Landscaping with Southern Living Plant Collection

Well folks, there have been some VERY exciting things happening around my house this past weekend.  I can’t even begin to share my feelings on how all of this even came about or happened to me, but to wake up one day and have your entire front yard landscaped by professionals.  Dream come true, people, dream come true!  I’ve never had the privilege of getting anything like this done before and it truly is amazing to watch it happen right in front of me.

Today, I’m going to share the in progress part of the front yard landscape and then tomorrow I’ll do a whole before and after post.  But, keep in mind that it’s NOT completely finished yet for another couple of weeks, so the REAL before and after pics will come then.  That will be the real finale to this amazing front yard landscape project of mine!  I still can’t even believe it when I look out my window and see my front yard now.

I know my neighbors are taking notice of the changes around my house and someone in my neighborhood even left me a comment a couple of weeks ago about how she has lived in my neighborhood for 30 years and that watching my house change has inspired her, along with other neighbors to do some improving to their own homes.  Now, THAT makes me happy to hear!  I don’t know how she found my blog, but she did and I love that she left a comment.

To say I’m humbled by all of this is an understatement.  The Lord has opened so many doors for me in the last 3 years and this is just one more that has swung wide open for me to walk through.  Meeting Carmen who is a Southern Living garden expert, as well as having her own business, Nectar and Company in Columbus, GA was one of the most serendipitous moments ever for me.  When she and I connected in the gardens of the Southern Living Idea house last summer, the path was set for Carmen to help me with my own yard.  She used her amazing connections and Southern Living gifted me with the plants for my front yard and Carmen’s other crew did the rest.  A hard working crew of 3 came in last Saturday and got all the plants installed in my front yard and we got the irrigation system in previously, so that takes a lot of pressure off of me.  It’s not a completely free project for me and I did come up with money for this, but certainly it was deeply discounted and something that I would otherwise never be able to afford to do.  I also was able to use some of my Lowes giftcards to buy many things for the project too, which helped tremendously.

So, let’s get started on the in progress part of the landscaping and how it all fell into place.  I shared all about how the irrigation system went in a couple of weeks ago and this is the foundation to creating and keeping my front yard plants alive and thriving, so I’m so happy to have this part done.

semi truck with plants

Three days before the big weekend of landscaping, this big semi-truck pulled up in front of my house to deliver all these gorgeous Southern Living plants to me.  Now THAT was a fun sight to see!

plants off truck

Six racks of beautiful, healthy, lush plants all coming to my house.

6 racks of plants

I watered them all well in preparation for planting and it was amazing to see all the beautiful varieties that Carmen had picked out for my front yard.

trench dug for french drain

On Friday, a French drain was added above the wall on my driveway to keep water from holding in my backyard and pushing out that cinderblock wall anymore.  That was the plan to keep this wall from moving anymore, to get the water out of the backyard and not standing in this spot as it tended to do.  A trench was dug to add the French drain.   These pics were all taken from the screened porch, so that’s why they are fuzzy.

drain going in

The white thing is the French drain and water collects in it and will be rerouted around the wall and down my driveway.  This should make for a less soggy backyard for me.

drain installed

Drain going into place.

drain in ground

Positioning it around the wall to push water out of here.

drain covered

Drain being covered up with dirt.

dirt covering drain

And all finished.

crepe myrtles

Three Delta Jazz Crepe myrtles were then added to the top of the wall and they will grow nice and tall here and look great. I’ll also repair this block wall soon and then plant some spilling plants on top of the wall that will cascade over.  That’s on my list of things to do next.  Make that block wall look better.

view from front window

Now back to the front yard!  The first thing they did when coming in to start was marking off this bed out front.  Carmen had told me that she was going to underplant both of these trees in my front yard with blooming shrubs, so creating the bed came first.  It’s shaped like a figure 8, encompassing both trees.  The grass inside this bed was sprayed with Roundup to kill the grass and a weed deterrent was added too, to help keep weeds from coming up. We didn’t put down weed barrier, so I am sure I’ll have some weeds coming up through the pine straw, but it should be something I can handle.

