Things are starting to happen quickly now with the front landscape renovation. The stump grinder guy didn’t make it out yesterday but he is on his way now as I type this. Then the slate will be clean for the sod installation on Tuesday. Yipee!
Last week I drove by a few of the lawns installed by the company I’ve chosen to install my sod. I’ve decided to go with Zeon Zoysia. I like what I’ve read online and I like the Zeon lawns I’ve seen. The landscapers I’ve talked to seem to like it, too. I’m really getting excited now. Sodding the front yard is something I’ve wanted to do for a long time. I’ll take some pics while they are sodding the yard on Tuesday so I can share it in a post, just in case you would like to see the process.
A few Before and Afters:
Over the last couple of weeks as I’ve been taking photos of the front yard, this is the first time I’ve found myself realllly wishing I had a wide angle lens for my camera. With my current lens I have to stand so far back to get the whole yard in, by the time I crop out the street, the picture ends up pretty short. I’ll experiment around a bit and see if I can find another way to photograph it. I think a wide angle lens is going on my Christmas wish list this year.
As you may recall, this is where we began–with a badly overgrown yard. The River Birch (shown on the left) had engulfed my walkway and had sent roots all out into the yard in every direction, even threatening to break up the walkway. Walking across the yard was not easy with all the huge roots across the top of the soil. The roots stretched so far, they were within a few feet of reaching the street!
The holly on the right end of the house, despite having been drastically cut back a few years ago, was completely obscuring two windows, one upstairs and one downstairs. And the side yard to the right was a dark, scary-looking black hole. Nothing would grow there due to the intense shade from the Leyland Cypress which were in terrible shape.
Stage 1 was the removal of the River Birch, all the Leyland Cypress and the holly. You’ll find a detailed post showing these changes here: Front Yard Landscape Renovation
This was our “after” once those were removed. (see pic below)
I really wanted to remove the large oak in front but have struggled with that decision for ages. I hate cutting down trees, especially big trees. But this tree created so many problems for my yard and life. It dropped 40 billion acorns each year which made it impossible to walk across the yard or the walkway. The acorns and the shells decayed and ruined the grass. The ones that didn’t decay sprouted into oak trees in my islands and flower beds. They were impossible to remove, especially the ones that grew all in the liriope and in the dianthus I planted all across the front of the island years ago.
Trying to dig up or pull out baby oak trees was a never ending nightmare, like bailing water out of a boat with a hole in it the size of Atlanta. It took much of the fun out of gardening or working in the yard because it controlled every landscape choice I attempted to make and it ruined many of the things I tried to do, like growing flowers across the front of the island.
One year I actually had to go out and “Round-up” all my Bath’s Pinks. It was horrible having to kill all my beautiful Dianthus but there was simply no way to get the hundreds of oak trees out that were growing all throughout them. If you have ever grown Bath’s Pink Dianthus, you know what I mean. And then there was the ever threat of it falling on the house during a storm. It would have destroyed my home if it had fallen across it.
The brutal truth was the tree did nothing for the appearance of the yard and when I looked out the windows of my home, it was a huge gray telephone pole in my front yard. The foliage was so high up, you couldn’t really appreciate that part of the tree. The only way you could really enjoy the tree was if you walked across the street and stood in my neighbor’s front yard (which is on a slight hill) and looked back at my home. After posting the “After” photo below, your comments gave me the courage to do what I should have done many years ago…have it removed.
I have to tell you, it’s the best decision I have EVER made for this yard. My bedroom, the guest room, the dining room and the living room (future library) are soooo much brighter. The large oak tree on the right still provides plenty of shade against the heat of the west sun so there’s just the right amount of shade now and I’m loving it!
Reshaping the Front Island:
Last night I dug out the bushes that had been growing under the River Birch. They had not been doing well in that spot and I’ve decided I want the sod to go all the way up to the walkway there in front of the magnolia. You may not be able to see it that well in the picture below because I have a big pile of clippings there sort of blocking the view, but the bushes are all gone on the far left end of the front island.
The mound where the River Birch was growing will be leveled out when the sod is installed.
I’ve made the decision to take down the camellia. (see pic below) It’s being removed today. It was great there for many years but ultimately camellias grow way to tall and wide to make good foundation plants. I will definitely be planting another camellia somewhere in my yard, though. I love them and enjoy floating them in a bowl during the blooming season.
I haven’t feel too awful about the decision to remove it because it has become kind of open and scraggly looking on the lower section of the tree/bush, probably because of all the shade from the magnolia. It had been trimmed back once before and this caused it to get really bushy toward the top. Scraggly on the bottom and bushy on the top isn’t such a great look.
See that area where the arrow is pointing up. That clump of magnolia is where a bunch of magnolia “suckers” or whatever you call them, are growing up from the roots of the magnolia. Anyway, those will be snipped off and that will open that area a bit more, too. Anyone know how to keep a magnolia from sending up those tall shoots? I can’t cut the roots but sure wish it would quit doing that.
I’m also going to remove three spirea someone gave me years ago. A friend bought a new home and the builder had put them in and she wanted them gone. We needed shrubs so we dug them up and brought them here. I think I know now why she was glad to get rid of them. Since they are deciduous, in the winter you just have a bush of sticks growing in your yard. Not such a great look for the front of the home.
Things left to do today and over the next few days:
Camellia is being removed today, stumps are being ground today, sod is being installed on Tuesday.
Things to do during the month of August:
Find something tall and and not too wide for the right end of the house, hopefully something that grows berries for decorating and/or for the birds. I may have to sacrifice the berry idea to get what will look and work best there. It’s important that it doesn’t cover up the windows again because I’m enjoying the sunny rooms I have now.
Come fall, the Japanese Maple will be moved to a different location. You can just see it there in front of the dining room windows on the left. I will need to decide on foundation plants/shrubs to go back. This house calls for a traditional style landscape and I love that look, so I know I want to go with evergreen shrubs.
There’s a nice size area to work with there since the walkway is out a good ways from the house, so I should be able to layer in some different varieties of shrubs/flowers for a nice look. I don’t want to over-plant, though. Any shrubs I should consider? I will take my time and choose carefully. After making such poor decisions in the past, like planting the River Birch (bad idea) and using a camellia as a foundation planting, I want to make sure I get it right this time!
Update: Just as I was about to publish this post, the doorbell rang. The tree guy and the stump guy just finished and the camellia has been removed and all the stumps are ground. One of the garage windows is visible now since the camellia is gone. With the stumps ground out, we’re officially ready for the sod. Good thing since all this tree work has totally wiped out the scraggly grass I had.
So we started here:
And now we’re here:
I’ll leave you with some views of the perennial garden that runs along the edge of the driveway.
I love Purple Coneflower!
It’s such an amazing flower to view up close.
I can never resist reaching out and touching the center.
The tall yellow flower is Rudbekia Herbstonne, the purple is Common Purple Phlox (smells wonderful!) and the short white flower is a yarrow called Oertel’s Rose. The Oertel’s Rose is about done now. It starts out a bright, hot pink, fades to soft pink and then finally to white before it’s gone for another year. You’ll find additional photos of this garden here: A Lazy Sunday in the Garden . Check out this post for views of the garden from when it was first planted to it’s first years in bloom: Creating a Perennial Garden
See you tomorrow for Tablescape Thursday! I’m planning on posting a beach themed table! 🙂