Front Yard Lanscape Project - Zone 1

13 Materials
$195
4 Days
Easy

Last summer, I updated the landscape in the front yard. The Hosta plants along the sidewalk that leads to our front door were growing over the grass making it hard to mow without taking out some of their leaves in the process. We also had an area on the East side of the lawn where the grass did grow well due to the tree roots from our neighbors Walnut tree. Then, I wanted to address the area around the tree in the yard that is at the top of a slope making it really hard to mow around. Lastly, I decided to enlarge the flower bed on the East side of the house. So....I broke up the project into 4 Zones. Here is Zone 1 - Hosta bed & front flower garden enlargement.....

Hosta bed - 10 years ago

Do you have any Hosta plants? If you do, you know those babies grow like crazy! When we moved into the house in 2001, the flower bed along the sidewalk in the front of our house had rose bushes and Hosta plants. We transplanted the rose bushes to the back yard, leaving the Hostas alone in the flower bed. They loved the extra space and it wasn't long before they had grown enough to touch each other.Over the years, I have divided these plants many times. The first time was to add some to the backyard flower beds - there are 11 plants in there. The next year, I divided them and planted them in the East flower beds creating 10 new plants. After that, I had run out of transplant areas so I started giving them to friends about every other year so they have been divided no less than 10 times. If you don't have any Hosta plants and want some hearty, large-leaved plants, you can't go wrong with these. They love the shade but have adapted well in the backyard where the sun shines on them most of the day.

Hosta bed before start of project

It's been a couple of years since the Hostas in the front flower bed have been divided so they have outgrown their space. It's already too late in the season to divide them easily, so we decided to enlarge the flower bed by removing some of the lawn. Hubby thought 18" would be sufficient but I ended up taking up 24" of sod since I was measuring from the brick line and not the edge of the Hosta leaf line. I'm sure I could have removed more sod as the plants seem to have grown more in the few weeks since I started on this project.There are sod cutters you can rent but I've always just pulled the sod up by hand. Sometimes it comes up pretty easy and other times, it's a bit of a struggle. I've found that if the grass and dirt are a bit moist, the job is easier. If there are trees close by and you run into small roots that are intertwined with the soil, it is more difficult. I keep a small garden cutting tool with me to cut those viney roots away from the soil as I'm pulling up the sod. 

Ready to remove sod

To begin the process, I outline the area where I'll be removing the sod by laying a yardstick on the ground to use as a guide for the size of space I need - super fancy, huh? Once the line is marked, I use a garden shovel to cut through the sod to the soil, making that cut about 2" deep.

Sod removed

Once that is done, I use the shovel to cut the length into 1' sections; doing so creates pieces that are easy to remove and use in a new location. To remove the sod, using a garden knee pad, I get down on my knees and use a small garden rake to pry the sod from the ground. As each piece is loose, I place it in my garden wagon and when the wagon is full, I take it to a location where I can store the sod until the project is finished.After I removed the sod and set it aside. I removed the red brick border and took the 40+ bricks to the backyard to be used at some other time. Little did I know that 'some other time' would be soon!

Shopping for edging

When all the sod was removed from the flower bed, it was time to add a new brick edging. I wanted to use grey this time so I went shopping to see what the choices were. One of the local builders' supply stores had an interesting option, called a bullet brick. I liked that look and that they would work well edging around curves, plus, they were on sale for $1.19 so I bought 40. I would end up having to buy a few more to finish this section of the project. The bricks they had in stock had a design on the top - I liked them much better than the plain ones in this display.

Laying the bricks

I laid the bricks along the new edge of the Hosta bed. When that was done, I laid down some newspaper to help keep the weeds at bay. I read about this on some landscaping sites as an economical and environmentally friendly option. From what I read, you lay it down and wet it well then add the soil. It'll be interesting to see how it works! I already had the newspaper, so this ended up being free.***Update.....the newspaper has done well to control the weeds! Better than when I've used landscape cloth.

New Hosta bed size

With the newspaper down, it was time to add soil to raise the height of the ground to match the existing flower bed depth. We used top soil that we bought from Lowes.


Enlarging flower garden

Enlarging flower garden

Once the Hosta bed was enlarged, I thought it would be nice to continue the process with the rest of the front flower bed. The sod in front of the Hostas came up in nice, intact pieces but the closer I got to the large front yard tree, the more difficult it was to remove the sod due to the tree roots being close to the surface. I used my little garden clippers tool a lot!

Old size of flower bed

New size of flower bed

With the sod removed, I laid down the rest of the newspaper I had on hand then used some landscape cloth that was left over from the backyard project last year. It'll be a study in which method abates weeds better! Next step was laying the brick and filling the space with soil to match the existing flower bed level.

