Lighting outdoor areas

Welcome to my home landscape remodeling project – the do-it-yourself-plan. Realtors always talk about “curb appeal” adding value to the home. But not all of us will have a spare $20,000 to put into paint and professional landscape when that time comes.

If you’re ready to sell, a clean design and fresh paint add value to your home. But what makes landscape valuable if you are planning to stay?

Most landscape experts agree that you will live with your home’s flaws, hire someone to fix them or develop a do-it-yourself plan.

Let’s start at the beginning.

If you live in an aging home, a significant remodeling job automatically leads to another remodeling job. I just had my swimming pool refinished. When you remodel an area of the yard, another area screams out for an upgrade. Home remodeling should be on the ten most stressful life events list.

Garden Planner Backyard
My backyard currently.

I bought this Garden Planner Software on recently. It took less than an hour to rough out the backyard as it currently looks. You can’t tell that the ligustrum hedges are 60 years old and failing. The palms are healthy, but the fig tree beside the arbors is struggling. The lawn used to be Saint Augustine, but now it is more weeds than grass.

The current landscape includes lush tropical plants, palms, and flowering crepe myrtle trees and hydrangeas. But the gardens and yard are entirely green by summer when the flowering trees are all spent. I want more color.

Clean Out and Discard Declining Plants

The landscape remodeling project begins with discarding anything declining, dying, or failing. I am not about to dig out 60 feet of failing hedges around the yard. But gradually, as they fail, I will be forced to cut them down. I trimmed back all the crepe myrtle trees and azaleas. The asparagus ferns are gone, and the weeds are under control again. I installed new garden edging along the pool deck to hold the planting soil back in the yard.

Rearranging Existing Garden Plants

I can’t be the only person who planted bushes and bulbs with the best intentions in areas where they were doomed not to thrive. Some of my favorite plants are in areas where they couldn’t blossom.

Plants tell you when they are in the wrong space.

Agapanthus, also known as agapanthusLily of the Nile, is a gorgeous purple annual that thrives from Tennessee to Miami, Florida. I bought and planted one pot of these around my mailbox a dozen years ago. They multiplied exponentially to where I now have a circle about 6 feet wide around the mailbox. However, they never bloom well. Why? The giant oak tree canopy might shade the road, the mailbox, and the house. Right here, it says Agapanthus lives in FULL SUN. Big mistake on my part. Only two areas in my yard don’t get full sun.

White Calla LilliesI bought a pot of white Calla Lilies after seeing them while visiting Ireland with my Mom in 2003. Twenty years later, they have yet to bloom. Every year I get leaves, but never flowers. Again the culprit seems to be not enough sun.

You’re starting to get the idea.

Prune gently.

I ignored the shape and form of my garden. For years I’d see a colorful hibiscus or a rare shrub and happily plant it where I had space. The result is a garden full of unique and unmatched plants that often look haphazard by design.

SeagrapesMy mother loved seagrape leaves in her Garden Club arrangements. So one day, I bought a small plant when I happened upon it at the White Rose Nursery. I planted it on the southeast side of my house without considering it was best suited to South Florida and susceptible to cold. It has survived and grown in that area despite me. I cut it back after the hurricanes in 2004, but I ignored proper pruning practice, so it has grown tall and lanky. It is now time to see if it can be saved and developed. I won’t move the Seagrape because it was a miracle it took hold in this area of Florida. But I can make sure it is better defined and fertilized.

Another South Florida favorite in my garden is plumeria. These grew well in my yard, and I now have many plants over 7-feet tall. Plumeria produces gorgeous flowers at the ends of its limbs. So many of my bushes bloom well above my sightline and sometimes even above the roofline. I will try to bring those down into view this year successfully.

Oh, my aching muscles!

Load up on the muscle rub before you start this project. I felt pretty good at the end of the day when I finally returned to the house, but within a few hours, my muscles were screaming, “not again,” as I woke the next day.

You’ll use muscles to do this project or have to pay someone to do the heavy lifting. I earned great respect for the art of weeding, and my brain committed to never letting the flower beds get this wild again.

The best lesson is learning that gardening is a process. There is no start and end date engraved in stone for garden design. Great gardens evolve. Sometimes a lot of time. I marveled at the timeline of some of my favorite historical gardens. Alfred Mclay started his Tallahassee gardens in 1923 and never completed them in his lifetime. The idea is to enjoy the process of developing the live painting and embellish it with new ornamentals where you can.

Adding Art and Statues

Every garden benefits from some added artistic personality. I adore garden angels and figural statues. I have a wonderful squirrel birdbath that my Mom gave me years ago. For sentimental reasons, it will always stand in my gardens.

I adore garden spinners to add movement. But a garden bench or a flag might be all you need.

Statues and sculptures are the easiest way to express your style. Are you whimsical or glamorous? Using texture and reclaimed items to liven up the landscape brings a garden to life even when plants don’t work in our favor.

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