January 19, 2015

Before and After Photos of VW Garden

Who doesn't love before and after photos?  Here are some shots to show the changes we have made to our landscape since we moved into our home nearly eight years ago.  The poor quality photo (sorry, it was all I could find) on the left shows the house when we bought it in late spring 2007, and the one on the right shows it seven years later.

We hired help to complete a large landscaping project in the front yard in February 2010.  The photos above show the project in process (left) and the new 'lawn river' (right) between the expanded flower beds.

I didn't have a good shot of this angle from 2014, so the 'after' photo from 2012 above doesn't show how large the cherry tree is now.  But you can see how the porch and surrounding flower beds were changed during the 2010 project.  Removing the railing, replacing it with a stone-based column, and adding wide steps across the front of the porch helped this side of the home to better balance the large garage.

The front yard used to feel very flat and open, but now maturing trees, shrubs and perennials add layers of height to create interest.  Houses in our neighborhood are built close together, and I think large trees help to make them feel more separate.

These photos aren't exactly the same angle, but on the left you can see how small the flower bed on the west (left) of the house used to be.  During the 2010 project, we took out all of the grass on this side of the house and created a flagstone path with planting areas on either side.  Now instead of walking past the garden on the way to the backyard, you walk through it.  Stone facing, shutters on the window and trellises also enhanced the area.
In April 2013 we completed a large landscaping project in our backyard.  I drew the plans, but we hired a landscaping company to carry them out.  The landscapers used large equipment to remove the lawn all around the edges of the backyard, install a barrier to hold back the neighbor's invasive aspen tree roots, and create a flagstone path that circled the yard with spurs running down the east and west sides of the home.  I hesitate to show "After" photos of the backyard because it doesn't feel mature yet, but I'll do it anyway and then update them in a few years.
Back in 2008 my husband (with 'help' from our son) cut out little circles of lawn to plant trees in the backyard.  Those trees, six lilac shrubs and the center of the lawn were the only plants left in place during the 2013 project.  By 2014, the trees had grown quite a bit and the southwest corner of the backyard (just inside the gate) included shrubs, perennials, flagstone path, and not a bit of lawn. 
The photo at left shows the west side of the backyard in late 2008, including the baby trees we planted earlier that year.  The photo at right is from a different angle but shows how the west of the backyard was full of large trees, shrubs and perennials by 2014.   The landscapers did the biggest projects in 2013, but after they finished my husband hauled 20 cubic yards of soil and 15 cubic yards of bark to the backyard.  Then he planted or transplanted over 100 shrubs for me, using a pick axe for most of the holes since our native soil is so rocky. 
The northwest corner of the backyard was empty of anything except lawn originally, but by early 2013 we ("we" as in I directed and my husband dug) had cut out a flower bed around the trees as you see above left.  During the 2013 project the flagstone path was installed in front of the old mound and we created a new mounded bed on the other side of the path.  This area has been the hardest one for me to design, and I'm still waiting to see if it comes together as it matures or if it needs more refining.
I didn't have a photo of the barren northeast corner of the backyard from right after we moved in, and by early 2013 we had created a veggie garden around the tree in the corner as you see above at left.  As part of the backyard makeover, we installed a higher quality swing set, which you can see at right. 
This last set of photos shows the changes to the southeast corner of the backyard, which was as empty as the rest of the backyard in 2007.  By 2010 my husband had planted trees along the fence and dug out flower beds around them, and I had planted many shrubs and perennials.  The 2013 project removed the rest of the lawn and replaced it with flagstones, and we have planted quite a few more plants since then. 
Even as I wish for the gardens to be more mature, these photos remind me that we have accomplished a lot in eight years . . . in addition to going from two kids to four and keeping up with the rest of life. Capturing photographs for this blog has helped me to see the beauty along the way, and being able to share that beauty with others has been a joy.  Thanks for visiting.


  1. You're right--I do love before and after photos! It looks so inviting now! I'm especially impressed with how many trees you've added. I need to add trees this year.
    I've also been going through last year's pictures, with a wistful sigh. Good project for January, I guess! :)

  2. Oh my! the transformations you have made over the years are amazing. You have created a beautiful outdoors around your home. Love this before and after stuff. :)

  3. HI VW,

    It's very easy to forget just how much things have changed, as well as forgetting just how beautiful it all was - especially during winter.
    I love looking back on old photos, especially when it reminds me that things weren't actually that bad, but for some reason in my head it was.

    I think you've made amazing changes, and the 'new' back garden is looking amazing already.

  4. You've accomplished a lot! Your garden looks lovely and peaceful, with all the varying shades of purple flowers. I love all the flagstones. Has it inspired any neighbors to redo their flat lawns?

    1. Indie, none of the neighbors are crazy gardeners like me, no. Their lawns are all safe, but I have shared perennials starts with various friends around here to put in existing flower beds.


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