slow progress


 i don’t share pictures of our front yard very often.

 for the last 6 years, we hardly touched it at all.  when we bought our house, it had rose trees and jasmine lining the sidewalk.  the rest of the yard was covered in weeds, which looked really good in the spring when it was all green, but dead and brown most of the rest of the year.

so…. it was pretty ugly.

but thanks to my parents and hours and hours of their time, we are finally making progress!  the years and years of weeds took days of digging out with the rototiller.  and the stinkin’ weeds just kept coming back.  after months of fighting the weeds, we have finally won and have hardly any now.


 we live on a hill.  our house is up high which is great because it gives us a lot of privacy, but the downside is that we had a lot of grading to do on our yard.  as you can see from the pic above, the yard slopes pretty severely and made about half of it unusable.


 at this point we had already rototilled the entire yard (a few times), and ripped out the ivy, jasmine and rose trees that lined the sidewalk.  i would’ve loved to have kept the roses, but they were so old and gnarly, and really just in the way.


eventually, we’d like to rip out these stairs that are all cracked.  we want to move the stairs to the far left corner of the yard, but that will probably be years down the road.


 after rototilling all the yard, we started with the retaining walls.  because retaining walls can be so expensive, we did our research to figure out the cheapest option – railroad ties.


we had several deliveries like this!


 it seems like half our time was spent moving dirt around, and the other half of the time we talked about our next plan of action.



 even though i was a good supervisor, i put in a lot of labor time as well!


 at this point the retaining walls were finished on the left and almost on the right.


 there was significantly more soil/dirt/clay/roots/hard stuff on the right side than the left, so we had to make the retaining walls a bit higher on that side.


and this is where we’re at now.  not done, but so much better!  this area will never be totally level, but its as good as its going to get.  we also built planter boxes along the base of the house with the railroad ties, which we’ll eventually fill.


 our next plan in that area is to put down flagstone patio, and eventually maybe a pergola.


 this side will pretty much stay like this, other than a flagstone path, and bark.  i’d love to have grass out here, but water is really expensive here, so we’re trying to cut corners where we can.


 in the winter, we planted bare root iceberg roses here, and after just a few months they are blooming like crazy!






 see that funky corner with the railroad ties?  when we decided to move the stairs to this corner (eventually), we cut out the wall there.  dumb.  then we got estimates on how much it would be to put in stairs there and it was about 3 times more than our entire yard budget!  so we filled it back in with railroad ties.


 these iceberg roses are pretty low maintenance and produce like crazy.


 we lined the top of the walls with rosemary that will eventually spill down over the walls and disguise the railroad ties a bit.




 we were able to save a few plants from the original landscaping, and we’ll eventually try to fill in along the house line.


 this area along our driveway has been an eyesore for the last 6 years up until about a month ago.  it was the landing point for miscellaneous building supplies, filled with weeds and junk.  after a load to the dump and relocating supplies, we cleaned it up nicely with some pavers and a couple planters.


 we planted some geraniums and this silver sheen pittosporum.  i love this plant!  i’m hoping we can plant more of this around the yard.  at provides height and because its lightweight it has movement instead of being hedgy.

PicMonkey Collage3

 and now a couple before and afters!

PicMonkey Collage1


PicMonkey Collage

 we still have a long way to go, but its so much better than where we started!



  1. 1

    I think your project was a huge success! Such hard work and small changes make a BIG difference :)

  2. 2

    Wow, it looks amazing!! Isn’t it so satisfyng to see the results of hard work (and hard thinking and planning)?


  3. 3

    Wow it looks great. I love the roses. They are beautiful.

  4. 4

    It looks awesome! I know exactly how you feel. My husband and I haven’t had the time to fix up our front flower beds, so for the past 7 years they’ve been looking a little scraggly. We’ve finally started putting some time into it, and slowly (very slowly) it’s starting to look the way we want it. I’m enjoying seeing your progress!

  5. 5

    Looks Amazing! Great Progress, Thanks FoR Sharing :-)

  6. 6
    Lisa L. says:

    Looks great! You will get where you want to be. . . . Eventually!

  7. 7

    Looks amazing!! Those retaining walls make a huge difference! Great job :)

  8. 8

    It’s looking beautiful and I really like the railroad ties. I’ll have to look into that for our own landscaping projects.

