Wednesday, June 21, 2017

"In a Fix" - the Front Yard Transformation

Hi there!

Thanks for joining me this week as I share the next installment of "In a Fix," which is the journey through living and working on our cottage.

Today it's all about the transformation of our front yard. As I mentioned in an earlier post, this is how our cottage looked in the real estate listing, which had been Photo-shopped and altered (just like they do to supermodels in magazines LOL!).

When in all actuality, this is what the yard looked like.

The grass had been ate up with Army Worms.

The bushes were overgrown, but thin on the inside.

The pine straw was harboring all sorts of multi-legged critters and slithering things (I'm not scared of black snakes, but I really don't want them napping on my porch swing. hee,hee,hee).

There was also the leaning palm tree which was dying at the base. We were worried about the high winds we get from hurricanes. We live less than a mile from the ocean. This tree could be a danger as in fall on the cars or the neighbors house.

So, David and I decided we wanted the front yard and the front of our house to be the first project on our long list of things to fix up.

In came our wonderful landscaper and new friend, Juan Diaz, of Real Landscaping.

We can't brag on Juan and his crew enough. They worked sooooooooooooo hard and did the most incredible job for us. Even more, Juan is a man of his word. He listened to what we wanted and understood our vision for the yard. He told us when he would show up and how long it would take pending no weather issues and he did just what he said. We all know that is a rare thing nowadays! Plus, Juan has a great sense of humor. They uncovered a buried stone planter in the yard. He showed it to me and said, "We found this pot of gold buried over here. We kept the gold." LOL!!!!

I told Juan that I wasn't a "palm tree" person. I wanted the beach taken out of the forest as I like things more planned and orderly instead of stuff just plunked down everywhere. He laughed and said I wasn't the only person who had requested that lately. I then told him that there was one stipulation. I didn't want him to kill anything that was salvageable and wanted those things sent to a new home. He said he could do that.

So first thing to come out was the palm trees. There were six trees in all and only the leaning one couldn't be salvaged. He loaded them on the trailer and took them to his property to be transplanted in an area he had prepared for them.

Next it was time to dig up the shrubs all the diseased grass and prep the yard for new centipede sod and shrubbery. There was one little issue though...the nest of baby birds in the Dr. Seuss tree (as I called it). So, he had to leave the tree until the babies left the nest.  Now I know you are wondering why we would take out that tree, but it is actually a shrub that they cut into a tree. Inside it is hollow. All the leaves are in a dome shape. Honestly, I don't know how the birds even made a nest in it. The reason we wanted it to go is that it has to be trimmed on the top. David would have to get up on a ladder with trimmers or even on the roof to keep it under control. Neither one of us wanted that so away it went.

This is how it looked when everything but the pinestraw was removed. I know all our neighbors were wondering what on earth we were doing.

Next, David and I purchased new shrubs. We got some azaleas that stay small and round with white flowers, some medium boxwood, some taller boxwood, some arborvitae, juniper and a curly leaf plant that I can't remember the name of. We like low maintenance evergreens and a more formal looking yard.

I used the garden hose to layout the curvy bed design and then used the measuring tape to layout the plants in a manner that would allow them to grow to their full potential.
People always make the mistake of packing in too many plants without taking into consideration that they will grow. Two years from now, you will be amazed by how much they have grown.

Then it was time for the sod to go in.

The fellas worked for 12 hours straight laying the sod!! They had some sod left over, so Juan fixed an area in our backyard that was having some major erosion. Here's what it looked like before he fixed it.

Here's the after. Much better don't you agree?

Next, Juan brought in his "Triple Chocolate Mulch" to replace the pinestraw. I mean who doesn't want triple chocolate? hee,hee,hee. I also wanted a tree for the front yard and decided on a Crabapple tree. I had them in two other houses and just love them. They grow easily here, don't get too big, have beautiful fall leaves and spring blossoms and the birds always build nests in them.

Mommy Syl and Captain gave us a beautiful bird house for our housewarming gift. The blue birds have already been checking it out. I'm going to love watching them and their babies from the kitchen window or from the rockers on the porch. I planted ivy around the pole and strung some wire to train the ivy around it.

Since we have lots of mosquitoes around here, I didn't want to use my bird bath as such, so I put it on the front porch with a fern. The birds prefer to splash in the puddles from the sprinkler anyway. They crack me up in the morning.

We removed the old, warped storm door and replaced it with a sturdy full view door. Then I hung this basket on it. Still trying to find the perfect house numbers to finish it off.

Mr. McGregor said he is quite pleased with his new view of the yard and is ready to welcome visitors to Bayfield Cottage.