curved bed drawn

Right side of the curved bed under the pink dogwood tree.  Wheeee, this is fun to watch!   That big ole pine tree I had cut down last summer was just to the right of the dogwood tree where that pile of mulch is.  I’m so glad I got that thing out of there and had the stump ground down.

plants on racks

All those big beautiful plants waiting to go in the ground.

plants placed

First things first, Carmen placed all the plants where she wanted them.  She has great vision and had this whole plan in her head, ordering just the right amount of plants and knowing what was going where in my yard.  She’s amazing!

plants placed 2

Baby Gem boxwoods are going up the left side of my sidewalk as well as wrapping some on the right side.  I’ll share all the plant names below.  Those vines are called Angyostar and are a beautiful variegated leaf which will climb on a trellis.

hydrangeas being placed

Dear Delores hydrangeas and azaleas going in under the cherry tree.

plants placed (2)

She ordered big plants which make a huge statement.

plants placed 4

I absolutely LOVE hydrangeas and am so glad to have lots of those in my front yard.

front of house plants placed

Here you can see the basic sort of figure 8 curved beds around both trees in the front yard, with lots more plants to go in.

front bed plants

Up around the house more lower growing shrubs are going in.  This is the side of the house that I’m planning to add 2 more windows (in the den downstairs).

dogwood tree limbs cut

The guys limbed up my pink dogwood tree making it look so much better to get those lower branches out of the way.

front bed plants (2)

Looking back towards the pink cherry tree.

vines for trellis

Vines which will go on the trellis system.

by front porch

Low growing shrubs right by the front porch.


Another view of the hydrangea and azalea bed.

bed filling up

There are lots of plants going in here and I’ll share all the names with you.

plants front bed going in

Each plant had to be dug in by hand so this was an all day process. Those guys were awesome and hung in there all day in the heat.

plants added in front beds

Ready to go in the ground.

hydrangeas on bank

Left bank under the dogwood.

curving bed

Curved beds filled up with plants.

placing plants

Carmen placing the last of the plants.

plants in middle

It’s amazing what this many  plants will do for a yard.

plants in place

You can see how full and lush it’s going to be.

encore azaleas

Encore Azaleas are such great plants and I’ve planted them in the past.

Dear Delores hydrangea

The Southern Living plant collection is wonderful with so many great varieties of plants that grow well in the South. I hope you’ll definitely check out their website for lots more information.  I’m going to be sharing all my plants in the next post and taking pics of each of them in the ground, identifying them all by name, so stay tuned for that.

trellis in place

Here’s the trellis pieces that we found at Lowes, which I think turned out to be a wonderful solution to the floating fireplace.  We will cover the end and front with vines and eventually it will cover this whole system.  I’ll share more about that later on too.

plants going in ground

Plants are dug in one at a time.

adding compost to plants

They added black compost to each plant so that it will help the root systems get established and grow.

drip system in place

Another thing added is the drip system which will go on each plant too, giving it a slow trickle of water over a time period to really soak in the roots of the plants.  This is one of the best things that I’m getting, the irrigation system with sprinkler heads and this drip system.  What a life saver that is going to be for me!

drip system

Drip lines wrapped around each plant and then pinestraw will go on top to cover it all up.  I’ll definitely have to keep up with the pinestraw out here to keep it looking good.  That’s what we use here in the South for the most part to cover up ground.

drip system on hydrangeas

Another look at the drip system.

boxwoods going in

Using a post hole digger, the Baby Gem boxwoods are going to line my sidewalk.  Love this look!

fireplace trellis

Another look at the bed by the fireplace.  This is going to be great when the sod goes in that curved part.  I think I’ll put a bench right in front of the fireplace too, for a cottage feel.

ready for pinestraw

Plants going in the ground.

adding pinestraw

After all the plants went in, then came the pinestraw.  I heard they went through 55 bales of pinestraw and then had to go back and get 15 more.  It takes a LOT of pinestraw to adequately cover the ground and make it thick enough.  This should help keep the weeds down AND keep the plants moist when they are watered, so it serves 2 purposes.  Not to mention, it just makes a bed look good to have pinestraw finish it off.

