how some of my favorite photos would look without any flowers or foliage in the background. And I just love watching how it changes from season to season, year to year.

I don't know why, but the quality of photos keeps getting worse when I add them to the post- they look fine in my album, so that's frustrating. Oh well, it looks even better in person. :)

Here are some other landscaping posts I've written:

Planting a Garden Bed on a Serious Slope

5 Tips for Easy Landscaping

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