One of the joys (or burdens) that comes with home ownership is maintaining your yard and landscaping. Some have the luxury of having a professional take care of landscaping as well as maintenance, but many do not. When Ian and I decided to get a house, one of the parts I was most excited for was doing my own landscaping. Curb appeal is something that is extremely important to me when I look at houses, and I was ecstatic to have the opportunity to give our home a special touch that reflected our personalities.
Ian and I have the luxury of not having to abide by an HOA’s standards, so I had complete freedom to do exactly what I wanted to do. Because of a limited amount of time, I had Ian help me landscape. Landscaping seems overwhelming and intimidating at first, but, with some planning, it can be a lot of fun. The landscaping you will see in this post, took us two full days. It would have been much faster if I already bought all the flowers, plants, compost, and fertilizer I needed the day before.
One thing that is important to note before you start planning your landscaping is to notice where the sun rises and sets over you home. Notice which areas receive full sun all day, those that receive partial sunlight, and the areas that are entirely shaded. It is key to look at the information cards on plants or flowers so you know which areas in your yard would be best to plant them, how much space each plant needs, and what kind of fertilizer your plants need. (Don’t forget to save those information cards! In an upcoming post, I will show you my trick for organizing and keeping up with them). Fertilizer has three numbers. For example, some fertilizers have the numbers 10-20-20. The first number represents the ratio of nitrogen it contains. The second number represents the ratio of phosphorus, and the last number displays the ratio of potassium. Different types of plants and flowers require different ratios. My peony bulbs needed a fertilizer that had low nitrogen content, so I looked for a fertilizer where the first number in the ratio was the lowest.
I also highly recommend going to a local plant nursery in your area. Here you can find inspiration, have a visual guide that shows which plants require full sunlight (the plants in direct sun), which need partial sunlight (the plants you find in greenhouse covers), and what flora and fauna are native to your area. You may even find out the previous owners planted a very expensive tree in your yard, like we did! We discovered we had a gorgeous Japanese Maple. What I also realized was that it was placed in direct sunlight. That is a huge no-no for a delicate Japanese Maple tree. It needs at least partial shade, so I figured out we could transplant it to the side of the house, where it would get full sun in the morning, but around 10am the sun moved enough to where it would be in the shade it required. If I was not involved in landscaping our home, I never would have known we needed to move the Japanese Maple, and it likely would not have survived.
Thankfully, here in East Tennessee, we have a wide selection of gorgeous trees, plants, and flowers, that I was able to choose from.
Without further delay, here is how to do basic landscaping the Homemade Everyday Way!
- Draw a plan. Draw up a plan of your yard and all the flower beds around your home. I wrote which flowers or plants I wanted where after looking up what kind of sunlight the plants needed. Both of our front flower beds get direct sunlight all day, so I chose to get two hydrangea plants on the right side of our house, and I collected several Peony and Dahlia bulbs to plant in the left flower beds. I hoped to get some tulips, but due to budget I will add those at a later date. For ground coverage, I purchased pink, yellow, and red Celosia to place in front of the two hydrangea plants, then some Stachys byzantia ‘Silver Carpet’ to go in front of the Celosia. For the left flowerbed I purchased two Sedum album ‘Coral Carpet’ to go in from of my peony and dahlia bulbs. I waited on purchasing any other ground covering flowers until I know how much ground the peonies and dahlias will cover.
- Purchase plants, compost, and needed fertilizers for your plants. Here is everything I bought for my flower beds: Since I was going to be planting 14 bulbs, I decided to purchase some organic bulb tone as the fertilizer. The back of the bag even said it was great for both Peony and Dahila bulbs. Score! I basically got a two for one deal. 🙂 For the Hydrangea fertilizer, I purchased Organic Holly-Tone.
We decided to go with organic mushroom compost since it would not smell nearly as bad as manuer. Plus, I am planning on building a compost barrel, so we can put all of our fruit and veggie scraps to use for our flower beds next spring, which aided in my mushroom compost decision. Life is good, especially when a plan comes full circle.
