Removing landscaping bricks around garden bed

September 18, 2011

window boxes

All of the activity we have going on in the backyard has kind of spilled over into the rest of the yard – but not in a good way. Our front and side yards have looked like the back for the past month or so – AWFUL.

With all the workers walking all over and all the STUFF everywhere and dust and dead grass and moving furniture off the deck and back on and off again – it’s not been pretty around here. So we kind of gave up on the front too.

Hubby is a fareeek about our yard too – so that tells you what a mess everything has been. We just figured we’d wait till everything was done to make the outside presentable again.

Well, the back is thisclose to done, so this weekend, I attacked the thorn in my side in the front.

Shortly after we moved in to our house, I installed landscaping bricks along the front of the house:


I also tore out all the plants and put in the azaleas and lilies. Didn’t they look great?

Then, as time went on, the plants got bigger – the lilies looked GREAT, and the azaleas did awesome too:

And check out those petunias – wowza! :)

For a few years, it looked great! But lately I’ve noticed something every time I pull up to the house. It just looked MESSY.

A hot mess to be exact:

Numerous issues were going on – (most) of our azaleas are out of control. Which is great, but a couple of them are HUGE. They’ve at least tripled their size since I planted them. Nice problem to have, I know. ;)

But the lilies are being completely choked out. You can see how big and beautiful they were before. Now they just looked like weeds coming out between the azaleas.

Speaking of weeds – I’ve just ignored them lately. The landscaping is so tight behind those bricks that I can’t even get in there to get the yucky stuff out. We have a HUGE problem with critters dropping Mulberry tree seeds – so we have random trees popping up EVERYWHERE.

(You can see one coming up behind the azalea above.)

It drives me mad. Cuckoo.

And add to that, if hubby didn’t use the weed wacker every single time he mowed, the grass just looked horrible up against the bricks.

So I thunk and I thunk and tried to figure out what to do. And I decided to take the bricks out.

I had one of those “is this allowed?” moments I sometimes have with myself – I mean, I worked my tail off installing that brick (years ago). And it took me forever to get them all level. And they weren’t cheap.

So I felt like I had to keep them there, which is just silly.

But I don’t. So they’re gone. :)

It took a while, it took some muscle. It took some weeding. MUCH weeding.

And in the end, it was different, but a good different:

landscape lighting

I still have some work to do – it needs more mulch, I need to cut into the lawn around it to keep the mulch in and clean up the line a bit, and after a good rain I’ll actually be able to get the landscaping lights down into the ground. Our soil is solid. Gah.

Eventually I want to run beds around our little sidewalk and down along the driveway and add more perennials. But for now, just clearing it out and adding a ton of mulch made a HUGE difference.

I feel like our house can breathe!

Originally I was going to just reinstall the landscaping bricks around the mulch, but goodness, those are so much work to get right and level. And I want to tie in this area with the rest of the front yard, so the bricks just won’t work anymore.

What’s especially awesome about this small change is that the landscaping lights were hidden behind the plants before, and now we have LIGHT! Over time, you couldn’t even see the spot lights on the house because the plants got so big. And it was a BEAR to get behind there to change out the teeny light bulbs in those things too.

I got a couple more lights to add to what we had, and now it’s even brighter out front.

I LOVE landscaping lighting by the way. It adds so much beauty to your house at night. And it makes it look more expensive – I swear. If you don’t believe me, drive through the fancy neighborhoods at night and check out the amazing difference landscaping lights make! ;)

And they are just so easy to install too – I just luuurve em.

While I was at it, I tore out the dead flowers from the window boxes and planted my kale and mums:

cottage style shutters  kale and mum window boxes 

I think kale is such a beautiful option for fall – they hold up great in cool temps, they are unusual and just pretty.

I throw in a few (fake) pumpkins this time of year to fill in the empty spots, and I love how it looks. The first signs of fall are showing around here! YAHOO!!

I’d like to add extend the beds even further next year, move the lilies out a bit so they can breathe, then add some annual color along the front. But going into the fall, I’m just loving the power of simplifying:

cottage style exterior

Next up – mums in the porch planters and some front porch changes! Ohhh…I’m so nervous. ;) Can you guess what I have up my sleeve?!

Are you working on any last minute landscaping? The weather is PERFECT for it and fall is great time to plant trees and bushes! I am so motivated, I’m moving on to another overgrown spot this week.

And I hope to show you the backyard this week too – once we clean it up! :)

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  1. Jill C., Camarillo, CASeptember 18, 2011 at 10:29 PM

    Your flowerbeds look awesome! Those flower boxes are terrific too--job well done Madame :) I remember a few weeks back or so you were talking about not getting much done over the summer--well you have certainly been busy lately! I truly enjoy your site, your projects and you--thanks for brightening my days.

