Cherry Bushes

Garden Before and Afters

By Erin Huffstetler | 05/13/2014 | 5 Comments
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Gardens take a long time to come together. Especially if you’re working on them a piece at a time to spread out the cost. And because of that, I think it’s really easy to become focused on what hasn’t been done yet or what hasn’t matured yet, rather than what you’ve accomplished. I find myself doing that all the time. I’ll see the privacy plantings that haven’t quite grown together yet, the fruit trees that haven’t started producing yet or a bare patch that I haven’t gotten around to planting. And in doing so, I’ll completely overlook how far we’ve come already.

So, I thought it would be fun to look at some before and afters of our garden, to show you where we started and where we’re at now. And to remind myself of the same.

Ready to dive into some before and after photos?

Front Yard Before

When we bought our house almost 11 years ago, it had four dying azaleas in the front yard and nothing else. We didn’t have any money to spare, so it stayed like that until 2009.

A local garden center had a promotion where they’d draw up a landscape design for your yard for $250, and then refund the $250 once you spent a certain amount on plants and materials (I think it was $1,000). We took advantage of that deal; made a bunch of tweaks to the design, and then hired some friends to help us landscape the front yard.

Front Yard - After

Here’s how it looks now. The new sidewalk and changes to the house came later.

Landscaping gets expensive, so we worked on our yard a section at a time. And that proved to be a good thing. By the time we got around to the backyard, I had decided that I wanted to focus on edibles, and so I redid our landscape design completely.

Ugly Chain Link Fence

Here’s what our backyard looked like when we bought the house. It had an ugly chain link fence, a couple overgrown hollies along the foundation and plenty of poison ivy. We ripped out the chain link fence pretty early on, since that was a free project. Then, we tackled the backyard in several rounds.


We replaced the chain link fence with holly trees. The Nellie R. Stevens variety shown here have been in the ground for five years now. We planted them even with the foundation to create a privacy screen and to give us a wide side yard. They’ve almost grown together to form the living fence that we had in mind. The tree house was built that same summer, but roofed the next summer to spread out the cost.

Sky Pencil Hollies

We fenced in the other side of the yard with hollies too, but we used sky pencil hollies, since they fit the narrow space better. They’ll eventually grow together to create a tall wall. Our neighbor’s house sits really close to ours, so it’s nice to have a privacy screen on that side of the yard.

Next to Driveway Before

This is another before photo of the area where the sky pencil hollies are now planted.

Grape Tunnel

To create a gate for our holly fence, we installed a grape arbor. As our grapes and other plants grew, the space became overgrown, and we expanded our arbor into a tunnel last summer. I love how it looks now.

Grape Tunnel - Overhead View

This is the view when you’re standing inside the tunnel.

Driveway Flower Bed

If you zoom out a bit, you can see how the rest of the driveway space came together.

Strawberry Patch

The other side of the driveway has a long strawberry patch.


It keeps us in berries this time of year.

Raised Beds

The side yard has been a slow evolution. We started with lawn, and have added several beds over the years. These raised beds went in last spring. They’re currently planted with garlic.

Side Driveway Bed

Zoom out a bit, and you come to our herb garden and blueberry bushes.


Our high bush blueberries haven’t done well, but the low bush blueberry bushes that we planted last year have fruited.

Shade Garden

Zoom out once more, and you come to our shade garden. I first envisioned this space as a cutting garden, but I think I’m going to relocate the flowers and plant the raised beds with lettuce this fall.

Beside the Garage

The bed next to the garage was the last to go in. As you can see in this before picture, we started with a blank slate.

Side of Garage - After

And now, this is what we have. Lots of plants and a brick walkway. The tall bush in the back right is one of two apricot bushes that we planted. They fruited this year for the first time.

Tiny Apples

That bed wraps around to the back of our house, and is planted with apple trees. See the teeny tiny apples?

Cherry Bushes

And there are cherry bushes, too. They’ve grown a ton this year. Cherry pies here I come!

While I wait impatiently for them to start fruiting, I’m going to enjoy all the progress that we’ve made so far. Because really, there’s already a lot to enjoy.

Want to see more of my garden? Check out my garden tour.

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  1. Beautiful and interesting job Erin!! Looks like you dont have to do much grocery shopping huh?

    I LOVE your house!! My aunt/uncle had one just like yours (front side of course) when I was growing up – I Loved that house – theirs was done in stone.

    If I send you a picture of my yard, will you “food and flower design” for me? haha mines mostly rocks……but lots of sun

    thanks for such a fun and interesting website – I love reading and seeing pics of your ideas – you make everything look soooo easy – and where do you get your energy? I need some……

  2. Looks fabulous did a great job thanks for sharing
    makes me want to get busy
    have a healthy bountiful harvest !!!

  3. Fabulous thanks for sharing as a lot of folks could do the same and have healthy fresh vegetables and fruit
    Have a bountiful healthy harvest!!

    Always so much fun to watch seeds sprout into beautiful creations

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