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. 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

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

  3. aimee coker says

    Rhoda- your garden looks great! So excited!

  4. 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!

  5. 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!

  6. 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!

  7. 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.

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

  9. ~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.

  10. 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.

  11. 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.

  12. 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!!!!

  13. 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.

  14. 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

  15. Wow, just incredible!

  16. 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!

  17. 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 🙂

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