Danascara Landscape Progress and To Do List

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For the first couple years in our house, we were just focused on cleaning up and clearing our land and making it look neat. It was all so overgrown from being abandoned for so long. But we always knew we had a lot of planting in our future. Our dreams are to have loads of flowers and fruit growing on our property.

Harrison walking through the field that was the side yard in 2019.
You can see how overgrown the backyard and left side yard were when we bought the house.
Only the area in front of the house had been tended by the bank that owned it.

We had to take down two diseased trees in the front yard the first year we lived here – you can see those above. We had the stumps ground last year, and this year I’d love to plant two saucer magnolia trees in the front yard, more toward the road than the previous trees were. I think they will provide a little privacy someday from the front, and the view when they bloom will be magical from the house.

Mature saucer magnolias will look like this. Source.

So far we have planted grapevines, hydrangeas and boxwood around our front porch, and lilacs along our front property line.

Steve planted grapevines two years ago on the hill in the back of our pool — Frontenac and Marquette varieties. There were already wild grape vines growing everywhere, which makes sense since we have the ideal rocky soil and hilly landscape for them to thrive. Steve makes wine as a hobby, and he had been growing grapevines at our old house (now tended by my brother Joe, who lives there). Planting the grapes in rows on the hill at the back of our house was a great solution, not only for the grapes, but to add some structure to a wild and hard to care for section of our land. Steve used fence posts, metal T bars, and 16 gauge fencing wire to create a structure for the vines to climb and grow along. He is training the grapes according to the “top wire cordon” method. He trims them in the early spring – cutting off anything thinner than a pencil and any frostbitten areas. The grapes are doing well and growing larger every year — last year they produced fruit for the first time!

The grape supports on our back hill — early Spring.
You can see the young grape vines growing along the wires – Steve had just trimmed them after the winter frost.
Our grapevines produced fruit for the first time last year.

Two years ago we used shoots from a large lilac tree in back of our house to begin a lilac hedge along the front line of our property, where the iron fence used to be. I wanted a hedge that would be a little taller to provide privacy, but also loved the idea of a flowering plant that would create an enchanted garden feeling for our house eventually.

Inspiration for how the lilac hedge will look when it grows in. Source.

Last year, we added a few more shoots where some of them didn’t survive. This year, about 70% of the two years’ shoots are thriving, but there is one area that gets a lot of sun where we need to replant. I am going to come in with more shoots and plant them in between the existing plants, and then I’m going to add a few more mature lilacs from a nursery to the sunny area, and concentrate on watering those so their roots can become established.

The beginnings of the lilac hedge. We planted it along our front property line, in line with the driveway pillars.

Last year, after we repaired and painted our front porch, we added planting beds in front and to the side. Those contain New Gen boxwood, Wintergreen boxwood, and Little Hottie hydrangea. It remains to be seen if we will need to add more – I didn’t want to crowd anything so I was generous with the space between and in front of plants.

Our new garden bed in font of the porch – it contains boxwood and hydrangea.

In front of that planting bed there is a pathway that Steve accidentally found the Spring after we moved in (2020), buried in the grass. The pathway is made up of what looks like old concrete pieces, so I don’t think it’s very old. It’s very uneven and has large spaces between the pavers so it’s very difficult to walk on and maintain.

The existing pathway in front of our porch.

This year, I want to take that out and build a brick pathway like this one:

The brick pattern I want to use for our front pathway. Source.

In the back of our house by the pool, we renovated the patio area with the pavers that had been there and pea gravel in between – starting two years ago and finishing last year.

The paver patio we added behind the house.

We also added a row of hydrangea by the pool and one lilac plant near a planter bed at the end of the pool. This year, I’d like to remove that old planter bed – it’s made of railroad ties and isn’t my favorite look. It also contains a large mulberry tree that gets in the way of the pool path.

The planter bed and large mulberry tree we would like to remove this year.
The lilac we added at one end of the planter bed. I would add another at the other end if we remove the raised bed.

If we can remove that this year, I’ll probably add another lilac at the other end and then a row of pink and blue hydrangea in between those lilacs.

A row of pink and blue hydrangea like I want to create along the back of the pool. Source.

Between the pool fence and the grapevines is a large space where I plan to add rows of cutting flowers. The area gets full sun and could benefit from something pretty to look at while you’re at the pool. We will start small, so this year I’m going to add a row of peony plants there. They’ve always been a favorite of mine and I’d love to have a ton to cut from in the early summer!

The area behind the pool fence where I’d like to add a row of peonies. The large plant before the grapes is a trumpet vine.
I’d like to create a peony border like this behind the pool fence, in front of the grape vines. Source.

On the other side of the hill, toward the barn, is a large space that Steve cleared of brush last year. In that area, Steve plans to plant a variety of fruit trees going up the hill — this year he purchased plum and apple trees. Again, the hill gets full sun, so those will do well there and it will also make the hillside easier to care for in terms of mowing. Steve will use the fruits to make fruit wines eventually (he makes a pear wine with fruit from the pear tree that was already on that side of the hill and it’s delicious).

The large area on the left side of our back hill where Steve is planning to plant fruit trees.

These are our summer planting and landscaping plans! We will also continue to work on clearing overgrown areas of brush and debris, like the far left side of the back hill toward the barn, the fence line on the left side of our property, and area surrounding the tennis court. The brush clearing will take us years but we make a little progress every summer!

Click here to see a roundup of all our gardening essentials!

2 thoughts on “Danascara Landscape Progress and To Do List

  1. You and your husband are doing great things with this house and yard. . I love following along on your journey. You are providing a wonderful example for your boys about preservation and enhancing what you have. I hope your summer is filled with joy and lots of sunshine 😊

  2. Your home and grounds are so beautiful. You have such an eye for simply elegant design inside and out. Lilacs and peonies are my two favorite flowers! My parents bought a home years ago that had well established lush rows of peonies in every shade from whitest white to deepest purple. Scent memory is a powerful thing!
    I look forward to the seasons you share on your posts. Thank you for sharing. M

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