May 2, 2010

From Ugly to Fantastic: Our Yard, Transformed!

In October of 2007 – the month we moved in to our sweet little house - this is what our front yard looked like!!

[16Feb08] Exterior 1OMG!! The cedar hedges that encased half of our yard were massive (about 15’) and ugly!! And they were thick, too – probably about 8’ thick. YUCK!! The poor sun couldn’t reach our front yard long enough in the course of a day for grass to grow, and flowers didn’t stand a chance. We had moss. Lots of moss! Moss liked our yard. We didn’t!!


As soon as we could, we had the front hedges removed. Let there be light!! Would you look at that… there’s my cute little house!!

Our next challenge was how to replace the stairs AND shore up the steep slope. Our biggest concern was the mega-tree. You can see what the roots did to the original steps; they’re completely tilted! If we built our retaining walls around that tree, we’d be sure to have it ruined by the roots too. Before committing to the idea of removing the tree, we called in an aborist who confirmed that this huge thrice-conjoined cedar tree riddled with ivy was, in fact, not in good shape.

So… down it came last spring 2009!!




Then we had a bobcat guy come in and remove the stairs, sidewalk and stump (above).

After that, he excavated the front of our little hillside and hauled away a good truckload of earth.

The photo to the right shows Brian measuring out the position of the first of 2 retaining walls that we (yep – US!) would build.

Here’s my handsome and handy Brian setting the first blocks…


This was hard and back-aching work… I’ve never worked so hard!! Simon kept a close eye on our activities… and of course our supervisor, Scotty, was always near by!!

Here are a couple photos of our first wall…


smaller 4

Next we had to dig back into the hillside so that we could create a base for the second wall – placed 6’ behind this wall. Unfortunately I don’t have any photos of us building the second wall :-(

But I do have a few photos of Brian laying the bricks for our lovely walkway!! Have I mentioned that he’s cute?!



Last fall ~ for my birthday, in fact ~ Brian and I purchased and planted a new tree to replace the mega-cedar. Of course this lovely little Japanese maple won’t get nearly as large!! But she sure is pretty… and Simon (passed away this last Christmas) certainly liked her, so that makes her even more special to me!!


The ground that was left behind after all our excavation was pretty crummy. We knew that before we could plant a lawn, we’d need a good turf soil. Problem!! With our terraces, it was going to be more back-breaking work to haul up the 15 yards of soil that we’d need! So… about a week ago we had it blown in. How cool is that?!!

DSCF0448 DSCF0449

DSCF0451If you live in the lower mainland, I highly recommend Pacific Bark Blowers! Within an hour we had soil blown across our yard and into the planting terraces.

We were ready for grass!

The aborist/landscaper/nursery owner friend I’m consulting on the plant & grasses we’ll bring into the beds and yard recommended a hyrdoseed lawn. Fred from Grassmaster was here just the other day to blow on our new lawn. Haha!!

More weird but cool stuff!!


Fred tells us that in about a month’s time we’ll be mowing our lawn :-)

Now we just have to start purchasing and planting some lovely shrubs, grasses, flowers… you know… pretty stuff in the terraces!!

In fact, just a few hours ago we planted our first plant – a rhododendron that will bloom white flowers!





Above – Scotty making sure that the hole we’d dug was deep enough, and that we’d put in enough fertilizer! He’s a task master, that supervisor of ours!!



And here are some photos of our almost finished yard!

In this photo (below) you can see the wonderful pathway that Brian built – I told him where I wanted it and I helped in a few small ways, but he did all the work. I sure like him a lot!! You can also see one of our planting terraces to the right. This planter sits just below the house and I plan on planting some low shrubs and definitely some kind of flowering plant that will climb up one or two of my front deck’s posts!! We’ll also plant some other low shrubs of some kind at the base of each of our mushroom path lights (also installed by Brian – man he’s great!).


