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Dream House

I think I’ve been teasing you long enough with inspiration pictures and posts about what plants we chose for our front yard. It’s time for some actual photos!

Mediterranean-inspired front yard landscaping in the Pacific Northwest

TA-DA! I wanted to wait until we had every last plant in its proper place before I showed you our front yard. And we’re actually still missing a few, but we’ve been weeding, raking, digging, mulching, and planting for the past few weeks, and the planter beds in front of our porch look really beautiful. I don’t have any good before pictures, because they were just dirt beds filled with enormous weeds, but I do have a mid-project photo.

Mediterranean-inspired front yard landscaping in the Pacific Northwest

At first glance, this mid-project planter looks even fuller and more lush than the finished product, and there are two reasons for that. #1, when all the plants are still in pots sitting on top of the dirt, everything is a good 8-12 inches taller! It’s a shock to see how tiny all the plants are when they actually go in the ground. And #2, the dwarf Italian Cypress we put in did not do well, and we had to pull them out and return them to the nursery. The people at the nursery assured us that they can thrive here, they just got too wet before their roots were established. The nursery didn’t have any replacements for us last time we stopped by, so we have four large holes in our landscaping while we wait. We’re also still looking for a few more Magnus echinacea, which I’m sure will be easier to find as we get closer to summer, and some sort of ground cover to fill in gaps.

Mediterranean-inspired front yard landscaping in the Pacific Northwest

We did pick up a few new things when we were at the nursery, some that were on our list and some that we just fell in love with and spontaneously decided to get. We hadn’t been able to find any Feather Reed Grass or Lamb’s Ear until last week, but finally picked some up. They both look great in the landscaping. We also spotted some darling little plants called Blue-Eyed Grass. They only get about 8 inches tall, and have pretty periwinkle flowers that close up every evening and open again when the sun comes up.

Mediterranean-inspired front yard landscaping in the Pacific Northwest

If you’d like to know what else we planted in our yard, you can check this post, where I included a detailed list of everything, including photos.

Mediterranean-inspired front yard landscaping in the Pacific Northwest

Mediterranean-inspired front yard landscaping in the Pacific Northwest

Mediterranean-inspired front yard landscaping in the Pacific Northwest

Now we just have to be patient and wait for everything to grow! It’s always funny when you put in new landscaping; the plants are just little dots in a sea of mulch. But we love how the front planters turned out. I hope that as everything fills in it will have that breezy, Mediterranean look we tried to achieve!


Thanks to all the sunshine we’ve had lately in Oregon, we’ve made lots of trips to our favorite local nursery to buy plants for our front yard. We edged the entire planter–both sides of it–with paver stones over Spring Break last month, and filled it in with top soil. And we’ve been buying the plants on our list little by little as we have found them. Half of them are already in the ground, and the other half are laid out in place waiting for a nice, non-busy evening or another sunny Saturday. It’s so nice to see how everything is shaping up! Curious to find out what we’ve planted in our mediterranean-inspired front yard?

The Back Row
We have some columns on our porch and wanted to take advantage of their height to plant some tall, skinny shrubs. We have 2 small Italian cypresses and a star jasmine on each side of the porch, and flanking the entryway, we have white Lady Banks climbing roses.

Tiny Tower Italian Cypresses
[Tiny Tower Italian Cypress photo from Monrovia]

Star Jasmine
[Star Jasmine photo from Monrovia]

Lady Banks White Climbing Roses
[Lady Banks Roses photo from Monrovia]

Between the tall shrubs, we wanted to stick with plants that will stay around 3 or 4 feet tall at maturity. The porch is about 18 inches above the dirt in the planter, and it doesn’t have a railing. We don’t want our nice, open porch covered up and crowded out by giant bushes. So between the cypress, jasmine, and climbing roses, we have some purple rock rose, wintercreeper, sweetspire, and daphne, which may or may not work in full sun–we’ve read that it loves sun and hates sun! We’d love to add some feather reedgrass if we can find it. We haven’t had any luck so far, but it’s early in the year. And on the very outside edges are a matching pair of lovely dwarf hydrangeas.

