John and I were sitting outside last night around the fire, chatting about some recent yard improvements we’ve done and what’s up next on the list, when it occurred to me that I haven’t shared our updated front yard here on the blog yet! When we bought this house the landscaping was neat and tidy, but certainly not quite the look I wanted…especially after the 1987 Fixer Upper exterior makeover. What had been planted was pretty much destroyed by scaffolding and constant trampling by construction workers over the course of several months. The main part of the yard was fine, but it was the planter box areas right up next to the house that needed some serious TLC.
This summer we finally got around to making the first part of those changes and boy what a difference! I am not a landscape designer, but I did have a pretty good idea of what I wanted. The trick for me was figuring out what I could plant here in this climate that I am not familiar with. We drove around some high end neighborhoods looking for ideas, visited the nursery on several occasions, and I did a lot of searching on the internet for DIY front yard landscaping ideas on a budget. After getting ridiculous estimates from several contractors last summer (who then never called us back after to add to the fun) we finally settled on the fact that we were going to have to do things on our own if we wanted them done, and for a decent price. The housing market here is insane right now and there is a serious lack of labor, which have combined for the perfect storm creating insane pricing on everything….and it’s tough to find people to even take a job. These prices are like nothing we see even in Orange County. It’s crazy!
Here are a few shots to remind us of what things looked like before:
The area along the front walkway up to the front door and this planter area under the window to the right of the front door were our first priority. These areas are deceptively large…it’s actually a huge amount of space to cover. I was struggling trying to figure out how to fill it. The previous owners must have really loved rocks because they were EVERYWHERE in the yard…we still have a bunch of them in gigantic areas at the start of the driveway, and in the backyard. They are up to 8 inches deep in many places. They were next to impossible to remove, but they HAD to go! I could not stand them!! 🙂
Removing those rocks was definitely the biggest and most painful part of this job. We were on our hands and knees digging them up and filling 5 gallon bucket after 5 gallon bucket full of them. We couldn’t dig or plant anything until they were all gone. YUCK!
It felt SO good to get rid of them. At this point in the project I was even feeling like the dirt looked better than all those rocks. There were lots of plastic edgings that we removed along with the rocks, and we cleared out all of the existing plants. Woohoo!
DIY Front Yard Landscaping Ideas on a Budget
The landscaping design was simple. Find plants that will look pretty together, fill the space, be low maintenance and stick within a budget. I knew that I wanted something that would stay green year round since most things around here seem to turn to sticks all winter long and it just looks depressing…however, I didn’t want evergreen/pine in the front of the house. I also wanted a neat and trim look and to soften the front of the house. We ordered what we thought we needed from a local nursery and set out to get it planted.
We settled on burning bushes which match some of the plants already in the yard, and boxwoods…my favorite. I also decided that the best way to fill in that huge area and make the yard look bigger and low maintenance was to lay sod to cover most of the area under that front window.
We set to work laying out the plants where I would like them before John started digging holes. The burning bushes can get quite large and will turn a pretty bright red during the fall. They will be in the back and unfortunately turn to sticks in the winter, but since they will be behind the boxwoods, it won’t look quite so stark. Another high priority was covering up that big orange rock. It is so huge we couldn’t move it, but I wanted it out of sight!
Jack was a big helper/advisor on this project. 😉 He was right there with John every step of the way making sure the mud didn’t get lonely. He made sure to play with it often. 😉
I was so excited to see it all laid out. It is so nice to see some green in front of the house!
As much as we weren’t thrilled to begin with to be doing this project ourselves, it turned out to be a great chance for all of us to work together and learn some new DIY landscaping skills. It was nice to see Andy learning some new things too.
Ash was our designated flower planter. She went to town making things look pretty like usual. 😉
We are so happy that we tried our hand at some DIY Front Yard Landscaping Ideas on a Budget. We think it ended up looking pretty nice and really saved us a ton!
Now that it’s had a couple of months to fill in a bit, we love it even more! I still can’t get over what a difference this relatively small project made to the entire look and feel of the house. Yay for no more rocks! 😉
Once we had our landscaping design in ind and had picked out the plants, the actual cleaning up the yard and planting took about 4 days. Next up…the backyard! 😉 Winter will be here before we know it, so we’re saving that project for next spring.
The biggest take-aways from this project for us were these:
- Don’t be afraid to try your hand at landscape design. Drive around and take pictures of your favorite places that are landscaped beautifully. Take those pictures, along with pictures and measurements of the places you need to fill with plants to a nursery and get someone there to help you pick things that will go together.
- Make sure that the plants you are planting together will all do well with the same amount of water and sun.
- Laying sod is not hard. It sounds a lot more labor intensive when you read about it online than it actually is! It’s super easy!
- Plants are expensive and you need a lot more of them that you usually think you do. Sometimes it might be worth the money to spend more on the bigger plants and buy fewer of them.
- Pace plan before you dig! Lay everything out so you can see it all together before you start digging holes…and remember, those plants that are tiny now will grow to be much bigger, so plan for room to grow when you dig your holes.
- Muddy dogs are happy dogs 😉
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