Welcome to The Jungle

When we bought our house we inherited a jungle. The owner of the home had about 4 or 5 five other houses, so he was only here around 5 or 6 times a year and he didn’t maintain the yard. Because we live in the hill country we have the unique advantage of having a house that sits below the street (we live on the side of a hill). As you can imagine this creates tons of drainage issues (something I wasn’t aware of until I began “cleaning up” the front yard).

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This is the best pic I could find of the vinca that had taken over the front yard.

The first task I attempted was cleaning out the vinca in the front yard. I cannot even begin to describe the mess that was the vinca! Oy!!! The first day I went out and grabbed a handful of the nasty beast and a lovely little coral snake crawled out! I actually followed it down the hillside reciting “red touches yellow, kills a fella” just to see if it truly was a coral snake (it was). The next thing I did was call a landscaper and had them pull out the vinca. The pic on the right is the only one I could find, but I think you get the point.

The yard wasn’t touched for about another year. I had tons of landscapers come out and give me quotes. I even set-up times for work to start but they all ended up no-showing me. I think I was at my wits end because I even submitted a video to hgtv.com for HGTV’d. Sadly, I wasn’t picked so I had to do something. After another round of exhausting interviews and endless quotes, I found a great landscaper. He came out in November and the transformation began. Here is the mess before (backyard):

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And the front:

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Terrible, right? My poor kids had no front or back yard. Luckily our landscaper was AMAZING and we ended up with this for our backyard:

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The kids love having a play area and we like being able to get them out of the house now and then! And let me just say for the record… the drop is not as big as it looks! Because we took a pic of the backyard from above, we captured the sloping of the terrain. My mom had a fit when she saw the pictures (because we didn’t have a fence) but once she came out her tune had changed!
Once that was finished, it was on to the front yard. We decided to add retaining walls to help with any drainage issues that could occur. We weren’t sure what we wanted to do as far as plants so we just mulched it for the time being. This is what we ended up with:

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We are so happy to be out of the jungle but there is still quite a bit to be done. Landscaping is not my strong point so most of that has been put on the back burner until I can find the time (and funds) to work on it. I did complete one small project. For weeks I have had one mission – to landscape the upper terrace. Since our house is below the street, the first impression of our home is our upper terrace, and I’m sad to say… it’s just plain ugly! After the mulch had faded we ended up with this:
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I researched garden plans for about three months. I thought about butterfly gardens since we are on the Monarch migration trail. The kids love butterflies. Maybe something like this?

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But then I realized that was just too much work. If there is one thing I know, it’s that I’m lazy in the yard. Plus, we are in the middle of a drought and I felt a bit of guilt creating something that would probably take up a ton of water.

My next thought was xeriscape. For those who don’t know, xeriscaping is landscaping that eliminates the need for excessive water or irrigation. This sounded like a good route. I found a plan like the one below and headed to my local nursery.

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Once I got to the nursery the Master Gardner asked me a few questions. One of which I hadn’t even thought of… do we get a lot of deer. “Well yeah, but what does that matter?” I answered. Boy did I get an earful. Apparently deer like plants… a lot. And it seems like there just aren’t many plants that a deer won’t eat. After weeding out what the deer will and won’t eat we had to think about shade and light. After figuring that out, there were about five plants that would work for my garden. Because the planting bed is huge (52 ft X 12 ft) I would basically have a ton of the same plant. Not much fun. I like clean and modern but I didn’t like the plants he showed me enough to want to go that route. So back to google and Pinterest to find some options. After another couple of months I came up with a look that I knew would work. Ornamental grasses!!! Deer don’t tend to mess with them and they have the clean, modern look I like.  I headed back to the nursery and picked up some containers. I was ready to get to work. There was only one problem… as I was driving home I started to develop a bit of an allergy to the grasses. I broke out in red splotches and my throat was closing in. Not good AT ALL. So I turned back around and went a different route. The first time I went I had the kids (not a good idea). This time the kids were with the Hubs so I was able to focus a bit more. I found the MG who had helped me (Kip… he is wonderful!) and within 5 minutes I had found the beautiful Variegated Flax Lily. I was in love.

Varigated Flax Lily

Varigated Flax Lily

I stopped by my local home improvement store for landscape edging and got to work planting. It took a full day to get the plants in the ground and put the edging in. A few days later I had rock delivered. Because I love black and white, I went with the black basalt.
Black Basalt

Black Basalt

It was another week before we got the final piece of the puzzle… the sod! We went with Emerald Zoysia because it works well in shade and sun, is drought tolerant and needs very little water. When all was said and done, this is what we ended up with:

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We are pretty happy with the results and it was at least a step in the right direction. Even the front yard is the first thing other people see it will probably be the last thing we finish. Like I said, I’m not a landscaper and I just have no idea where to go from here.
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