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How to Transform Your Landscape Using Existing Plants

Ask This Old House landscape designer Jenn Nawada uses a homeowner’s existing plants and a few additions to transform the look of a house’s foundation

How to transform a landscape with existing plants:

  1. To get rid of a large shrub, wrap twine around the branches to bring them in tight. This will give you better access to the root ball.
  2. Use spade shovels to dig into the roots of the plant and begin to break it apart.
  3. Use a pry bar for leverage to remove the root ball from the ground.
  4. To begin to divide current ground cover plants like hostas and ferns, pull back a clump and use a small spade shovel to dig out and divide that part of the plant. Be sure to dig underneath the roots to maintain a root ball. This will not hurt the plant and if down properly, can be use in another spot or given to a neighbor.
  5. With the ground cover removed, lay out the new shrubs in the pattern you like in front of the foundation.
  6. Dig holes for the new shrubs. Dig a hole twice as wide as the root ball, but shallow enough for the root ball to stick out above the ground by an inch.
  7. Place the shrub in the hole. Check the depth. Then back filled it with the soil removed to make the hole.
  8. With the shrubs in place, find spots where the ground cover hostas will look good.
  9. Dig shallow holes for each hosta and back fill them.
  10. Place leaf mulch into foundation plant bed, about two inches thick. Be sure to keep the mulch back from the stems of the new plantings.
  11. To clean up any larger bushes or shrubs, prune off dead branches with pruners. By making a small scrape with hand pruners or your finger nail, you can identify dead wood, which will be brown underneath, from living wood, which will be green.
  12. Cut branches at the crotch, where each branch is divided into the next. This will ensure the plant is using its energy on the healthy branches and not the dead ones.
  13. Give new plantings a good soaking with water. Water everyday for two weeks and then keep mulch moist over the growing season.