Step 1: Fix the orange! We chose from 10 different samples, and ended up with one of the beige ones. Once the color was picked, I started scraping and cleaning, then primed and painted.
Step 2: Build stone walls! We went to a stone store and picked out a stone to build a low stacked wall. Picking and buying the materials wasn't bad, but figuring out how to get them to the house was a different story.
The picture above is the forklift coming down our alley (barely fit) from the massive flatbed truck that was parked on the street in the background. The driver was amazingly able to maneuver the truck and forklift through traffic to our garage, but couldn't fit in the garage. Instead, he managed to push the materials into the garage, well enough to let us close it. Here are 2 tons of soil and 2 pallets of stone, sitting inside our garage, waiting to be carried stone by stone and bucket by bucket into the yard. Yay.
I slowly carried the stone and built a low stacked wall along the garage and fence, and then backfilled with soil. R worked on a quarter-circle bed in the middle of the yard that was taller. His was built with mortar, so it's sturdy and sit-able.
Step 3: Add plants. Once the beds were built, it was time to add plants. Having planted a number of shrubs at my mom's house that died because they were wrong for their spots, I wanted to do a better job this time. I picked up a plant book for our zone, to make sure everything was right for our region and climate. Then, I tried to watch the sunlight and pick plants that would get the right amount of light. Last, I tried to pick plants to ensure that something would be flowering at all times. This is what I came up with:
5. Arbor Vitae (evergreens)
6. kitchen yard
7. Maple Tree (one of the only things we kept)
8. Crepe Myrtle
9. Rain Barrel, hiding behind the evergreens
10. Mountain Laurel
Here they are after planting - so good so far!