Added more stepping stones

I had 3 stepping stones in the old flower bed so the yard could be accessed from the east side of the porch. Now that the bed was larger, I needed to add more. I had the two 8" x 12" cement ones, also left over from the backyard project, but I needed more. The store where I bought the round aggregate one years ago no longer carries them but I did find square ones at another location and bought two which gave me a total of 7 stepping stones. To set the stones, I removed a bit of the new soil so they would sit down just a bit and be level.

Finished flower bed

Because the tree roots run under this flower bed, instead of trying to plant flowers, I decided to use planters. I had a metal oval planter in my garden supply stash and then bought 4 metal ones at Walmart that I found in their home section. They are containers to be used when entertaining were actually less than the price of actual planters. I bought 2 square ones, 1 large tub and 1 oval one. Their prices ranged from $6.48 to $9.98. I drilled a few holes in the bottom of each then planted some petunias that Lowe's had on sale - 12" pots for $5 ea! Such a deal!!

Instructions

  • Measure the size of the area where you are removing sod
  • Mark with a line or garden hose or use a yardstick
  • Using a garden shovel, cut through the soil along the line for the new area
  • Pull up the sod and set aside

  • You can use the shovel to loosen the sod or a small garden rake
  • Use edging bricks to line the new area
  • Lay down either newspaper or landscape cloth
  • Cover with soil to the depth you want - 2-3"
  • Set potted plants in the location of your choice
  • Set stepping stones by moving a little soil so they are buried just a bit


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Jeanne

Want more details about this and other DIY projects? Check out my blog post!

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Have a question about this project?

3 of 6 questions
  • Mary Russell
    on May 24, 2020

    how will you keep grass and weeds from starting in your new topsoil?

    • Darla
      on May 24, 2020

      I always used newspapers when I gardened. Got them already so they were free and worked well for me. However, I put mulch on top of the newspapers not dirt. Seeds will start in dirt easier than in mulch. I also used a hose to outline my garden area that way I could lay it out and look at it overall to see if I liked the shape or wanted to change it somehow.

      I like the way yours turned out. It's neat and tidy.

  • Virginia Macko
    on May 24, 2020

    How do you divide hosts plants

    • Jeanne
      on Jun 18, 2020

      Hi Ka - thanks! Yes, the hostas grow like crazy! You'll need to move those sheep statues so you can enjoy them

  • Flipturn
    on Jun 17, 2020

    How many inches did you dig down below the bullet pavers, and did you put crush to support them? If not, at some point in the future, when they start leaning, and no longer holding their position, this will need to be done.

    • Flipturn
      on Jun 17, 2020

      You're welcome. If you want to continue walking on the stepping stones, they will need to be reinforced underneath in the same way.

Join the conversation

4 of 95 comments
  • Debi L
    on Jun 1, 2020

    Just want to share a bit from my experiences from several projects using newspaper. Love it! To clear areas for several new beds, I used newspaper to eliminate weeds a couple months before starting beds. Worked so well (if steps done in certain order), I had to cut through the newspaper to add some larger plants because shovel pushed paper deeper.


    Jeanne had read, "you lay it down and wet it well..." I had read the same thing. To create a barrier, flip that instruction. First flower bed using newspaper took a lot of water running off before newspaper would get soaked and sheets didn't stick together well. Quickly dip sheet of paper in water, then lay it down. Repeat. Overlap each sheet by several inches. Continue to add until layers 2 - 3 sheets thick. Cover with soil, or use bricks/rocks to hold in place.


    Newspaper truly impressed me on one project. Area under and around cedar tree overgrown with common periwinkle. The vining groundcover behind fence had overtaken shrub beds in front of fence, and was extending into grass. I tried to control, then to get rid of, periwinkle 4 - 5 years, including digging, spraying, cutting, spraying, tilling, raking, smothering under clear plastic in Mississippi direct afternoon sun, spraying and burning it. Periwinkle came back stronger every time.


    I gathered up big stack of paper, some spare bricks and rocks to hold in place, and large tray of water. Started project thinking it would help, though probably not complete or permanent solution. Ten years later, no periwinkle. None.



    • Jeanne
      on Jun 1, 2020

      Thanks for all the info Debi! 10 years is a good amount of time! I wouldn't have thought about wetting the paper before laying it down or using it to kill weeds first. I am impressed with how the newspaper has worked so far in the areas I used it last year!

  • Karen
    on Jun 1, 2020

    I don't have a question, but under your tree you could use sedums.😊 There are so many beautiful varieties and different heights of growth to choose from. Plus they withstand cold temps!

    • Jeanne
      on Jun 1, 2020

      Thanks for the suggestion! I didn't know what sedums looked like so I did a little research. They are very nice!

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