purple rock roses
[Rock Rose photo from BHG]

winter creeper
[Winter Creeper photo from BHG]

sweetspire flowering shrub
[Sweetspire photo from BHG]

winter daphne
[Daphne photo from Gardening Know How]

Feather Reedgrass
['Karl Foerster' Feather Reedgrass photo from BHG]

Limelight hydrangeas love full sun!
[Limelight Hydrangea photo from BHG]

The Middle Ground
In front of all of those back row shrubs, we have lots of pretty, purple-blooming perennials: English lavender (which isn’t from England, but rather grows well in England), echinacea, scabiosa, siberian iris, alliums, and agapanthus, which wasn’t originally on our list, but which I have always loved and couldn’t resist when I ran into it at the nursery. We also have a few boxwoods just because I think they have a tendency to look great, and they add a nice, geometric element to an otherwise pretty free form landscape.

english lavender grows well in colder, wetter climates than french lavender
[English Lavender photo from BHG]

Magnus echinacea or coneflower
['Magnus' Echinacea photo from BHG

scabiosa or pincusion flowers
[Pincushion Flower photo from BHG]

siberian iris
[Siberian Iris photo from BHG

alliums
[Allium photo from BHG]

agapanthus or lily of the nile
[Agapanthus photo from BHG]

boxwood
[Boxwood photo from BHG]

Ground Cover and the Front Row
The front row is where we are having problems finding what we want, but it will eventually be a mix of creepers and super low shrubs. We have lots of pretty, blue carpet speedwell, which stays low and spreads nicely. One of our neighbors has something like this all over their yard, and the color of theirs is almost a cobalt blue. We’ll see if ours stays the lovely shade of purple it is now. We also need to pick up some creeping thyme, and some lamb’s ear whenever we run into it.

Georgia Blue Speedwell
['Georgia Blue' Speedwell photo from Garden Direct]

Creeping thyme makes a great, fragrant groundcover that can stand up to moderate foot traffic.
[Creeping Thyme photo from BHG]

lamb
[Lamb's Ear photo from BHG]

So!! There’s an exhaustive list of the plants we’re putting in our front yard. I hope that we can get the rest of the plants in the ground in time for me to take “after” pictures for my next post! I also hope that everything does well and thrives in our climate and in full sun. Only time will tell! Do you have any experience with any of these plants, and how do you feel about them?


I don’t know what the weather has been like in the rest of the country, but here in western Oregon, it has been H-O-T this week! We are such wimps when it comes to warm weather that my kids think 70° is too hot, but it was in the mid-80′s today, so it was legitimately summery. And all of this warm weather has been longing for a dreamy back patio on which to spend the evening. We have some old patio furniture and gravel/weeds right now, so it’s not too inviting. But one of our house goals for this year is to get a concrete slab out back, to drag our furniture out there, and to string up some pretty globe lights. That will be enough for this year. Then we can work on making it really beautiful

I love how tihs patio looks comfortable and chic at the same time.

I think this photo is of my friend’s parent’s backyard. I can’t even see what’s going on anywhere else besides this little corner, but it looks amazing! Comfortable but so chic. [photo from Mae Woven on Instagram]

My dream patio would definitely have strings of globe lights.

I can’t even tell you how many pictures I have pinned or how many instagrams I have liked that have globe lights strung over an outdoor dinner table. It’s probably in the hundreds at least. It adds such an charming touch to a back patio. We actually already have the lights; we just need the space! [photo from Local Milk]

I would love to have this pool and patio combination in my backyard!

This is one of the first backyard photos I pinned when we started designing our house and backyard. I know it’s pretty extravagant, but I just love everything about it. The pool, the umbrellas, the patio, the landscaping. Gorgeous!! [photo from Houzz.com]

This dream house has a dreamy back patio with plenty of comfortable seating.

Everything about this back patio makes me weak in the knees, from the giant, rectangular umbrella over the table to the stone tile on the floor. I especially love the generous amount of comfy seating. [photo from the HGTV Dream Home 2015]

This swinging bed is like the grown-up version of hammock!

