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Before and AfterRenovating my House

Sneak Peek of my Boxwood: Before & After

By 06/01/2013October 16th, 201836 Comments

Last weekend all the right angled boxwood in the front of my house was installed by my fabulous landscaper Nelson (Kyle) Dupuis (below).

Nelson also installed all the flagstone pathways at the front and back of our house. The tattoo on his arm is all Ginko leaves, he’s a fan of them.

Nelson our Landscaper

Mary Anne White (My landscape architect) said “When I drive by a house I can always tell if a professional installed the plant material or if it was done by a guy with a wheelbarrow”, haha.

Nelson is the perfect landscaper for me because when I tell him to move a shrub over by two inches, he’s so good natured about it. Instead of getting cranky, he just gets the job done.

If you are in my area and need a landscaper, you can’t have him yet by the way, he’s mine for a few more weeks.


Here’s the before picture of the front of our living/dining room windows.

After: Boxwood

And here’s the boxwood with the pathway moved over quite a bit. Now I need to find a decorative urn that goes right in this area in front of the living room window.

Every image, link or suggestion Mary Anne sends me, I just love.

One day I emailed her a link to a website that was filled with urns that someone had sent me. She responded, “I don’t like any of them, here’s what I would recommend”.

Garden urn

The two on the back pedestals are the ones she likes. Not that I have been able to find one yet. But I sure love it!

It’s really extraordinary to work with someone who has the same aesthetic as you do.

I’m sourcing shrubs for the back yard this weekend so I have to run!

Related posts:

The Devil is in the Details: Update on my Landscape

My Landscape Project next Spring

Professionals Know when to Avoid the Obvious

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  • susan says:

    Simply beautiful. So happy for you two!

  • Mary says:

    Beautiful! Will any plant material be going in between the boxwoods and window?

  • My many thanks to Nelson on this job as well. Working from so many miles away can have it’s challenges, but Nelson from the very start has been patient, understanding, and extremely professional with the entire installation. He totally understood the concept as well as offered valuable incite throughout the installation.

  • tara dillard says:

    If an installer balks at moving a plant 2″, you should balk at keeping them another day.

    Unless it’s plumbing, electrical or will destroy the galaxy to move it 2″.

    Love the pots. Great contrast with all your ‘squares’.

    Garden & Be Well, XO Tara

  • Looking great Maria. I have to pedastal’s in front of my house with urns on top and I absolutely love what they do to the front of the house! Looking forward to seeing what you choose!

  • mimi says:

    I love boxwood- you can never go wrong- and yours look so fresh and summery! A good landscaper is hard to find- I know- I used to be one! Ply with him with lemonade and compliments!

  • It looks wonderful Maria!!

  • BillP says:

    It looks like perfect weather for planting! Congrats on the progress!

  • Mari says:

    sorry, I don’t get it. Unless there’s going to be a groundcover on that soil be prepared to weed it every 15 mins. Anyhow, for me a low rectangular urn would work with a low bonsai type thing on moss; I think a round planter filled with colour will be like a poke in the eye. Anything on a pedestal that can be seen from indoors is going to nice for what; maybe 3 mths of the year; then you be looking at stained concrete?

    • Barbara says:

      I don’t think weeds in that area will be a problem. Of course you always get some weeds, but they are easily pulled from soil like this, especially near the front door when you can do five minutes every time you come home or have a minute.

      Plus, you can see that Maria’s house is quite far from any spot that looks weedy, so there aren’t going to be a lot of seeds floating around. Just don’t plant any freely self seeding plants in there!

      It is very easy to have a planter with 4 season interest, you just change it out with the seasons. I love doing this, it is kinda like decorating your home for the seasons.

  • Beth says:

    Very, very nice!! Can’t wait to see it all finished.

  • B.J. says:

    Hello Maria! LOVE your blog! Your home is so lovely! I have a question about your boxwoods. The boxwoos are going to grow, shouldn’t they be spaced farther apart to allow for this? I’m just wondering because I would love to do this too but I was concerned about the spacing. Thank you for any tips about this.

    • Barbara says:

      I think they will grow together and perhaps be trimmed like a hedge. I’ve seen that with Boxwood. Or you can leave them round. They don’t grow that big.

    • Megan says:

      depends perhaps you can use a dwarf variety. some varieties it is too close and some varieties it will work

    • B.J. this particular boxwood is very slow growing getting only 24-30″ max so the spacing was chosen accordingly. If you are deciding on boxwood in your garden there are many different varieties to chose from depending on the application. My suggestion would be when buying them to discuss this with the sales person at your garden center before purchasing. Maryanne

  • Debbiecz says:

    Love it, love it…but I knew I would from the first peek at Mary Anne’s plan. The colors of white & green will be wonderful. And Mari, remember the first rule of urn ownership is this…do you covet the urn when empty? A truly beautiful urn won’t need to be filled to be gorgeous.

    • Amy says:

      There is a house that I drive by every day that has a beautiful urn…I don’t think they ever fill it with plants. It totally makes the house…I love it when they fill it with medium sized pumpkins in the Fall. It is more bowl-shaped, stone and probably 2 feet across.

