A Landscaping-Garden Before and After & A Sweet Surprise

Welcome to the 644th Metamorphosis Monday, a blog party sharing fabulous Before and Afters!

It’s hard to believe that it’s been five years since I completed this little landscape makeover for the front of my home. You may remember I had a small Japanese Maple moved from the front area of my home to another spot in the yard. It’s doing great in its new spot, I’ll have to take a photo sometime soon to share how well it has done in its new home!

Boxwoods and Hydrangeas for the Front Yard Landscape


When this photo was taken five years ago, I hadn’t yet planted all the Green Beauty Boxwood shrubs into the ground. It took me about a week to get all these shrubs on both sides of the porch into the ground since I was doing this work by myself. (Here’s the original post where I shared this process: Landscaping with 4 Varieties of Boxwood Shrubs.)


Here’s one more photo of how the Green Beauty Boxwoods looked on the left side of the porch in May 2016. The two smaller boxwood shrubs up front are called Baby Gem and they are supposed to remain fairly small.


And here’s how the Green Mountain Boxwood topiaries looked a few years after I planted them in the planters on either side of the steps leading to the front porch.


Here’s how the Green Beauty Boxwood shrubs look today! Quite the change!


They’ve been trimmed back once pretty strongly over the past 5 years, I think that was either last summer or the summer before. They definitely are going to need it again before too long.


It’s hard to show just how enormous these shrubs are now so I tried to sorta squat down for this picture. lol


I love how they look, just wish I could freeze them in time and stop them from getting any bigger!


So we went from this…

Boxwoods and Hydrangeas for the Front Yard Landscape


To this! You can barely walk between them now, they are almost all touching! Hard to believe when I look at the photo above! And look at the size of the Green Mountain Boxwood topiaries now!


They started out even smaller than this, this is from a few years ago after they had already been in their planters for a while.


They have gotten huge, spilling out of the planters! They need a good trim back, as well.


They have been in these planters for many years. I’m amazed they are still doing so well!


Do you remember the Savannah Hollies I planted on this end of my home back then? You can see four of the hollies in this photo: one here at the end of the house and three more down along the side of my neighbor’s driveway. I agonized about how close to plant the one that I placed at the corner of the house. I finally decided, based on info I had read about how big they can get, to place it this distance you see below.


Here’s how it looks today! So glad I placed it away from the house as far as I did! The birds LOVE this holly. It’s always covered up in red berries, including now, and they love sitting deep in the branches and singing up a storm! I love hearing them each morning since that’s my room upstairs to the left in the picture.

The other hollies in the background have really grown, too. The hollies create the view I had hoped for when you’re walking down the walkway toward the front porch.


The gardenia shrubs I planted in front of the Savannah holly many years ago are really filling out. They struggled a bit the first few years after I planted them here, but they are looking great now and covered with blossoms this year! They smell so wonderful when I walk near this side of the house! I love their beautiful scent! I need to get outside and weed this whole area while our cooler weather is here in the mornings this week.


The Dharuma Hydrangea at the end of the driveway is doing really well, also. Here’s how it looked right after I first planted it near the mailbox–a tiny little thing.


Not anymore! I pretty drastically trimmed it back in early spring because it had gotten so big. I love the size it is now! I really love this hydrangea and how it can take full sun. As you can see, it’s just starting to bloom. It will go gangbusters now for a few weeks. Sooo pretty!


I really love how it’s hugging the mailbox so you can see it driving down the street from both sides.


Definitely recommend this hydrangea if you have a spot in your yard where you would like a hydrangea that can take full sun.


I’ll leave you with one more little “metamorphosis” that’s taking place in the wreath on my front door. πŸ™‚ I took the wreath down in early spring hoping to avoid this since it happens every year. About a month ago I thought it was probably safe to put it back up. Nope. lol I don’t really mind, though. There’s always a little mess left on the paint once the babies leave the nest, but I can just clean it off and any leftover smudges are easily hidden by whatever wreath or basket I have hanging on the door at the time.


I’m not sure what kind of bird is nesting here. I’ve only caught a brief glimpse of them flying away (via my Ring doorbell) whenever a package is delivered. I think it may be House Finches. Just before someone steps onto the porch, the Mama bird always flies off the nest but returns just a few seconds later. Not sure why she always leaves. I’ve been using the garage door to retrieve packages to avoid opening the door.


So tell me–what landscaping projects do you have going on this spring? I would love to hear!

Happy Spring and Happy Nesting!

Looking forward to all the great Before and Afters linked for this week’s Metamorphosis Monday!