Here’s a list of all the plants that went in my garden, all from Southern Living Plant Collection.  I’ll share more about each individual plant too in the next post when I share the true before and afters of my garden.  It’s a dream come true, y’all!  I still can’t get over how great it all looks!  Big huge thanks to Carmen and her team for doing this for me.  I could never say THANK YOU enough to all of them and to Southern Living Plant collection for gifting me the plants.  Here’s a link directly to the shrubs at Southern Living.

Boxwood Baby Gem

Gardenia Jubilation- 3 gal

Hydrangea Dear Dolores – 2 gal

Fatshedera Angyo Star- 3 gal

Crapemyrtle Delta Jazz- 2 gal

Early Bird Crapemyrtle Purple- 2 gal

Salvia Amistad- 1 gal

Agapanthus Queen Mum – 3 gal

Spiraea Little Bonnie- 3 gal

Pieris Mountain Snow- 2 gal

Camellia Pink Stella- 3 gal

Loropetalum Emerald Snow- 3 gal

Pittosporum Mojo- 2 gal

- Rhoda


  1. Wow Rhoda, I’m so happy for you. Your yard is looking great. I can’t wait for the 2 week update as these plants should have had time to relax. Enjoy the new surroundings.

  2. Wow, Rhoda, the magnitude of this gift of a project blows my mind. As a landscape gardener, I see thousands of dollars in this truckload of plants, not to mention the labor at least four people. What a gift, and I know you are ecstatic. It looks beautiful, and hopefully it will all settle in to its new environment. I agree, having the more established plants is wonderful, and will make it appear like it’s always been there within a short amount of time. What a view to enjoy each day now! Congratulations, and good luck with the maintenance! It will be time-consuming, but well worth the results.

  3. Rhoda, It has been such a joy to follow you along the way. But the past three years I have watched God work in your life, you have been an inspiration for so many myself included. I so look forward to popping in to see what is happening next. I love the yard and can not wait to see the finished product.

    God Bless you my friend.


  4. That’s gonna be gorgeous!!!!!

  5. Wow!!! What an amazing gift…the plants AND the labor. Your yard is looking fabulous! The drip system will certainly be a life saver with all your gorgeous hydrangeas. And the piece below your chimney is THE perfect solution for that spot. Congratulations on the wonderful landscaping. (Now if I can just get our tiny bed out at the road done, I will be doing good. 🙂 )

  6. Wow!! It already looks fabulous….cannot wait to see a few months down the road….gorgeous! I love agapanthus, but cannot have it here in MN…..I overwintered it once in the garage, but that was that…once. Now I have it as annual, but SO worth it, just a wonderful plant. You will love it all!

  7. I’ve been looking forward to seeing what you would do in regards to landscaping. Wow! Great choice of plants. I can’t wait to see the end results. I enjoy visiting your blog.

  8. What a wonderful gift!
    I keep hoping someone will offer generic landscaping plans at a reasonable cost so more of us can have a beautiful landscape (maybe it exists and I just can’t find it). I’d happily do the digging and planting! We could all use more plants and less grass in our yards.

    • Hi Pam – try checking out Better Home and Garden’s website ( I’ve gotten some free landscaping plans from there. They have elaborate, whole yard plans as well as plans for different problems or parts of a yard. Nicole

    • Pam C… Be sure to check out! We have some fun weekend project gardens that includes everything you need to get your yard garden in shape. Lots of fun tips. Also please feel free to email me at and send me pics of your garden. I will gladly send a few plants your way!
      Many thanks

  9. A whole lotta plants you have in your yard. Your house will be the envy of the neighborhood! Enjoy the colors of the season. Best as always!

  10. Barbara Hunnicutt Moore says:

    So, so happy for you. And Carmen is one talented landscaper! The shape of your yard would have been such a challenge, but she came up with a beautiful plan. Can’t wait to see the rest of your beautiful new yard.

  11. The garden is awesome – obviously! But I am more inclined to write today to acknowledge your continued sense of gratefulness in your life. I always try to be a positiv eperson because I do believe in karma – you get back what you send out to the universe. I suggest that is what is happening to you!

  12. Wow, it’s already looking amazing….you are going to love having so many fresh flowers for indifr your home to clip!

  13. I am beyond “WOW” ….. what a blessing!!!! Amazing and beautiful!!! Can’t wait to see the finished product!!! I too, love Encore Azaleas… and Hydrangeas ….. Sooooo “Southern”.. lolol… Watching for the end result!!!!

