I’m so excited to share our front yard reveal, including before and after photos! One of the things I’ve always loved about our home is all the mature trees and shrubs in our yard. I felt like I hit the jackpot when I moved in. While I love the soothing sound of the trees, the shade, and the visual variety of the foliage, it’s a commitment of time and money to keep the yard beautiful and healthy.
You may remember the saga that unfolded in early spring when we realized that twenty mature bushes, trees and shrubs in the front yard had died over the winter. Others continued to decline in health as spring grew warmer. We were incredibly disappointed to be sold by SavATree so late in the year (a morally dubious move on their part). Even more disappointing, they did nothing to help us with the huge costs we incurred through their advice and services.
This loss was an opportunity to free up some space (literally) and turn the front yard into something we could manage with our very beginner gardening skills. Luckily, we had good people with a lot of experience and knowledge to help us select the right plants, remove what needed to be done with care, and finally put in something that will very soon become a beautiful front yard.
Once we decided to remove the dead plants, I used the plans we received last year from Landscape Love as a template. We had worked with them to design the plans for a yard that gave the impression of being part of the English countryside, with a coastal touch. I wanted to mix bright colors like deep indigo, tomato red, creamy yellow and white. I was also very drawn to hydrangeas and boxwood—that Americana look you see in Martha’s Vineyard. These plans were large, expansive and something we couldn’t afford to implement for a few years. It was decided to use part of this design to tackle garden beds only this year.
The project was still huge and I needed help. I reached out my hand to jessie jacobson To Tonkadale Greenhouse to see if she would be interested in collaborating on this project. I was so excited when she not only offered to help provide the plants, but also changed my wishlist to something more manageable.
Jessie refined the palette into a classic ivory and blue look with pops of tomato red. I can’t wait to see our peonies, oriental poppies, blue salvia and tons of hydrangeas bloom! We also planted irises (a new favorite of mine), a boxwood hedge along the front, and modern Korean feather reed. Haaga Rhododendron, Russian sage and astilbe were also planted.
Tonkadale experts in action!
Once Jessie was on board, we got to work. Here’s what we did:
- The landscapers removed all dead trees and shrubs. Any compromised items that had been overlooked or were nearing the end of their lifespan were now gone.
- We have hired our lawn care team to help establish a new lawn and reduce the number of garden beds. This has helped with the huge amount of maintenance this large space requires.
- Tonkadale Greenhouse delivered plants, compost and detailed instructions on how to plant and water everything.
- Tonkadale Greenhouse helped us with the layout and design of the garden bed. Our landscape team installed limestone edging, added mulch, then installed sod to establish the lawn.
- All the rocks and hardscape have been cleaned and polished which really made the space sing.
I learned a lot throughout this process, especially working with Tonkadale Greenhouse. They brought clarity and expertise and turned our best-laid plans into reality. I wanted to share these learnings with you because the whole process was overwhelming for a beginner gardener.
A few things to remember when doing a landscaping project
1. Consult a gardening/landscape expert.
I put a lot of time and effort into our yard before this big project. Plants would die, weeds would grow back, and I would feel more overwhelmed by our overflowing beds the following year. The lack of progress I made was not due to a lack of space work. I needed to understand how to work with outdoor spaces, how to plan their growth and evolution over time.
Knowing when to do what, in what season, and how how you do it affects the growth of whatever you’re working with made my head spin. I had previously met Jessie during a visit Tonkadale Greenhouse for indoor plantings and holiday decorating projects. I knew they provided a ton of education and information on not only WHAT to buy, but HOW to plant it and care for it over time. This care and knowledge went beyond what I had experienced on other occasions. My goal is to work with good people and ask LOTS of questions.
Tonkadale Greenhouse also has many resources available on their blog! This article includes expert advice for planting healthy trees and shrubs.
2. Choose low-maintenance plants and flowers.
Most of the inspirational images I had saved needed someone (me) who could take care of them and maintain them on a daily basis. I learned that even the most “undone” gardens need knowledge and work to keep them beautiful. This is why it was so important to know which low maintenance plants and flowers to use in my front yard. This included succulents, ornamental grasses and drought-tolerant perennials. By choosing plants that require minimal maintenance, I plan to spend more time enjoying my outdoor space than tending to it. I’ll be writing about how to prepare this space for the winter season in the fall, and I can’t wait to hear all about it!
3. Trust the vision and be patient.
I appreciate the freshness and cleanliness of our new space. But I can’t wait to see the plants grow and the flowers bloom. The spacing between plants seems awkward now, but it will look like an entirely different area next year.
When I spoke with Jessie about the front yard vision, she mentioned the joys of an ever-changing landscape. It’s a way to stay in touch with the seasons, to create something the community can enjoy, and to get in touch with the rhythm of nature. I see why people become avid gardeners with time, experience and the pride that comes with tending to something you have to wait to enjoy. And that’s something we don’t often have the privilege of doing these days.
I hope this post is helpful to anyone who might be as overwhelmed as I am with their landscaping projects. Remember, knowledge is power. When you don’t, find the people who can help you (and your plants!) grow along the way.