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Metamorphosis Monday

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  1. Your home and landscaping look fabulous! It’s a never ending job, isn’t it ? We always had birds making nests in our wreaths when we lived in a house…now in an apartment I didn’t think I would have that problem. BUT…a pair of birds ( not sure what kind) have figured out how to fly into our underground garage each time the door opens. Their timing is amazing! Management is trying to get them out…I hope so, because all of my wreaths are hanging in our storage cage and I think they will see that as a good nesting site!!! Have a great week !

    • Thanks, Ann! Oh, you are sooo right! I never seem to get caught up–feels overwhelming at times. That is wild that they decided to come down into the garage. I hope they don’t make a nest inside the garage or in one of your wreaths! My son just went through something similar. He had a pair of mourning doves make a nest on the top shelf of some storage shelves inside his garage. They had made the nest and had eggs in it before they discovered what was going on. So every morning, my son and dil had to open up the garage door and leave it up the entire day so the doves could come and go and bring food to the babies–once they hatched. After the babies left the nest, my son removed the nest. About a week or so later, he looked out one day and one of the doves was back sitting in the spot where the nest had been. They hadn’t had enough time yet to build a new nest, so once she flew out, he shut down the garage doors and they are trying to remember to not leave them up. That’s hard with two small children who are always running in and out of the garage to play in the backyard and ride their bikes.

  2. Grace White says

    Last year I opened my front door and the bird nesting in my wreath flew into the house. She flew into the den and breakfast area, so I opened the back door and she flew out, thank goodness. She was terrified and flew around but finally flew out the door. I was so thankful she flew out w/o having to be caught and helped out.

    • Glad she found her way out! Is that supposed to be good luck, when a bird flies into your home? lol I’ve actually seen them inside Lowes before when I was there shopping.
      I once had one come down my chimney somehow. I ended up covering up the two doorways that lead out of the living room with blankets and then opened the door to deck (didn’t have a screened porch back then) hoping it would go for the light and it did. I’ve never had that happen again, thankfully!

  3. I know what you mean about those boxwood shrubs.. I planted the “mini” ones in my front yard and if you don’t trim them every year they just keep growing and growing and then when you want to trim them back to the short size you’ll have brown spots and then it takes forever for them to grow new growth so it’ll all be green again. I know some people around here have put in fake trees and fake grass and really you can’t tell the difference if you buy the really expensive ones. It really takes a lot of time to keep everything trimmed down and the older we get the more time it takes. good luck.

    • I’m a little worried about that with these. They are as big as I want right now, don’t want them to block the windows, so they def need to be trimmed at some point. You really have to trim them back shorter than you want since they almost immediately put on new growth. I def didn’t expect them to grow as fast as they have. That’s amazing–I didn’t know they made fake trees! I have heard of fake grass. Do the trees not fade in color? Seems like the sun would cause them to fade out. I’m going to have to Google for that now and see how those look. lol

  4. I well remember those landscaping changes, Susan. Those Baby Gems look like teenagers now! Wow. And that Holly at the corner of the house! Good thing you planted it where you did. And those Green Mountain topiaries!! Wow. I am amazed they are thriving in those (now) little boxes. Our landscape gardener discouraged me from keeping things in boxes because he said they don’t have access to water as they would in the ground, only what’s in the pot. I should show him that picture! Haha. And I do hope you’ll show us your Japanese Maple. I have one as well and it’s taken several years for it to really start to grow, but now it’s on it’s way.

    I also planted a hydrangea that loved it’s spot and boy oh boy, did it grow. It was about 18 inches when I planted it and within a year it was 5 feet! That thing is a monster now, lol. It’s basically uncontrollable. My only regret is that I planted it near the sidewalk instead of out in the yard somewhere. If I’d had any idea it would grow so big, I certainly would have planted it somewhere else. But I do love it.

    Isn’t it funny how Bird Mama’s make their nests in the oddest places? I too have had the front porch wreath nests. πŸ˜€ I was very lucky in that my front doors are glass, so I was able to watch every stage of development and that was great. This year, a mama bird – a mourning dove – made her nest in a basket on our back porch. My husband had thrown some odds and ends into a basket – things like a bug zapper, as well as a can of raid and a metal rod we used to clean the grill. And it was there on all those uncomfortable things that she chose to build her nest, lol. But it was so interesting because when the baby hatched (the other one didn’t make it. πŸ™ ) she was already fluffy and feathery. I’m used to robins that are basically naked little misshapen pink jelly beans. But this baby bird was like a tiny version of it’s mom. So sweet. I even got to see her fly the nest! She wobbled a bit, but she made it to the tree.

