I spent most of my childhood in military housing, usually an apartment, so I didn’t have to help with gardening or raking leaves or pulling weeds on a regular basis. Most of my married life has been spent in apartments and then a condo-style townhouse where all of the mowing and yard care was handled by the neighborhood. So, when we moved into our current single-family home a few years ago, my inexperience with lawn care, gardening and exterior-decorating showed. My husband mows our lawn…and I use that term very generously, because it’s mostly weeds and clover…and every spring, I get a little inspired to get something done to make the yard look nicer. We’ve pulled out some overgrown bushes, cut down a few trees, planted a few holly bushes in the front garden beds, but it was all half-heartedly done and anything planted was forgotten about once the heat of summer kicked in.
There was one main eye-sore that discouraged me from putting too much time into adding curb appeal to our home…
The driveway. It was a mess. Part asphalt, part gravel, part weeds, part dirt, part sand and a poorly laid sidewalk to the side door that had sunk about a foot to add insult to injury. We added some trash, boxes, a trailer and things like that just to keep the neighbors happy. Really…I was always apologizing to our neighbors, who share a driveway with us, for how terrible it looked. Finally, this summer, we were able to rip out everything and have it repaved. It was a glorious day.
It was so anticipated that we all watched it happen.
So, now that we have a beautiful new blacktop driveway, it is time to start sprucing up the rest of the exterior. Flowers and bushes and things that add charm seem to be worthwhile now that they won’t be overshadowed by the ugly mess of a driveway.
The front garden seemed like the best place to start and here’s how it looked…
Our window boxes have been empty for two years…
…the front beds hadn’t been mulched for over a year…
…the border I made from rocks collected around our yard was overgrown…
…and the front beds were in desperate need of some weeding.
I have shared before that I am not a gardener. I try. I do. I’m not good at caring for plants, though, and I forget to water and prune and fertilize and I don’t know which plants go well with which and I’m impatient waiting for things to grow.
So, I went to Cashman’s True Value Hardware in East Berlin for some help. There was a very lovely lady watering some plants outside and I let her know she had her work cut out for her with me. I needed plants that could live in full sun, ones that weren’t fussy and high maintenance and I needed to know everything I needed to buy to make a pretty front garden. She got me a cart and loaded me up with a variety of plants for my window boxes, some bushes to flank the house and some lavender to frame out the stairs. She also picked out some mulch for me…
…and shared her favorite potting soil for the window boxes…
I also picked up a garden cart to help me with moving stones, mulch, weeds, etc.
I love how all of the colors and textures of the lavender, Swiss chard and kale went together. I forget what those bright green plants are called.
She talked me through planting and arranging them and made sure I was all set and confident to tackle my project before I checked out. I left actually excited to get to work on adding some curb appeal.
The first task was to weed and clean the garden beds. I then hauled all of the stones from the border to the backyard to use for another project. I was so glad I had the garden cart for that!
I dug out a more defined border with a shovel and built a new “wall” with landscaping stones. The boys were really into the planting and helped me with digging holes, putting in the potting soil and planting the plants in their new home. We then spread the mulch around to help prevent weeds and frame out the plants in a rich brown.
It looks sooooo much better and I can’t wait for the lavender to grow and bloom.
The bushes flanking the house look pretty scrawny at the moment, but I’m sure they’ll fill out in years to come. They produce pale pink flowers, which will look pretty against the dark green holly bushes.
The kale, Swiss chard and bright green plants went in the window box and I am looking forward to them growing up a bit more. I have been keeping things watered like a good girl and everything is still alive. (Yeah, I know there’s a funny gap in the holly bushes. I planted those a few years ago and that’s how they’ve grown. I’m hoping they’ll grow and fill that gap one of these years.)
Anyway, I’m already looking forward to going back to True Value in the spring to get some pretty flowers for the window boxes and urns and am making plans for a row of hydrangeas and azaleas along the shady side of the house.
I don’t think gardening is ever going to be my favorite aspect of DIY, but it is certainly rewarding and was made a little bit easier with the help of the knowledgeable folks at True Value.
I was one of the bloggers selected by True Value to work on the DIY Squad. I have been compensated for my time commitment to the program as well as my writing about my experience. I have also been compensated for the materials needed for my DIY project. However, my opinions are entirely my own and I have not been paid to publish positive comments.