  14. Marvelous! It is so inspiring to see how far you have come since the old days at the original Great Inspiration group. You have followed your bliss and along with your faith, your life has been showered with goodness. Enjoy all of it, my friend, you deserve this. Can’t wait to see the finished landscaping.

  15. We just moved to the south (NC) so I’m really looking forward to checking out this collection! 🙂 Love your home – the outside is looking amazing!

  16. Anne Boykin says:

    Hi Rhoda, I’m so happy for you! What a beautiful yard you will have. I know you’re pinching yourself it’s so fabulous! I’m looking forward to more pictures and the before and after shots.

  17. Your yard is going to look amazing when all those beautiful plants grow! I can’t wait for the updates!

  18. Looks great Rhoda. How very exciting. It should be easy for you to maintain—those little boxwoods will be neat and tidy for many many years. I have them lining my walkup/entry. They have been in the ground 5 years and just needed a haircut this year. Do yourself a big favor and set aside 70 bales of pinestraw money and Preen money for every spring. Add more to that if you have it delivered. It’s an easy job for us 50 plus year old females to do ourselves and will make your beds thrive and be weed free. There is nothing like a fresh dressing of pinestraw late in the spring. Now if you are allergic to poison ivy then make sure you have Technu-wash on hand to use AFTER you spread that straw. The ivy oils come right off. Just read the directions on the Technu found at Walgreens etc… Hooray on your beautiful neighbor envy yard. Let the yard wars begin

  19. How beautiful everything is. Those Hydrangeas are so beautiful. You deserve every single plant. So happy for you. Can’t wait to see the finished product.

  20. Oh happy day ( echo. . .oh happy dayyyyy) ;;;; ohhhh happy day (echo. . . oh happy day)….
    when that Southn Livin truck – pulled up; and out came your plants ( oh happy dayy)….hmmmm.
    Then – there she come —that Carmen girl – and all her team. To make dreams come true.
    Yes to make dreams come true.

    Raising my hand to God for answered prayer for you.

    • Patti, you have been one of my biggest cheerleaders & prayer warriors and I thank you SO much!

      • Friend, I know there are bigger issues in this world
        aside from needing a yard redone.
        But in your case, I so totally saw it as needing your
        heart restored more than landscaping put in.
        Our Abba so gets what we need , because we are His
        children – and His timing is never off.
        Tears of joy for you. Love always.

  21. Oh how wonderful Rhoda to have met Carmen and be able to have this dream yard….I see so many gorgeous plants. So very happy for you and cannot wait to see the progress of this incredible project…

  22. Rhoda, I am AMAZED at the beautiful yard. I keep going back to beginning to look at each picture again. Please continue to share each step with pictures of your yard – I love to do flower gardening, so this is beyond amazing to see and read about the progress. Thank you for sharing with us because we get many new ideas for decorating and gardening. Really like the idea below fireplace, this set forth so many new ideas for me. God had blessed you so much in last few year, and you in turn have shared with us giving us inspiration to try new things. You have proved to us, “Grow where you are planted”.

  23. Wow! How wonderful for you–your yard will be the neighborhood show stopper! Can’t wait to see the final finished plantings. Love those Hydrangeas–my favorite…

  24. Paula Romer says:

    I just had to comment to tell you how absolutely THRILLED I am for you, girl! This is truly a once-in-a-lifetime gift you’ve been blessed with. I was amazed at the magnitude of the plan/design and the abundance of gorgeous plants…all taken care of by the drip irrigation system. I am so happy for you to have been on the receiving end of this huge blessing. You deserve all the good things coming your way.
    I am sure you are blessed by Carmen’s friendship most of all…and the landscaping is a side bonus!
    I can’t wait to see the finished product. I love the trellis idea to conceal the fireplace jutting out. That is a fantastic solution! I can imagine how happy you will be to enjoy the beauty surrounding your home every day. SO HAPPY FOR YOU! The scripture comes to mind…”I will refresh you as you have refreshed others.” You are definitely reaping now from the good seeds you have sown over the years. God bless you, Rhoda!

