Let's start with the front, shall we? This is the google photo, with its weird elongating perspective, of the house from 2012. It is basically as it looked when I bought it at the end of May. As you can see, it had some azaleas at the upper far right, a bed around the dogwood on the right, and some stuff planted immediately in front of the house. The rest was grass.
What I've changed so far. My first goal was to reduce the area I have to mow. (And yes, I know - increase the area I have to weed.) Everything I've planted is small and spaced for its mature width so it looks spare now.
The upper bed is the first one I built, and I ended up revising it several times, moving the rock border into an increasingly serpentine shape. I never have been a fan of straight lines. This bed encompasses the original small bed around the dogwood. Parts of it are shaded by that tree and my neighbor's dogwood, and parts sunny, so I have planted accordingly. Shrubs, both evergreen and deciduous, and many, many perennials. My plan is to have things in bloom most of the year. In the first part of the bed, the center spot is awaiting a dwarf crabapple.
I put in a fieldstone path to the mailbox to avoid having to tromp through the mulch. In between the stones are red creeping thyme, which smells wonderful when you step on it. Dwarf mondo grass and ajuga on either side.
I planted a purple leaf sand cherry in this curve, and set a sentry frog beneath it. A neighbor who initially kept to herself stopped to tell me that every time she walks by and looks at that frog, it makes her smile. I weed out any stray grass that pops up, but the wild violets I leave. They make a decent groundcover and you can't beat their sweet little flowers in the spring. And when they bloom, so will the multitude of of bulbs I have planted beneath them.
I'm also working on a bee/bird/butterfly garden, with sedum, sage, Joe Pye weed, swamp milkweed and so on to bring in the beautiful flying things. I added a birdbath in the midst of it.
And a butterfly puddler, which allows butterflies to safely drink and collect nutrients from the sand. You can buy pricey versions of these on-line, but I just got a $3 plate with the requisite sloping sides and made one myself. I actually like it better than the ready-made ones.
I am not even sure what is in the original bed around the dogwood. Irises, ivy, ferns. And still blooming now, this spiderwort. I've added a number of shade loving plants and a couple of clematis to climb the dogwood's trunk. I have just a few more things to plant, but mostly it's time to wait and watch as it unfolds.