Our New and Improved Front Yard

Last spring we (or should I say I) finally put a design together to landscape our front yard. Travel Man and I decided it was time to take the plunge and get this project off of our list. We had gone back and forth for a few months determining and deciding if we should or could take on this project ourselves, or did we hire it out to a contractor.  In the end we opted for a contractor’s help, as Travel Man was on the road so much there was just no common sensical, logistical way that we could make this work.  Once the final landscaping got started it needed to get done.  Most importantly we needed to beat the Southern California summer heat putting in a new lawn.

You see our front yard landscaping has been a progressive household project. First we had our old trees taken out somewhere around 2005 or 2006.   They were way too close to the foundation of the house and had to go.

This is what the front of our house  looked like right before the trees were taken out.  And the after results are shown below that.

Front yard circa 2001 001

Next we had the entire yard graded and leveled. This was not a DIY project at all. This task was hired out. Big pieces of equipment and a contractor qualified to do the work were brought in.  The contractor who did the leveling and grading for us also installed our front patio and sidewalk in 2010. The patio and walkway are cement that was stained and carved to look more like flagstones.  We were very pleased with the results.


The next step in our progressive landscaping was to put in the cement curbing for the edge of the front yard and the planters around the front windows. This was a pretty wild process seeing the curbing come spitting of of this little machine.  Incredible.


Once the curbing was completed was when the vision started to come together for me. Seeing the curbing bordering the planters really started to help me get honed in on the design of the yard. My first thoughts were lots of trees and shrubs, flowers everywhere. This would be my mid-western side coming out, as I grew up in northern Illinois.  Looking back on the different designs (scratched on paper, and sometimes a paper napkin) it would have been way to much greenery to water for the Southern California landscaping. I had to keep reminding myself we live in the desert.

Here are a few renditions that I had put together on my iPad with an app called iScape. I took a few pictures of the front of our house with my iPad, and then used the app to place the plantings, grass, etc.  This gave me a very beginner-like view of what the yard would look like with grass and the greenery of the plants.

We decided that we would have some grass in front of the house, and I knew I wanted to plant roses in the planter in front of the house.  We had also tossed around the idea of doing some sort of xeriscape on what we call our “side yard”.  You know the portion of your front yard that is landscaped, looks pretty, but never really gets used for anything practical.  Well we have a pretty big piece of “side yard” in the front.  And I will tell you after  few road trips to Arizona the idea of xeriscape was growing on me.  It did taking some convincing by Travel Man for me to finally agree to the xeriscape and go with our final plan.

Now enter our contractor who will be handling the last leg of our front yard project. He is installing the sprinklers, laying the sod, planting all the plants, and laying the rock down for the xeriscape side of the yard. Our contractor, who we lovingly call “Bob the Builder”, and yes his first name is Bob, helped me to finalize my design plans.  In other words, the vision I had in my head could be made possible, and he could do this for us.


The sprinklers went in. The xeriscape required drip lines for all of the plants, so that was installed.  The plant delivery and placement in the yard was honestly the most exciting part of this entire project for me.  Next the plants went in the ground, and then the landscape fabric and rock was laid down.


During the final phase of our front yard project we had a week of extreme heat, so the sod installation was delayed for a week. Once the sod was down and the running of the sprinklers and drip lines was all dialed in our new and improved front yard was done!

Here’s the amazing before and after photos.  The before picture is from around 2005 or 2006 before Travel Man and I really started making a lot of major improvements around the house.  What a difference. I have to tell you we  are incredibly pleased with the results.

1-house 027



We are both glad, and relieved that this project is complete.  Sometimes it seems like it takes forever to bring your vision to life.  The results of this project were well worth the wait. Travel Man was very excited to have all the new plants in the front yard to decorate for the holiday season this past Christmas. That’s a story for another day though.

One comment

  1. Grandma Kc says:

    WOW! What an amazing difference, it doesn’t even look like the same place. It sure turned out nice. There is a lot of talk of water rationing in Orange County but so far nothing official. We are doing our best to cut back anyway.

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