Showing posts with label Landscaping. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Landscaping. Show all posts

DIY Backyard Landscaping Reveal

Jul 15, 2018

I think I've written so many times about wanting to have our backyard landscaped! We have had zero luck with contractors over the past two years. Their vision and/or pricing has not been even close to what I had in mind. My husband and I had mentioned just planting trees and shrubs ourselves, but we were still thinking it over until a few weeks later when we noticed Houston Garden Center had 50% off all their plants. They have the sale every year and even discount them to 75% off in August. This sale is also how we landscaped our last backyard for cheap. It's not exactly ideal timing with the Houston heat, but if you're willing to sweat you can save big. We decided we were ready to sweat!

When we built our pool a couple of years ago we added the Italian cypress trees behind the pool wall within a few months. They were a little thin and short at the time, but they have grown so much the past two years. The new landscaping is all along the fence line in the back. I'm hoping in the next year or two the plants will grow a couple of feet taller and wider so you don't even see the fence.

We only addressed half the yard, from behind the hot tub to the side gate by the front of the house. It's the main area you see when you walk outside. I'm hoping we will landscape the other half next summer. I'm already going to start planning it out to get a head start!

This is the starting point. I'll take you you on a little tour all the way to the side gate.

We used Japanese blueberries and magnolia trees where we will eventually need privacy on the side fence (directly in front of you in the below photo). Hopefully, it will be a couple of years before the lot is sold and the house built so they have time to get big. The area to the left (the fence behind the pool) will never have neighbors on that side so we used wax myrtles that will just cover the fence. I also added Texas sage that's a bit lighter in leaf color to add a bit of variation. It has a pretty purple flower that blooms in the spring and summer too. 

I like how the new flowerbed creates a little walking path in the back. We also added solar lights to the beds. They are only $10 each and it's so nice not to have to worry about using timers and electricity. It's also a no-brainer to install. You just stick it in the ground and switch it on. There's no lines to bury at all. My husband says he would eventually like to get real lights, but I think these are fine. They are bright enough and last all night.

The view from behind the cypress trees.

The side fences-The one with the magnolias is one side fence on the unbuilt lot. Their house will back up to the corner of our house on this small section. The one with the cypress trees is the second side fence.

The other side fence. It's a strange shaped backyard with two neighbors on one side. Here's a close-up of the Japanese blueberries that will eventually reach 30 feet tall. They are about five feet tall right now. I'm hoping next year they will cover the fence. Then we start a line of cypress trees. These are what ours looked like when we planted the ones behind the pool wall. It's amazing how big they get! I'm not quite sure if these are going to stay. We were honestly out of options because we needed something big, but didn't want to buy too many of the same plants. They may end up being transplanted to the other side of the yard next year.

I absolutely love these holly trees! I kind of wish we had continued these down the fence line, but they were a little pricey. If they're still available next month at 75% off I may buy several more. I love that they almost cover our neighbor's house. It's so nice to look out the dining room window and see greenery instead of fence and a house so close by. They still need to get a bit taller and grow wider, but it's already a huge improvement.

The small shrub with the roses and vincas around it were my idea of a divider between the holly and cypress trees. I'm not so sure that worked out so great in reality! I'm thinking of curving the bed a little more so it's not such a half circle. If I copy it on the other side against the house I'm hoping it may look like the grass is in an oval shape.

I still haven't planted anything against the house yet. I'm not sure if I'm up to it this year!

This is just a first layer. I'd like to tweak and add more in front of the large trees and shrubs. I decided to get the big stuff in first so we can add privacy from the side neighbors and cover the unattractive fence.

To recap, here is the before.




It was so worth it to DIY our backyard landscaping. We saved so much money that instead of landscaping one small section we were able to do half the yard. How much did we save? The quote we received for the same landscaping area was $35,000 and we spent $3,000. No joke! Half our budget went to hiring someone to shape the beds and mulch it. We could have saved several hundred more, but we wanted to have it completed in time for our 4th of July party. We decided we were on a roll so we installed a new outdoor speaker system for the patio and saved 70% there. It was already pre-wired so it really wasn't difficult at all.

