House Tour Update // Outdoor Spaces

Hello my dears! This post has been A. LONG. TIME. coming. Many months, many backaches and many dollars later (why is landscaping SO expensive??), I’m finally ready to reveal the updates to my outdoor spaces.

Due to the weather destroying a lot of my planting efforts before all of my other updates were complete, this refresh ended up getting done in phases. The photo above is after Phase One, the first round of planting complete but not all of the other edits accomplished quite yet. To see the before (including the before before), check out my original Outdoor Spaces tour HERE.

Now grab a cuppa coffee (or an ice water if it’s hot and steamy where you are!) and settle in for a lonnng post! I think it probably could have been three! First up: “curb” appeal (quotes because technically there are no curbs, lol…)! 


Before I jump into the photos of my updated outdoor spaces, I wanted to share some of my inspiration going into this refresh. In my last Outdoor Spaces tour I mentioned having a silent (read: one-sided) competition with my retired neighbor for who did it better. And he was WAY winning. This year his front landscape is a little lackluster if I’m being honest (and completely unbiased, lol), so I think I’m winning this year… but his backyard garden area is always an inspiration. I grabbed a sneaky pic to share with you so you can see just what I’m talking about. Shh… don’t tell him!

See what I mean?? It looks even better in person, but he has flowers, shrubs and statues, a fountain, a grill, bird feeders and solar lights. The garden is built into a hill so there are wooden steps among the landscape as well, and while I love the actual artistry of it all, there’s something about the layered look and the height he gets from the hill that are inspiring to me.

I have a deck so there’s no opportunity to build into the hill out back for me. I really wanted to achieve this effect of height in my front garden, so I toyed with the idea of adding a second level with a retaining wall under my kitchen window, but when I researched it further, it seemed like way more effort and expense than I was willing to put in. Little did I know then…

While I was brainstorming what to do with my front garden, and how to achieve some height, I was of course scrolling Pinterest (on one of many occasions), and I came across a lot of European-esque container gardens. I love this look and wanted to try to incorporate it into my landscape somehow. I created a Container Garden section on my Front Landscape board on Pinterest, you can check it out HERE. And here are a few of my favorites below!

The Plan

So my thought was to use the concept of a container garden to achieve the layered look I was after, creating different levels (by putting some on stands and/or using different size pots) along the way.

I did a little online window shopping at Lowes and Home Depot for affordable pots, and formed a plan for how I wanted to arrange them in my garden. My rough schematic below!


Time to go shopping! Cha-ching, cha-ching!

I didn’t end up getting all of the pots I had planned (and budgeted) for as seen in my schematic, but I think the assortment I picked up is just as good if not better. Most of them get hidden by the foliage anyway! A few pretty ones up front and it’s all worked out I think…

And of course, allllll the plants! Oh boy! I tried to go for perennials so as to get the most out of my money, and of course find ones that would work with my mostly shady front garden (and mostly full sun back). I expanded my budget several times to accommodate the “growing” (pun kinda intended) expense but eventually I just gave up and stopped tallying my receipts all together, lol… some of my bounty below!

Now it was time to put the plan into action! First up, staging!


Time to start the messy, physical part of gardening. Some planting progress shots below…

Before we get to the reveal of Phase One, let’s see what it looked like out front after the cold winter turned to spring… my pachysandra ground cover definitely grew from the sparse saplings they once were. They look like they’re reaching for the sky!

Not a bad before, but all VERY green, right? Time for the after!


Phase One

Please note that at the time of taking these pictures I didn’t think they would be on the blog, they’re quick snaps I took to document my progress, mostly for myself and to share with family and friends. So forgive any dirt and weeds, ugh!

Between scorching heatwaves and torrents of rain, this summer has been cruel to my garden. Not that it’s all Mother Nature’s fault. I could have/should have watered it more often during the stretches of temps in the high 80s and 90s. But alas, my thumb (and my brain) is not yet that green. Also, my laziness because I didn’t punch out the drainage holes on all those pots, essentially drowning a lot of my plants. So freaking sad, but you live and you learn!

This hydrangea looks relatively good here, but if you look closely the leaves have shriveled up. It has since lost it’s pink blooms (they shriveled up too and I cut them off), but the greenery has perked up quite nicely.

I caved and bought some annuals to add more color amidst my ground cover, and I am SO happy that I did. It was a relatively small investment for quite an impact (see Phase Two below for the full effect!)

I’m quite happy with the height and the general look of it all right here! Hooray!

I added small cream colored stones among the flowers to hide any expansive areas of soil. It brightens up the garden area and I’m loving it! Don’t mind the dirt all over the pots from when the soil was overflowing because of all the rain! :::face palm:::

You guys, I just have to share this because it made me so giddy at the time and I still smile on the inside when I think of it. Sometime between Phase One and Phase Two my neighbor (the one who I’m competing with in my own mind, and who doesn’t usually talk to me… like, AT ALL) came outside and stopped me when I got back from the grocery store one morning to tell me how much he loved my garden! What??? I almost died right there. First because he spoke to me, lol, and second because HE loved MINE! He said he could tell I was an artist by how I used color. Wow, just wow. He was an art teacher so I’ll take his praise with open arms. I took the opportunity to tell him how much I love HIS garden, and of course to say thank you (a million times)!

