Sunday, May 4, 2014

Now & Then: Front Landscaping Update

Knowing we planned to get married Andrew and I started house hunting while we were dating. My favorite style of house is a two story colonial with a red front door, so Andrew likes to joke that he knew he was "doomed" when we first pulled up to this one. All kidding aside, given the chance to choose again, he would still absolutely pick Old Elm.
We had seen a handful of other homes in the area, and so far nothing clicked as our favorite. We wanted a location close to grocery stores and highway access, with a decent yard and plenty of bedrooms. We were willing to use a little elbow grease to get any potential house in shape as long as it had good bones. Some of the houses we saw were totally creepy. One had a Budweiser can in the fridge from 1996. {We did not drink it!} Old Elm caught my eye in the ads, so I circled it along with ten others to show our realtor. The ad said there was an open house on Sunday, which is when we first fell in love. We promptly called our realtor to set up a viewing with him along as a third opinion. He agreed that the house was great and wouldn't last long on the market. We had to act fast! We wrote up an offer, and within a week - after some counter-offering - we signed the papers. {Hello homeownership!} It was an exciting time.
The house was immaculate. The previous owners were outstanding caretakers, and there really weren't any immediate changes to make other than cosmetic fixes. Repainting, new lights, updated fixtures, you get the idea. Andrew moved in right away while I stayed living at my parents until our wedding. Despite the fact that I loathed driving home {and away from him} every night after dinner during our 1.5 year engagement, this worked out really well in hindsight. By the time we were married & I moved in, we had all of the major indoor projects out of the way.

We're still working on things! With the arrival of nice weather, we have shifted gears from indoors to the outdoors...landscaping! The front landscaping was in bad need of some TLC when Andrew moved in. We contemplated just trimming back what was already there, but a few days into that & some bizarrely shaped and colored shrubs later....we came to the conclusion that we'd rather rip it all out and start anew. After all, we plan to live here for quite some time. Why not start from scratch & do it our way? So that summer we ripped everything out, tilled, and came up with a new plan. Our friend Scott, who used to own his own landscaping business, helped us pick shrubs & plants that would thrive in our North-facing lawn. To the left, we planted 4 azalea, 3 seedum, 3 gold mop cypress, and 3 ornamental grasses. We established boxwood hedges on either side of the stoop, and laid a decorative slate wall in front of each. {Sidenote: boy, did Andrew have a fun time hauling around 1500 pounds of rock! Memories...} At the end of the wall on the right, we planted 3 knockout rose bushes. To save money we didn't buy the biggest shrubs available - knowing that in just a matter of years everything would mature and achieve more width & height. After this, we took a nice long vacation from all things landscape. We were pooped!
Months later - after things settled into the ground & we surveyed the scene with rejuvenated eyes - we decided we needed to add a few more elements that would offer height. So this Spring, we purchased two boxwood topiary & two evergreen arbor vitae to add into the mix. The boxwood live in planters on the front stoop and the arbor vitae are on either side of the garage. The taller of the two measures 10 ft and has been cut into a spiral. We're told this isn't too difficult to maintain. The other is a 6 ft tall, typical cone shape. We were pumped! These were just what the doctor ordered to seal the deal on our landscaping.
We are tossing around the idea of removing the screen door and getting an updated front door, as well as new lights for the stoop & garage. What do you think? As for now, we only need to plant ground cover in front of the right wall and maybe add some annuals here & there. I'm waiting until there is for sure no chance of frost around these parts. You never can tell!

The "Now" photo is on the left, "Then" is on the right. Thanks for following along. We like working hard & admiring the results. Our sights are now set on the back of the house. We just got pavers this past weekend...patio will be born soon!

PS: Andrew also added our house number above the front door. This is definitely one of the quickest & easiest ways to get some curb appeal on the cheap. He did a great job!

Keep plugging away at your projects, DIYers!

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