Curb Appeal Upgrades: Landscaping

You know why I find landscaping and gardening frustrating? Because those activities require patience. Ain't nobody got time for that!

When I go to plant nurseries, I always want to buy the big, gorgeous mature plants and trees that will instantly transform our yard. I have no interest in those tiny things that will take years to become the tree/bush/vine that I envisioned. But inevitably my cheapness wins out (along with my fear of killing an expensive plant), and I come home with a bunch of small plants I know will take years to look as great as I imagine – and that's taking the risk that I will actually keep them alive until then!

 Anyway, we've been batting around ideas to improve the landscaping in our front yard. We are very fortunate to live on a lush, tree lined street. The mature trees and greenery were one of the main things that attracted us to the house when we were searching, especially after viewing a lot of newer houses that lacked mature landscaping.

However, the yard is almost completely shaded for most of the year, and that can be challenging for landscaping. There are a lot of plants that need full sun to grow properly – including most forms of grass. Fortunately for us most of our grass is growing OK, but we have some other blank spots in our landscaping that we really want to fill in. I think some simple landscaping would drastically improve our curb appeal. We've been hunting for partial shade/full shade plants and trees that would work with our heavily shaded lawn and add some much needed color.

Our house is very... brown. I want to pick plants and trees specifically for their ability to break up some of the brown color on the house. We have a couple of blank brick walls that are calling out for some taller plants, like this big wall in front of the garage.

We have the same problem with this wall directly to the left of our front door:

This is another area of the lawn that could use some love. It's not looking that great these days. 

I put some of the photos into Polyvore to do a couple mockups of what I think could really spiff up our curb appeal. My favorite options include adding colorful and sculptural trees, plus framing out the windows with some dark shutters.

exterior shutter idea

Exterior Curb Appeal

Can you see the difference between that mockup and what we have right now?

Our plan is to add some colorful bushes and trees to the wall in front of the garage, along with something really bright on the side of the house where we have nothing but a blank wall. Then we'll fill in that other blank wall by the front door with some sculptural evergreens. And I really think the shutters add a lot to the house. We'll probably have to make those ourselves to be the perfect size. I'll add it to the husband's honey-do list!

Once the storm season is over here in Dallas/Fort Worth, we'll probably replace our roof and have the trim and siding repainted a slightly lighter color. (We had a hail storm shortly after we moved in last year and still haven't used our insurance money to replace the roof. We were told we should just wait out the current storm season and do it in the fall.)

So what's on my landscaping wishlist?

landscaping wishlist

Clockwise from top left: Japanese maple (preferably a laceleaf version if I get my way), Nandina (my parents brought us a bunch they bought on clearance), Creeping Jenny for bright green ground cover, emerald green arborvitae, knockout roses and a beautiful Robinson Crabapple.

The good news is that we have a gorgeous inspiration home right down the street. Our neighbors have by far the nicest landscaping on the block, so I've been studying their plants for inspiration. If it works in their yard a few hundred feet from us, I figure it will work for us!

Isn't their yard gorgeous? It's definitely maintained by professional landscapers, and we don't have that luxury. That doesn't mean we can't take our cue from the plants they chose and the way they layered them, right?

We have a friend who does landscaping, so the plan is to use his wholesale connections to buy the plants at a low price point. Hopefully we can buy them this week and install them this weekend!

If you have any tips about choosing plants for shaded areas, please let me know in the comments. I'm so uncomfortable with plants and anything that requires a green thumb, so I can use any help I can get! I want to make sure I choose wisely because there is nothing worse than forking over a lot of money to buy plants only to helplessly watch them die a slow death in our crazy Texas weather.

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