  9. 9
    Missy G. says:

    It’s looking really good! I’m so impressed that y’all have done that yourselves. Kudos!

  10. 10

    Lovely improvements. I actually love the corner where the railroad road ties repeat. I think it adds great interest and keeps the eye flowing through the landscape:)

  11. 11

    Looking great! It’s amazing how much work it takes to make a yard look nice, but it’s totally worth it!

  12. 12

    I love your home!! Everything looks amazing!!!

  13. 13

    it’s looking great!!! thats a ton of work, and a TON of progress!!! it will look great when everythign starts growing!

  14. 14

    this looks so good! i love it all! the landscaping is always the first to chop when it comes to budget. we just finished out house in march and have NO landscape. we are slowly making beds and mulching them so we don’t look so bare, but we hope to plant in the fall. it is SO expensive to do landscaping though so we’ll have to do a little at a time! yours looks fabulous!!

  15. 15

    Wow! That looks great! A heap of work, but so worth it. The front of our house needs attention too, but it feels overwhelming. Thanks for the inspiration.

  16. 16

    Wow! That looks amazing already. We’re kind of in a similar situation in that the yard is really weedy and we haven’t tackled improving it yet (and need to).

  17. 17

    WOOOOOOOWWWWWW!!! Looks so good!

  18. 18

    I love that RR tie corner! It adds its own sense of uniqueness to your yard;-)

  19. 19

    I LOVE the changes you’ve made!!!

  20. 20

    Congrats! What an awesome feeling! It looks great.

  21. 21

    Your yard looks great! You know I’ve always adored your house – this just adds to the adorable factor! It’s a great lesson to me in being patient too, and how it doesn’t all have to come together at once. Your patience paid off! Enjoy!

  22. 22

    I think the corner where you put the railroad ties in after the removal of the wall looks great…”ties” the different walls together. :)
    PS Grass is overrated ;)

  23. 23

    All your hard work looks great! We’ve just spent most of the spring/early summer also working on our yard, but with no where near the back-breaking labor that must have gone into yours. Doesn’t it feel so rewarding to look out at the end of a hard day and see all the improvements?

  24. 24

    Wow, that’s really impressive!

  25. 25

    beautiful! you might try lavender next to the flagstone path! or look up xeriscaping..

  26. 26

    Great work! It’s a lot of hard work and sweat, but looks like it paid off!


  27. 27

    Wow! What an amazing transformation. Your hard work inspires me to get out and do some much needed work in our yard. I just wish it wasn’t 98 degrees with 98% humidity! Ugh, makes me tired just typing that. :) Have a beautiful summer!

  28. 28

    Railroad ties always bring back the memory of my parents’ front yard beds and creosote.

  29. 30

    Really beautiful. So rewarding after all your hard work to see all the plants thriving and looking so healthy.

  30. 31

    Long time reader, first time commenter here. I had to comment on how great it looks with the retaining wall! Such a huge difference that it has me thinking about doing something similar with our backyard. Also, have you thought about planting some vines (like Clematis or similar) and letting them trail up the posts of your porch? Would look great and add to the cottage look.

    • 32
      lindsey says:

      thank you! i haven’t thought about vines for that area but i love the idea! we have some major repair to do on our porch posts, columns and railings due to rot, but after that is done i may try it!

  31. 33

    You guys have done a truly fabulous job! And what a ton of work!! I’m really impressed with how it’s turned out, thanks for sharing!

  32. 34

    We live in Orange County, CA and yes, water is really expensive. A few years ago we killed our lawn and put in a buffalo grass that my hubby mows 1x/year. It does have a dry season where it is brown and they you mow it all in January before the new growth. But, the amazing thing…this is drought tolerant. We hardly water it. I don’t have current photos on my neglected blog, but I did photograph it when we put it in.
    We planted plugs and this year there are finally no holes for weeds to pop up through. You could do a seed. To do it over again, my hubby would rather Creeping Red Fescue because it’s a darker green, but we’re happy with this.

  33. 35

    Your yard is coming along. I like the railroad ties on the corner- adds texture.

    We planted lawn in the front last Oct. It looked GREAT in March & April… aaannndd now it’s dying. Michael learned about a grass that only needs water a few times a year (he could tell you more about it). We plan on giving it a try. If it works that could be a great solution for you too. XO

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