  2. Oh yeah they look great without the could always Craigslist them;) I need to tidy up my front yard...yours looks amazing!

  3. It looks great Sarah! And you are sooo right! Landscaping lights really pump up your curb appeal. I wrote a tutorial for installing landscape lighting if anyone wants to do it themselves.

    Brittany aka Pretty Handy Girl

  4. LOVE the way it looks now!! So fresh!

  5. It looks awesome! I am trying to start a landscpaing project, I hope my azeleas do that well! :)

  6. WOW, everything looks so amazing and so well manicured. Just the kind of home you want to live right next door too! Love everything! XO ~Liz

  7. We're actually thinking about putting bricks IN! (Those exact type!)

    Should we avoid them? Any tips on leveling? Do you happen to have a post about installing them?


  8. I did some major landscaping last year about this time... Then I moved. I'm having the hardest time getting motivated to tackle my new yard.

    Yours looks great! Sometimes clearing out is just what you need to do.

  9. It looks absolutely beautiful!! You go girl!! No... I mean really.. You go- get on the plane and come do my yard girl...we need us some Thrifty Decor in North Idaho..

  10. Could you seriously come and landscape my yard for me.
    I have the same blocks, with tiny trees growing out from between them and they are so hard to pull out.
    I love what you did.
    As for your planters.....stunning.

  11. trying to get the yard cleaned up so I can start fall decorating. You've given me alot of inspiration looks amazing!!

  12. The landscaping looks great! I'm guessing you have a fescue lawn. (Down here, the Bermuda pretty much demands some type of permanent barrier, although it can scamper right over/under/through the blocks if you don't keep after it. )

  13. It looks great Sarah! It open is all up and doesn't look soo squished. The flower boxes are gorgeous. I just redid my "mantel" (top of my hutch) yesterday with Fall and I love it. The colors are just soo warm. Can't wait to see the backyard reveal. = )

    ~ Catie

    Oh, are you painting your front door?

  14. Cannot WAIT to see your backyard! You give yourself so much grief for being "lazy" over the summer but man, once the cool weather comes in you more than make up for it!!! And, BTW, *I* don't think you're "lazy" at all. . .you just comment a lot that you slow down then. . .but if you never said anything I wouldn't know the difference. . .to me your a workhorse!! Your outdoor projects are so inspiring. Just beautiful.

  15. I love beautiful landscapng with flowering things to add color. Unfortunately not only am I lousy at getting things to grow, I also HATE digging in the dirt! Unfortunately hubby isn't much better. Our front is in worse shape than usual with the drought that is going on.

    Your's, on the other hand, is simply lovely!

  16. I wish I had a knack for landscaping. Hubby does, but he's so busy. I love your beautiful landscaping.

  17. Oh it looks so pretty! And I am really starting to feel guilty about my own neglected front and back yard. Ah well there are only so many hours in a day and days in a week. But you have me inspired.

  18. Looks great; I envy your green thumb!

  19. Just gorgeous. I love your shutters. What beautiful backdrop for your plantings. 

  20. Everything looks great. I like it so much better with out the brick edge. Funny how plants grow and change what we need. I really like your lighting too. My list this week is to work on my front beds. I have some thug plants, black eyed susan and coneflower that need to be removed, so maybe I'll do some before and afters too. Nice post.

  21. I think the newest look is fantastic, Sarah! My sweet husband did some edging with brick paver thingies a few years back and it was just not great. I don't want to hurt his feelings b/c he worked so hard on it. I love the dark mulch you have!!!

  22. It really looks great. I've been on a major curb appeal kick lately. My yard was looking pretty grim. Yesterday, I actually reinstalled new garden lighting and mulch. It really does make a huge difference at night.

  23. Wow looks great! You're house def has kerb appeal :-) What type of lighting did you use? I've tried solar lights in the past but they're just too weak,(doesn't help that the UK just doesn't get sun LOL) x

  24. That looks great! Love your shutters and the fall display too.

  25. Looks beautiful. I added lighting to our front garden last year, and truth be told I used to just go out at night and stare at it, so don't be surprised if you find yourself wandering out at night.

  26. I love the window boxes with the kale, mums & little pumpkins. The colors are just beautiful!

    I've been studying your shutters in these pictures and I'm thinking they would be pretty easy to build. I need to replace mine and don't want to go with the typical vinyl louvered ones. Did you build these yourself? Any tips?

  27. Sarah, what a great lesson! Sometimes we put so much effort (and money:() into a project it's hard to realize when it needs to evolve and grow into something else.

  28. You did a great job with the bricks for the planter but when something needs to be changed, you just have to do it. The planter looks wonderful and your window boxes are awesome. Great idea to change them each season.

