Turn a Meh Corner Garden Corner Into a Wow in 6 Easy Steps

Elena K, Hometalk Team
by Elena K, Hometalk Team
8 Materials
3-4 Hours
Once upon a time this used to be my favorite corner: a small herb garden, where I grew plants for cooking and herbal concoctions. There was rosemary and thyme, sage, mint and lavender. And plenty of flowers.
But a few years of neglect and a termite nest-we have subterranean termites, the exterminator explained-turned a beautiful corner into an eyesore.
Until now.
Why did I wait so long? I LOVE my new corner!
With a little TLC, I'm ready to bring it back to its old splendor this weekend.

Before getting started, I need to sit-or stand-and make a plan. Here're my steps:

1. Let's plan it!

2. Get the area cleaned

3. Build the soil and Plant

4. Add Mulch

5. Create visual interest

6. Cover and Hide the ugly areas
Really - this corner needs some love. Pronto!
I can see the potential: a nice orange honeysuckle on one side, and a trellised red trumpet vine-that will flower throughout the summer-frame the area.

There are also bright orange lilies bushes next to the trellis.

And a nice space between the garden and the window where I can put some potted plants to cover unappealing parts of the wall-i.e. two vents, a spout, and plenty of cable wires (courtesy of Time Warner!)

So here I am, trying to figure out what went wrong.

- The soil seems depleted and plants look unhealthy > Solution: I need to add a good organic fertilizer

- The area is in shade most of the day > Solution: trim the large cherry tree in front to provide

more sun, and get plants that thrive in low to moderate sun

- Looks so boring! Solution: create interest with layers, colors, and by adding plants of different heights and shapes

I also have a few constraints:

- The electrical meter and garden spout are right behind the trellis, so I need to leave an open path to walk in and out.

- The hose will be connected to the spout in the wall, for which I need clearance.

- I also need to figure out where to keep the hose so it doesn't damage the plants when we're moving it around to water the garden.

With all this in mind, let's get started!


Tools & materials you'll need for the project
Here's what I need:

- Manure or organic mix to build the soil

- Mulch: since the walls are in red brick, I'm going with black for contrast

- Large shovel

- Small garden trowel

- Basic garden tools: shears, and a small cultivator/rake and a weeder

- Garden gloves: you don't want to ruin that manicure! ;)

- Plus a couple of plants: got two large plants with flowers and I'm also going to use a

few cuttings from other parts of the garden.

To accomplish my goal, I gave myself a $40 budget to buy soil and mulch, plus a couple of plants. I already had the tools, and plenty of cuttings and ground covers that I'll put here.

Let's see if I can keep it! :)


Not bad, right? It's already looking better!
Put your cloves on to clean whatever debris you have.

Then, remove weeds and trim bushes. I plucked and trimmed the border on the right, which happens to be a large oregano bush. Bees love it and it tastes great in pasta dishes!

I also have a few scrawny gladiolus all the way in the back, close to the honeysuckle. They need more sun so I'm going to move them to a better location.


Place potted plants in tentative spots
Resist the urge of digging holes and place your plants (still in pots) in different areas until you find a layout you like.

I'm putting the large bushes by the honeysuckle and the smaller cuttings close to the trellis, leaving a path in between to access meter and hose spout.

Once you find your perfect spot, grab your shovel and start making holes.

One more thing: let's not forget about the soil!
Fertilize before & after planting each bush
Since I also need to rebuild the soil before putting each plant in, I'll to give it a good start with a nice shot of fertilizer.

In a watering can, I'm mixing organic fish emulsion with water and pouring a generous amount on each hole.

I'll wait until the water is almost absorbed by the soil to plant. After planting, I'll do another watering.
One side done, let's do the other!
With my right side done, and while I'm still moving pots on the left around, I'm bringing in a couple of large stones-just to see how I like them.

Hum, I think they add some interest!
Look around-What can you use to add interest?
Look around and think what else can you use here to create a fun area: stones, pebbles, perhaps markers, candle holders or old vintage items are good options.

Anyway, let's move the stones out the way and finish with the planting.

Next is adding a nice layer of manure. You can also do compost, or other organic topsoil you have handy.


What a difference the mulch does!
Time for mulching and to sit for a minute-or two. So, what do you think?

It's really coming along.

I'm happy with my color choices: the mulch really makes the area pop and the red leaves from a couple of bushes add some interest.


Clusters of stones will add visual interest
We're almost there and I can't wait to see how it turns out.

Now it's time to bring the stones back! The first group goes in the center, all the way in the back.
How about a cute candle holder?
Then another cluster on the left, where I'm going to anchor a little candle holder I found somewhere else in the garden.
To hide now those ugly vents in the back wall, I'll use potted plants that like medium sun.

A fairly large palm tree, a jade, and small tree seedlings with do the trick. They blend so well that you can hardly notice them.

But if you look at the previous image, you'll see what a difference they make!
And here it is!
Oh. One last touch:

I placed a bird ornament in a third cluster of stones, right in the middle. My eye will travel from the candle holder to the ornament, the taller bushes and then the plants in the back.

Also put the hose behind the trellis and tied it up a few feet off the ground, so it won't damage the plants when I move it around.

Now, I can't wait for the trumpet and the lilies to bloom.

Why did I wait so long? It was such an easy and rewarding project!

The grass can use some TLC but I'll leave that up to hubster while I tackle my next project:

A nice window box filled with herbs and flowers! So stay tuned for that one!
Suggested materials:
  • Manure or organic mix to build the soil   (home / garden center)
  • Mulch or wood chips   (home / garden center)
  • Large shovel   (home / garden center)
See all materials
Frequently asked questions
Have a question about this project?
  3 questions
  • Clou77 Clou77 on Jun 03, 2016
    Looks great! Did you manage to stay in your $40 budget range?

  • Lionnessone Lionnessone on Jun 03, 2016
    This is going to sound dumb, what are subterranean termites and what do they look like. Thank you.

  • Mary Mary on Jun 04, 2016
    Maybe I missed it, but is that an air vent or a dryer vent on the left wall? Won't that air harm the plant(s) in front of it? I had to move some plantings due to our hot water vent on one side and the heat / ac on the other.

Join the conversation
2 of 41 comments
  • Carmen Bissonnette Carmen Bissonnette on Jun 29, 2016
    Love it, I would put a chair or a bench with a canopy to sit and read and relax and enjoy, and meditate, maybe a bird bath too, try for sharing.

  • Janine Janine on Aug 22, 2019

    I would love to know the name of the variegated plant in the close up.

    Great job on the project!