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One Room Challenge: The Garden Makeover Reveal

by - Wednesday, June 23, 2021

Grab a cup of coffee and settle in, friends. It's One Room Challenge day and all around the blogosphere, designers and decorating enthusiasts are revealing the projects they've been working on for the last eight weeks. So come on in as I show you our garden makeover. It's a work in progress, as gardens always are, but I hope you'll enjoy this look at how things are growing, thriving, and blooming.

Garden Makeover


front garden makeover, shady front garden, garden makeover, front garden layout

If you're new to Rambling Renovators, welcome! My name is Jennifer. I help people create functional and beautiful homes, I help brands create digital content strategies, and I've been writing this blog since 2007. I live with my husband and daughter in Toronto, Canada in a centre-plan, mid century colonial style house that we've infused with the fresh traditional style we love. We DIY all our renovations and have a fondness for architectural details, built-ins, and classic decor.  

Catch up to see what we did week by week:
Week 1 - introducing the garden project
Week 2 - deciding on plant varieties and defining the garden plan
Week 3 - planning the cutting garden
Week 4 - getting plants in the ground - and dealing with a hydraulic oil spill
Week 5 - how to set up a soaker hose system
Week 6 - porch decor and air conditioner fencing ideas
Week 7 - final projects and progress


One thing I've learned about gardens: once you start, you can't stop. We originally planned a simple update of the front garden, but with all this time at home and a desire to get outside, we did a bit of work as well on our back yard and side garden. Let me show you what we've done.

The Front Garden


I always love a good Before and After so let's revisit what this exterior looked like back in Week 1:

front garden makeover, shady front garden, garden makeover, front garden layout

front garden makeover, shady front garden, garden makeover, front garden layout

Clearly, our front garden had been neglected for a very long time. We had made some changes to the exterior over the years, like installing our DIY paver walkway, updating the porch decor, and changing the garage door, but the landscaping was an intimidating project we were hesitant to tackle.

What finally got us over the hurdle was enlisting the help of a professional. We consulted a landscape designer who helped us design a front garden plan. As garden newbies, we had no idea what plants would work together, what spacing plants would need, and how to create something that looked cohesive and would be interesting and ever-changing throughout the year.


front garden makeover, shady front garden, garden makeover, front garden layout

front garden makeover, shady front garden, garden makeover, front garden layout
front garden makeover, shady front garden, garden makeover, front garden layout

Getting all the plants into the ground took a weekend and I'm happy to report that everything is growing beautifully. This vignette with the Euonymus standard, garden rock, and coneflower plant is my favourite. We had to make some minor adjustments as some of the plants specified were out of stock but I'm pleased with how everything looks together.

front garden makeover, shady front garden, garden makeover, front garden layout

front garden makeover, shady front garden, garden makeover, front garden layout

The soaker hose system we installed made a huge difference. We've been running it every other day and with the rain we've had lately, the plants have had their fill. You can see how the hydrangeas are blooming and everything is growing nice and sturdy.

We decided against covering the soaker hose with mulch as it would make this area super difficult to keep clean. We have lots of trees on our property and they dump a TON of leaves on our front lawn (one year I think we raked 56 garden bags full of leaves!). 

It'll be much easier to rake the leaves out of this area without the mulch in the way. For now, things look a bit sparse but once the plants grow bigger and fuller, the soaker hose won't be as noticeable.

front garden makeover, shady front garden, garden makeover, front garden layout

front garden makeover, shady front garden, garden makeover, front garden layout

You might have noticed that we have new sod around the edges of the garden. In Week 4 of the One Room Challenge, we had an unexpected hydraulic fluid spill across our lawn, garden, driveway, porch, and walkway! The city accepted liability for the accident but instead of going through the long, drawn-out claims process, we decided to just go ahead and remediate the situation ourselves and get reimbursement later.

We managed to scrub and clean our walkway and driveway and get out most of the oil stains. We also  transplanted a hosta from the backyard to replace one that died. But the lawn and soil on our front and side lawn were contaminated and needed to be replaced so a few days ago we got a yard of dirt, some sod and things are looking much better... except for this:

front garden makeover, shady front garden, garden makeover, front garden layout

This is what happens when you forget you're taking photos of your house and order dirt. Ha! At least the bag coordinates with the porch dcor.

Front Porch Decor


front garden makeover, shady front garden, garden makeover, front garden layout

front garden makeover, shady front garden, garden makeover, front garden layout

To go with the new front garden, I livened up the porch decor as well. I usually decorate with calm and classic neutrals but for some reason, I was craving bolder colours and pattern. 

