The Front Yard- Part 1

If I haven't been posting as often lately, it's because of this. I bought a project. I optimistically took this picture the day the sold sign posted, before moving day, and before the important boxes were unpacked and a civilized, but very temporary amount of home decorating was done.  When the dust settled I began the researching and costing things out, making sketches, revising sketches, and meeting with all manner of house people from architects to tree guys. Despite the fact that I'm dying to do the inside, we decided that the most important thing to start with is the front yard. Psychologically speaking, it will make us feel more settled to drive up to a nice looking house.

When I first pulled up to the property with our realtor a few months ago I saw a chain link fence, a bald, badly topped tree, some gnarly rose bushes, and dense camellias covering the windows and spilling over the driveway.  I knew it killed the curb appeal for other potential buyers, making it easier for us to get the house. I was happy to look past the exterior, because I was so focused on getting a place that hadn't been flipped.  The interior was spotless and completely white, there was a brand new roof, new windows, and that giant backyard. When the inspections came back with no major items called, I knew we had found our place.  But driving up to it every day with it's chain link fence around the lawn and anemic gray paint job is a constant reminder of how much we need to breath life into it. So we it is here that we shall begin. 

To note: I don't know anything about landscape design, I just know that I like the way it looks in Sunset magazine.  The most important things to me are that this new front yard is drought tolerant, easy to maintain, and has personality. I want lots of edible plants mixed in with native grasses, and flowers. I absolutely do not want a lawn- we are in a drought, and we have enough of that in the back. I want to build horizontal fences on either side of the front of the house to lengthen the front yard and add privacy to the back yard, and I need to block our neighbor's unsightly side yard/house from our view. Here are my inspiration photos:

I started to figure out what I wanted by looking at the yards around town. When I saw one that appealed to me I researched to find out the names of plants and flowers that I was drawn to. Then I started up with Pinterest. I searched high and low for drought resistant landscaping and native California grasses.  I made a board and creatively named it

"The Yard"

. Then I made the calls.  I found the landscaper who does all the yards that I like around town and I had him come take a look.  While he was here, I had him identify all the the trees on the property, he gave me an overview of their health, a sense of what they look like throughout the year, and what type of maintenance to plan for.  We decided that I needed to cut some down, including the old, poorly topped magnolia on the front lawn, a tree that was probably planted when the house was built. I talked through my wants and needs with the new yard, and then it was time to call the tree guy.  When it came to cutting down trees and ripping out the existing landscaping, I was all bark no bite.  On the day the crane, and fleet of equipment showed up to remove it all, I felt really guilty. Someone probably really loved that tree at one point. I left for the day and came home to a bald, sun-scorched lawn with a chain link fence around it. This is what it looks like today with dead grass and no shrubs(cringe):

You've gotta tear it down to build it up. I go between really inspired and excited to overwhelmed and full of doubt. We have a lot of work to do, and we can't go spending all of our money on the exterior, which means we are going to have to do some major projects ourselves, like painting the house (anemic gray is not our color). Any suggestions? Wish me luck.