How We Re-Landscaped (Partially) For Free

posted by Andrea | 06/27/2013

Last month, I posted all about our summer landscaping plans – and I mentioned that we’re hoping to completely transform our 1-acre property over the next 2-3 summers.

Well, I’m happy to announce that we’re making fabulous progress already, and with the help of our trusty landscaping team (the same company who designed our landscape) we’ve plowed through demolition, planted a bunch of new trees, and totally finished all the planting beds around the house and garage.

Here’s a little sneak peek at one before + progress shot. More “after pictures” will come in a few weeks!

Now we’re waiting (not so patiently) for the grass to grow :)

It is growing though!

new grass

Over the last month, I’ve received many questions inquiring about the the expenses involved in re-landscaping a large yard. And the truth is, landscaping work IS quite expensive — especially since there were a bunch of things we could not do ourselves (cutting down trees, grinding out huge stumps, hauling away load after load after load of rocks, fixing irrigation issues, delivering and planting several larger trees, removing a 20′ x 20′ cement pad in the middle of our backyard, and delivering 35+ yards of mulch).

Thankfully, we’ve done enough yard work over the years that we know who to call when we have big projects like this — and sometimes those companies give us small discounts for being loyal customers. But for the rest of it, we write checks and try super hard to stay within our budget.

 

As we were coming closer and closer to our budgeted amount, Dave and I realized that there were still several more projects we wanted to do yet this summer… but we didn’t want to go over budget. We thought about just waiting until next spring… but then we decided we could most likely do some of the projects for free (or really close to free) if we got creative.

That was about a week ago… and after a lot of manual labor on our parts, Dave and I managed to completely re-landscape a huge area along our back driveway and another large planting bed in the back corner of our yard — completely for free!

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we re-landscaped all the way to the end of the vinyl fencing with no out-of-pocket costs!

planting bed by garage

this is another view of that planting bed — along with the small pile of leftover (free) mulch

a cute little pathway behind our garage

lots of huge hostas lining the back corner of our property. 

more of those same hostas with another path behind the garage. grass will be planted where the dirt is now.

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Want to know how we did this all for free? 

We used plants dug up from our previous landscape or plants I’ve gotten for free from friends and family (more about how I find free plants).

Nora and I carting plants home after splitting them from a friend

We used the old (but still professional grade) metal edging that we dug out from the former planting beds around the house. We had to spend some time pounding out the kinks, but it turned out just fine for these back corners of our property, and it would have otherwise been trashed if we didn’t “recycle” it.

you can see our “used” edging still has some kinks… but it’s good enough!

We used wood chips that were left over from when we got our trees cut down earlier this spring (we asked the company to leave us the chipped cedar mulch ahead of time). It was about 10 yards of mulch — which was plenty to cover both of these areas. This mulch is not color treated, but it was free so it’s good enough!

 

I realize these areas don’t look professionally done… and the plants are still a bit droopy from being split and transplanted, but for a few days of hard work and $0.00 out-of-pocket expense, it’s a huge improvement (it was just dirt, weeds, and over-grown shrubs before).

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So we’re making progress… definite progress, and it feels good to know we’re sticking with our budget.

We feel so fortunate because we’ve had the absolute perfect weather for yard renovations. Aside from the past couple days of HOT and humid, we’ve had mainly sunny skies with light rains every few days, cooler temperatures in the low 70′s, light breezes, and plenty of clouds to give our new plants a break.

We honestly couldn’t have asked for better weather (sorry for everyone else in MI who wants to head to the beach!)

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Oh, and here are a FEW other pictures of our yard work progress.

So that’s it for now — I realize these pictures aren’t jaw-dropping, but it’s really hard to attractively photograph plants, bushes, and trees that have just been planted.

Once the grass grows in, I’ll share the official before and after pictures … but it still might be 1 or 2 more growing seasons until we have that lovely cottage style garden with rose bushes, hydrangeas, and the hundreds of other plants that were all specifically chosen for our yard.

Yeah, I’m just a little excited! 

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15 comments

  1. Richelle

    06/27/2013

    Who did your landscape design?

    [Reply]

  2. Kara

    06/27/2013

    I think it looks great! Gardening isn’t overnight unless you have someone come in and landscape for you. I am enjoying the process in our own yard each year. As we find what works and what doesn’t. How exciting to have all the before and during pictures.

    Thanks for showing what real life yard work is like for us average folk just DIYing it : )

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  3. shelly

    06/27/2013

    Love how it’s looking! Much bettter with the big tree removed. The flag banners make a home look welcoming! We have the banners on our front porch as well. I leave them up year around. Great job!