What's in store for next year? I mentioned I'd like to landscape the other side of the yard and it's what I'm most excited about. I'm going to create a formal garden! It's something that I've always wanted. I'm a little nervous because it's so different from anything I've ever done. At least the yard on that side is less challenging because there aren't privacy issues or weird lot angles to disguise. I've got a year to draw it out instead of just grabbing what was on hand at the garden center with no plan!


Bring It On, Summer!

Apr 29, 2017

It gets HOT in Texas so all outdoor projects have a hard May deadline. The past month I've re-landscaped the front yard and spruced up the back patio. 

I added a pretty french blue color out here for the spring and summer. The fiddle leaf tree that was in this blue and white planter bit the dust so I tried it out here with a new bougainvillea that's still alive thankfully. I found the pillows at Pottery Barn and knew they would instantly go out here. I'm still shopping for a new outdoor coffee table since I'm not thrilled about the two ottomans pushed together. Once I find that and a new outdoor rug I can call this patio done!

I spend every weekend morning out here with my coffee while I watch Behind the Gates on AWE. If you haven't seen this show, you've got to check it out. Coffee plus fabulous houses makes the perfect morning!

All of the flowers are blooming and I couldn't be happier. 

This bougainvillea is huge! I made my son put his head next to one of the blooms for reference. He looks thrilled right?!

The weather is beautiful right now and we spend every minute we can outside. 

The boys are already in the pool even though the water was freezing this day. I went in Friday and it's getting warmer, but still too cold for me to get in all the way. 

Our new dining set is in! We are missing a chair in this picture, but we finally put it together. I found it online at Target and it's the same wicker as our loungers. Since the loungers held up so well the past year I decided to get the matching chairs.

I know this isn't how most people spend Easter, but we're not exactly traditional over here! We made a huge breakfast and enjoyed every minute by the pool. Just a couple of years ago the boys would be running all over the yard looking for eggs and now they are somewhat calmly enjoying breakfast. When they have bad table manners I threaten cotillion. If you live in the south you know that's every girl's dream and every boy's worst nightmare. It's a group of young boys and girls that have ettiequte classes and formal dances if you aren't familiar with it. I just have to say the c word and bad manners disappear.

We also installed these new outdoor lights from Costco over the dining area. I noticed it was a bit dark here even with the floodlight on and they definitely brighten up the entire space.

On to the front yard! It was a bit sad looking this year with dead plants and honestly just a poor design from the builder. All of our neighbors have amazing yards so I'm not sure why they skimped on ours, but we had to fix it. We consulted a landscape architect, but they wouldn't be able to work on it for at least a month so we decided to do it ourselves. Don't ask about the manhole with the circle of plants around it. I have no idea what the builder was thinking, but that drove me crazy to say the least. Don't mind my son out here playing basketball either. At least half the time I take a picture there is someone or my dog photobombing.

After! I just love my new maple tree. Even though I complain about the lack of landscaping from the builder, it's nice to pick out our own trees and plants. Most of our neighbors have oak trees and I like them, but I have always loved maples. The leaves are looking a little distraught on one side of the tree, but I'm hoping that's temporary. We also added junipers and roses. The flowerbeds are in the same shape as before to make it easy and we just replaced or moved plants instead. One day we'll get it professionally landscaped, but this is definitely good enough for now. 

Here's a closer look at the junipers and roses. The yaupon are so similar to boxwoods that act as a border. These were what was surrounding the weird manhole before.

We are finished with our summer projects with a few exceptions to the patio and we're waiting on quotes to come in for the balcony railing on the back patio retaining wall. I was all set on one contractor and then I never heard from them again. So, we're back to the drawing board, but at least it's not us sweating outside in the summer heat installing a railing!

Operation Landscape

Aug 5, 2013

I had planned to add grass to our barren backyard and make it look as neat and presentable as possible until next spring. That's when I figured it would be the best time to have a professional landscaper come in since the extremely hot weather isn't the best for plants right now. Landscaping is not something I have succeeded at anyway...ever. It's just one of those things that's best left to the professionals in my household. But, I happened to notice a sign at Houston Garden Center advertising 70% off all plants and trees. I had to check it out even though I didn't really believe everything would be that cheap. It was! Actually, it still is because the sale is still going on. I bought Knockout Roses for $6, boxwoods for $2, wax myrtles for $5, and huge crepe myrtles for $36. The crepe myrtles were $119 regularly. I did not completely believe the prices until I checked out at the register. We went twice on Saturday and back again on Sunday. I now have a full yard of plants for...drumroll please...$300!