Finally a friend of Juan's came to clean off the sidewalk and driveway. Juan said, "It has to be cleaned up so it is a good reflection of my business." The pride he takes in his work, his crew and his business made me smile sooooooooo big! He is my kinda person for sure!

Here's the finished project. We've had lots of neighbors stop by and tell us how nice it looks. It's now time to sit on the porch swing with some tea and enjoy this summer season and all the seasons to come here at Bayfield Cottage.

See you back here next week!
Light, love and hugs,


Anonymous said...

Love it Michelle and how wonderful to have gotten great tradesmen xx

Lesley said...

Your home is so beautiful. Excellent job of landscaping and loved seeing the befores and afters! Enjoy your swing!

Castles Crowns and Cottages said...


What a HUGE difference here, Shell, and KUDOS to Juan and his crew! As you know, this is very hard work, but the transformation is so well-worth it! Gosh, what a change! Last week, we too had a crew come out there with a chain and equipment to yank out our mistakes; on our hillside, we did exactly what you mention here not to do. We planted too many plants to close together and the result was a mess of creeping pines and Maney shrubs that became overgrown. We left nothing but the gorgeous boxwoods that survived. Then, both Ruben and I replanted only boxwood but this time, planted them further apart.

Your cottage is absolutely charming, and I love the birdhouse addition. You are going to love seeing the birds come; we have one outside our kitchen window and Flo and Beau the wrens give us daily delight with their own "home improvement" shenanigans!

Much love to both of you as you make your cottage HOME.

Janet said...

This is such a great yard transformation. It was definitely an inspired idea to do the landscaping first. It looks fresh and new, and yes you were very fortunate to find Juan...such integrity. Thanks for taking us along on this's really fun to watch 😊

Susie Q said...

It looks so great now. I love seeing these before and after pictures although I do realise how much hard work it is. We were never able to do this to our back yard and have had to cope with what we had when we moved in and it has taken a long time to sort it out. Can't wait for the next instalment!! Have a lovely summer, Hugs, Susie x

Tina said...

Wow! That is such ALOT of work, but how wonderful and beautiful it all looks now! Your house could be in a 'before' and 'after' segment of one of the shows on HGTV! It is absolutely charming!!!
PS And how wonderful to have such a great landscaper that takes pride in his work - it certainly shows!!!


Now how beautiful is that cottage now--it looks even 'better' than the one they 'doctored' in the add--
and how wonderful to have found such a wonderful landscaper--one that listened and then actually did what you wanted and not what 'he' thought you should do-
can't wait to visit some day and sit on that porch and watch the birds with you!!! ( I can dream!!)
enjoy the moments, di
PS--so how is Hannah and Sabrina liking their new home??

Natascha Rieper said...

Looks wonderful and neat as a pin!

LindaC said...

This looks so beautiful! Just like a page out of Better Homes and Gardens! Love the birdhouse!

Createology said...

Your vision and all the hard work really makes a world of difference for your cottage. Fresh new grass and just the right few plants and a tree make it look so inviting. I would be rocking on that porch and sipping some delicious cool iced tea right along side of you. The neighborhood bar just got raised! Very beautiful dear. <3

Three Sheep Studio said...

I just loved seeing the transformation of your lovely property!

Rabbits' Guy said...

1. Grow babies! Grow!

2. Your garage is not in front. There is an A+ right there!

3. We used the garden hose trick too - partly to be sure it would be easy to get the bunny lady with the riding mower around - we have quite a bit of space.

4. Plant things far apart - I just can't do it. I try, but can't! So now we have a jungle! Yours will fill in quickly and look perfect!

Kris said...

Oh, Shell, it looks fabulous!! I know what you mean about the online photos looking nothing like the house. I bought mine from the pictures online and when I got here last Friday - YIKES!! This house house had not been lived in for 8 years!! It's going to be a fun one, though!! You motivate me to just keep going!!

Sheila said...

The transformation is amazing and I love your new landscape design , much nicer even though I did like the tree .

Loris said...

What a beautiful transformation! Thank you so much for sharing your thoughts and dreams as you beautify your new home. This is really fun seeing all the pictures. Yay for Juan and his crew!
And about that black snake...looks scary to me :-0
Hugs =^..^=

Colleen said...

Looks great! Love the transformation :o) Just went through the same thing myself!

BillieBee (billiemick) said...

I'm totally in love with your home. You guys did a wonderful job on the yard. Congrats.

Jeanette said...

All i can say is WOW. The yard looks fabulous. Love it. Wonderful job Juan & team. Hugs,xx

Barb said...

WOW>>>>> I need him! (for my yard...not me)..HA!!!

Jenny of Elefantz said...

Beautiful. xxx

Jillayne said...

It's stunning Shell - I hope the ants go marching off and it's clear sailing from here. This is a little gem of a house!