Makeover 101 Chapter One – A list or two

In any makeover, a great first step is to clarify the vision in your head.  While this might sound easy and seem a waste of time, as you can see by my own journey (below) it is at once both difficult and enlightening.  It forces us to slow down a little, think about what we have and what we want.  Sometimes easier said than done!   Below are three lists to make to get you started.        

List your:

  1. likes and dislikes
  2. must haves and wants
  3. what your goals are, i.e. privacy, texture, accent trees or shrubs, borders, etc.  Use    pictures of gardens you’ve visited or those from magazines to clarify what is most important to you.  Remember, it is possible to have completely different gardens in your yard, depending on the size, exposure, moisture and other variables.

Below is my own CHAPTER ONE-THE LIST OR TWO.  As fair is fair, we’d love to hear about your own chapter.  Please share your lists and let us know if we can help in any way.  Thanks!


Putting on paper what I like (L) and dislike (DL) about my gardens was an interesting exercise.  While most things had been rolling around in my head for some time, actually formulating the thoughts was difficult.  Prioritizing was especially challenging, but it did help me realize that while I like picking and plucking, as in picking a plant and plucking it into the ground, it has sometimes been counter productive.   Not one area of my beds is  is what you might consider done.  Or at least as done as a garden can ever be!

So after much thought, below is my Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde list:


L boxwood at kitchen door

L view from family room window.  Need less dirt/more plantings, more spring plants/bulbs

L idea of Oakleaf hydrangeas.  Three?


L/DL flagstone path

L/DL hydrangeas under dining/living room windows. Have been improperly pruned

L/DL crab at family room window.  Gets rust, funny shape.  Like the idea of a multi- stemmed tree in that area, maybe a weeping?

L/DL shape of my beds, need expanding

L/DL Lamiastrum at porch spreads, would like to keep some but keep in check.


DL curve around patio is grass/dirt, able to see plastic edging.  Would like bed around it.

DL lack of privacy around patio.

DL furniture placement.


MH privacy

MH shade

MH vegetables interspersed with ornamentals

WANT beech tree (a 60’ x 120’ lot might make this a little challenging!)

WANT more natives – I am not, however, a purist and believe that it is possible to mix cultivars and natives and still serve nature well

WANT birds, bees and butterflies

WANT a place for the grandkids to play