A close up of the stairs – first the lower set, then the upper wall’s stairs.


Of course you HAVE to see the lower planting terraces. They’ll look so fantastic once we have lovely plants, flowers and grasses in these beds!!

There’s a story about the horrible tree trunks you see above… that’s what’s left on our side of the yard of that yucky cedar hedge. Unfortunately these trees live on our neighbours yard and he refused to remove them. His side is lush and green (he faces the south sun) but our side of the hedge, which faces north (our house faces east) was brown and ghastly. After consulting with our aborist/landscaper/nursery owner friend, we cut off all the branches that were encroaching about 3 feet on to our property. Our next project will be building a 6’ tall fence along this side of the yard. We’ll have a garden below, planted with rainforest type plants that should do well in a shady setting. I think it’ll look terrific!!


And now… a reminder of the steps we’ve taken to this moment…

[16Feb08] Exterior 1DSC00199DSC02233DSC02361 

All leading to how FANTASTIC our house and yard look now!


I’ll be sure to share progress photos as we finish other elements of the yard (our fence, our garden plantings… stuff like that).

We’re so happy!!

I’m sharing this transformation with the readers at Susan’s blog Between Naps on the Porch. Head back to BNOP for more great metamorphoses!



angelo said...

Sooooo Cool and SO much hard work. Good going!

Danica said...

Every time I see the pictures, I'm always astounded. This looks beautiful! Here's hoping I see your front lawn in a magazine someday! ;)

Marcus Design said...

Wow Victoria! It looks amazing, I absolutely love how your retaining walls turned out. I can't believe how different everything looks compared to how it started!!! I love the walkway as well, so nice. And now you get to do the fun part of picking plants out, it's as fun as accessorizing a room!!

Jo said...

What a great transformation Job well done!!!!

Lisa said...

It looks so neat and tidy now and I'm sure you have so much more light in the house after the hedge and tree came down. Brian did a great job and it looks great! Can't wait to see the rest of it!

Dane said...

Great job!

It must have been back breaking. I don't know how you did it! Just pulling dandelion weeds in my lawn kills my back putting me completely out of commission the following day.

Love the photo journal of the changes!

Allison Shops said...

Congrats on getting those overgrown cedar shrubs out! You will enjoy your new yard. Dropping by from BNOTP.


Kathysue said...

Victoria that is truly an amazing transformation. I can see how lovely it is all going to look with your nice green lawn and shrubs. The brick work and steps look wonderful, that was a lot of verrrrry hard work. It paid off because it looks marvelous, Kathysue

Comrade Ade said...'s amazing! Your blood, sweat and tears paid off! And I love the painting you did to the exterior trim of your house. Absolutely goregous!

Janis@HomeStyle said...

Holy Smokes Victoria that is FANTASTIC, doesn't even look like the same yard!! Great job.

santamaker said...

Wow, with the first picture I thought, they must live in a tree house! What a fantastic transformation, you must be so proud!

Diane Schuller said...

I clearly remember those first few changes and have wondered how it was coming along. Your neighbours must all be so pleased you two have put so much work into the yard. That rockwork is amazing.

Maria Killam said...

Victoria that is so great! Hey you should insert the before picture again before the last one, such a transformation!

Paul Anater said...

It looks terrific Victoria, you have ample reason to be proud!

Kat said...

Good heavens Victoria, this transformation is simply amazing. I can't imagine the work that this took, but you must be so proud whenever you come home to this! It really is an unbelievable before and after. Congrats to you! Kathy (btw, keep Scotty away from the rhododendrum, they can be toxic if ingested)

The House That A-M Built said...

OMG it is gobsmackingly spectacular!!!!!... what a transformation... it looks so grand now... regal almost! I'm sorry about your darling pup though. A-M xx

qerat said...

What a job and what a transformation. Love the steps. You will need to post more pictures once it is all green.

Laura Trevey said...