  25. Tears of joy for you as I read this post! I can’t wait to see in person! The house and garden that love built! God is good! You are blessed and have blessed all of us! I bet your neighbors are taking note! Hope to see you soon! 🙂

  26. Oh wow, this is fabulous and what a blessing. I am so happy for you, it looks amazing.

  27. Loved reading about this and seeing the pics. Very inspirational! I read your blog every day and was surprised at how pretty and suburban and quaint your neighborhood and street are….in the other pics of the past, I had envisioned that you were sort of out in the country with few neighbors, so seeing this view of your street with so many neighbors really caught me by surprise! Can’t wait to see more of the after pics!!

  28. Oh, Rhoda, I am SO thrilled for you! Thank you again for documenting your journey with your new home for all of us. I can hardly wait to see it all finished!!! Those plants are gorgeous–heck, even the truck is pretty! Ha! It is so inspirational to see how the Lord has blessed you and how good of you to publicly acknowledge His gifts. Bless you! 🙂

  29. Holy plants, Batman! WOW! POW! BOOM! There just aren’t enough words, Rhoda! I can’t wait to see your finale pictures. Great design, planting and generosity by all, it couldn’t happen to a more deserving lady. Very happy for you.

  30. Wow, Rhoda, what a blessing indeed! You should be thrilled to the moon and back! I can only imagine the feeling of having that big truck pull up out front! Your yard is going to be stunning! So very happy for you!

  31. Oh, my!! I think I would just die of happy if that truck pulled up in front of my house and my yard was transformed as yours has been!!!!! What a marvelous blessing for you. Since I’m blessed every day, I’m sure I can hope for that, but realistically I think I’m going to have to “work my fingers to the bone” and the skin off my knees to have a garden look like a small reflection of yours. It looks like your precious friend Carmen took every aspect of your yard into consideration; what wonderful “fixes” for the top of your wall and for the hanging fireplace!!! Can’t wait to see if finished and growing! I’m just running over with happy for you, girl!

  32. Everything is going to be BEAUTIFUL!
    After all the focus and energy I put into renovating my mother’s home, I needed to be able to turn to an expert for the overhaul of the landscape too. I had an over all idea that the ran with—it was so nice to take that of my plate!
    Can’t wait to see how it all takes shape and grows in! Your house is just looking amazing—

  33. Rhoda, I can’t wait to see everything put in! You’ve inspired me to get to work on my own sorry yard (despite my brown thumb). 😉 I live in Pa. now, but I remember those years in S.C. when the hubs and I were in the Air Force. I miss that pine straw! We just can’t seem to get it up here. All we’ve got is mulch and rocks. A little bit of that straw always went a long way.

  34. BamaCarol says:

    Rhoda, what a wonderful blessing for you! Your yard is taking shape and will be a beautiful reminder of all of God’s blessings in your life. Can’t wait to see the wait it looks in a few weeks.

  35. One of my favorite things about cottage gardening is seeing how it’s interpreted in other areas of the country from mine. This is going to be so amazing and colorful in a couple of years. I’m so happy that this wonderful gift has presented it’s self to you. You are most deserving of it!

  36. Rhoda,

    You yard is looking amazing! I am happy for you to get such a wonderful gift and I can’t wait to see some more after pictures.

  37. Rhoda,

    It’s looking so beautiful and I am so happy for you! I love seeing it all come together. I’m ready to get my landscaping brought up a notch and I’m sure you are going to smile ear to ear as yours gets done!!!

  38. This is great!! I am so impressed with everything!! I will be looking for those Southern Living hydrangeas!!

  39. Going to Be beautiful! I truly believe this is a blessing for you! Good for you! now if I could only keep my 2 little blue hydrangeas and hostas alive and happy up here in Crown Point !

  40. How fabulous! In a couple of years, your landscape will be beyond breathtaking.
    I think one of those lovely azaleas should be “Parker’s azalea”. They can grow and become more beautiful together.

  41. Rhoda! You must be over the moon excited! I can’t wait to see it all when it’s done and in a couple of years from now! Gorgeous!! Do I see a Southern Living feature in the near future? 😉 Enjoy! Kathy

  42. Absolutely wonderful Rhoda! Looking forward to seeing it all fill in. Can’t wait to see the new windows downstairs, too!

