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Phase 1 of my Landscaping has been Installed: Before & After

Before and afters are so satisfying aren’t they? Especially when they are this dramatic. I’m so excited to share this with you! I’m a firm believer in the power of good landscaping to transform the curb appeal of any house.

Front entrance Christmas

A fresh start

It’s kind of funny how this new house required the same kind of landscape demolition and installation as our last house. Stage one was an almost complete demo of the front property including taking out the asphalt driveway and switching it out for a gravel one. It was in the wrong place and I don’t like the look of asphalt anyway.

And obviously a concrete driveway would cost too much at this stage given the landscaping needed so much work. It’s important to have priorities when tackling a project this big!

Plan to hide anything less than pretty

The area in front of the house had 4 septic tank covers that needed to be enclosed in a garden bed so this is how it looks now (below). 

Front garden before

There will be garden beds on both sides of this pea gravel walkway and there will be a fountain here where I have the holiday deer right now (below).

Vandenburg Landscapes did all the hardscape and they did a beautiful job!

Front garden with new hardscaping

The front before

Here’s how the house looked upon possession:

Front with overgrown trees

And then after we removed the overgrown trees and shrubs:

Front with trees removed

And after!

Here’s how it looks now, ready for the holidays! Plant material will be next. But it’s already so much prettier with the curvy hardscaping.

Christmas wreaths

The back before

Moving onto the backyard, here’s the possession date photo:

back of house before

Did I mention this property was once a Christmas tree farm? Lot’s of overgrown evergreens. They are great at creating dense walls for privacy, but tend to completely block the view when they are poorly placed like this.

And after!

Here’s what it looked like after we took down the overgrown trees and before it was painted (below).

back before

And here’s how it looks now!

MaryAnne White who designed my last garden suggested boxwood clouds on both sides and since I’m obsessed with boxwood, that is what we did!

back patio after

Ugly rocks be gone!

I am so happy the craggy tumbled rocks are gone from either side of the patio. Too often people think rocks before they consider plant material. Maybe they think plants are too much maintenance. But weeding out a pile of rocks is no fun either! Plants are so much prettier and absolutely worth it.

ugly landscaping rocks

And we installed a hot tub!

new hot tub

Now the rest of the garden beds are ready for planting in the Spring!

back after

It’s amazing how much prettier the exterior looks now that it’s painted and the stone overgrouted as well.

Need a gift idea? 

My Understanding Undertones Colour wheel and my ebooks bundled together is perfect for the decorator in your life! 



Related posts:

Professionals know When to Avoid the Obvious

Which Mulch Colour is Right for Your House?

The Real Cost of DIY Advice


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  • Candice Hill says:

    Oh, Maria…it looks soooo beautiful!!! I can’t believe what a difference! It looks so fresh and crisp! Love that circle out front, and with the pretty deer!!! You are making so much headway!!! You’re amazing! Love you, Candy
    PS Sometimes I say some pretty stupid sounding stuff, but you have helped me soooo much. Thank you.

  • Mineral says:

    Hi Maria, I always love what you do. This house/yard are so wonderfully transformed. I hope it won’t be too hard to shovel that gravel driveway this winter?

    • Linda says:

      Maria has mentioned in the past that they get mostly rain in the winter. But that was my concern also-snow removal!

  • Rory Vanlandingham says:

    Ooh! It already looks sooo much better! I can’t wait to see what it looks like next summer. Finding Mary Ann was a perfect complement to your talents. ❤️

  • Stacy says:

    I love rocks in a landscape! Everyone knows they are expensive, and they aid with water drainage, so they are a plus for me! I like a mix with some greenery ideally, but where I live, we get heavy downpours, and mulch washes away. So you either have to install a border wall to contain the mulch or use rocks. Maybe where you are you only get soft rain and mulch stays where you put it.

    I’m puzzled why you put in such a small planting bed in front of the house by the circle with the reindeer. I would have made that deeper and layered it. The house is big, and that bed doesn’t fit with the dimensions of everything else.

    • Ellen says:

      Stacy, I feel like the smaller bed was the right thing to do because the focal point is that massive and beautiful front porch, not the garage area. I like how pretty and tasteful it looks.

