Small Backyard Makeover: Before and After

When I first bought my house, my tiny city lot was overwhelmingly unkempt. Despite avoiding my backyard at all costs, I remember a massive Rose of Sharon that was in full bloom that gave me hope of things to come.

That hope was misdirected, though, because I ended up ripping the Hawaiian looking beauty out. I didn’t know much about gardening at the time, but those plants can be pretty invasive, especially in a small yard. It was getting into my gutters and little baby Rose of Sharon was popping up everywhere!

Regardless, I can now look at my garden and fresh grass with joy, happy that I tackled this small backyard makeover.

The “Before” Photos:

Backyard Garden Bed MakeoverThe work I did to my backyard the first fall I was there (I moved in September) was glamorousrous. It was so tedious, in fact, that I don’t have a single picture of the “before.”

When people see my yard now knowing all the work I did, they always ask for the “before” of when I first moved in. I just say I hate taking pictures of ugly things. Such is the case with lots of early projects I tackled quickly and with reckless abandon because I lacked the patience and had such a strong vision for what I wanted my home to be.

Now that I’m trying to document more of my home journey, I will certainly try to get more “before” pictures. What you’re seeing here are the “middle” pictures as well as some of my backyard in its current state.Garden Walk Prep: Before

Prior to most of these pictures being taken, I completed the following projects:
  • Trimmed evergreen branches to the top of the fenceline (they were all the way to the ground and took up much of the yard).
  • Cleaned up about five inches of pine needles that had accumulated underneath the evergreen.
  • Removed a large Rose of Sharon that took up a lot of space and was growing beneath and into my gutter on the garage. You can see a tiny bit of the Rose of Sharon in the first picture on the top left corner.
  • Removed three garden beds, one with day lilies along the garage, one along the fence, and one along the house. These were not pretty and had gone wild for many years. We removed the flagstone surrounding them (some of these pieces were massive) and reconfigured a garden bed in the corner.
  • Removed a large trellised vine on the garage that narrowed the backyard entryway and was half dead.
  • Removed chainlink fence and replaced it with a cedar privacy fence.

The “Middle” Photos:

Garden Bed Makeover
The reconfigured corner garden bed. We found garbage, toys, marbles and lots of other random objects in the weeds.
Garden Walk Prep: Before
We tried to salvage as many perennials as we could, including the peony on the left hand side of this picture. Hello, pretty blooms and ants!
Small Yard and Garden Makeover
The crew that put in the fence apparently didn’t find it important enough to remove this stone prior to cutting the board. I couldn’t live with it this way so the fence company came back to fix it, no charge.
Small Yard and Garden Makeover
This is the first new plant I put in the back garden. It is a knockout rose from my aunt that I received for my 30th birthday. I ended up having to move it this season because little did I know, some daffodil and tulip bulbs that were hiding started to grow through it.
Small Yard and Garden Makeover
This is a look at the yard last summer when the sod was finished, and the garden bed was cleaned and mulched. All that remained were some irises, a peony bush and my knockout rose.

The “Now” Photos:

Small Garden Backyard Makeover
I love working from home and enjoying my small garden and fountain! The birds love the fountain, also.
I got this little solar pump on amazon and the bucket at The Chrismas Tree Store. It works great, but the catch is it only works when there is direct sunlight on the solar fountain.
Small Garden Makeover
My knockout rose in its new location! I love that it started to bloom because this was my first transplant, and I was afraid I killed it.


Flowers added to the back garden bed this year:
  • Goldstrum  / Black Eyed Susan
  • Boxwood shrub (transplanted because I had it in a shadier location that it didn’t like. This back bed is the only true full sun spot I have).
  • Crocosmia Hybrid / Montbretia Lucifer
  • Little Spire Russian Sage / Salvia rusa Little Spire
  • Duchess Pink / Torenia, Annual
  • Allysum, Annual
  • Double Blue Madness Petunia, Annual
  • Red Petunia, Annual
Existing Flowers:
  • Peony
  • Knockout Rose

I’ll update this with more pictures later. There is still a lot I’d like to do (mulch, clean up, accessorize), but, for now, I’m off to water my garden! Thanks for checking my backyard makeover out, and let me know what you think in the comments!

Credits: Aunt Kiki, Aunt Susan, Theresa, Uncle Ron, Dad, Mom, Mark, Evan and Renee, Jessica, Tom and crew, Synder Ridge Landscaping, Armor Fence and whoever I forgot! Thank you SO much!

A very special thanks to the Samuel P. Capen Garden Walk Committee for honoring me with the 1st annual Christine H. Brooks Garden Grant. This grant helped me tackle some much-needed gardening projects this year. 

Lauren Rose Signature

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