  29. Looks great of coarse.Have you thought of extending the stairs to the side ,like a couple of feet each side.Then round them off.Just a thought. Love the flag.

  30. it looks awesome, you did a great job! luv the idea of the fake pumpkins in the planters - never wuld have thot abt that! ur right its starting to feel like fall is coming even down here in deep Texas.

  31. Your flower gardens look great! I'm going to take out the edgers around my flower beds, too, and put in large plants and bushes. It's a major pain to try to keep the grass/weeds out. I am hoping that the shade from these things will keep the grass/weeds to a minimum. If not, hubby can get out the ol' weedeater instead of having to pull weeds and grass out all the time.
    Of note, when you are finished with your mum plants, put them in your flower beds. They can grow quite large (mine have gotten as large as four feet across) and will last a long time. I have planted several and they look beautiful! Just a thought :)

  32. As I was reading through your post, I thought, NO, she didn't, not the beautiful landscape bricks...and then, I saw your after photo and was blown away! How amazing! I love a fresh bed of mulch on a garden! It looks wonderful! Your planter boxes are so cute also. We moved from a home with extensive, gorgeous gardens, to our new house, that doesn't have one.single.perennial. It has a few trees, some wild shrubs and weeds. We'll be busy next spring getting it all spiffied up the way we want it! I may just leave the landscape bricks out of my plans now =)

  33. Your window boxes are so so beautiful! I agree - landscape lighting makes a huge difference!

  34. You can cut azaleas back and you should do so periodically. It helps keep them from getting leggy and encourages them to stay bushy. Trim them back after they bloom to avoid losing blooms the following spring as they bloom on new growth.

  35. Ooooh are yo going to paint your front door?!!! And the window boxes look fantastic, I love mums. They are so cheerful as the days get cooler and shorter. Can't wait to see your backyard reveal!!!

  36. The window boxes look Fab! Lovin the deep green, burgundy and orange contrast. Been putting off putting off mums...this jump started my motivation! I am sure they are enjoying this much needed BEEEAUTIFUL rain we are getting today.Does anyone have a primer on how to install window boxes into brick? I gotta do that.

  37. I rarely comment, but I had to stop and tell you how much I love your front yard and garden beds. Every time you post photos, I drool. (Just a little, nothing messy.) And then I pin. I love your window boxes, your shutters, your azaleas. I think your newest change is lovely, and sounds like it will work for you. That's the key!

  38. The landscaping looks so pretty. I liked the bricks the way you had it but it looks good without them too & I can imagine how much work it was getting them level! Weeds have taken over our landscaping the last couple of weeks. It's almost time to mulch again so I'm thinking I'm just letting it go & then doing it all at the same time.

  39. Oh my, what can I say but "Wow", did you ever put a lot of work in to that front flower garden!

  40. Everything looks awesome! i L O V E the window boxes. Your always inspiring, love your Blog. BTW we just got real oak hardwood hand scraped wide plank dark wood floors throughout, i could not be happier! Opened up my house so much just a little dust busting every few days. Just wanted to give my 2 cents. I know whatever you decide will be beautiful :)

  41. Looks fabulous! I NEVER get anything done during the summer, I HATE hot weather. Now that it's cooler, I can't stop with the projects. :o)

  42. It looks nice this way, but wouldn't it be much easier to just trim the bushes once a year. :-)

  43. Love the changes!! It really looks great!! Your fall flower boxes are so pretty!

  44. Wow, it looks awesome! I am sure it was a lot of work, but it was well worth it. I love the window boxes, too. Great job!

    Jane at
    Join us on Facebook!

  45. The planter looks awesome and fabulous friend to send me your blog detail
    and always inspiring, love your Blog
    Mezzanine floors

  46. that looks perfect. i love the addition of those little pumpkins. i SO want window boxes!

  47. Wow this is very inspirational. I love how you took out the bricks and put mulch! I just may very well do the same. Can you tell us what kinds of landscaping lights you use? I was considering purchasing some cheap ones off Amazon but I read the reviews and they all mention that the lights burn out very quick. If you can suggest which lights to use and what kind of mulch you use I would appreciate it!


  49. I absolutely LOVE your style! It is the epitomy ( so didn't spell that right) of what I am trying to do in my home. We are a military family so every 3 years we pick up and move. I am always excited to decorate our new home. My house has to have that homey feel ASAP. We are in Hawaii now and I am just getting my house how I want it and I still have two more years here. You are an inspiration! :)

  50. Looks great. What about the rugs? I need to get me some of those. We have a deck and a porch that could use some rugs.

  51. Absolutely LOVE your deck. So warm and inviting. I would spend all of my time there...We are thinking about a pergola like yours but was worried about the stability during storms. Is yours fastened to the deck? Is it stable during storms?
    I Love your site, so many creative and fun ideas. Keep it up!

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