When I was growing up, my parents had a big hammock under the second story wrap-around balcony. It was in a nice, shady spot, and I loved taking naps in it on warm afternoons. This swinging bed is like a grown-up version of my childhood hammock. [photo from BHG]

So, tell me: what would your dream patio include? Does it have globe lights and lots of seating like mine? Or maybe a pergola or a built-in fire pit? Leave a comment and let me know!


how we planned our front yard landscaping
[from BHG]

I mentioned in my last Style Spotters post that we are getting ready to landscape our front yard. It basically consists of a 7 foot-deep planter bed running the length of our front porch, and gets full sun all day thanks to a southern exposure. So it presents a few landscaping challenges. Last year, we sat down with a landscape architect and talked about the overall plan for our yard in general. Since neither my husband nor I is well-versed in landscape design, we thought it best to consult an expert to avoid ending up with a yard that looks like a hot mess. We have some really beautiful, professional landscaping plans that give us a good idea of where to put terracing, where to have lawn, where to put trees and flower beds, etc. But we only talked generally about the style we want our yard to have, and didn’t get a list of specific plants to put in each and every spot on the drawings. And now we’re at the point where we are going to the nursery to buy plants. Landscaping can be overwhelming, so how did we figure out what to plant and where to put it?

Find some landscaping inspiration.
I’m not very good at making up landscaping as I go, but I’m really good at following a recipe. So our first order of business was to find some landscaping images to inspire us. This was one of those times where we knew what we didn’t want more than we knew what we wanted. We live in the Pacific Northwest, and I love the dark, mossy, forest-y aesthetic. BUT! That’s not what I wanted for the yard. It’s all around me, in every neighborhood, every shopping center, every public park, and I just wanted something different. But I wasn’t sure what. So I started looking at landscaping photos on BHG.com and Pinterest. I pinned everything that really spoke to me, and after a few weeks, when I went back through and looked at the pins, they all had a similar look. I still wasn’t quite sure what that look was until I watched a Woody Allen movie set on the Cote d’Azur, and said, “Oh my gosh, I think I want our yard to look like the south of France!”

BHG.com has dozens of free garden plans that helped us decided what plants to put in our front yard.

Figure out what plants will give you the look you want and that will work in your yard.
Once we had a general aesthetic picked out for the front yard, we went back and looked at our inspiration photos to find a few that we especially loved and that were on a slightly smaller scale. We wrote down the names of all the plants in our favorite photos and decided on a color scheme we liked. That didn’t give us as many plant options as we wanted that would work in our climate. Again, I’m not a plant genius, so we needed another source of plant ideas. And luckily, BHG.com has the most amazing free garden plans. Dozens and dozens of free garden plans, just waiting to inspire you! I downloaded every garden plan that seemed like it might have plants that would work in my front yard–front gardens, full sun gardens, small gardens, all-year color gardens–and wrote down the names of any plants that looked like they would work. And then I researched each plant name I wrote down. I made note of how big each plant would get, if it was evergreen or not, what color its foliage and blooms were, etc. I crossed any plants off my list that would get too big, needed shade, wasn’t right for our gardening zone, or that I just didn’t like that much. And then I went over the list a few more times, whittling it down until we had something manageable.

Draw yourself a plant map, and make a plan.
I’m the kind of person who loves a good map. I always like being the navigator on road trips, and if I’m rearranging furniture in a room, I like to draw a little scale diagram on graph paper. So, I knew it would be a lot easier to wrap my mind around this landscaping plan if I had a physical picture to look at. I drew a very rough, overhead sketch of my front porch and our little planter bed on a piece of paper, and started drawing in the plants. I wanted to make sure I knew how many plants we could fit into the space, how many of each plant to buy, which plants to put in the back, the middle, and the front, and what order everything should go in.

