MFH Office Garden

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Office Garden in July

Since buying our office, we’ve slowly been making progress towards cleaning it up and making it ours. We don’t want to spend a bunch of money on renovations right now, so we’ve mostly been focused on things that we can do for free. And as a result, the garden has seen the most notable improvement. Because pulling weeds? That’s a project that doesn’t cost a thing.

Want to see what we’ve gotten done so far? Just keep reading. I’ll be posting regular updates here, so you can follow along, as we work to create the garden of our dreams. Expect to see lots of curb finds and freebies along the way because we’re on a mission to do this for as little as possible.

Office Garden Before

April 2018

This is how the side yard looked when we moved in. Those green areas on either side of the sidewalk look like lawn, but they’re actually garden beds that had been taken over by weeds.

My husband and I spent a zillion hours pulling all the dandelions, wild violets, thistle and other weeds that had sprung up, and suddenly things weren’t looking too shaggy.

Garden Path

The left side actually looked pretty neat and tidy, thanks to the garden path, daylilies and irises that were already there.

But there wasn’t much left on the right side, once the weeds were gone.

Solomon's Seal

Just this plant that I didn’t recognize (it’s Solomon’s Seal) and a small clump of trillium.

Bags of Daffodils

My mother-in-law had recently offered me a bunch of daffodils from a bed that she wanted to clear out, so I went over and dug a bunch up, and planted them in clusters throughout the right bed. I also transplanted some daisies from one of my other garden beds.

Office Garden

My plan is to fill the entire bed with flowering plants, so that there’s very little weeding to do. I want it to be an informal cottage garden, with lots of color and stuff blooming every season.

I usually rescue quite a few bulbs and divisions from curb piles this time of year, so I’m hoping I’ll come across irises, daylilies and other perennials to fill in some of those bare spots. I think My Frugal Home is going to be hosting a local seed and plant swap in May, so hopefully that’ll result in a few more treasures.

Aside from that, I’d say I now have another good excuse to yard sale.

Office Front Porch

With the beds cleaned up, I find myself spending more and more time on the flagstone porch. It’s quickly become one of my favorite spots to unwind.

The wicker chairs came from a curb pile several years ago. So did the terracotta end table. It’s actually a chimney tile that I repurposed. The pillows are from a thrift store, and the wreath and lantern came from yard sales. It’s all stuff that I already had.

What About the Rest of the Yard?

We haven’t done much of anything to the front yard yet, but we have made a few improvements to the backyard. Most notably, we tore down the rotten shed (seriously, I don’t even know how it was still standing), and we had a large dying tree removed, before it caused any problems.

Cutting Down Tree

When we got up one morning, our neighbors were having a tree removed, so we asked the tree company how much they would charge us to cut down our tree while they were here (it’s one of our tricks for saving on tree removal). They only charged us $300 to put it on the ground, and we handled the clean up and removal ourselves. We still need to deal with the stump, but I’m just happy that tree is gone.

Backyard Before

Here’s what the backyard looked like when we bought the cottage (we removed the chain link fence between the two yards before I took this picture).

Backyard in Transition

And here’s how the backyard looks now that the chain link fence, shed, tree and swing set are gone (we gave the swing set to a neighbor).

We plan to extend that row of hollies down the left side of the yard soon. I’m hoping our consignment sale check will be enough to cover the cost of six more hollies. Fingers crossed.

It’ll still take lots of work to whip the yard into shape, but I’m excited by the progress that we’re making (and how little we’ve spent to make it happen).

May 2018

Progress on Office Side Yard

My mother-in-law called to offer me the flowers in a garden bed that she wanted to remove. We went over on a couple evenings to dig, and came home with TONS of daylilies and Dutch irises (the irises came from my husband’s grandmother’s yard). I used those to fill in more of the blank spots in the side yard. She also gave me divisions from a peony that came from her mother’s yard. I planted those in a few different places, and despite taking them at the wrong time of year, they’re doing well.

Side Garden Closeup

Here’s a closeup of the side yard with the new additions. Everything in this bed was obtained for free, except for two clumps of red daylilies that I bought at a yard sale for $8.

Trained Roses

This vining rose bush was already planted next to the porch. I trained it up the trellis, and since then it’s really taken off. I think I’m going to trying to root a cutting for the trellis on the other side of the porch.

Extended Flagstone Walkway

I’ve been working on extending the flagstone walkway around to the front of the house. There used to be a flagstone sidewalk on the side of the house, but it was taken up and replaced with concrete to make the entrance more accessible for the previous owner. Fortunately, all of the flagstone was still sitting on the property.


It’s been great to put it back to use.

Regraded Front Yard

The front yard had lots of dips and holes, resulting from trees and shrubs that had been removed over the years. I pulled out our tiller and regraded the front yard, so we wouldn’t have to worry about turning an ankle.

Rock Edging

And I’ve been edging garden beds with some of the landscaping rock that we picked up from curb piles last year. That obelisk next to our cucumbers was a curb find, too.

Newly Planted Nellie R Stevens Hollies

This week, we planted six more Nellie R. Stevens hollies to complete the row down the side of our yard. Once they catch up to the 15 footers that we planted more than a decade ago, we’ll have a pretty living fence connecting the two properties, and we’ll be one step closer to the secret garden vibe that I’m hoping to achieve.


These hollies grow three feet a year, so we won’t have to wait long. We ordered our hollies online (since they were cheaper than we could get them in town), and paid $284.71. We used some of the money that we earned at the last kids’ consignment sale to pay for them.

We had a yard sale this weekend, and plan to use some of the earnings to buy mulch for the holly bed. I’m also thinking about using some of the money to buy boxwoods to create a privacy screen along the front of the property.

I can’t wait until we find time to paint and cute-ify the front porch. It’s begging for a makeover. But for now, I’m enjoying the progress that we’ve made.

June 2018

Office Garden Side Yard in June

All of that early spring planting and weeding is finally starting to pay off. This has quickly become my favorite part of our yard.

Garden Path With Daylillies

Look at all those daylillies!

The path through the side yard has two varieties …

Burgundy Daylillies

These burgundy ones …

Yellow Daylillies

and these yellow ones.

Pink-Orange Daylillies

The large bed of daylillies that I cleaned up in the front yard has these pinky-orange ones.

Daylilly Bed

Red Daylillies

And here are the red ones that I got at a yard sale this spring. So pretty!

Mystery Flower

This orange mystery plant is in the side yard in two places, but I don’t know what it is. A neighbor said it was a type of daylilly, but I’m not so sure. The flowers are much smaller than what you’d typically see on a daylilly, and it has shallowly-rooted bulbs, not tubers. Anyone know what it is?

Solar Lights

My husband and I made these solar lanterns last week. Instructions here. So far, we have six. I plan to expand the set as I find more globes.

Side Porch of Office in July

And we found this screen door at a yard sale for $7. It’s much more appropriate for the house than the metal one that we took off. I’m thinking about stripping all the paint off, so I can stain it.

Rain Barrel

This week, we’re working on setting up a rain barrel (it’s one that we already had), and I have a Red Hot Poker from my mother-in-law’s garden that I need to plant.

As to what other progress we’ll make this month, well, I guess that just depends on what treasures we find when we’re out curb shopping and yard saling.

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