Monday, May 26, 2014

Meet My Lawn Boy

We took advantage of a three-day weekend and free babysitting (in the form of my parents being in town) to tackle some projects around the house.

David has been wanting to re-do the landscaping in the front of the house since the day we moved in.  Last summer, it looked like this:

What you can't really tell from this picture is that the garden bed in front of the house was messy and overgrown and a mishmash of things that we transplanted from around the backyard and brought up front. It's anchored by two large azalea bushes which bloom nicely in the spring but had not been pruned or cared for at all, so they were actually a tangled mess and the underneath was all brown and dead-looking. Last summer, David put a peony bush in the front and split and transplanted several hostas from our old house. So he made the yard look nice, but he had much bigger plans in mind.

He started with the big tree that is in front of our house next to the street. We'd had to pull out the ivy that had been growing around it because another vine had gotten in there and was strangling it all. At that point, David decided that he wanted to surround the tree with a small landscaping wall.  He promised me he was taking before and after pictures, but this is the closest "before" shot we got:

This was the smallest area he worked on, but it took the most time and energy. He had to cut away at a couple of big tree roots, but also countless small roots from the tree, the ivy, and other plants that had presumably been planted around the base of the tree over the years. Our neighbor The Block Captain, who is something of an amateur landscaping and doesn't mind doing some hard work to help out her neighbors, came over to lend him a hand and was a huge help.  Eventually, we ended up with this:

David's already seeded the dirt on the outside of the bricks so we're hoping grass will fill in pretty quickly. He planted liriope or "monkey grass" all around the tree because it's a very hardy ground cover and should grow well in the shade of the tree.

Once that was over, it was time to move to the house. David created a sketch, did a bunch of measuring, and placed an order for the stones he needed. His number would have been almost perfect except that he decided to make the far left wall higher in the end so that he could add more dirt above the roots of the dogwood tree we have in front of the house. So he had to make one more trip to the hardware store for 11 more stones. I was still very impressed by the accuracy of his calculations.

And I can't even tell you how hard he worked over the past three days. He was up early every day, digging out plants, stacking the stones for the edging, and carrying countless heavy bags of topsoil, sand, and mulch.

And looked good doing it!
David sketched out the shape of the garden based on leaving the azalea bushes in place and working around the dogwood tree. Everything else was up for grabs.

The Block Captain's teenaged son and a few of his friends arrived home and got roped into carrying bricks from the sidewalk up to the front of the house--they made quick work of what would have taken us much longer! We pulled up a lot of plants (being careful to save them) and started with a pretty blank slate.

The azaleas look pretty puny after being cut back, but they had to be trimmed up so that they'd fill in nicely. They had been neglected for too long.

Zuzu is always glad to be Daddy's helper.
Eventually, it was obvious that his hard work was paying off.

He was pretty worn out by Monday afternoon, but had managed to completely create, plant, and mulch the entire garden in the front of the house! And he had a lot of help from our neighbor, but still did much of this single-handedly.

view from the front porch
view from the front walk
The street-view makes it a little harder to tell what a significant change he made, but in person it looks absolutely gorgeous. And it's only going to get better looking as the plants grow and fill in.

I'm still kicking myself for not taking my own before pictures so that you could really see the difference. You'll just have to take my word for it.

I think this is David's version of "nesting." I kept suggesting that maybe we could just hold off and tackle this project next summer, but he pointed out that we'll have our hands full next summer and he really just wanted to git 'er done.

So that's our big Memorial Weekend project! I wish I could take credit for it, but this one was really all David.

And speaking of David's winning ways, a friend of mine attended graduation back in my hometown of Nevada, MO and texted me that David a.k.a. "Coach Duck" had gotten a shout-out during the graduation ceremony.

Some of you may remember the story of how David and I met. He spent two years teaching PE in Nevada before moving to St. Louis with me. Although he was only there a short time, he evidently made quite an impression on his students. The class president fondly recalled "Coach Duck" as the most memorable part of their kindergarten year and said IN HER SPEECH AT GRADUATION, "Even back then, we knew he was a hottie!"

What can I say? I'm a lucky girl to have this guy for my Lawn Boy.


  1. David has a real eye for landscape architecture! I say he has a calling for his retirement gig should he want one! (how could would that be to see 60 year old David working at the local nursery helping people decide what plants to purchase??)

    It looks awesome. I like how he did several bed and not just one big bed. The peony bush will look beautiful. Do hydrangeas bloom well in MO? They are my absolute favorite. What are the ones with the pink blossom on either side of the fountain? And what about the ones in the cute red pots on the porch? Geraniums?

    Seriously looks awesome, well done lawn boy.

  2. How much is he? My lawn boy is tired after his weekend of distributing 5 yards of mulch around our pool gardens. We need more. Don't tell him that.


    So glad you have a willing gardener and that sweetie helper ;)

  3. @Caroline - Yes, I love hydrangeas as well, but David doesn't like them because they are just ugly brown sticks in the winter time. So we don't have hydrangeas in the front yard.

    All the plants in our front garden have to be shade-friendly plants, so the feathery pink flowers by the fountain are a form of Astilbe. (I found a lovely shade garden on Pinterest, which inspired me to buy the Astilbes and coral bells to go with hostas).

  4. Is David available for hire? Your yard looks wonderful and what a great project to get done over Memorial Day weekend. You'll have to share a photo later in the summer when everything is in bloom.

  5. you married "eye candy"!! lol and so did he.

    love your lawn. it's amazing. if he's up for travel, i know another lawn that needs his special touch :)

  6. Love your garden. I planted some vinca this weekend. Hopefully will bloom into a big bush by next month. And no, i did not have any helper!! Just a lazy critique, pointing out why I did not get 2more containers. Huh!!
    Your place looks awesome.

  7. Your house, yard, and neighborhood look beautiful! I admire how you guys tackle these big projects!

  8. Beautiful! Really, really lovely home and garden. Makes me yearn to live somewhere where homeownership is within the realm of possibility!!

  9. Damn. I am super, super impressed. Please tell David that. He has such a knack for that gardening business. We have a huge area in the front yard that desperately needs to be completely dug up and re-done. Used to be professionally landscaped with a tree. We axed the tree and now it's just a bunch of.. stuff.

    E was working on the deck all weekend. He's also a pretty handy guy. We're so lucky.