Decorating & Design

Before & After: How To Revamp A Plain Exterior With Plants & Shutters

Even before I was in love with houses, I was in love with gardening. I’ve always dreamed of the day I would have my own yard and place to garden, and so it was with much anticipation and excitement that I started digging in my new plot.

If you missed my previous posts on the new house, click here.

Fortunately for me, our house came like this, with some existing shrubs and foundation plantings. Looking back on this shot now, I am really glad we painted the trim and got some much-needed shutters! Sheesh!

Once we’d taken possession of the house, I was itching to work on the garden. Before we even moved in, I showed up one day with a pick-up truck full of plants and soil.

I bought these iris through Craigslist, if you can believe it! All I had to do was show up and dig ’em out! It saved me a ton of cash!

When beginning a garden like this, it’s really important to amend the existing soil — especially if it’s dry or high in clay. Add lots of organic matter like composted manure and compost and your plants will thank you for it. Here, I was digging up the old soil, putting it on a tarp, adding organic matter to the hole and then returning the soil from the tarp to the hole. It was a lot of work!

Here are the results around June. The iris were blooming beautifully and there were some foxgloves (one of my favourite flowers) blooming, too!

I especially loved these peachy coloured poppies that I found at my local Walmart. They’re actually kind of a special and rare variety and bloomed like this the first season. I can’t wait to see what they do this year!

For the front entrance, I wanted to soften the stucco archway with some sort of vine or climber. It’s not a great idea to plant vines that cling to the stucco (may cause damage) and I didn’t want a trellis sticking out like a sore thumb all winter, so I opted for annual morning glory vines. I bought these two big potted morning glories because I started late (June) with them and this would catch me up. Normally you’d plant them from seed.

To create a support for the morning glories, I attached string to eye hooks in the eaves and tied them to paint sticks that I hammered into the ground. This way the string blended into the colour of the stucco and the vines had something to grow up.

See what I mean? They climbed quickly and well.

By midsummer, the whole arch was covered in lush foliage and I had the casual, tumbley garden effect I was after. Argh, this house still needed some shutters at this point! At least I’d painted the trim!

If you want to see the after shots of the house and gardens, check out our June 2011 issue, on stands now!

For more garden tips, check out our Easy To Grow Plants & Blooms photo gallery.

Photo credits:
Michael Penney