A Makeover Story: Planter Beds

I love to DIY – anything from basic crafting to parties to home improvement and I’m game. But, plants are my kryptonite. Despite my best efforts, I have yet to keep any plants healthy (and/or alive). I even had a situation at an office I managed where we had little bugs from over-watering; they were a real problem.

Anyhow, my front flower/planter beds were a mess and I decided it was adulting time, so me and the hubs came up with an ambitious makeover plan:

  • Edge the beds in stone – my husband has a thing about how his grass looks, so having a clean edge is important to him. To contain the mulch we’d be adding, we needed a border, so we landed on a perpendicular pattern of paver bricks to create a ledge for the mower wheel, as well as a wall to keep the mulch in. We bought 7″ x 3″ stone pavers in two colors (210 in total) and used all-purpose sand to level the bricks and keep them in place. To set a straight edge, we used a piece of string tied between two stakes that spanned the length of the bed. We measured the distance of the string from the house at both ends to ensure it would create a straight edge relative to the house facade. Then, we dug out a canal for the bricks using an edging shovel (but really any straight or regular shovel will work) as well as a standard shovel.
    • *Tip, to calculate how many bricks you need, measure the length of your beds, convert to inches and divide by the length of your block.


  • Incorporate a weed barrier – we have only lived in the house for about 3 years, but we’ve had to weed a number of times. We decided to do something about it and my m-i-l had given us some weed block bed liner that she had left over from a project, so that worked out. We still had to get some (we bought this kind), but every savings counts!
  • Refresh the foliage – there were a few plants when we first moved in, but between the deer and lack of care (my bad), they were looking pretty damn pathetic. So, we went all in and bought a bunch of new plants to liven up the front. Everything we chose is deer resistant and okay to grow in the northern ‘Midwest.’
    • Boxwoods (6) – these are our anchor; they are a nice, deep green neutral for the rest of the colors; they can grow up to 4′ x 4′ and be shaped.
    • Barberry (2) – these are the reddish ones; they are a good accent to the green, low maintenance and pretty easy to grow. Be careful not to overdo it with these as they can grow out of control.
    • Spirea (2) – these are the two green/yellow/red ones at the left side; they need more sun than some of the others, so we put the in the sunniest spot of the house
    • Catmint – these are the light green and purple wide plants; we have 3 cats who roam free outside during the day, so we thought this would be fun for them. I’m not sure how long the plants will last, but they love them. Bonus – they’re pretty.
    • Bee balm – these are the two small plants toward the middle (one isn’t planted yet); we chose them for as a pop of color and because they attract bees, which are very important to the environment, and we love honey!
  • Add fresh mulch – for this go around, we decided to try the sweet peet mulch, which is all organic and supposedly the best mulch out there. It’s also good to use in lieu of topsoil for planting. We got a yard and a half, which seems to be about the right amount (our beds are about 40’x6′ and 35’x6′).

All in all, we spent the following on this project for our materials list:

  • Pavers and sand = $150
  • Plants, plant food, planting soil = $419 (by far, the most expensive part)
  • Sweet Peet mulch = $80
  • Weed block = $40
    • If you don’t mind a little extra, weed block stakes are a great choice as they keep the liner in place in the bed


You’ll also want to have the following tools on hand: wheelbarrow, shovel, trowel, rake, stakes, string, mini mallet, work gloves, garden hose (be sure to water your new plants!!)

We actioned in the following order: set edge line, dig out, move existing mulch, put down weed blocker, put in sand and bricks, dig holes for plants, plant plants and finally top with mulch. We got halfway done in about a day and a half. Hopefully we’ll tackle the other side this weekend!

**As an aside, directly before this project, we lime washed our house with Romabio Lime Wash in nube gray. Check out A Makeover Story: Exterior Brick blog to see before and after pictures and hear about how easy it was!


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