New Home – Reclaiming Outdoors

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Our New Home – Reclaiming Outdoor Areas

As perfect as our new home is for us, the outdoor areas needed serious attention. The landscaping was pretty much non-existent. Both the front and back yards were just weeds and dirt everywhere we looked. Not much to look at in terms of garden beds or anything ornamental around the house. 

The home had been owned by an older couple for 15 years. As they aged and their health deteriorated, they were no longer able to care for anything outdoors. We could tell that things done to increase curb appeal had only been minimally done to sell the home. We had our work cut out for us, but luckily Mr. Sunflower Designs and I both love to play in the dirt!

First Things First

At the corner of our home in the front yard was a giant triple water oak tree. It had been allowed to all but take over the yard. It was entirely too close to the house and potentially damaging the foundation. Additionally, the tree would soon begin affecting the next-door neighbor’s driveway. So, it was clear – the first thing to do was to cut down the tree. I hate to cut down trees, but this one was soon going to be causing structural issues with its root system being too close to our home and the neighboring driveway. I am so glad we took a picture before having the tree removed. It was a beautiful tree.

large tree next to a yellow house

Waiting for Spring to Arrive

While we waited for spring to arrive, we began working in the back of the house, where a few gardenia bushes and a clematis were hanging on, despite having been neglected for years. There was no defined area for the existing plants, and nothing to create an inviting area. A small patio and a strip of dirt for the flowering plants were what we started with in early April.

outside of yellow house with landscaped border

We began by laying out an area on the ground where we wanted a curving garden area to exist. The next step was to create the border by laying down the border stones. We found these at Lowe’s. (Spoiler alert: we plan to use the same stones soon when we create a fire pit in the back yard.) The border was wrapped around the corner of the house and extended to the driveway. The overgrown rose bush was cut back, and the trash cans were relocated.

landscaped border next to a house
border landscape next to a house
sideview of yellow house with garbage cans in distance

Next pine straw was added to the entire garden area. Mulch could also be used, but our preference is pine straw. Then we were ready to add a stone bench, some garden art pieces, and potted flowering plants. Before moving here, we agreed to keep our landscaping to potted flowering plants for the first year, so we could see what bloomed and where in the front and back yards. 


Bird Feeder Placement

We added a hummingbird feeder just outside the breakfast room windows. We can see the little hummingbirds from the kitchen as well, while preparing meals. The main bird feeder was placed just outside the back door, next to the patio. We can see the birds there from the kitchen, breakfast room, and the living room. Public Service Announcement: when we first moved here there were 7,671 squirrels living in and visiting our back yard. They wanted to enjoy the seed in the bird feeder as much as the birds did. I researched and learned that squirrels are not fond of red pepper, apple cider vinegar, and coffee grounds. We put our coffee grounds underneath the bird feeder each night and have had no problems with squirrels trying to get to the bird feeder since we began that habit.

So far this year we have had Eastern Bluebirds, Cardinals, House Sparrows, and Golden Finches. We also regularly have a hawk that visits our back yard, although not to visit the bird feeder. I think the hawk is more interested in the squirrels and the bunnies.

red bird sitting on a garden hook

More Work to be Done

We have relocated a butterfly bush and done some major pruning of a large oak tree in the backyard. The lawn areas were as neglected as everything else outside. The lawns were mostly dirt and weeds when we moved in. Mr. Sunflower Designs has been hard at work this year putting his green thumb to work and reclaiming the lawns. What a difference he has made!

We have added solar powered landscaping lighting in the front and the back, and it really defines the front walkway and our garden area we added.

We will be adding a fire pit in the back yard soon, and I promise to document the process with pictures and a future blog. I cannot wait for crisp fall evenings, stargazing, and cider by the bonfire!

In my next blog I will share with you decorating our home for fall. I have some fun pictures and I hope you will join me on this crazy journey of life, and we can discover some things together.


Helping you create a beautiful home is what @Home with Sunflower Designs is all about. Each week we offer suggestions on ways to add beauty and simplicity to your surroundings, so that you and your family can enjoy your home. Until next time… #livecreatively!

At Home with Sunflower Designs helps you create a beautiful home one wreath and one space at a time.

Ann Bryant, Owner & Designer
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1 Comment

  1. […] have been in this home less than a year, so we are still adding our touches to the property. Having a backyard fire pit has been on our wish list for a while and we made it happen! I’m […]

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