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  4. Roberta Lott

    06/27/2013

    Your yard looks amazing, and you sound like me with the free plants. I am always scoring cool stuff from friends. But I have a question, is that edging you are using sharp? I’m worried if Nora fell on it, she might cut herself. It just looks sharp to me, but it might not be. Good luck finishing the yard, it can be both fun and grueling, but well worth the effort!

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  5. Paulette

    06/27/2013

    What a huge amount of work! THAT is jaw dropping

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  6. Debby

    06/27/2013

    So pretty!!! I love swapping plants for free with friends and neighbors. I use to swap with a friend. If she was digging or thinning out something, and thought I would like it, she would just leave it wrapped in wet newspaper on my driveway. I could then make the decision to keep it or not. And in return, I did that for her also. I have some real beauties in my yard. I also have a Eunonymous (sp?) that an elderly Croatian lady gave to my husband in a cup of her “Magic Dirt”. That was over 20 years ago. It is so healthy and beautiful. It makes me smile everytime I look at it. We lost touch with her when she moved. I would love for her to see what that little stick in the magic dirt turned into. Keep going with your yardwork. I have a stepping stone that says:
    An hour in the garden brings you closer to God than anyplace on earth.
    I love that because I am always at peace, no matter how much I am sweating, when I am among my plants.

    [Reply]

  7. Lauren @momhomeguide

    06/27/2013

    Your landscaping looks great! I’ve been working to landscape my home’s yard, and it has been a long — but fun — process.

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  8. Deni

    06/27/2013

    It looks fabulous!!! I love the sculpted beds and the natural color bark! Everything is beautiful, and I’m especially amazed at what you did with the leftovers and shared plants for free. You get an A+ for recycling :) You and Dave are so creative and have done an amazing job!

    [Reply]

  9. Laurel

    06/27/2013

    Thanks for the photos. We re-landscaped our former house and then proceeded to move to a much bigger lot. It’s a work in progress just like yours. I think the big tree out of there makes the biggest difference in your yard. Have fun!

    [Reply]

  10. Sher

    06/27/2013

    We did our front yard with all FREE plants from either craigslist or family/friends
    My husband would research on craigslist and find local households looking for someone to dig a plant or tree from their yard…and in exchange for the labor he would get the item for free :)

    [Reply]

  11. Kalyn Brooke

    06/27/2013

    Wow, those hostas are pretty big!

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  12. Janice

    06/27/2013

    WOW! What an awesome job you’s have done in the transformation of your yard! It has made a huge difference. I know personally how much time and energy you put into this labor of love. It is back braking work but when it is all done….there’s nothing like just waiting to see the fruits of your labor grow as the seasons pass. I can see where this is going to be absolutely beautiful when they all mature. If I may say…… I’m not sure of the sharpness of the edging you recycled for the one gardens, but I am concerned about Nora getting cut on it. One thing that you can do in place of an actual physical edging and it free also, is to dig down about 2-3 inches all along the edge of the bed and then slope the dirt some going “uphill”. Then when you lay the mulch, it has a “stopping” place so it won’t run over onto the lawn. Your landscaper may be able to tell you what I am trying to describe. The edging can create a different look if that is what you are wanting to achieve but it’s not necessary using the method I tried to describe. I have a friend that is a landscaper and unless the client asks for edging, she uses this method very successfully and I do it in my yard. Can’t wait to see the satisfying results in a few years. My love of gardening and my landscaper friend has helped me create an eye for plants and wherever I go, my eyes instantly seek out the landscape, even in container pots. I picture maybe some beautiful hanging baskets on the front porch and some on the porch as well. That really ties it all together and adds more color. It may not be in this years budget, but next summer, that may be something you can do.
    What is the little building in the backyard with the side walk leading to it and antique milk can on the landing? It looks darling. I assume the other larger one is the garage? You have such a lovely home and yard! Thanks for sharing all this with us!

    [Reply]

    Andrea Reply:

    Thanks Janice, that extra “little building” is a 2nd garage with attached “man cave” — it’s actually not so little :)

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  13. Kim

    06/27/2013

    I love the combination of professionals and some absolutely free (except for labor) projects. Everything is looking absolutely wonderful and can’t wait to see the progress photos in the coming weeks!

    [Reply]

  14. Georgia Gal

    06/29/2013

    Your yard looks great! Free plants and mulch are wonderful! I know plants are not cheap and add up quickly when you are landscaping a big yard.

    A sweet older lady and friend of mine recently gave me a lot of her garden cuttings. I was so thankful and excited to put some on my front porch and in my home.

    Years ago, my local Lowe’s would have some great markdowns on their garden plants and flowers. I could get the prettiest hanging flower basket for $2.00-$3.00 each. I’ve also given away extra plants on craigslist like tomato plants & elephant ears (that grew out of control by a fence of ours). Thanks for sharing your free landscaping inspiration. Hope your night is great!

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