I designed this preppy green and blue diagonal stripe pillow and went from there. The black bench was spray painted white and I put a graphic tropical mat on the floor. I kept the other accents in tones of wood and black.

front garden makeover, shady front garden, garden makeover, front garden layout
celtic green benjamin moore, green front door

The front door also got a new coat of paint (Celtic Green by Benjamin Moore). It's a classic, saturated green that works well with the bold accessories. The glass storm door creates glare but the mid-tone green is still visible, which is what I was hoping for. 

front garden makeover, shady front garden, garden makeover, front garden layout

Oh hey, it's me, coordinating with my porch. Dress is from here and I expect to be wearing it all summer. Green is definitely a colour I love for summer, in decor and wardrobe.

front garden makeover, shady front garden, garden makeover, front garden layout

front garden makeover, shady front garden, garden makeover, front garden layout

DIY Air Conditioner Fence

We also took the opportunity to deal with this eyesore on the side of our house. Our house sits on a corner so this side faces the sidewalk. I'm not a fan of the ivy, and the patched vinyl siding needs to be replaced, but for now, our focus was on the unattractive air conditioning unit.

front garden makeover, shady front garden, garden makeover, front garden layout

air conditioner fence, diy air conditioner fence, how to hide air conditioner

Much better! This was a super quick and easy DIY solution. I designed the fence, Sean figured out the measurements and built it in four hours, and I painted it.

We also planted four viburnum shrubs in the ivy. I paired two All That Glitters and two All That Glows varieties. They will pollinate one another, producing white flowers and then blue fruit in the fall.

all that glitters viburnum, all that glows viburnum

front garden makeover, shady front garden, garden makeover, front garden layout

I was thinking this fence would look cute with a wreath and twinkle lights on it in the winter. The only bad thing about this new fence? It's making all of our other fences look tired and in need of repainting, lol.

air conditioner fence, diy air conditioner fence, how to hide air conditioner

front garden makeover, shady front garden, garden makeover, front garden layout

I can't wait to see these plants fill out over the years. For now, I'll enjoy what we have and celebrate that we haven't killed anything yet!

Those are the changes in the front garden. Let's see what's happening in the backyard.

A Cutting Garden



diy cutting garden, cutting garden layout, how to grow a cutting garden

diy cutting garden, cutting garden layout, how to grow a cutting garden

diy cutting garden, cutting garden layout, how to grow a cutting garden

In Week 3, I decided to take this neglected and overgrown area beside our garage and turn it into a cutting garden. Yet again, Mother Nature and our soaker hose system have worked wonders here.

The plants are growing wild and tall and here's where I fully admit I'm a beginner and made mistakes. I should have spaced some of the plants out more and gave them room to grow. The dahlias and Moonshine yarrow are feeling a bit cramped, the sweet peas are not the variety I thought they were, and I think the water may have caused the poppy seeds to pool in a small area.

But things are growing, thriving even, so I will find joy in how we transformed this ugly patch of dirt and rocks into a usuable garden. I can't wait for things to bloom and create flower arrangements from my garden.

diy cutting garden, cutting garden layout, how to grow a cutting garden

diy cutting garden, cutting garden layout, how to grow a cutting garden

I had tried growing a cutting garden, why not grow some vegetables too? This beautiful pot deserved to be filled with something special. I decided to plant a tomato plant, geraniums, purple flowering ground cover, and herbs in it and I have to say, I love how it turned out!

tomato plant in planter, tomato plant and geraniums, tomato plant urn

tomato plant in planter, tomato plant and geraniums, tomato plant urn

Is it wrong to mix plants and vegetables? I wasn't sure but I did it anyway. Fortunately, I found out that geraniums and tomato plants are compatible.

Sadly, a squirrel or other critter decided to dig up the basil that I had here, and the rosemary is not doing so well. Let's hope those tomatoes hold on and keep growing!

front garden makeover, shady front garden, garden makeover, front garden layout

front garden makeover, shady front garden, garden makeover, front garden layout

The cutting garden provides a nice view when sitting at our outdoor dining table. We used to have the dining set situated on our deck (to the right of this photo) but sitting it on the stone patio beneath the trees is so much more pleasant.

I hope you've enjoyed the tour of our gardens. This may have not been a difficult project but we learned so much. Best of all, I'm no longer afraid of my garden!

One more Before and After...

front garden makeover, shady front garden, garden makeover, front garden layout

front garden makeover, shady front garden, garden makeover, front garden layout

Ahhh, so satisfying. Thank you for following along on this garden transformation! Head over to the One Room Challenge blog to see more amazing and inspiring projects.

front garden makeover, shady front garden, garden makeover, front garden layout


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