      Also, I LOVE the view in the other direction…how peaceful.

    • Megan says:

      excellent point, well said.

  • Cindy Sue says:

    saw this when I was cruising Frontgate the other day, it’s one of the lower priced ones, but if your budget allows they have more. Good luck, your landscaping and exterior redo is coming along beautifully!

  • mrsben says:

    Looooking good Maria! (Nelson included …. hah.) Love, love the Flagstone pathway. It is something I wanted to integrate into our landscaping scheme but hubby said ‘no way’ due to the possibility of having to remove snow by hand. (We live in a snow belt region.)

    Re moving things 2″ over, know exactly what you mean however in my case it was positioning a total of 29 Perennial plants/shrubs, 182 decorative Rocks (yes I counted them but not the pebbles in the River Rock ☺) and 13 very large boulders just for the front of our home. Since not a gardener by any stretch of the imagination and preferring low maintenance I took my cue from commercial landscaping reason for the plantings etc. that I used.

    With all said, looking at the example of the concrete pedestal urns which are beautiful BTW are you considering a bird bath anywhere for feathered friends? Do hope you will as watching them can prove to be entertaining.


  • Kathy says:

    Oh my I fear I have the guy with a wheelbarrow look. I rarely get house envy but there is one that I wish I had. The owner did something amazing. They placed a pedestal in the front of their home a large bust of Shakespeare! It might sound tacky, believe me it isn’t. Of course the home was built in the 20s, made of stone with ivy creepying up the front, leaded glass windows slate roof with a gravel circular drive gravel drive in front. The urn will be beautiful all year. In fact seeing in during through all the seasons adds to the charm. And when someone else sees ugly moss I see instant atmosphere. What lovely improvements you’re making.

  • SandyCGC says:

    Looking so good! Maria. And I know the urn you choose will be one to covet whether full or empty. Can I get on the list for Nelson’s services? The little patch of courtyard that’s mine to work in my HOA-landscaped community isn’t much bigger than the area in which he’s working in the picture. If it weren’t for travel time, he could probably do the job on his lunch hour. You’re lucky to have his hands and the brain that directs them, and of course the vision of the wonderful Mary Anne White. So eager to see the final project!!!

  • Looks so much better!

  • Stella says:

    Maria, I think you are very very talented, and I enjoy your blog. But for a long time, I am baffled by the appearance of your page. It is not attractive, the colors are garish, and the appearance gives no hint at all of your design ability, which is significant. It needs to be sleeker, with beautiful color, which is your forte.

    • Maria Killam says:

      HI Stella, Yes I have worried about the yellow which on an older screen, is way too bright! Thanks for your comment! Maria

  • Joanne says:

    Restoration Hardware has a line of classic urns and planters. These are on sale:

  • BillP says:

    Would you consider a fountain instead of an urn? Shouldn’t every beautiful garden have a water feature? Mary Anne?

    • yes BillP I do think most times water of some kind brings a garden to life, but in this instance the setting doesn’t warrant it. Maria has an amazing view from these front windows that most of you have not see, and a fountain would have been overkill I fear.

  • Looks great! I can’t wait to see the final result!

  • Barbara says:

    All plantings should be kept away from the house by 18 inches or so. Anything planted under the eaves will not get natural irrigation and you certainly don’t want to have to sprinkle in that area; wet soil against the foundation can lead to problems. Our climate in BC is much drier than yours and I’ve just witnessed my next door neighbours house treated for termites.

    I feel those pedestal urns do not suit your style of house at all. Try a more informal style. It is easy to give them 4 season interest. When my summer flowers finally die from frost, I wait a couple of weeks and then replace with evergreen cuttings and red or white berry cuttings from trees and shrubs. My vow is to never buy any of these, to use stuff from elsewhere in my garden, you can make a beautiful display. You can also do a lovely autumn look with the ornamental cabbages or gourds/pumpkins but I hate to take the summer blooming flowers away too early. In the spring plant with early blooming pansies. Or do a display of curly twigs and lights for Christmas season. Lots of options. PS the birds come and eat the berries and pooped on my front step, so next year I am going to take that part away earlier.

  • Brenda B says:

    I am envious…So green and lush. I live in the high desert of Southern California. I have no grass, no trees, just a few plants in planters. The house is 6 years old and still haven’t been able to start a landscape. Someday !! it will be green and I will have some trees….

    • mrsben says:

      @Brenda B: Trust me, sometimes one can have too much green! I live in a Province where pesticides and herbicides have been banned for the past five years and ‘weeds’ are literally taking over our city. With all the rain that we have had this Season it is a constant battle to keep up with them …. it is like some bad Science Fiction movie. -Brenda- ( from the Province of Ontario, Canada)

  • Fran says:

    Looking great, Maria! I love the stone path! Can’t wait to see the finished project!

  • Marion Langford says:

    Maria…those urns look a little like the ones that Frank Lloyd Wright designed. Two links to get you started.

    Happy gardening!

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