  43. aimee coker says:

    Rhoda- your garden looks great! So excited!

  44. We had so much fun creating Rhoda’s garden and loved seeing to come to life! Can’t wait to see it when it all blooming!

  45. Let me try again that again….auto correct works so well. We had so much fun creating Rhoda’s garden and loved seeing it come to life! Can’t wait to see it when everything is blooming!

  46. Carol D. says:

    I am so happy that you have been blessed with this wonderful landscaping gift….and your willingness to be so transparent and share all the info with all your readers is so inspirational! I know many of us will be checking our the website, heading off to Lowe’s and recreating some of your beautiful landscaping in our own homes….you are just inspiring and a blessing to all of your readers!

  47. Love love love all your plants! Hydrangeas the most. Hope your fireplace hiding vine is evergreen. I’m sure Carmen thought of that. Curious to see what the difference in your water bill will be keeping these babies alive in the Georgia heat. Let us know.

  48. Rhoda, I’m so excited for you! Love it, love it, love it!

  49. ~Rhoda~
    What a blessing for sure , I would love a professional designer to make a picture out of my yard !! Even the semi trailer was pretty 🙂
    I did write down several of the plants names, but don’t know if in northern Indiana they would be available, and I love that pinestraw which is definitely not available here !!

    Did Carmen use a certain weed deterrent??
    So happy for you !!!

    • HI, Paula, the weed deterrent was Preen. I’m going to have to get more of that too. Pinestraw is definitely a Southern thing, we have plenty of it down here.

  50. I follow your blog faithfully daily and love it. It is a wonderful mix of beautiful decor, diy, family, food, travel, fun & featuring others; and, unlike other bloggers, you never miss a day. Your mom & dad are so precious to me, I guess because they remind me so much of my own parents & grandparents. The plants are beautiful & you are going to have a great yard. A big thank you for fixing the floating fireplace.

  51. Fay Sanchez says:

    I look forward to reading your blog daily. I love reading all of them. It is interesting to me that ya’ll use pinestraw that you buy in bales. I have never seen that available in Houston.

  52. Oh my Gosh Rhoda! I’ve been waiting for your beautiful yard to be put in and here it comes!!! I had such a great time looking at all your pictures of the beautiful plants and watering system in your yard. I’m so excited for you. It’s going to be just great! It’s already beautiful and will get more and more so. You’re going to love it soooooo much. Wish I lived close to you so I could admire your yard regularly. Well, I know you’ll keep us all up-to-date on what’s happening in your lovely yard and home. I’m so glad I found your blog. I love it!!!!

  53. Love this so much. Who even knew the delivered plants in big racks like that?!?! Clearly not the norm for home gardeners. What an amazing gift. I can’t even imagine.

  54. Hats off to generous, giving people and blessings to people that appreciate gifts and don’t waste them. Sounds like a match made in heaven. I’ve been eyeing those very hydrangea’s at Lowe’s this year. I’m saving up to buy four of them to put in front of an antique fence (I’m a teacher, that explains the “saving up” part!!). I hope there are a few left when I have the money!! I’m sure you are thrilled each time you look at your windows now. Enjoy! Lori Lucas

  55. Margaret says:

    Wow, just incredible!

  56. Wow, that truckload of plants would have sent me over the edge with excitement! Especially knowing I was not going to have to dig every single hole! I have followed your blog for quite a long time. It is very touching to see how the challenges in a person’s life can be handled so graciously. Hooray for coming out on top and with a lovely home to boot!

  57. Oh, you lucky lady getting all those fabulous plants put in. They are going to look amazing once they take off. I have never heard of pine straw, they don’t use that in NZ but I think they mulch strawberries here with straw so maybe similar. I can’t wait to see those little hedges once they have established, I am sure they will take off in no time.

    I am so pleased that everything is going so well in your life, you deserve it Rhoda and how lovely to have someone do all the hard work :). Your blog is an inspiration.

    Lee 🙂

Speak Your Mind


Rating: ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆

+Rhoda Southern Hospitality