I've always love the way boxwoods look in front of roses bushes and now I have a place that's sunny enough to plant them. I also put a sweet potato vine in front of them to cascade over the small retaining wall. I initially wanted to break them up with other cascading plants, but I couldn't find anything I liked as well. I can always do that later or let a landscaper tweak it because these can be replanted somewhere else. Oh, and they were under $2 each! Since I have a black thumb, I'm going to let our yard guy plant these after he adds a bit of soil.

Here's the view as you walk out the back door. This is so much better than looking at mud, lol. As you can see my husband has repaired the fence. We saved so much money doing it ourselves and it really didn't take much time. He worked on it for two days, but only spent a couple of hours each day on it since we had thunderstorms that weekend. My plan is to eventually have the fences completely covered up by plants. The roses aren't going to be quite tall enough so I would love to plant something that climbs on the fence. I love the idea of honeysuckle, but I'm not sure if I want to attract every bee in the neighborhood. Oh, and have you heard about the killer bee attacks lately? Terrifying!

The other side of the fence might look a little wimpy in comparison, but these wax myrtles grow to be 12 feet tall. I love the privacy that these will give us. Another benefit is that it will hide the extreme slope next to the fence since they grow so large. According to the salesperson at the garden center, they will take about a year to get halfway up the fence. So, two years to cover the fence? Well, if I don't kill them by then they might get that tall.

We have a couple on the other side of the fence, too.

And the best deal ever! Can you believe this crepe myrtle was only $36? Look how tall that sucker is. It rivals my neighbors been-there-forever pink crepe. I decided on the white because I've heard people complain that the brighter flowers can stain concrete and pool plaster.

Of course, I couldn't buy just one. I bought three for the back fence. I'd also love to have them along the side fences, but the amount of flowers they drop that close to the pool changed my mind.

I bought a few filler shrubs, too. The dark green ones in the back get very large. It's also the same as our neighbor's shrubs that are peeking over the fence. I got my inspiration from what I see in my own neighborhood instead of gardens I love in pictures. The plants I've killed in the past probably weren't really meant to be planted in this climate and soil. I'm talking about you, hydrangeas!

This corner of the yard is storing all of the plants we didn't have room for, but it will be the same as the other side because I'm not creative enough to go asymmetrical and make it look good.

Do you see that huge hose lying on the ground? That's a temporary main electricity line. Yesterday, our power went out except for in two upstairs bedrooms. We called everyone-the pool guy, an electrician, and finally the electric company. Our first thought was that the breaker was overloaded, but we finally paid the emergency electrician fee to find out for sure last night. He immediately said the main underground line was not working. When we told him that the pool was only completed two weeks ago he said he was pretty sure it was nicked during the digging and they unsuccessfully tried to repair it. That doesn't surprise me since they cut our internet line and never said a word about it. Thankfully, our electric company is the only ones who fix this free of charge. If we lived 10 minutes south in a different county (and different provider) we would have had to pay $3000-4000 to have it fixed! I'm sure it would have been a mess because when we told our pool builder about it he immediately said it wasn't them.'s quite the coincidence the main line stops working a few weeks later. Anyway, the electrician was so nice and called our electric company for us to have someone come out last night. Despite the extremely high service fee, I can say it was well worth it to have air conditioning!

Just to recap, remember what this yard looked like just a few weeks ago?

And, now...

What a difference! I might not be very good at landscaping, but it's a definite improvement. I can't wait to see the plants in the ground and the flowerbeds mulched.

Mario is really loving having a backyard again. Keep on christening the yard instead of my rugs, boy!

A before of the side yard.


Can you believe all of these plants only cost $300? That's crazy! If you live in the Houston area, run to Houston Garden Center. I bet everyone is clearancing out plants right now though. It might not be the best time of year for planting, but it certainly is the best on your wallet!