My good friend (and fellow handbell ringer) Yvonne and her partner Jeremy have been renovating their house for ages, with rather too many setbacks, bad contractors, and overall headaches! So when Yvonne asked me if I’d be willing to help them design a new front yard, I was determined to actually do a good job and get it done on time. I told them I didn’t have much experience with garden plants, but they trusted me enough to do the research and design anyway.

We went through a few iterations of the design, and a trip to the garden centre helped with picking plants and colours. The overall idea was no lawn to mow, very low-maintenance plants, and some pretty colours. This past weekend was a long weekend for Canada Day, and with lots of people to help dig, we managed to dig up the entire lawn, fill a dumpster with dirt, put in new walkways, and plant. In 3 days!

Here’s the before…

yvonne's yard design!

There’s a big tree up front, which provided some much-needed shade for digging. There were some straggly flowers in front of the house, and some weedy stuff along the property line. There was a rather giant hump in the middle of the yard that needed to be dug down about a foot!

Getting started with digging…one of the rented wheelbarrows had a completely flat, broken wheel. Typical.

yvonne's yard design!

So much digging. So many tree roots. In case you’re wondering, the tree isn’t very loved and isn’t big enough to be protected by the city’s bylaws, so we just kind of went for it in digging up and cutting off roots. If the tree dies there won’t be any love lost – though I think it’ll be just fine. It’ll probably grow stronger just to spite us.

yvonne's yard design!

Empty yard. It took about 5 hours, with lots of helpers.

yvonne's yard design!

Dale and I took the Sunday off to go to a family thing, but Jeremy was still hard at work – they put in the walkways, which took all day (and still wasn’t quite done).

yvonne's yard design!

Monday we were back at it for the fun part – putting in the plants! Here’s when I realized I’d left several important flowers off the shopping list (oops).

Yvonne's yard design!

We were able to find a cute little garden centre nearby that had just the right plants.

Yvonne's yard design!

Placing the plants in the tree bed. These are mostly shade plants.

Yvonne's yard design!

Along the property dividing line we put in some adorable cedars.

yvonne's yard design!

Planting is, of course, the prettiest part. House bed plants: Laceleaf Japanese Maple, various daylilies, coneflowers, daisies, Russian sage, Little Blue stem grass. (That pipe is going to be painted black.)

yvonne's yard design!

Lots of black cedar mulch. It smelled awesome. Tree bed plants: Little Giant globe cedar, Northern Maidenhair Fern, Coral bells in several colours (I love the Obsidian ones), Dwarf Japanese garden juniper, Hidcote lavender, Magic Carpet creeping thyme, several hostas, Little Blue stem grass, Coreopsis.

yvonne's yard design!

Finished! I stole this photo from Yvonne since apparently I didn’t take any full finished photos.

done and done!

I was pretty nervous about this whole project since it was so far out of my experience, but hey – researching plants on the internet is fun! It was awesome to see my idea actually come to life.

9 Responses to “My First Landscape Design!”

  1. linda harris

    Very lovely yard! And easy maintenance. I would love a small yard instead of the couple of acres we have. We are getting too old to take care of it. But I still love a few flowers every spring. Have a wonderful day,Linda.

    Reply
  2. Allison

    It looks terrific! I love that you dispensed with the lawn–the texture of all the plants is so much more interesting!

    Reply
  3. Sue

    Another amazing ‘Laura Chau Original’! Please say you’ll help an old lady tidy up an ancient flower bed when the new siding’s done? : ) xo

    Reply
  4. carol

    That project came out beautiful – love that there is no lawn. Low maintenance – score.

    Reply
  5. JennR

    I love Russian Sage (even though it is neither Russian or a Sage). It does spread, though.

    Love the transformation!

    Reply
  6. Susan

    Fun! We have some big renovations planned, and I want to re-lanscape my yard for more garden space and edible plants, while leaving room for my kids to play. It’s going to be quite a long-term project, that’s for sure.
    I love digging in the dirt ;)

    Reply
  7. Jennifer

    I love this and would totally hire you if i were not a renter (and did not live far away, lol).

    Reply
  8. SarahP

    Great job everyone! Hopefully your friends will come to appreciate the tree – it’s probably a city tree in front of their property line – looks like a Little Leaf Linden. Toronto has been working very hard to increase the urban forest for all our benefit: trees provide energy savings and emissions reductions, air quality improvements and carbon storage. And of course it adds maturity to an otherwise new garden!

    Reply

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