    Well, I hope you have a lovely Memorial Day and get out your Warren Kimble patriotic plates! Thanks for the landscaping update. I hope you have a great week!

    • Mary Lou says

      Pam, You are so fortunate to see your doves raise a chick. We had a pair build a nest in a bush that we could look into from a bedroom window. Unfortunately something tore the nest down, I think a cat, so we couldn’t watch their progress. It was so interesting to see them working together to build the nest. I learned the female sits on the eggs at night and the male sits on them during the day and they share child care. I hope all the birdwatchers here can get a chance to watch a pair nest. I just love to hear them coo.

      • Mary Lou, I loved the experience. We were able to watch them through the window and the mama bird got so used to me peeking out at her, she didn’t mind at all. Unfortunately, the daddy bird got scared off one day when my husband had to exit the house through that door. We didn’t see him again after that, it was mama on 24 hour duty. And she did such a good job. She was always sitting on that baby, save for a few minutes here and there. It was cute when she started giving her baby some space. Mama would stand on the porch railing a few feet away and observe. I hope we get more of these doves next year. The mama bird was very pretty. Thanks for your comment and the story of your own pair of doves. Have a lovely week.

    • Thanks, Pam! I really think the reason the Green Mountain topiary trees are still doing so well it the reall good (and expensive) potting soil the nursery recommended that day. That stuff was amazing! I wonder how long they will continue to do well. It would be a huge job to try and transplant them into the ground if they started to show decline.
      I know what you mean about hydrangeas. The one near my mailbox was bigger last year than I would have liked because I forgot to trim it back in time. So this year, I made sure to do that. It’s supposed to stay fairly small but I don’t think it got that memo!
      That’s awesome that you could actually watch them through your door! I really enjoyed watching the Phoebes grow up that nested in the corner of my front porch, except the day I found a huge black snake on my bench trying his best to go up the column to get to the nest. I wish I had taken a picture of him, I was in too big a hurry getting him off the bench and column to think of doing that! lol

      • Oh my goodness, I probably would have fainted! Lol. I don’t care for snakes. Yikes. But yes, transplanting those Green Mountains would be a huge job! I hope if you ever have to do it, you’ll get a strong man to do it for you. But knowing you and your famous energy …. πŸ˜€ I love the elegant yet homey look they give at the front of the porch. Hopefully they have about topped out in size and you won’t have to replant them. I agree, that potting soil must have been fantastic! They looks so healthy.

  5. franki Parde says

    Susan…everything is beautiful and…so appropriate for the setting…what a “showhome” you have created!! KUDOS!! franki

    • Aww, thanks Franki! I just wanted some landscaping that felt very calm and fairly maintenance-free. Boxwoods are pretty easy, except when they grow so fast! lol

  6. Kathleen says

    Seems like last year you planted that bed, not five years. I love boxwood by any name. All your bushes are doing so well and look nice and healthy. It is surprising the ones in pots for so long look so pretty. They must like it or they would let you know. I notice you can’t see the neighbor’s property so the screen worked nicely. I was just out trimming my hedges by hand shears and I am now inside ordering a battery Makita hedger. Love seeing the nest with eggs. So precious. We had an interesting nest this year in the avocado tree. It was more like a pouch that hung down (used bits of wool) and it was a tiny, tiny bird that made it (not a hummer).

  7. Regality3 says

    Susan, I hope you never have the experience that I had. I, too, had birds nesting in a door wreath. I stopped using that door and put rope and a sign up blocking entry. Unfortunately, one morning I discovered 3 tiny, naked little dead bird bodies on the porch below the wreath. It was an awful sight. Since then I always take the wreath off of the door during nesting season.

    • That’s so sad, I would have cried. πŸ™ So far I’ve never had that happen on the porch. I have a note on my door (on the inside) to remind myself to not use the door. I may just leave the wreath off next year.

  8. Maybe the boxwoods in the planters need trimming, but I love that the ones in the planting beds look so vigorous and healthy. You obviously have a green thumb, Susan.

    • I do, too…just wish they would stop right there. lol I like the size they are now. Thanks, Lisa! Honestly, I think it’s all the preparation of the bed and digging the holes a good bit bigger than you think they need to be. I kept them watered pretty regularly for the first month after I planted them, but beyond that, I’ve really not done anything. I think I did fertilize them the second year, but that’s it.
      Have a fabulous week, Lisa!