Phase Two

Please note that I took THESE photos with the intent for them to be on the blog, but I only had a small crevice of time where the sun was shining and my neighbors’ cars weren’t all up on my garden space. So I apologize for weeds, not sweeping driveway dirt away, not closing the front door, and not actually planting a couple of the new plant babies (can you spot them?).

Boom! Check out how those annuals exploded into beautiful color bombs!

I’ve lost some of the height I had during Phase One. I think some rearranging is in order. Maybe it’s time for that fern to take center stage under the window since my foxgloves are very limp, and not very happy.

As with all things in life, this space is still a work in progress. Gardening is a constant task, pulling weeds, tweaking things here and there. But I’m confident that I’m well on my way to being fully content with the look (and feel) of my home’s curb appeal, and sooner or later it will only be upkeep that I need to worry about.

Still-To-Do List Check-In
  • Plant hydrangea // did this and hmm, the blooms didn’t last long but the greenery seems happy.
  • Add a small water feature? // forgetting this for the moment…
  • Replace light // on hold for now…HOAs how I love the… not! But I’m not mad about it, I think the mailbox upgrade was enough of a change to make the light less hideous, haha… a mix of old and new!
  • Replace mailbox // done, and love it!
  • Weed, weed and weed some more! // always and forever…
  • Add metal star next to door
  • Add shepherd’s hook with hanging flower baskets // on the fence about this, I’d like to add some height to the left side of the window but I’m afraid there’s already too much going on. What do you think?
  • Add stone and mulch // no mulch but the stone is in! Really love the brightness and contrast it adds!
  • Add more plants // I added lots of plants (in pots!) and some additional ground cover but you can barely even see it because the annuals I planted for some color burst into large bushes of pink, and I LOVE them!
  • Paint window box

I also painted the top portion of the trellis the same creamy white as the window box to make it less stark white and go with the other cream elements (siding, house number, door knocker, storm door). And I removed the grids from the window! LOVE! Heart eyes, guys, major heart eyes!


Are you still with me? Out back I spent less time planning, and more time planting. So I’ll do a lot less talking here and just share the pictures! For the same reasons as in the front, I have two phases to share. Those pesky almost heatwaves and drenching rainstorms were out to do me in! Here we go!

Phase One

This is a staging shot, notice the plants with their tags just placed in their future homes before any real planting went down.

Once the coneflowers bloomed, but the yellow flower (name is eluding me!) lost all it’s petals in the torrents of rain!

Itty bitty baby peppers, you guys! This is seriously the most exciting thing to me. Next year, all I’m planting is peppers! Hahaha…

Please pardon the shriveled leaves, thank you!

The first attempt at the potting station. It’s all a journey guys, right? Progress not perfection…

Phase Two

My pepper plants! I separated them into their own pots during Phase Two. And basil! Yum!!!

This wall was originally supposed to be an herb garden but I didn’t use the self watering inserts these pots came with and I also didn’t drill drainage holes, so I drowned everything (except the basil, see previous, and the mint, see below).

Updated potting station, much better now, IMHO!

Updated wall hanging, eh… supposed to be bronzy copper, but just blends in with the brick. Needs some help! Any ideas?

Isn’t this guy a hoot?? Ha, gosh I’m so corny! Love this little last minute purchase. He adds some whimsy and a delicate tinkling to my backyard oasis (that’s been almost too hot to relax in, lol).

Still-To-Do List Check-In
  • Clean/stain deck // I cleaned it despite not having a hose hookup, it was backbreaking but it’s not green anymore! Hallelujah! Not sure about the staining…
  • Paint and organize shed closet // semi-done, stay tuned for the reveal later this week!
  • Add a potting bench/station // loving this little corner now!
  • Add throw pillows to the Adirondacks
  • Hide the AC unit! // still unsure how to do this. It doesn’t bother me so much when I’m out there, just when I look at it in pictures.
  • Replace old pots // done!
  • Add an herb garden // I planted nine different herbs (from seeds) in pots that I didn’t drill drainage holes in, so I drowned most of them. So sad.. But the basil and mint survived! I repotted those for now and will try my herb wall again next year.
  • Add metal wall hangings // check, check and check!

I also rearranged my seating configurations, putting the Adirondack chairs on the deck and the anti-gravity lounger on the patio under the eaves. Very happy with this update. I didn’t put the string lights back up this year. I don’t really go outside at night because bugs love me and I don’t love them, lol, so I think I’ll repurpose the string lights in the living room later this year… we’ll see!

How do you do you outdoors? And if you made it this far, THANK YOU!

Many thanks and much love,

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