    • Joanna says:

      A few rocks placed strategically in a garden add interest but rocks piled up by the porch is just plain ugly. Maria was right in removing those asap. Her garden in her old house was beautiful and serene and I’m sure with Mary Ann’s help this one will be too. It’s a big improvement already without even being complete.

      On the west coast we use bark mulch in our gardens. The mulch keeps down the weeds, retains moisture and makes the plantings pop and no it doesn’t wash away unless on a steep slope.

      I love pea gravel as you see in all those beautiful pictures of chateaus in France but thought it would gravitate onto my grass (dog) and how will you shovel/blow your driveway once it snows? I’m interested in your feedback, Maria, as that was what was stopping me from putting in pea gravel.

      I’m amazed at how much you have improved/changed on your home since buying, on top of a very busy job. 👏

      • Maria Killam says:

        I think the cobblestones around the pea gravel will prevent that but we will see. Thanks for your comment! Maria

        • KJG says:

          Is the driveway really pea gravel, which is rounded, or a 3/4 minus which is angular and packs down nicely? We love our 3/4 minus gravel drive, where contractor obtained high quality clean gravel. No issues with spreading into the grass, but some shoe treads can pick up rocks. But pea gravel always seems to squishy to me.

      • Melissa says:

        I love the look of pea gravel, but we replaced ours because it lodges in soles and gets tracked into the house and it shuts and thins, needing periodic replacement, which can be a matching issue. I use rocks in the landscape as a feature and a necessity, but they do require cleanup and other modes of periodic maintenance.

  • Nancy says:

    It’s going to be beautiful when it’s finished love the area where the reindeer are at.
    Looks so much prettier now .
    Everything g wa so over grown before .
    Loving all you have done

  • Anne-Louise Marlow says:

    Just stunning! You are a true artist!

  • Ellen says:

    Maria, such a transformation! It’s GORGOUS. Perfect spot for a hot tub too. Thank you for sharing this post.

  • Bette says:

    I see several other comments that echo mine — how do you remove leaves or shovel snow off a gravel driveway? Also, I’d love to see a post about how you intend (or not) to cover all the glass on your first floor doors and windows for privacy.

    • Maria Killam says:

      The gravel packs down and freezes in the winter making it easy to do. Most of my neighbours have gravel driveways and they have no issues. My windows all have roller shades but I rarely use them. I will eventually be adding panels for decoration but they will not be full closing drapes. My bedroom desperately needs drapes, I am still looking for fabric. Maria

      • Bette says:

        My husband considers me quite neurotic, but I cannot live in a house that is a fishbowl at night. As soon as the sun goes down, I draw the shades or close the blinds. Glass front doors are an especial problem. Love the look during the day, but definitely not at night.

  • JoDi says:

    What a stunner you are turning this house into! I can’t WAIT to see the beds planted in spring and how they fill in over the next few years. Such a joy to watch a garden develop!

  • Susan S says:

    Wow, tis the season to be jolly for more than the usual reasons!

  • Lorri says:

    Looking so much better!!! I love that your landscaper calls them “boxwood clouds”.

  • Sheree L says:

    MaryAnne is as much of a genius as you are, Maria! Your home and yard are looking amazing 🙂 It’s so fun to share this journey with you!

  • Fran W. says:

    So pretty, Maria. I hope you’re enjoying the holiday season in your lovely new home!

  • Linda says:

    Are the septic tank covers still there? I don’t see them!

  • Beth says:

    OMG I know this is a landscaping post, but I just can’t believe how much better the back of the house looks after it was painted! It looks like you have more windows and the whole thing is lighter and airier! Makes me happy to look at it. ❤️

  • Great transformations!!!!

  • Melissa says:

    Wow!!! So beautiful. Definitely a dream house. I would love to have a house like that. And the view and old trees that you cleaned up all look amazing.

  • Melinda says:

    Pea gravel is such an excellent environmentally beneficial choice. Pea gravel allows water to pass through and return water to the earth. Plus it’s gorgeous! And very French country house-ish, too. And you love it. A win, win, win, win on all points.

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