Days of Summer Gone By Part I

With fall officially upon us and summer complete, I thought I’d take one last time to reflect on some of the  outside projects I worked on to not only improve the look of our home, but also give us delicious rewards. I’m speaking of course of my front garden’s total transformation. If you read my post April Showers Bring May Flowers, you’ll know how much I wanted to re-landscape the front yard with some much needed flowers, freshening up the entire feel of our home. I’ll also pick up where I left off with Humble Vegetable Beginnings. To read some insight into what I learned from my first vegetable garden and what I’ll be prepared for next summer, see the second part of this post in Days of Summer Gone By Part II. So here’s to having a wonderful season this past year as I stroll down summer’s memory lane.

front garden

FRONT GARDEN
As you can see from the pre-transformation photo above, this home was originally built with some hassle-free foliage, settling in plants that didn’t necessarily need much work aside from a trim here and there. While I absolutely love the color green, it’s a bit overwhelming from the street view, so after saving up a little and acquiring some beautiful plants, I took on  the challenge of renovating our front garden — with some help from my folks, of course.

IMG_4973

front gardenfront gardenFirst thing we had to accomplish of course was ripping out all the scraggly bushes that were taking over our house. If these guys had any life to them before, it was definitely diminished significantly after the horrendous winter of 2013 (as I’m sure will become the official title soon enough). The difference was a complete 180. We left the tall grass and spruce trees and that’s it (the daffodils had already gone away for the season), but everything else was removed. You can see from the photos to the right that some of the grass got a little overwhelmed from all the dirt and red mulch, but it’s an easy fix since the garden actually comes out a bit further from the house — but that’s getting ahead of myself.

front gardenfront gardenfront garden

Once the bushes were removed, it was time to introduce a breath of life into the front yard. My mom found two gorgeous limelight hydrangea bushes from a local garden supplier, in addition to my purchase of two small lavender bushes. But the first thing to do involved laying down our base — plastic. This will help protect our garden from any weeds or grass that could potentially pop through the dirt. Figure out where you want to place your plants and cut a large enough circle around the plastic for the plant to go through. Even if the dirt or mulch is already poured, you always want to remember to dig it back out in order to cut out the plastic. It would be idiotic to plant it above the plastic since there’s no soil to give it proper nutrients. But there I go getting head of myself again. Make sure you dig your holes deep enough and somewhat even so the bushes sit just right. Don’t be afraid to take the bushes, flowers, whatever back out or back in to figure out the best fit. Just make sure to fill it back up with as much of the dirt that you dug out as possible.

front garden
front gardenfront gardenfront gardenfront gardenI love the smell of mulch. Call me weird, but I don’t care. It goes along the lines of my love for the scent of freshly cut grass. Must be a calling from my days as a kid playing outside. Either way, you can’t question the beautiful color of this cedar mulch we decided to replace that bold red mulch with. The benefits of mulch are also tremendous. Not only does it detract weeds, but it also helps retain soil moisture. And bonus: it acts as a blanket to keep the roots warm in the winter and at the same time an air conditioner for hotter temps. It definitely took a few barrels to maneuver this mulch around our garden, but when it was all said and done, the transformation was amazing. The after picture to the right just goes to show you don’t need a bunch of overcrowding plants to make a home look nice. In fact, simple is much better in this case because you can see more of the house and when the plants come to fruition, it’ll add color, beauty and curb appeal.

front garden

front gardenIMG_5023front gardenFLOWERS FASTFORWARD
Looking back, it didn’t take very long before the flowers were in full bloom this summer — almost makes me sad to see it go as we make way for fall and winter. The buds this year were (as I keep saying) absolutely gorgeous. I couldn’t have asked for more perfect blooms, further clarifying my love for hydrangeas as my favorite flower. Even the lavender rooted well (although I did lose one to an early temperature drop, but there’s always next year). I also took the time to add a new plant to my garden for this year — a coreopsis bush. It adds another element of color and creates a very erethral look for our front yard. Despite my dread for the upcoming winter, I feel better knowing I can look forward to even larger bushes and more flowers, both new and old.

front garden

To read about lessons learned from my first vegetable garden, follow the link to Days of Summer Gone By Part II.

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