Transforming a Desperate Landscape

See how a dead, brown yard was transformed into a beautifully landscaped space.


Before: Brown is the predominant color scheme in much of this desperate landscape and the house is bland. The yews, meant to be foundation plants at one time, have gotten leggy with age and effectively hide the front walkway.

Front Yard Landscaping

DIY: Curb Appeal

A coat of red paint makes the front door stand out, new shutters add dimension to the house, and lots of colorful plants and flowers lead visitors to the entrance. With the yews gone, the landscape opens up, and the new walkway is clearly visible.

After: A coat of red paint makes the front door stand out, new shutters add dimension to the house, and lots of colorful plants and flowers lead visitors to the entrance. With the yews gone, the landscape opens up, and the new walkway is clearly visible.


Fresh paint

A fresh coat of paint adds some "pop" to the house. Aluminum siding requires a coat of primer before painting, but Jason saves time by using a product that combines both paint and primer in the same application.

Front Yard Landscaping And Driveway

Curb Appeal: Landscaping and Sidewalks

New walkway

A well-laid, landscaped walkway leads from the driveway to the house.


New sod

Plant List

The following is a list of plants (including turf) for this makeover:
This project requires about 625 square yards of Kentucky bluegrass. This cool-season grass has a long growing; it does most of its growing during spring, fall and winter and slows down during the hottest months.
Laying sod
Tips for installing turf:
Install along the longest straight line (like a driveway or sidewalk)
Push edges together tightly. You don't want gaps, but avoid stretching the turf.
Stagger joints in a bricklike fashion.
Use a sharp knife to trim edges.
Avoid small strips on outer edges as they won't retain moisture.
Water new sod within an hour of laying it and water regularly for first two seasons to establish root system.
Avoid mowing new sod until it is four to five inches long.
Water every day or so after we plant it for first three weeks to help it establish.
If you step on this grass and it takes a while for your footprint to disappear, the grass needs water.

Planting Shade Trees

Lacebark Elm Tree

Lacebark elm

Japanese hydrangea vine
Climbing vine grows up flat, vertical surfaces.
Prized for its heart-shaped leaves and white hydrangea-like flowers.
Blooms in June-July
Slow to establish, but once it does, it's beautiful.
USDA Zones 5-8
Maintenance tip: Prune in late winter or early spring before new growth.

Lacebark elm or Chinese elm
Ulmus parvifolia
Horticultural guru and plantsman Michael Dirr says the lacebark elm should become the dominant shade and street tree of the 21st century because it grows rapidly and adapts easily.
Highly resistant to Dutch elm disease
Green leaves turn yellow to burgundy in fall
Exfoliating bark
Grows 40 to 50 feet high and wide
Deer generally avoid this plant
USDA Zones 5-9

Dark Foliage Plant


Summerwine ninebark

Rohan European beech
Fagus sylvatica 'Rohanii'
Deciduous tree
Prized for red to burgundy-colored foliage
Can grow up to 80 feet tall
Low maintenance

Curb Appeal: Foliage Plants

Blacked-leaved Ligularia


'Summerwine' ninebark
This ninebark is a deciduous shrub prized for its dark purple foliage and white flowers in summer.
It's often used as a "dark" background for lighter colored plants
'Summerwine' is very cold tolerant.
It grows about 4-6 feet tall and wide.
It prefers full sun to light shade
It produces best foliage color and flowers in full sun
USDA Zones 2-8

Black-leaved ligularia
Ligularia 'Brit-Marie Crawford'
Named one of the top perennials for 2006
Glossy maroon foliage
Orange daisy-like flowers
Grows about three to four feet tall and spreads about the same.
Full sun to part shade
Prefers moist soil and shade
USDA Zones 4-9

Siberian iris
Easy care flower with sword-shaped leaves
Comes in a variety of colors
Blossoms can last days
Prefers wet soil
Can take a couple of seasons to become established
USDA Zones 2-9

Bigleaf goldenray
Ligularia dentata 'Othello'
Great for growing in wet areas
Has big, bold leaves that are purplish-red on the underside
Orange flowers in summer
Grows about 3 feet high and spreads 4 feet
Prefers shade, but if planted in sun, be sure to water
Maintenance: When it wilts, it needs water

Stephanandra tanakae
Easy-to-grow shrub
Grows up to 10 feet tall and wide
Flowers in June-July
Sun or part shade
Grows to about four feet tall

Zebrina arborvitae
Thuja 'Zebrina'
This variegated evergreen offers bright gold and green foliage.
Pyramidal or round shape
Grows to about 30 feet tall and 12 feet wide
USDA Zones 6-8

Viburnum 'Winterthur'
Grows five to seven feet high and wide
Waxy lustrous, deep green leaves
Leaves turn reddish-purple in fall
White flowers in summer followed by fruit in fall
Prefers full sun to light shade
USDA Zones 5-9
Maintenance tip: Will need occasional pruning to keep good form

Curb Appeal: Kousa Dogwood


Kousa dogwood

'Home Run' rose
Easy care rose
Resistant to powdery mildew and black spot
Flowers are a true red color
Grows to about four feet tall
USDA Zones 5-9

Kousa dogwood
Cornus kousa
Disease resistant dogwood
Grows 20 to 35 feet tall and 15 to 20 feet wide
White or yellowish-white bracts which look like flowers
Edible fruits are light red in color
Green leaves turn purplish-red in fall

Creeping willow
Salix nakamura yezo-alpina
Fast-spreading deciduous groundcover
Claw-like branches that follow the ground contours
Silvery-green, fuzzy leaves
Yellow foliage in fall
USDA Zones 5-9

Nannyberry viburnum or sheepberry
Viburnum lentago
This native ornamental shrub can also be trained to be a small ornamental tree.
Can grow up to 18 feet tall and 10 feet wide
Medium growth rate
Shiny green leaves give way to faded green, purple, red or yellow fall leaves.
Flowers in spring
Berries in late summer through fall. The berries can be green, yellow or pink before changing to blue. Birds find them atttractive.
Note: prone to powdery mildew if planted in shady areas or if given limited air circulation.
USDA Zones 2-8

Chenault viburnum
Viburnum 'Chenaultii'
Semi-evergreen shrub
Can grow about 8 to 10 feet tall and wide
Fragrant flowers in early spring
Blue-black fruit in mid-summer
Leaves turn dark red in fall
Heat and pollution tolerant
Deer generally avoid this plant.

Kong coleus
Annual prized for its colorful foliage
Leaves can be green, red scarlet, pink and multi-colored
Low maintenance
Heat and shade tolerant
Needs water in dry periods
Maintenance tip: Pinch off flowers to maintain large leaf size

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