So the main project was definitely the backyard, but I was pleasantly surprised by how much better the front looks, too. Both in back and in front, we've been working slowly on making changes over the years. Here's what the house looked like when we bought it:
First, Keith took out the overgrown bushes by the steps. My Mom gave me some irises which have filled in the space nicely. My sister gave me some amaryllis bulbs; they really need more sunlight that they get by the big bushes, but they are surviving. We tore up the weed barrier and got rid of the large wood chips that were down‐I much prefer living ground cover to a blank canvas. Therefore, I've been trying to coax myrtle to cover the planting beds, with limited success so far.
We put railings in for safety purposes, because the front steps are really too tall to not have a railing, but they also added a bit of visual interest to the entrance. Finally, this year, we split our enormous hostas to take them to the back, but also kept a few of the new plants to even out the front. Lucky for us, our neighbor was also thinning out his daylilies, so we grabbed some of those, too. Here's the new and improved version:
We still need to cut the bushes on the right way back, which has been part of the problem all along. There's no symmetry between the two sides, because those bushes on the right just totally overwhelm the smaller hydrangea bush on the left. I don't want to move the hydrangea and risk killing it, so I'm thinking of adding some height to that side with a small, ornamental tree.
Anyway ... I do like that gardening is an ongoing process. We're certainly not finished yet, but I like what we've done so far!