epic backyard landscaping project: FINISHED!

For this year, anyway.  (Next summer, I’ll add in all the perennials, and maybe even some annuals, too.)

Over the weekend, I finished up the mulching along the three sides of our yard.

I needed about six cubic yards of mulch for the entire backyard project, including the two smaller non-shrub beds.  We decided to mulch to prevent the entire area from being a mud pit over the winter, especially since Hadrian has taken to running around like a wild banshee.

Below, you can see a narrow bed along the patio wall that bumps out into the yard.  I planted ‘Galaxy’ Coral Bells (center), with Pink Agastache (hummingbird mint) and sedum along the outside.  These are all low-maintenance perennials that do well in sun.  In the background, you can see the Golden Variegated Privet (lime green) and Tiny Wine Ninebark (smaller and purple) along our white cedar fence.  (The left-most panel will be built as soon as I can get the planks primed and painted.)

Also, check out the mish-mash mum I transplanted from one of my beds into a pot!  It’s yellow, orange and pink.  (I transplanted some other mums and they’re hanging out in the front of the house, providing color there.)

Here’s another view of the privet and ninebark, as well as a shot of the additional concrete step Andrew sunk in the ground the other day:

We have a matching second step on the other patio ‘exit’ near the hosta bed.  By designing the bed to include the step, it’s both aesthetically pleasing and allows whoever is mowing to get all the edges without weed-whacking.  I hate weed-whacking, and Andrew doesn’t go behind me to do it after I mow, so I put my foot down about mulching the entire fence- and patio-line.

The bed below is almost all transplanted hostas.  It’s full shade, and I love hostas SO MUCH.  I had a few that were growing out of control, so I split them and added them here.  Almost all the hostas in this bed are either Nigrescens (giant, cup-shaped, blue-ish) or Brother Stefan (medium to large, variegated gold and green) varieties, both of which were in other beds in the yard. I purchased one ‘Hans’ Hosta, which is predominantly white, to serve as a centerpiece along the side of the garage.  There are two coral bells that prefer more shade and are lime green with light pink blossoms.  Because we have a spigot at the corner, I found some extra flagstone and created a landing spot for a hose next summer. Two ‘Autumn Ferns’ flank the flagstone, which have bits of pink on their leaves.  The rear of the garage is somewhat of a ‘holding ground’ for some other hostas I found in the yard and intend to use when I landscape around the tree behind the garage (not pictured).

The entire bed is limey-green, and I like that there are hints of pink in this bed that complement the pinks and purples in the plants in the patio wall bed and the shrubs along the white cedar fence.  I was really conflicted about how the hosta bed turned out initially, as it felt a little cluttered.  I moved a couple of the plants around and while I’m happier with the final product, I’m still a little unsure.  I think it will take seeing it in full bloom next year to really evaluate how it all looks, especially since the transplants are droopy after planting.

As I’ve mentioned before, we also plan to re-do the exterior of our house (and therefore also the garage), and I think another color would go A LONG WAY to helping this bed really ‘pop.’  The sagey-beige isn’t doing anything for anyone.

There are three large Poprcorn Viburnum bushes in the bump-out as the centerpiece of the fence along the right side of the yard.  They are all the same variety, but the middle bush is an older plant, so it hasn’t started to turn red like the younger ones flanking it.  Planting these guys was a bear!  In front, I have two shasta daisies, given to me by my neighbor when she was thinning out her collection.  My landscaping plan includes a bunch of daisies, and while I’m not sure I’ll put them all in, I did want to use these here and now.

On either side of the viburnum are two Mock Orange bushes, which are small with white blossoms in summer.  On either side of those, an empty space remains for Knock-Out Roses, which I’ll plant next year.  While roses are a shrub, the landscaper advised I wait to plant as they are considered a perennial and need more time to get established before winter.

Further down the fence, a large Black Walnut tree stands surrounded by myrtle.  I love the ground cover, and have even moved some of it to around the tree in the front of our yard, and some to the ‘holding ground’ behind the garage so that I can use it around the other black walnut we have there.  It was here when we moved in, and I plan to cut it back each year to keep it surrounding the base of the tree without it creeping into the yard.

The four Annabelle Hydrangeas flanking the tree are transplants from other beds.  The smallest one, behind the tree, is currently doing well and was taken from the raised bed on our patio.  The three larger ones, (the right-most isn’t pictured) were taken from the bed on the side of our house, and are currently doing terribly.  I think they’re in shock from the move, and I hope they come back next spring.  (I’m assuming they will, as transplant shock is common and to be anticipated.)  I may end up losing parts of each plant due to a damaged root system, but again, I’m assuming at least part of each plant will come back and simply take a few seasons to flourish again.

Between both sets of hydrangeas and directly to the rear and right of the tree is a Saskatoon Serviceberry bush.  It’s almost invisible in the photo due to lack of leaves, but I’ve already seen new growth since planting it!  It’s a fast-growing shrub and will fill that corner in nicely soon.

The stones in the photo above have since been scattered along the back fence-line, from left to right. They were here when we moved in, but you can usually buy rocks like this at your local nursery for anywhere from $10-$100 each, based on size.  I love how some of them are almost perfectly round!

Along the back fence-line, I have two Forsythia bushes in a bump-out in approximately the center.  I’ll plant white goat’s beard on either side next year.  I’ve always liked forsythia, and am looking forward to seeing them in all their bright yellow glory next year!

Further down, I have some more open space that I’m not quite sure what to do with yet…  We have a gate in that spot which opens to the back, and I do intend to plant in front of it.  One idea is to extend the goat’s beard along that strip of fence-line, or to plant three more Mock Orange bushes there, to create symmetry with the same bushes on the other side of the hydrangea tree.  I’ll keep thinking about it.

Speaking of a hydrangea tree…I FINALLY HAVE ONE!  I’ve always admired them in others’ yards and I’m so glad I have a spot that works.  I chose ‘limelight,’ which starts limey-green and finishes white.  My hope is that those annabelles on the opposite side will eventually have white blossoms, too.

In the above photo, you can see the three Mock Orange bushes flanking the hydrangea tree.

Below, we’re traveling down the left side of the yard.  The bump-out on this side contains five ‘Diana’ Rose of Sharon bushes, which have white blooms. I’m in love already, and I hear they tend to bloom all summer and into fall.  So excited.

Further along the fence toward the black walnut tree behind the garage, I have three ‘Snow Queen’ Oakleaf Hydrangeas, which do better in full shade.  I also bought three more snow queens to replace the annabells I stole from the side bed.

Everything in my landscaping plan was designed to be low-maintenance and to provide color at various times of the year: spring, summer and fall.  Also, the plan provides for five years of growth, which is why there is so much open space.  I’ll fill in some of the open space next summer with perennials, such as more sedum around the back of the hydrangea tree, and perhaps even some annuals, like impatiens along the bump-out edges for color.

Something else we want to add is a border, if only to keep the edges clean and crisp. We’ll likely use something like this, which looks like the easiest option to install after doing the beds.  If I had known I would put in landscape edging while I was doing the beds, I might have chosen this one.

I could not have done this project without a couple things: Andrew’s support, the money I saved while working, and these gardening gloves.  The rubber on the gloves is crucial for keeping your hands clean!

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