  9. Mary Lou says

    I so envy you your climate. No matter what plants I buy I have to make sure they can live through northern Ohio winters. So many plants are said to be good for our zone but so often we will have a few winter days when we dip to 20 – 22Β° below zero and many plants are killed. I have a row of boxwood (I have the name recorded but don’t remember now) that we had at least 35 years that were planted in a sheltered area but a few years ago during a cold spell the one on the corner where the wind whips around was killed.
    About birds, I was always told that birds fly off the nest to distract the intruder so they will follow them away from the nest.

    • Wow, I didn’t realize Northern Ohio got that cold. I guess I should know that since my son/dil live in the southern part of Ohio and I know they’ve had temps below 0 before. I still remember trick-or-treating with my grandsons in the snow one year! Never experienced that in Georgia! That was wild!
      I’m so sorry you lost one of your boxwoods! I’ve seen photos online of Martha Stewart (and others) covering them with burlap. If you replace that one, I wonder if you could try that if another super cold day happens again.
      Oh, that makes so much sense, about why she always flies off the nest–thanks for sharing that Mary Lou!

      • Mary Lou says

        You’re welcome. A saying around here is “The Halloween costume has to be big enough to go over a snow suit. I’ve seen the burlap wrap in peoples yards, I will look up how long it can be on. Another thing of interest, that same frigid winter the deer were so hungry they came within two feet of our windows and munched on our yew bushes. There were certain ones they preferred. We felt sorry for them and didn’t stop them but it took some trimming to get them in shape again.

  10. Wow, Susan! Big, big growth! Obviously all the plants are happy. I love that hydrangea at the mailbox, great choice.

    • Thanks, Rita! Hope I can keep them looking nice because they were a lot of work to install! lol I know you are not missing all that spring/summer yard work! πŸ™‚

  11. Wow, I’ve been following you for a while now. I can’t believe it was 5 years ago when you planted these ! Love pics from your yard ❀️

    • Thanks so much, Sabrina! Scary how fast the time has passed. Wish I could slow down a bit. Hope you have a wonderful week!

  12. karen day says

    Susan, seeing your bird nest in your wreath made me think of one we had one year. As I was trying to get a better look at it I noticed something white hanging out of it. When I looked closer it was a little white tag that said “made in China”.

    • That’s hysterical! Was that from the wreath or did the mom find the tag someplace and use it in the building of the nest? You probably thought, No–these birds are definitely being made right here in the good ol’ USA! πŸ˜‰

      • karen day says

        The tag wasn’t part of the wreath and I have no idea where it came from but the mama bird certainly had a sense of humor.

  13. So sweet that you have birds in the wreath. That mama has good taste! πŸ™‚

    And it IS amazing how fast our plants grow. Your place looks wonderful with all the bushes and trees maturing. Love that sun-tolerant hydrangea! We’ve got a whole backyard full of landscaping projects this summer. The first is my husband’s new lawn – half grass, half flowing ground cover. It’s looking pretty fun so far!

    Thanks as always for hosting this party – it’s a highlight of my Monday!

  14. Brenda Lawrence says

    Everything has grown so nicely Susan and looks fabulous! We spend last Wed, or I should say some two other guys and my son trimmed my bushes and put mulch down. Hasn’t had any since way before my husband’s passing, so been about 8 years or more. Nice to have mulch again. Today my son worked on power washing the pool deck and I mowed most of the yard, had to keep away from the hose! And hauled some of the left over mulch to where he wanted it. Still have some touch ups to do. So a busy day, we ended it with grilling hamburgers and hot dogs on the grill and eating outside. Now, resting! lol Happy Memorial Day to all our Veterans and you Susan!!! Hugs, Brenda

  15. I’m another one who can’t believe it’s been five years! Looks like everything is quite happy in your yard. My mom had a gardenia below the kitchen window in my childhood home; the scent brings back memories every time.

  16. Your yard looks great. I love the boxwoods and that hydrangea by the mailbox is fabulous! XO- MaryJo

  17. Cyndi Raines says

    Wow! I can’t believe it’s been 5 years! Everything looks lush and green. I think the mamma bird flys away to distract the person who is approaching the nest but then returns when the coast is clear. At any rate your yard and home are very lovely. (Susan, I sent you a private message, it may have gone to your spam. Hope you can find it.) Hope you had a great Memorial Holiday!

  18. What a beautiful home you have, and your landscaping is gorgeous! Thanks for hosting! Enjoy your week!!


  19. Susan,
    Your landscaping is beautiful!! So cute having a nest in your wreath….
    Thanks for hosting each week!! I appreciate the work that it takes to host this wonderful party!!! Stay safe, healthy and happy!!

  20. I always lay a long boot or shoestring in the bottom of my door wreaths. It mimics a blacksnake, and birds are easily discouraged from building. I’ve done this for years, and it works like a charm!

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