So now, with just a little work, we have a great landscaping plan for our front yard! We’ve started buying the plants on our list as we’ve been able to find them. Our favorite nursery in the area is having a big Spring opening this weekend and should have the rest of the things we’re looking for by then. Then all we have to do is wait for a nice, dry weekend to do a little planting, and we’ll finally have a front yard!

how we planned our front yard landscaping
[from BHG]


We’ve lived for over a year in this Dream House without putting in any real landscaping (because container gardens don’t really count as landscaping), but the warm weather and glorious sunshine have finally encouraged us to start making plans for our front yard. We chose to put our house as close to the top of our property as we could because the view out the back is all downhill and gorgeous, and we wanted the house as high up the hill as it could be. The only downside to this plan is the narrowness of our front yard. Which really isn’t a downside as much as it is a challenge. I should mention that our house sits on a lot of land, that you drive in from the side past big, open fields on both the left and the right, so it doesn’t look weird or small or like we built our house in the wrong place (unless you ask our neighbor). It’s just that the area that would technically be labeled “front yard” is actually a very narrow planting bed. We have exactly 7 feet between the edge of our front porch and our asphalt driveway, with a slightly larger side yard-ish area on either side of the porch. I’ve been doing lots of digging lately to find photos of landscaping ideas for narrow spaces, and luckily, I have found some really fantastic ideas!

I think there are a few landscaping rules that you need to apply regardless of the size or depth of the area. First, you need a good mix of evergreens and plants that lose their leaves in the Fall/Winter. That way, even in December and January when nothing is blooming, you still have lovely landscaping to look at, as opposed to an entire yard full of bare sticks. Second, you need a variety of colors, textures, and shapes. You don’t want an entire yard of identical boxwood (and I say this as a person who loves boxwood). You can even add boulders, rocks, and artwork to get even more variety. And third, strive for a mix of tall plants (including climbers), medium-height plants, and ground cover. It will keep your eye moving through the landscape.

Here are a few of the beautiful and inspiring narrow landscapes I’ve found over the past few weeks…

A gorgeously landscaped narrow side yard

[from BHG]

landscaping idea for a narrow side yard

[from Houston Landscapes]

gorgeous landscaping inspiration for a narrow planter

[from Velvet & Linen, which you have to go check out because WOW!]

beautiful landscaping in a narrow side yard

[from BHG]

italian cypress and climbing iceberg roses in a narrow planter bed

[from Dave's Garden]

We’ll be buying plants for the front yard over the next few weeks. If you have any recommendations (it’s a southern exposure, so it’s full sun all….day…long), leave a comment and let me know!


We ordered most of the lights for the Dream House long before we needed them. Because our construction took longer than we expected it to, lots of things like light fixtures, drawer pulls, and medicine cabinets, sat around in boxes in our garage waiting and waiting and waiting to be added to the house. Luckily, we ended up being really happy with most of the stuff we chose when we finally had everything installed. We have had a little problem with the pendant light over our kitchen table. It’s not that we don’t like it–we do! We have two of them over the dining room table and three of them over the kitchen island. The pendant light just doesn’t cast enough light over the kitchen table. The kitchen table is in the breakfast nook, which has no recessed lighting and no sconces, just a single light fixture above the table. The pendant light just isn’t going to cut it–we need a chandelier!

We’re super excited to get some kind of fantastic light fixture over the kitchen table. We need a farmhouse chandelier, but those can be kind of tricky because farmhouses don’t really have chandeliers. But there are so many cool farmhouse-inspired chandeliers out there, and I’ve rounded up some of my favorites here!

dark metal pendants lights over a rustic farmhouse kitchen island

One option with lots of other sub-options built into it is using two or three small pendants in place of one larger light fixture. We only have the spot wired for one light, so this isn’t an option we’re going with, but if you do, it opens up a whole world of fixture possibilities. [from BHG]

This large, metal and glass pendant light combines industrial and farmhouse styles in a sleek, white kitchen.

I love this chandelier because it is so unchandelier-like. I like that it is a single light fixture with multiple bulbs, and that it is really cool. It’s not frilly or fancy. [from Home & Garden Sphere]

This rectangular chandelier with glass panes in metal frames combines industrial and rustic farmhouse styles.

This may or may not be the style we just ordered last night! I love the dark metal trim framing large panes of glass, and housing multiple bulbs for a nice, bright breakfast nook. This kind of chandelier reminds me of a greenhouse, which I always love. [from Design Sponge]

This chandelier featuring multiple small pendants looks like a collection of vintage jars.

For a modern spin on homespun, this great farmhouse light fixture features a collection of pendants that resemble mason jars. This particular one is a little more upscale, but there are ones that use actual mason jars for a very cute, casual chandelier. [from Architectural Digest]


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