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Renovating my House

The Devil is in the Details: Update on my Landscape Project

By 05/20/2013October 16th, 201840 Comments

I emailed Mary Anne these pots I found at HomeSense.

What do you think?

They’re great, she said, Buy them.


When I was standing at the register someone else walked up and said.

Anymore of those?


Are you really buying them?


Pot placement

Then I had to call her to discuss pot placement.  Saturday, my mason was here installing the extension to the portico.

Mary Anne originally wanted me to have it taken out because she wanted it to be big enough so that the column could actually sit on the portico instead of dangling beside it. Also, she recommended that it be replaced with one that actually looked like a column instead of a post. We did move the downspout behind it, you can see in the first image, it’s in the front of the skinny post.

New column design

The new column will be similar to this one (above).


Then she posted this image (above) to my Pinterest board that she adds to continually. Yesterday I ran right out to Minter Country Gardens to duplicate it.

They didn’t have the fat green ones or any coordinating purple succulents that were in the photo so the clerk took me to the greenhouse.

Succulent heaven

There were rows and rows of every kind of succulent you can imagine.

I seriously almost wept with joy I thought it was so beautiful.

You have to remember, I am basically a city girl. I did grow up on some acreage but my mom was mostly into vegetable gardening.

I think Mary Anne has told me three times already what the difference is between an annual and a perennial.

Hey I design interiors people, outside is an entirely different situation, haha.

At the Nursery

Here’s what I picked up (below). One of them had 3 green flowery looking ones in one pot but I broke two of them before I got them out of the pot! I had to take my gloves off in a hurry. And the leaves are so delicate too, I accidentally broke off so many of them.


I can’t wait to see what it looks like when the danglers start to grow.

Finished pots

With my screen door open, you can hardly see it?? Haha.

I know, I know, you hate it, don’t bother to comment, I do too. Terreeia won’t let me take it off. She lets me do almost everything else exactly the way I want so sometimes you have to compromise.

The reason I did not take out the portico is because this project is already so expensive, I had to stop somewhere.

So then Mary Anne drew the treads so they went all the way around the portico to extend it.

But then we got the quote for that and I said, “I’m not doing it”.

So then she drew an L so that it wrapped around that still created a spot for the column to sit.

I called her laughing after I got yet another drawing with the portico extended.

“I know what you’re doing because I do it with my clients all the time.” I said. “I just keep saying the same thing in a different way until they get it.”

There are some elements of design that have to be done right or it kills the entire look.

Flagstone pathway

Here’s a sneak peak of the finished flagstone pathway. The column is still under construction as you can see. I love the way she designed the path so that it doesn’t end exactly where the step does She liked the fact that it looks a little more informal this way. Mary Anne doesn’t miss a single detail.

When my mom arrived to see it she said, “This pathway makes you want to skip and dance all the way to the front door.”

My friend Tami arrived yesterday for a visit and she said, “It’s like walking in a storybook”.

Mary Anne's Drawing

Here’s what the front yard will look like when it’s finished. The boxwood hedges are going in next weekend. Our landscaper is working on another project right now so I have to share him for a couple weeks.

It’s our Victoria Day Long weekend, gotta run for some Baileys and coffee with our friends.

Have a great week everyone!

Related posts:

What Colour should your Concrete Driveway be?

The Two Kings of Muck Mountain on Elizabeth Avenue

It Takes a Village to Own a Home

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  • Wendy says:


    Your landscaping will look lovely, I’m sure!

    Just an FYI, a lot of succulents will root and create a new plant if you take a broken bit and stick it into damp potting soil so that part of it is submerged in the soil It’s very easy to multiply your collection that way.

    • Amy says:

      Yes! In just a mere few months you will have enough succulents for the backyard, for the inside, and to share with all of your neighbors. Don’t blow all of the budget landscaping the front…if you are like most people, the back yard is where you live. I help friends with landscaping/gardening and tell them to spend the money where THEY will see it…which is usually the back from being there or looking out the windows.

  • BillP says:

    What a find with those urns! They blend beautifully.
    Regarding your storm door, why don’t you paint it the color of your entry door? Then you will have the full impact of the green. And it’s almost time for the screens!

    • Cherie says:

      Yes, painting the two doors exactly the same color makes them read as one. My friend did that and when I saw how well it worked, I did the same thing. What a difference it made to our entry.
      I love your entrance, Maria. From the driveway to your front door, it is so welcoming!

