Landscaping Overhaul: Phase 1

Welcome readers! Today I’ll be sharing Part 1 of our landscaping journey. It’s been very involved to say the least- hope you’ll share your thoughts and watch the video at the end :). 

Everyone has their own taste when it comes to landscaping- that’s evident with a walk around any block. But it’s clear when you come across a house that is simply overgrown. Enter our house.


I felt like we were “those people” on the block. But in our defense, we just moved into our home in January and once it was warm enough to work outside, we were a season behind. The previous homeowner clearly let his garden take over and come April, we were busy raking bags and bags of leaves- an Autumn job. But it wasn’t the leaves that bothered me. That’s going to happen. It was the bushes. And the purple rocks.

We were pretty overwhelmed with the thought of tackling a project such as this, but a few weeks ago decided we just needed a plan.


All it took was a walk on our front lawn with a notebook and marker to map out our current landscaping. Pete drew in all of the bushes and we “x’ed” the ones we wanted to get rid of (10!). We also decided to get rid of the purple rock and replace it with mulch. Also diagrammed (not to scale) was that we were going to plant grass on the side of the house replacing the bushes that were there. And we were going to do this all by ourselves…no hired landscapers in this story.

Welp- the one question on our minds what was the heck were we going to do with all those rocks? Problem easily solved- I was having a conversation about them with a friend and later that night she emailed me that her husband wanted them. Say what?! They’re all yours. And that is where our project started. We enlisted the help of Pete’s parents and Day 1 was rock raking day.


Talk about some back breaking work. We raked and raked, shoveled non-stop, and created a huge pile of rocks on the driveway.


Also on Day 1, Pete and his dad removed 2 of the 3 huge arborvitae bushes that were in the corner.


These bushes were massive and took a lot of work to remove. Once they were sawed out, we needed to remove the stumps. This was a lot of digging and some more sawing.


Who gave me a Sawzall?! Yikes!

That night, I decided to try my luck by posting pictures of the remaining 7 bushes on Craigslist. I was clear that they were free, but that they must be dug out. Within hours I had about 9 responses- totally shocked! I emailed a few people back and set up times for them to come.

On Day 2, it was raining. Luckily, my friend’s husband came to pick up his first batch of the rocks, so the day wasn’t a total bust.

Day 3 was the bigguns.


Pete’s parents arrived bright and early with a truckload of black mulch. While the guys started on the mulch, Pete’s mom and I headed to the nursery to buy some vincas.


I had a vision of planting them where one of the huge arborvitaes was.

A couple came around 1:00 for ALL of the bushes and began digging.


As they removed them, we’d shovel the rocks that were surrounding them.


Soon enough, all 10 bushes from our plan were removed and the remaining rocks were piled on the driveway. Mulching commenced.

Now- for some before and after shots.

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We removed one azalea (furthest right) and replaced it with a stone walkway. Mulch was put down and our rocks and pots were better spread out.

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As mentioned earlier, where the huge arborvitaes were, I planted 10 vincas and surrounded them with mulch.

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All of the bushes on the side of the house were dug up by the Craigslist people and removed. We put mulch down to line up with the house. Where all the bushes were we are planning on planting grass seed (that will be part of Phase 2).

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And finally, with many bushes removed we find the area to be symmetrical and minimalistic compared to the overbearing way it looked previously. Plus we love the look of the mulch instead of the purple rocks.

Once we were done, I made a video to send my parents so that they can see the progress. I figured I’d share the video here so you all can get a closer look and better feel of the space.

Last but not least, the stats:

  • Time: one weekend
  • Cost: $24 for the vincas. $17 for the stone walkway. The mulch was a gift from Pete’s parents. That’s $41 for a landscaping overhaul! No labor fees by doing it yourself. Plus listing the bushes on Craigslist saved us even more labor time.
  • Difficulty: Very tough. Not going to lie. We were wiped by the end of the each day.

Please share your thoughts! We worked really hard on this and are so proud of how it came out and that we did it ourselves!

In your opinion, how much would this have cost if we hired a landscaper? Keep in mind the rock removal, digging up 10 bushes, planting flowers, a walkway, and all of the mulch. Would love to hear some estimates!


10 thoughts on “Landscaping Overhaul: Phase 1

  1. Looks beautiful Maria. It appears the prior owners did not prune therefore allowing everything to just over grow. Also, they seemed to have planted items to close to the house (probably because they were small plants at the time) but then they over crowded. You guys did a fantastic job of thinning it out and making it look nice. We had a similar situation when we bought our house. I have learned a lot over the past 14 years and I keep learning. Enjoy your hard work!

    • Hi Christine! You’re right, they definitely did not keep up with the bushes. I’m sure it looked nice when they were small but they just got so big and there were so many! We’re much happier with the symmetry and spacing now.

    • Really beautiful, Maria&Pete. Would love to do something like that with our front yard but it only gets the morning sun. I thought about vincas, but they probably need lots of sun. Keep up the good work!

      • Hi Aunt Pat! Yes, vincas need a lot of sunlight so your front yard wouldn’t be the best place for them. Maybe somewhere else, they’re so pretty!

  2. I can’t believe you did it so quickly! It looks much more updated and less cluttered. Your house has better curb appeal with all the work and it probably increases the value of the home. Well done!

  3. this is year #7 in our house, and this spring we finally did a major landscaping ourselves…well, pretty much by myself 🙂 most of the bushes were free from a friend, and some were bought at Lowes 75%off original price. Craigslist works well when you want to get rif of stuff for free and quickly. You guys did a lovely job

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