Wow... You have put in a lot of work!! Looks great ~~

xoxo Laura

A Room For Everyone said...

Oh I love it, well done! Really looking forward to seeing more..Rxx

Razmataz said...

Wow! that is a mega project! You guys did a very profesional job on the walls and walkway. Love the construction of 2 layers of garden to eradicate that slope. Once the grass grow, it will be fabulous!

Nichole@40daysof said...

What an amazing transformation! But I'm sad about the dog. :(

Unknown said...

Hey, this is perfect - we are just redoing our front with alan block and steps - this helps so much - I can show my husband and say, see, it's easy!

amariaf2000 said...

AMAZING!!! What an incredible job you and hubby did!!!!! It looks awesome!

~angela @ peonypatch

Naomi@DesignManifest said...

Wow what a huge project! Sorry to see such an old tree go, but at least you did your homework. I bet the tiered gardens will look amazing soon!

Linda @ theLENNOXX said...

OMG OMG OMG Victoria, this is PERFECT!! I LOVE the "steps" you made, what an amazing transformation!! And yes, your hubby is very cute =D We girls love our handymen! I can't wait to see the final result with the fence. It will look incredible when you are done! I imagine a beautiful sea of flowers in the lower beds =) Way to up your curb appeal!

--> Kelly, I can't believe you whipped up the wallpaper source so quickly, THANK YOU SO MUCH!!! We are renting and have no walls to wallpaper at the moment, but as soon as we buy, I WANT THAT WP!!

Have a great day girls,

Linda =)

Susan said...

Now that is curb appeal. Wow Victoria, you and Brian achieved an amazing transformation on your property.
I never heard of blown in soil usually we let the wind do it here for
I wish I had a Brian :)

Erika Ward said...

WOW, those trees were massive. I kept looking at your original photo and imagined how someone would feel trying to find your house for the first time! I didn't know you could blow in soil..and your husband is truly earning his keep over there. Hunky and handy, a winning combo! I'm so happy for you guys. What a sense of accomplishment.

Donene said...

That is an amazing transformation! and a lot of hard work. It looks great!!

mrsben said...

Awesome, awesome job Victoria!

Redesign Diva said...

Jumped over from your comments on Blu Label Bungalow... The finished look is amazing.

Did you make some cool fire pit seats from the logs? I would have!

Sorry about losing Simon.

Pinecone Camp said...

You should be happy with a front garden like that. Looks fantastic!

la famille bizarre said...

Gorgeous work! We've been doing a total remodel for almost 2 years and now we're almost done with our flagstone patio. You've done an amazine job and I can totally relate to everything you've been going through . . . in order to get the design "aahhhh" factor you have to go through the emotional and physical side of it all. Great curb appeal and beautiful transformation!

Missy said...

WOW! Talk about curb appeal! Thats alot of work! I bet you also bought stock in muscle relaxants and ibruprofen huh? lol

juli (sweetpz) said...

WOW!!! what an amazing transformation! it looks awesome.. but i'm sure a LOT of hard work...which pays off right!
good job, looking forward to see more... like the inside?? hehe


Melody said...

So much work - it boggles the mind. Of course, when I was younger I would have jumped on a project like that without thinking twice - lol. Lovely - lovely.

Dumbwit Tellher said...

Victoria your new yard is incredible. Landscaping does for a home what a gorgeous bow does for a gift. Congrat's, it is unbelievable. Kuddos to you & Brian.

xx deb

Michelle said...

So nice Victoria! Now, thats allot of hard work...but so worth it, because it looks great. You must be so excited to plant some stuff this year.


Abode said...

Victoria!! I have been watching the transformation of your yard for the last year - in living colour!! I live in the same city as you and pass by frequently! I was sooooo excited to not only find this blog but to see a fellow decorator was in full swing in my part of the city! It looks beautiful! Please do post once the grass grows in - I am so curious how that method works compared to laying sod. Beautiful work!!

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