      • mairi says:

        A quick version is to paint the middle bar out the same as the main door and leave the white perimeter of the door to blend in with the white trim. From the street it disappears.
        Love those planters and the Donkey Tails succulents.

  • What a gorgeous yard you’ll have! Seeing the hostas in the large pots reminds me I want to do that too…after we build our new front step.

    I actually had an interior decorating client who liked my work so much he hired me to design his yard too. The conversation went like this: Me: “Ummm….well I could but I actually decorate interiors.” He said “Yeah, but wouldn’t you use a lot of the same principals of balance, proportion, etc. for landscape design?” Yup! I did the exterior design too 🙂 He loved it!

    Can’t wait to see your finished project! It’s gorgeous so far.

    • Paula Van Hoogen says:

      Yes, Maria…eventually you can figure landscaping too! Just a different medium—same principles!

  • tara dillard says:

    Praises on high! That post was on my last nerve. I knew it was going.

    Garden & Be Well, XO Tara

  • BillP says:

    Maria, while you have the carpenters onsite, would you consider having them beef up the frames around the two bedroom windows on the right? It’s not a difficult (or expensive) thing to do and would add some weight to that side of the house. I’ve seen it done on “Curb Appeal” many times!

  • Amy says:

    What a beautiful way to accessorize the outside! Those pots have drainage holes in them right? 🙂

  • Susan@Susan Silverman Designs says:

    Maria, you crack me up with your lack of knowledge of the exterior. Everything will be beautiful and I love the idea of the succulents. As far as you screen door is concerned, have you ever given any thought to a Phantom screen door. They are fabulous and will not hide your amazing green door. You just pull it out when needed. Love the Homesense pots! What a find.

    Much love, Susan

  • Franki says:

    What a find those pots were!! Beautiful!! I LUV THE COLUMN…WOW! franki

  • Kimberly says:

    Can’t wait to see it finished – it’s shaping up beautifully!

  • Mdrive says:

    those planters are FANTASTIC! i hesitate to say however (especially writing to a color expert!) that i think maybe staining them a colour for a bit more contrast to your siding might give them even more punch….the succulents look perfect, maria….keep up the good work!

    • Maria Killam says:

      Well I’ll have a concrete planter nearby in front of the living room window so we want them to be the same colour. I’m okay with them that colour, they relate to the stone and are just like a pair of jeans in my opinion. Maria

  • Kara May says:

    I love your planters and the green door. Your planters are gorgeous! I can’t wait to see everything finished!

  • Beth says:

    Maria, you could interview 100 landscape designers and still not find a Mary Anne. She’s phenomenal.

    In our yard we’re slowly removing the non-native plants that are invasive, and replacing them with native. The invasives can choke out good plants, and not provide food or shelter for the good insects and wildlife. And birds carry the seeds into the forest to do more damage. We’ve all seen massive vines covering trees off the highways.

    Nurseries still sell the worst of the invasives – like English ivy and burning bush – since people don’t know. As a native plant nursery owner told me once, “there’s nothing green about this business except the $$.” The top 8 invasives aren’t allowed in our community but there’s no publicity to teach people.

    (We are keeping non-natives that sit there being polite.)

    Sorry, off my soapbox. You will smile every time you drive home.

  • Mary says:

    I agree with the others…paint your storm door green.
    When you leave your front door open to catch the summer breezes, you will still have that pop of color for your neighbors to enjoy. And no bugs flying in.

  • Paula Van Hoogen says:

    Way cool! The mat and frame for your home–the landscape! Ok, I have one TINY suggestion. Mary Anne’s drawing shows more of a soft curve where the driveway stones meet the walkway stones. It appears from the photo that there is an abrupt V
    turn there now. I know you will always want to cut that corner. I would have the stone layers put another stone(s) at that juncture to make it flow better & traffic go in a more natural direction.

    • Maria Killam says:

      HI Paula,
      Actually the drawing has been tweaked since she drew this first one. . . so it is installed like she’s designed it currently. Plant material will soften everything. Maria

  • It’s all looking really good! Once you get more into gardening and landscaping, you’ll see how creative you can be.

  • Janet says:

    In the plans it looks like the flagstone ends at the step. From here, I think it looks odd to have the path stop abruptly before the step. The cement urns and your plantings are perfect. I’d be interested to know how you feel about painting the screen door green, too.

