Front Yard Raised Bed Garden

Monday, June 12, 2017

Operation Curb Appeal is in full force this month!

When we rebuilt our steps and sidewalk last week, we pulled out the bushes on both sides of our old steps, leaving us with the magnolia bush that I typically refer to as "the monstrosity on the corner."

I get compliments on this bush every year in early spring because the blooms are gorgeous, but I think it's stupid because it blooms before the leaves even come in for the season, the blooms dry up and then it's just this crazy green bush the rest of the year that seems to double in size annually, no matter how badly I butcher prune it every spring and fall.  I have been waiting to yank the last of these bushes out since we moved in here three years ago.  Most of the prickly stuff and filler plants that were originally planted here got pulled out the year we moved in and it had been just these three bushes ever since.  Until I was ready to replant the garden, I didn't want to lose what little bit of green life we had out here. Apparently I think ugly bushes are better than bare dirt.

But now it was time for them to go.  Anybody sad?  No?  Good, me neither.

Once the monstrosity was out, we could actually see the shape of the existing garden.  Originally, the garden was a sort of kidney bean shape that was pretty symmetrical, and by all examples on the internet, apparently a common garden shape.  While I liked the general outline of the space, with the new steps and pavers in place, we needed to redesign.

Because the yard has a few high spots and low spots, we wanted something that would work with the contour and provide a clean transition from garden to lawn.  I wanted a flat paver mower strip, but Andrew's practical arguments won (basically because I refused to dig any more and all that dirt in the garden right now is the same rocky fill dirt that makes up our entire property) and we went with a low raised bed garden built with wall blocks that match the pavers.

I really thought the steps were going to be the biggest piece of the front yard work, but it turns out I was wrong!  Getting this wall laid out, pieced together, leveled and such was a major exercise in overthinking and overdoing.  Andrew and I both earned some muscles and headaches for our trouble and in the end we managed by just embracing the crazy and letting go of our perfectionism.  Because it took about a week longer than we had anticipated, we also had plenty of opportunities to get the whole family involved!

Then I sort of failed to get any decent after photos because, well, we haven't really gotten to a clean stopping point.  But here is the progress so far!

I love the way it continues along the line we created with the pavers and swoops out, as well as the combination of curves around the straight edges of our new entry steps.  I maintain that a paver strip would have been a whole lot easier to install, although the wall definitely adds a pop to the dimension of the front of the house and it does look really nice around the slight slope of the yard.

The length of the bed is about 14 1/2' from the landing to the outside edge of the circle.  The circle diameter is about 6' and the narrowest portion near the steps is 3' deep.  We planted it with ornamental grasses, astilbe, a bleeding heart, ferns, hostas, and ground cover.  Once these establish, they should spread and grow enough to fill the entire space.  The tree is a Fragrant Fountain Japanese Snowbell and will max out at about 6' tall, making it rather perfect for this small space and I anticipate it being a refreshing upgrade to the Magnolia Monstrosity.

As you can see, we also changed our minds and used the extra topsoil we had from filling the garden to even out the yard enough to seed.  After having a disaster spread over the front of our house the past couple of weeks from these hardscape projects and both of us missing all the green, we agreed that we didn't want to wait on the settling afterall.  We laid down a layer of topsoil, spread seed heavily over the whole thing, and laid down the germination blankets.  We will still likely need to add some soil here and there as things settle over time since we sped up our timeline.  The yard still looks like a disaster, but at least now it is on its way to mending and we're that much closer to the yard Andrew's been waiting for!


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