A landscape makeover: the before and after

Before & Afters | June 5, 2018

 Republished in partnership with All Things Fadra

Diane pleaded for help in making a retreat out of her front yard. She had tried in vain for years to make a change with the hardscape and the plants and nothing was working. Her yard was plagued by the full hot sun and nothing wanted to thrive or survive.

So where did she begin if she felt like she had already done it all in vain? Diane met with a landscaping expert at Lowe’s for her yard, soil, and environment needs to help create the best landscape she was envisioning.

In return, she was given a diagram of her yard along with plant recommendations, including plant types and placement.

When Diane went to purchase the plants for her yard, she found alternative plants that she thought might add a better aesthetic. For example, she replaced a tall, skinny Italian Cypress with a fuller Pyramidal Arborvitae. Luckily, the Lawn & Garden team at Lowe’s helped her make the right substitutions for her landscape plan. She exchanged her Cypress for an arborvitae and added in a few barberries near the house for a pop of color. She also swapped the succulents on her plan for Siebold’s Stonecrop. They are literally “drop & grow” which means they are simply prepared for the soil.

While Diane had a team of experts from Lowe’s and her family joined in to help renovate her landscape retreat.

Before the team arrived, Diane removed the old bushes from her beds but there was still plenty of work to be done. The team starting by placing stakes in the yard and using Diane’s garden hose to create a rough outline of the new beds. This made it easier when it came time to remove the existing grass (arguably, the hardest part of the job). A tip was to use a few wooden stakes and a garden hose, to create a free form outline to guide as the grass is being removed for the new bed.

It’s to best use a shovel to cut and dig squares of grass from the new beds. Turn it over and knock off the old dirt and use it as sod in another part of the yard! If there is no use for sod, use a pick axe to chop away little bits of grass at a time.

A good foundation is key! Whether if it’s to amend the soil of the entire bed or just where the plants will be placed. The team used a wheelbarrow to create an ideal planting mixture made from 2 parts top soil, 2 parts manure, and 1-part peat moss. Add bone meal for nutrients and pearlite to help with drainage and to allow the plants to start off right. They also made sure to water the plant holes before adding the plants ensures that add is removed from the soil and that the plant won’t sink!

After adding the soil amendments to the bed or the planting hole, they sprinkled water to remove any air from the mixture. This will prevent the plants from “settling” when the plants are watered for the first time.

Diane and her team placed the plants to provide a visual of where she wanted her plants to be and to see how well the landscape design comes to life. Although Diane had all of the plants that she wanted, they ended up moving quite a few things around for the right spacing, color, and visual effect. The final layout involved a little rearranging and the addition of three Barberries and a few more Candytufts!

The team made sure that before they dug they took the plant and rotated it in the soil or they advised to use a small shovel to draw circle around it. When they removed the plant to dig the hole, they knew exactly where it needed to go.

When it came to planting it can either be a short or long process depending on the soil and the quantity of plants. Diane’s soil was a mixture of clay and sand so some areas required a post hole digger and others were fine with a shovel. The team made sure to dig the plant hole about as deep as the existing pot and just a few inches wider and broke up the roots of the plant and placed it in the hole atop of the soil amendment.

Diane didn’t just want plants; she wanted an outdoor space. To create definition, she added natural colored edging stones to the perimeter of the bed and a few patio stones to give her access to her birdbath. And beside her porch, one of her favorite places to sit outside, she placed a lighted fountain. The finished project shows off some old and new, including a lighted fountain and solar accent lights. They made sure that the necessary outdoor accessories were more attractive by “hiding” them in the open. Diane purchased a hose pot that looks decorative but easily stores her hose making it easy to water her new landscaping.

Mulch isn’t just decorative. It helps suppress weeds and maintains moisture in the soil. Diane chose a dark brown mulch that matched her home colors but also provided a contrast to the green of the plants and the flowers in the bed.

The conclusion of the project wasn’t the end for Diane. It was the beginning! She’s already purchased the materials to expand and revise another bed she has in the front yard. And she took me around back and started talking about her grand plans for the corner of the yard.