- Gather all necessary tools needed to plant. For us this included:
Spear Head Spade
D Shaped Shovel
- Remove any unwanted trees, shrubs, plants or flowers currently in flower beds or lawn, and save any that you want to transplant.This is what our flower bed looked like before:
We had a tree in our front yard, that was partially dead, so we used our chainsaw to saw it down to the stump. After this, we used the same chainsaw to remove the bush that was in our front right flower bed. As well as small trees along the side of our house.
Then we used our Spear Head Spade to form a 10” radius circle around the Japanese Maple, and carefully dug it out of the ground being careful to not damage any roots. It appeared that the previous owners purchased it recently before selling, so it did not have an established root system. Then, we used our shovel and spear head spade to dig a large hole on the side house flower bed, deep enough that the base of the tree was 1” above soil level. We filled in the hole completely with compost, placed a small layer of soil on top, and placed mulch currently in the flower bed around the newly transplanted tree. Make sure you thoroughly water any plants or trees you transplant.
- Load up your unwanted trees, shrubs, and plants in a truck, trailer, or rented truck to take to you local green waste disposal. (If your neighborhood is like ours, part of our utilities includes large brush and tree pick up every two weeks. If you have this, you can place all the greenery you removed in the front of your yard to pickup. Or, if you cannot stand looking at it, go ahead and take it to the green waste disposal). Being newbies in our neighborhood, Ian and I did not realize our utilities included large shrub pick-up, so we took our waste to a local green waste disposal. After we came back from unloading, one of our neighbors explained to us this nifty service we did not know we had. Needless to say, our next door neighbor has become our go-to-guide.
- Rake aside any mulch currently in the flower beds, so you are in direct contact with the soil.
- Using a tape measure or yardstick, arrange your plants, flowers, and bulbs with the appropriate space needed between them (as indicated on the cards that come with your plants. If your plant does not come with a card, Google the type of plant you have to see the recommended spacing it requires).
- Using your Spear Head Spade, did large holes for your larger plants to where you have 2” in diameter between the base of the plant and the hole. Make sure the hole is deep enough to where the base of the plant comes 1” above soil level after placing it in the hole. (Some plants may have different planting requirements, so refer to your plant information card as needed).There is my lovely hydrangea plant as an example. I cannot wait for this to eventually bloom!
- After placing the plant in the hole and ensuring it is at the proper depth, add a 2” layer of compost, then take a handful of fertilizer, and sprinkle it all around on top of the compost.
- Add another layer of compost, alternating between compost and fertilizer, until you reach the top of the plant base. (You will end up using about 1 cup of fertilizer mixed with the compost when all is said and done).
- Finish off with a layer of compost, and add the soil from your flower bed around the base of the plan to ensure stability.
- Repeat steps 8-11 for the rest of the plants, trees, or flowers in your flower bed.
- If you have flower bulbs, your bulb planter will be very useful. Place the bulb planter handle directly over the area you want the bulb to be planted. Firmly, press down on the handle, until the entire cylinder of the planter is below the soil. Pull the bulb planter out of the ground (it should be filled with soil). Add some soil and compost at the bottom of the hole, then sprinkle some bulb fertilizer on top. Add enough soil and compost to where the bulb sits 1” below the surface of the soil. Place the bulb on top of the soil and compost, then place the bulb planter directly over the hole, squeeze on either side of the handle to release the soil over the top of the hole. Repeat for other bulbs.
- After planting, place mulch over the top of the flower bed, and around the plants, flowers, or trees.
- Thoroughly water you newly landscaped flower beds! Here is the end result of our landscaping endeavor: Landscaping is a process. Sometimes it can take several seasons or years to see the results of what you planted. It can also take time to figure out if you need other plants, want a different look, or fill in empty areas. Landscaping is something you do not have to do all at one time. You can plant one or two things, take a break, then plant more later. I think many times we tend to approach life with an all or nothing attitude, or we give up when we desire instant gratification. Growing plants and flowers is not always instantly gratifying. They require many different elements, proper care, and the right environment to thrive. I think the bulbs I planted in the left flower bed are a perfect example of that. That flower bed does not look like anything right now. But, with time, it is going to be the most colorful, gorgeous flower bed out of all of them. Plant what you love and what appeals to you. Fill your garden or flower beds with flowers and plants that make you happy. What are your favorite flowers or plants?