    • Maria Killam says:

      It looks odd without the context of plant material obviously. Mary Anne liked that it created a look that was a little more informal.

      Regarding the screen door, Mary Anne suggested that as well, I have never seen a metal screen door painted, plus you still have the reflection from the window (it has a retractable screen) so I am not sure it would make enough of a difference which is why I’m not running to paint it yet. Maria

  • Pursuit says:

    I have to add my vote for a retractable screen. We just had a Wizard Screen installed two days ago and I love the fresh air moving through the house. The “touch” of an environment isn’t often part of interior design but this small change makes our home feel totally different. The screen, for a full sized front entry door was $397. Amazingly, the frame we picked is exactly the same color as our existing trim and not even visible. I think painting the screen would be vastly more trouble and probably as costly when you consider the value of your time.

  • flowergirl says:

    I love your containers, I think you should tuck some “Diamond Frost’ Euphorbia into them for filler and color to light the shade.

  • Mel says:

    I am totally in heart with those pots. Nice choice.

  • Barbara says:

    Hi Maria,
    You might find gardening difficult, as many times so much of what happens seems out of your control….

    Do these planters have drainage holes? I doubt it. You should have someone drill holes in them, you don’t want the water sitting in the bottom, which would kill the plants. Also be careful of cracking during any periods of freezing temperatures if they are wet.

    Succulents like those pictured like plenty of strong sun (although I have some in pretty deep shade and they survive but don’t flourish) and need only a tiny bit of water ie. can live on almost none if you have humid air, which I believe you do. So do not overwater! They look very pretty in the pot, nice idea!

  • Angela says:

    Looking good, can’t wait to see the finished results.

  • Nancy B says:

    Maria , when you break off the little succulent plants just put the broken side down in the dirt. They are amazing little plants and will usually root for you from the exposed edge. Probably a little late now but something to remember if you break any more.

  • Momlady says: you hate the screen door…fair enough. But is it the idea of the screen door or just this door in particular? I live in Memphis, TN and I see a lot of decorative security doors with the screen option. Maybe not the overly busy ones for your home, but there are some very attractive geometric….think Frank Lloyd Wright-ish… ones ( with lots of negative space in the central portion of the door ) that could add a design interest…as well as giving everyone the screen option. Just a thought.

  • Debbiecz says:

    Flagstones around the front pad is a perfect compromise, pots are gorgeous. On to the screen dilemma. It might not be in the budget this year but consider a roll-away screen. My husband installed one on our laundry/garage entry so we can get air circulation when desired but the screen isn’t there for our everyday usage. It disappears into the framework. At first I balked thinking it would be hideously ugly but now I don’t even see the frame. It’s pretty ingenious.

  • Sandy says:

    I want to paint the storm door (interchangeable glass/screen). It has been 2 years and still can’t go there. Would love to see examples if anyone has done this. One of my wild thoughts was to paint the door a deep teal green and the storm door an eggplant to at least have more than some interest. Of course paint can always be changed.

    I really like how you extended the portico, buildt up with slate. Succulents are really popular now, will these stay on the porch all year round? My ground cover succulents are fine during the snow, but wondering about potted.

  • Mary Jane Sorensen says:

    Hi Maria,

    Love your pots with succulents. Your landscaping is coming along great!
    For the screen door why don’t you put in a phantom screen door, they are great as they fold in when not in use and will not take away from your lovely front door.

  • Kelly H. says:

    Maria, I absolutley LOVED your planters! I was lucky enough to find them at our Homesense. While they were not on sale here, they were worth every penny! I took a page from your book and planted the tall one with succulents. Thanks so much for the inspiration. 🙂

  • Mary says:

    Your green front door is so happy and welcoming! I’m sure the info is somewhere, but would you mind posting the color in this thread? Thanks.

    Great planters, the shapes and color are the perfect backdrop for the greenery. Don’t you just love succulents; so many cute little plants! Wish I had room in my back yard to turn a tiered concrete fountain into a succulent planter.

  • karen says:

    Great planters. love the succulents. I especially like your flagstone walkway that Mary Anne designed. What exactly is the difference between Landcape designer and landscape architect? You mentioned Mary Anne is you landscape architect? would a designer also been able to design what she did as well? or only certain parts.

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