This post is sponsored by Columbia Gas.
After two years working on the inside of the Vic, it’s time to take the fun outside to our first big exterior project… the front yard! Let’s get into it.
Here’s what the house looked like when we first bought it in the middle of the winter, 2017.
So far, we’ve replaced the windows and the roof and started fixing up the front porch, but have not touched the front yard with the exception of pulling the two shrubs next to the stairs out (they weren’t doing it for us). We still have a loooong way to go, but the potential is for sure there.
We have lots of big projects to do, like replacing & repainting all of the rotten trim, fixing the leaky box gutters, and doing something about the stained brick. These are all high dollar budget items (so far we’ve been quoted $10k – $30k PER PROJECT… eeeek) that we’ll have to plan & bring in pro’s for. The one high impact, relatively low cost project we can tackle ourselves is the yard, so we’re grabbing the opportunity while the weather’s still good.
The issues? The yard is patchy and mostly weeds…
Our concrete walkway is not very welcoming…
And the whole thing just feels bland and boring without any shrubs or flowers.
Here’s the view looking down from the porch (we installed this railing this year – baby steps).
We can’t wait to get started!
CALLing 811 to stay safe
We’re teaming up with our local gas company, Columbia Gas, on this project to help spread the message about the importance of calling 8-1-1 before digging to stay safe, no matter how big or small your project is. Are we the only ones that didn’t know that calling 811 before digging is the law in Ohio (and many other states, too)? It’s recommended that you call 8-1-1 (or submit your ticket online if you’re not a phone person) at least two business days before you kick off your project to allow time for your local utility to come out and mark your utility lines. By having the lines marked, you (or your contractor) will know which areas of your yard to avoid when digging. Utility lines can be located at any depth (even a few inches below the ground), and hitting one by accident can be costly, create project delays, and mess up your yard.
This is something that we admittedly haven’t done before on previous outdoor projects, and we’re not alone. Nearly half of American homeowners will complete a project that requires you to call 811, but more than 40% of homeowners who plan to dig this year will not call 811 before they dig. The most common projects are simple, like planting a tree or shrub, building a deck or patio, building a fence or installing a mailbox.
Now that we know what we know, we’ve submitted our ticket to have our utility lines marked on our yard before we start. It took less than a minute to do online and was free & easy!
We live in a neighborhood where there’s lots of old homes with lovely curb appeal, and snapping inspiration photos is something I find myself doing almost every day. Here are a few of my favorites.
I love the hydrangeas in the back, but also love how the curved boxwood adds structure and elegance.
This front yard is smaller and has no grass. It feels classic and charming.
This house has a great hydrangea / boxwood mix, with the hydrangeas in the back and smaller boxwoods + ground cover in front. I could definitely see us doing something like this at our home.
This one also has no grass and a mix of boxwoods, ground cover, and hostas. I especially love the two spiral trees flanking the front steps, and the antique gate at the curb.
the design plan
We have a few simple goals for this project:
1 – Improve the home’s curb appeal
2 – Make the front yard lower maintenance and more classy (we’re okay with getting rid of grass)
3 – Keep the landscaping choices consistent with the home (Victorian with modern accents)
We started our process by consulting with our friends at Foreground Studio, a local landscape architecture company, on placement of shrubs and flowers in our front yard. As interior designers, it was fun to go through a super similar conceptual design process with people who are experts on exterior design — it’s really another whole ballgame that Bryan & I couldn’t visualize ourselves.
We added these ideas into our software to bring it to life in 3D, and started playing around with adding in different kinds of shrubs & flowers. This rendering isn’t final or perfect (hello missing trim and porch roof), but it definitely gives us a really good idea of what to expect with each option.
And just for fun, here’s the same plan with a different color brick. We’re almost positive that paint isn’t the right solution for this home but it’s still interesting to see the impact of each change on the overall design with a few clicks, right? This color we’re playing with in the rendering is SW Revere Pewter.
the RENO plan
Our to-do list is starting with these items:
- Dig up all of the weeds and replace with new grass or pavers or ground cover (TBD)
- Fix the cracked concrete walkway & stairs
- Install a retaining wall where the sidewalk meets our yard (exact stone TBD)
- Plant hydrangeas, boxwoods, and other shrubs, flowers and ground cover — finish with dark mulch
- Install a sprinkler system (TBD)
We’re budgeting about $5k for this project, with the bulk of it going toward plants and the concrete repairs. We’ll do as much as we can ourselves to save money (a few thousand, easy), and anticipate it’ll take 3-4 weeks from start to finish. We’ll be back soon with a progress update on the blog, but in the meantime, follow the process on IG @beginninginthemiddle. Wish us luck!!