Monday, August 8, 2011

Tackling Our Landscape

When we first moved into our house last year, we had a local landscaping company draw up a 'dream landscape plan' for us.  (The photo above is the backyard of our plan created by Selfscapes.)  The plan is unbelievable!  We love it.  Unfortunately, the cost to attain our dream landscape plan was also unbelievable with a price tag of nearly $30K.  Really.

We decided that in order to achieve our 'dream landscape' several things would need to take place:

1. We would need to break the project up into phases and tackle one area per year.

2. We would need to perform the labor ourselves.  And by 'ourselves', I mean Bill, Opa (My Dad) and me.  We conveniently time our projects to align with my Dad's visits.  (Thanks, Dad!!  And, my bro, D.B., might help this year too.  Thanks in advance, Bener!)

3. We would need to time our projects to be most cost effective.  Our landscape projects will take place every year during the month of August.  The rationale behind August landscape work is directly related to the cost of plants.  Typically, plants go on clearance during the first week of August.

4. We would need to consider plant size in regards to overall project cost.  This concept is simple.  Smaller plants are cheaper, and they will eventually be big plants.  We're willing to buy smaller plants/shrubs/trees in order to get all the plants we need for a particular project with the knowledge that the time it would take us to save up to buy all 'initially big plants' would allow for our small plants to turn into big plants.  And we're a little impatient.  We actually really like landscaping work, and we don't want to wait.  And seeing a plant grow is half the fun, right?

Last year, we tackled the front yard (Phase 1) which involved tearing out sod to add a flower bed, transplanting plants to new locations and planting new shrubs and perennials.  This year (Phase 2), our project will take place in our back yard, specifically this corner of our back yard and a little area around our patio.  The big trees are already in place (3 pine trees and a maple), and the rest of the plants we'll be adding this year.

Our Plan:

Before Pictures:

Patio area before:

Next year (Phase 3), we plan to tackle the opposite corner of our lot where our 'fire pit' is currently located.

The following year (Phase 4), we'll purchase some of the more expensive trees and make tweaks to the plants around the back of our house and deck that are placed in less than ideal locations currently.  After that, we'll spend a summer sitting in adirondack chairs in the back yard, sipping lemonade and watching the kids run around our dreamily landscaped backyard:).

Wish us luck this week.  We've got a few plants we're working with:

If you need plants, go and get them now!  We hit 50% off sales at Home Depot and Menards (Last week, Menards was offering an additional 11% back on all purchases too!).  We also visited a couple local plant nurseries as well.  We actually picked up a few extra plants that are in our Phase 3 and 4 plans because the deals were so good.  These 'extra' plants are slotted for existing flower beds so it involves no additional sod rip-out to get them in their proper place.

More landscape updates to follow soon!


  1. Your pictures are so beautiful . . . and the plants are nice, too.

  2. Wow- that is great that you have your plan all laid out- I think we need to do something like this as we just moved in a new house and there is very little landscaping already here. My husband wants to just do it all, but it would definitely blow our budget!!

  3. Yes, it's incredible how expensive landscaping can be! We paid a couple hundred dollars to have our 'dream plan' drawn up and it makes breaking up the overall project really easy. And we're not plant experts, nor do we have the time to research plants and become plant experts. Having a plant specific plan makes our lives so much easier because we don't have to worry about choosing the wrong type of plant for a particular area or grouping plants together that don't make sense. We just go out and buy the plants listed on the plan when they are on sale. Good luck with your landscaping work too, Zoe!