Tuesday, July 9, 2013

My Gardening Curb Appeal Skills–or lack thereof

I’ve officially decided gardening and curb appeal are impossible for me.  I kill all plants.  Instead of a beautiful garden after hours and days of labor, we have a flower graveyard.  I’ve always wanted HGTV to find me in Lowe’s and ask me to take them home to do a yard makeover – but I’m pretty convinced I’d be the worst client because after all their work and transformation, I’d care for the flowers and after two days they’d be dead.
Our front yard is pretty narrow, and we have a small front concrete patio.  I’ve been able to decorate it a fun few styles for seasons, but beyond the patio our front garden has been a trouble spot for me.
Take a look at what our front yard looked like the past two years since we moved in (2010).
Really sad, right? 

But like I said I have been able to decorate it in cute ways for a couple seasons like Christmas
PBJstories style challenge evening holiday decor
and this recent summer.DSC_8829b

A few weekends ago we spent a long Saturday and Sunday and completely redid our front garden to finally match the inside of our home.   We wanted it to be a complete finished space that had color and looked inviting to our home.

We dug out about two feet deep of existing dirt because it was bad, unhealthy soil.  We pulled all the weeds, flipped the dirt and brought in about 8 bags of new soil.  There was one massive bush that overtook the whole corner of the garden, so we dug that up and moved it to our backyard.

Then we wanted something that created a border to our garden to really make it stand out, so we picked out stone pavers and created a two level border going around the entire front of the garden and wrapped around the back against the patio.  This also let us bring up the overall height of the garden after all the new soil, new plants, and mulch. Once we dug out and laid all our stone pavers (future post coming about how to do that), we planted a ton of new flowers. 

This is a direct full sun spot and so we chose flowers and plants that were durable and could handle full sun. We choose two different color day lilies for height in the back, a new smaller creeper bush to put in the bend where we removed the massive bush, and then intermixed red, yellow, purple and white flowers.  Following proper instructions how to plant each flower we spaced them out close enough they help each other grow, but far enough that they don’t crowed one another.  Then to control weed growth we added a layer of dark mulch, keeping a few inches away from each new planted flower.

Then every morning for the next week I diligently watered the front garden… and everyday when I came home at 6 they were wilted.  Next morning they’d be perked up a little, but not as much as the previous morning. Every day they were slowly beginning their sad death.

After a week over half the flowers are dead. And our weekend of hard work and laboring hours put the flowers to the graveyard.

Overall still looks pretty nice:DSC_8964b
Let me take you in closer.DSC_8972b
Let’s hear a big “wah wah”.
I don’t get it.  I literally did everything that I read online, I did everything they told me to do at the nursery… Sad. Sad. Flowers.

I knew I never truly had a green thumb, but next year I’m skipping flowers.  Or maybe I’ll plant fake flowers, no one ever comes close to the garden they’d be able to tell right? HAH!

PBJstories.com curb appeal before and after
Dead flowers aside – doesn’t the new stone border look nice! I’ll be doing a break down of that soon too.
What is the deal? Any extra secret tips I’m not hearing about? Anyone want to come be our full time landscaper/maintainer?



  1. It's all about timing. It's too late in the year to have a truly successful newly planted garden. Plants need the cooler spring nights to set their roots and the warm days to activate their growth. Watering at night is better than the morning if it's hot every day. And sometimes it's *how* you planted them...did you "tickle the roots" when you removed the plants from their pots and plunked them in the hole? Or did you just place the whole thing in the hole as it came out of the pot? Roots in pots are generally turned over and around each other on plants that have been in the pot for awhile. They need to be spread outward a bit to encourage the roots to stretch and find nutrients in the soil.

    You have a good start. The dead plants might come back if you cut the plants down to a couple of inches in height and let them concentrate on sending out good roots instead of feeding the foliage. Gardening is hit or miss until you get used to it and learn to love it. I used to kill a lot of plants until I discovered "dirt therapy".

    One more thing - give 'em coffee grounds, tea leaves, egg shells...banana peels...they love that stuff and will love you for it!

    Don't give up. Next spring, start earlier with your plantings and you'll be amply rewarded.

    1. What awesome tips thank you SO MUCH Diane!!!!

      I did "tickle the roots" when I planted them - that I knew to do. I've been wondering if I should cut them back an what you said about feeding the foliage makes sense.

      Thank you so much!! I get so confused by it all... I don't even know what to do cooler temperatures and fall time. Sigh....

    2. Diane (if you see this). Do all plants benefit from egg shells and coffee and tea? We put crushed egg shells in the hole when we planted tomatoes but I don't do anything with other plants. I don't even tickle the roots. oops.

  2. I'm terrible at growing things too. I tend to stick with what has always worked for me-Petunias for annuals and Daylilies for perennials. I plant sunflowers every summer and this summer is the first time I've gotten more than a couple of them to come up. Even so they are pretty short, still. I planted two mums last year and one actually came back! But it's so tiny I can't imagine getting flowers before it freezes again. I have lavender that grow nicely but I never pruned it so it doesn't look very good. I planted two more so that I can prune properly this time but mine looks nothing like the videos so I don't know exactly what 'properly' is. I have Rose of Sharon and Rose Mallow that manage to come back every year and I've done nothing but much it in the fall so those would be a good possibility. Butterfly Weed is also one that never seems to care that I don't know what I'm doing. Not only does it come back every year it spreads all over the yard. My fails include bleeding heart, butterfly bush (not to be confused with butterfly weed), purple coneflower (I suspect the other colors would die on me too), allium, hydrangea, peony and probably a lot that I'm forgetting about. We're putting up a new house in a couple of months and like you, I want the landscaping to look nice. But unless I hire someone or have someone tell me exactly what to plant where (and make sure they're all dummy-proof plants) I don't see it happening. Good luck!

    1. That's a long list of flowers you remember that you put in there! haha I don't even remember what I just planted.

      That's really sad to hear hydrangeas didn't do well for you, those are my absolute FAVORITE flowers and I REALLY want to try and plant some next year.

      I used to think hiring someone was ridiculous just because of the cost, but after spending the money I did this year on flower,s just to have them die a few days later maybe it's worth the investment!

  3. Maybe your plants just need some water? Also, I find that my flowers will bloom and then take a while before they get new buds and bloom again.

    But anyway, your front porch is just darling and I love your decorations! I wish I had a front porch -- I just have a front stoop that's less than 3 feet wide!

  4. I think if I remember correctly you might live near me, I'm in Virginia Beach. I know I put in my garden late this year and it has been a pain in the ass trying to get it goin'. A couple of weeks ago when it was mostly cloudy and rainy all day it did wonders and my plants have just taken off. I think we're headed for another week of partly cloudy weather, maybe if you cut your flowers back the weather will help them take off a little better.

  5. Dang. I am seriously the SAME WAY. I kill everything, but totally not on purpose. I don't get it.
    Not fair. But, it's looking GORGEOUS - and your Christmas setup belongs in a Martha Stewart magazine or something!!!


  6. The flowers that look like they are dying appear to be Gallardia - maybe they will come back this year. The round heads are the seeds so they are self seeders. They are actually very drought and sun tolerant. I have them in my west fasting front yard that never gets any shade. They grow like crazy and every year I find I'm offering up many plants for free on my local freecycle type of lists. Hopefully you didn't dead head them and they'll be back this year - but down the road if they are you might regret it as they really spread. Best of luck with your garden,


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