The Before Pictures

Here’s what our yard looks like today. Keep in mind, these photos were take in early April—one of the least attractive months in Minnesota.

The front yard is pretty plain. We may change the entry area so this is on the back burner for at least a year.
The front side yard needs a lot of work and I may turn this into a space with all shrubs and perennials and a path to the back gate. That poor arborvitae has already been moved to a safer spot. It looks so bad because it’s right next to a vent that shoots hot, damp air out all winter. My bad. I didn’t think about what that vent was for when I planted the shrub last fall.
Out the back door we have a nice patio. This area is now fenced in. The spot between the patio and alley is going to be an area for edibles mostly. I’d like to put a nice vine or climbing rose on the garage, but am not sure the area gets enough sun.
Another view of the patio and garage. Figuring out what to do with yard unmentionables, such as recycling cans and hoses from the sump pump (behind the can) will be one of our first tasks.
New trees in what will likely be a shrub and perennial border. This shows the entrance to the secluded part of the garden — at least it will be secluded when things fill in better!

As you can see, I have my work cut out for me and not much space to work in! Any suggestions on what to do?

13 Replies to “The Before Pictures”

  1. The first thing I’d do is get a soil test to make sure there isn’t lead in the soil where veg will go. I’d also be sure I didn’t overdo it – as we age even mulched beds need weeding, trimming, raking leaves, and care that becomes too hard to do.

  2. Linda — Soil tests are on the list of things to get done for sure. The plan is to grow vegetables in 2-foot-tall boxes, so that should help with concerns about lead. Over-doing it is a constant temptation!

  3. Although I’m not a fan of fluffy in general, I think that’s what the space needs. There are a lot of straight lines and flat surfaces so cascading plants will soften the lines and add variety.

    More than that, though, I’d want to see the space begin to reflect your personality and history. At the moment it feels very impersonal, like a chain hotel bedroom.

  4. If the side of the garage doesn’t get enough sun for a flowering vine, you could always do ornamental hops. No color, but it would soften the big blank area with some texture/interest. There are also some nice annual vines for shade.

  5. I admire your ambitious plans. I’ve gardened for 20+ years, making many mistakes and the gardens still turned out well. Don’t be afraid to try things. I’d suggest having a good idea of how much light each area gets during the growing season. Be realistic in how you will use the garden and plan accordingly.

  6. If I were a younger woman and in better health, I would line the front sidewalk with flower beds on both sides. I’d plant annuals. I would create a flower bed in front of the bay window maybe reminiscent of an English garden. Definitely plant bushes on both sides of the property lines for privacy. OK I am already worn out and I haven’t even thought about the back yard. Please keep us posted.

  7. Thanks, Chris! The front is going to wait a year — these are all good options.

  8. Great ideas! I spent this past winter/spring watching the light and it is tricky. With all the buildings around there are some areas of intense shade.

  9. Great idea, Amy! I’ve been thinking about Virgin’s bower there because it is very shady, but I had hops in my other garden and loved the scent.

  10. Pat, you are absolutely right. We have been living here a year, but because of family issues, winter and lots of work in the house itself, have done very little in the yard. Time to break out of the hotel bedroom!

  11. How exciting to have a relatively blank slate! I’m not sure I can add anything more beyond what others have suggested (great ideas) without getting very specific about plants. Of course, each planting area will be different, with different soil and sunlight and microclimates. I’m picturing butterfly-attracting shrubs and perennials! It looks like you have some nice sunny areas to work with–I’m jealous!

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