Feeling FRESH and Summer Ready

This weekend could not have been more beautiful if it tried. The sun was shining, the sky was cloudless and the temperature was just right for a landscaping project.

We’ve been eager to spruce up the curb appeal of the house since we bought it. As a refresher, here’s a “before” photo.

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The house screamed ’90s. I haven’t seen so much lava rock since I was a kid riding my bike around our lava rock-invested cul-de-sac. We had evergreen bushes that hid the views of the red brick trim on the house. And we had random, boulder-like rocks placed where older bushes had been sawed off (as opposed to pulled from the roots).

We had already made progress with Operation Facelift by replacing the faded grey shutters with sets of fresh black shutters. We added adirondack chairs, red toss pillows and planters to the porch to make it more inviting. The last thing we needed to do was clean out and tidy up the retaining wall garden.

C.D. and my father spent a better part of Saturday doing the grunt work. They labored away at scraping up and collecting the lava rock, which was no easy task considering there were layers upon layers of it. They tore out the two evergreen bushes to make way for new, smaller plants. We decided to leave the Ivory Halo Dogwood bush, as it blooms with beautiful white flowers and just needs a bit of shaping. They finished the job with a fresh layer of black mulch to contrast any greenery we chose.


I spent Sunday visiting a local nursery, Marshall, to get ideas for filling the space with smaller plants that would still produce some color. My goal was to keep the area clean and inviting. I spoke with their incredibly helpful staff about our soil (CLAY) and sun (we face the north east so we have lots of morning sun). I learned that although we have lots of unfiltered morning sun, the sun’s intensity is not enough to support full sun plants. That limited my selection a bit.

The staff pointed me to the boxwood, a green shrub that stays small but offers green leaves throughout the year. They also suggested hydrangeas for pops of color. We settled on Endless Summer Twist & Shout hydrangea bushes, as they bloom repeatedly throughout the summer months and don’t grow too bulky in size. I’m eager to see what color we end up with, as hydrangeas change bloom colors based on the acidity levels in the soil. Higher acidity levels result in pink blooms, whereas lower acidity levels produce blue/indigo colors.

I decided on begonias as my annuals to border the retaining wall. We chose red, orange, and light pink to complement the blue-grey door of the house.


Before you begin digging, arrange your plants around the bed to get a better idea of how they work together. This saves you headache if you realize you need more (or less) of a particular variety.

Being a novice to landscaping, the staff at Marshall also suggested I purchase a pre-fertilized bag of potting soil to combine with the dirt I dig out of each hole. Doing so ensures the plants get the nutrients they need to take hold to the ground and begin spreading their roots.

E, Miz and I spent the better part of our afternoon putting everything in the ground and I could not be more pleased with the results. It’s so refreshing to walk outside of the house to warm colors and blooms.



I’m so pleased with the progress we’ve made in only a few short months in our home. Next up on the exterior? The back deck and POWER-WASHING (this poor house hasn’t had a good scrub in ages). Stay tuned for more updates!



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