BEFORE                           &                             AFTER


The landscape will grow and fill in to look like this:

Salvia nemorosa 'May Night' (Garden sage) - Perennial - Zones 4-9, Height 18-24 in. One of the most commonly used salvias in the Northeastern US, it is covered in striking dark violet-blue flower spikes in May and June and remains upright and tidy throughout the season. PPA 1997 Plant of the Year. Attracts birds, butterflies and bees and is an excellent cut flower, fresh or dried. Freshly aromatic and low maintenance. Combine with brilliant yellows and whites for a bold display in the garden.:   

              SALVIA                                                             ROSE 

P3 #9 Japanese Sky Pencil Holly-can keep at 6' but will mature to 10' - 2-3' wide - either side of front porch:                   Scabiosa anthemifolia  Just THE BEST dry garden habitat plant, this tough but beautiful perennial Scabiosa thrills the butterflies and bees with a looong season (Spring thru Fall!) of fluffy, lavender blooms perfect for cutting! Deer resistant!  Also called pincushion flower.:

     PENCIL HOLLY                                          PINCUSHION 

IMAGE CREDITS —Salvia:  /// Rose (Pinterest):
Pencil Holly (Pinterest):
Brighter Blooms /// Scabiosa “Pincushion” in Butterfly Blue (Pinterest):

There was not a single flower at this house when we moved in. Not one single one. The builder had once upon a while ago installed stacked rocked borders, bushes and a lovely dwarf maple and trees, but nothing had been maintained.  My mom actually cut back the landscaping in the front for me. I instructed her to hack away. She did do some great shaping, but really at that point we did not care if anything actually came back, we just wanted to be able to get to and from the door without being attacked by our boxwoods. She did a great job and every neighbor on our court complimented on the vast improvement. Around the sides and back of the house things were extra crummy. This post will concentrate on just one side of the house. The grass runs right up to the base of it. As this side of the house gets full sun AND is the side of the house you sort of see as you drive into our court I want it to be showstopping, breathtaking, the envy of all my neighbors, PRETTY. 

I am not inclined to wait when I am ready to start something. If I decide today is the day, then whether it is the hottest day of the year or the wettest I do it. I also tend to jump right in and just figure it out as I go. My husband hates this, and that is why we tag team on projects. When we gutted and remodeled our sitting room and master bath to make a master bath and closet of my dreams we were rarely in the space at the same time. He cut the tiles and I placed them, or we would trade off on drywalling and painting. His perfectionist streak and planning are great for project execution, but it takes FOREVER to get started. SO BACK TO THE SIDE GARDEN…where he is not around to witness me jumping right in…

Here are some BEFORE shots :


IMG_3085 (2)

I first laid out some of the plant material I bought to go there. This is about half of it in place. Then I re positioned and futzed with it for a while until it looked roughly the way I wanted for immediate satisfaction AND would allow space for these plants to grow.

I picked perennials that will withstand full sun, heat, a forgetful waterer and are rated for my zone. I also picked plants based on final height they will achieve. One last consideration, I really like prickly, thorny roses under my window for a tiny bit of extra security.

My Zone is 7a

Plant Hardiness Zone Map

Digging out the grass took a while and was the most labor intensive part of the project. As you can see  I started in the below picture. Removing to about a depth of 4-5 inches ensured I would get the roots of the weeds and grass Then I added a mix of the clay/dirt I could shake loose, new topsoil and new potting soil to bring it back up to the right height. One snafu – the builder installed a sprinkler system. It has never been used, boo!  I know it has not because my grass is mostly weeds AND I am surrounded by original owners who were stunned to hear that there is one in there. Anyhoo I hit the underground sprinkler pipe and will have to replace that section. but hey, won’t that make a great DIY post!


Once all the grass was removed from my new planting beds, I began to dig my holes.I dug them to the depth the planting guide specified on the plants. Typically a little past level – not deeper and not higher than the finished plant would be after adding some good potting soil to the bottom of the hold. .

So just to prove that I can plan – some- I  brought out my “fancy” weed stopper. To keep from having to weed over and over again I researched what works best to block weeds from coming back up. I had previously used the black ‘fabricy’ blocker from my big box store for my last house but did not like how it limited my options for transplanting and moving things around. My research and polling of friends who are avid gardeners led me to believe that newspaper works just as well and it biodegrades. So, yes, I will have to reapply at some point, but maybe not. If I can get one season of the grass and weeds learning they are not welcome there maybe I will have won?!



When I finished planting and newspapering the side of my house I was nearly done. I did have to ask for newspapers from two different neighbors as I quickly ran out. Now time to add the mulch and water it and stand back and visualize how it will look in a few months. a year and three years!

These plants will grow quite a bit, so I have left plenty of space for them to fill out. I will post a picture at the end of the summer, but wait until you see next summer!  Will have my edges a little sharper on the border of the flower bed and will have big beautiful blooms.

A note on the roses – I used knockout roses at my last house and found that the red ones sprawled out but the white and the yellow ones grew more upright and grew to about 5 feet tall by 4 feet wide. Maybe they just liked that space and the new owners of that house will have lucked out, or maybe they performed as expected.  This area gets full sun and has shelter to its back, so the growing conditions are similar. Here is just a piece of it, about a third of what I planted. I have evened out the grass since this picture, but will wait until later this summer to post better after pictures with the roses in full bloom. I promise to get a better picture that is crisp and with it all in bloom!

Only plants that survived performed well in full sun at my last house are planted here:

  • Knockout Roses –  Icy White Drift & Sunny
  • May Night Salvia
  • Salvia Eveline
  • Pencil Holly
  • Pincushion flowers



That rose bush in the foreground there…by the end of the summer it should look like this:

Sunny Knock Out Rose Image from:×400/public/sunny_ko.jpg?itok=-AeL7OAA


The stone is from my last house. It was an adorable bench that broke all to pieces in my move. I plan to fix the crack and just keep it in this spot as I love the sentiment:



Do you see the hump of mulch to the left and behind the stone. That is where the now broken piece of underground sprinkler runs. I placed a large stone covering it and heaped the mulch on top. From the street you do not see it at all, and even walking up toward it you will not notice it. However, this is a closeup so it is showing up quite nicely. Sigh.

So that is it, but maybe Melanie will tell you how she got stuck in a tree in her yard on Mothers day!  How about it Melanie?  IF she does I will add a link to that post right here.