Our Front Yard: Removing and Replacing a Yew with Nandina

November 14, 2011 — 3 Comments

Overgrown Yew in our Front Garden Bed

Hope everyone had a good weekend! With the relatively warm weather I decided to take a break from the basement this weekend and do some long overdue work this weekend on the front yard. I have been meaning to take out the overgrown yew in the front yard for about 5 years, it just never seemed like a priority. This shrub was there when we bought the house, although it was about 1/4 the size. It was a bad choice for the front (although there were a lot of crazy shrubs in the front back then). Although a yew can make a fine plant in other locations (nice dense evergreen), I find that in this location it is constantly trying to outgrow its space and block the pretty half round cedar shingles on the bay window. It was also blocking the light to the area that will be the workshop in the basement. So out came the sawzall! Which is becoming one of my favorite tools! It took a while and we had a GIANT pile of branches but I was able to cut it down the ground.

Front Planting Bed after removing the yew and trimming the azelea. Look at the pretty shingles!

Fortunately after the shrub was cut back and a few weeds were pulled out the soil was in good condition and ready to go. So what to replace it with? I was looking for something that offers better coloring and year around interest (especially winter color). I was also looking for something with red highlights to work with the coloring on the house.

New Nandina 'Gulf Stream' and Pink Muhly Grass

What finally sealed the deal for me was the clearance sale at Home Depot. They had several varieties of Nandina (Heavenly Bamboo) for $9.97 a piece. I have admired one in my neighbors yard for the past couple of years. In the end I went with Nandina Domestica ‘Gulf Stream’. This plant only grows to about 2 1/2′ tall (yeah no pruning!). It won’t get berries like the typical domestica (which grows up to about 7′ tall) but the leaves stay on the plant year around and they have a lovey reddish tinge to them. I bought 3 and decided to pair them with a couple of the pink muhly grasses that I bought earlier this fall and hadn’t found a home yet.

Nandina 'Gulf Stream'

Pink Muhly Grass

Rendering of Plants once the plants reach full size (imagine the adjacent azalea cut back to a similar height)

Why did I live with that boring overgrown shrub there for so long? Of course now I need to paint (and fix) the basement windows soon! Did anyone else get anything done in the yard this weekend? I’ve still got several more shrubs to get in the ground before it freezes.

3 Comments

3 responses to Our Front Yard: Removing and Replacing a Yew with Nandina

  1. I love the little railing above your windows. So cool! My house is ca. 1895, but at some point someone stripped all the gingerbread and fretwork off it :( When I look at the old photos of my house, I get so sad. Who would ever tear stuff like that off? My goal this winter/spring, is to start fabricating replacement gingerbread/fretwork and start installing it during early summer. *fingers crossed*
    I had 5 huge evergreen shrubs in front of my house when I bought it. I tore them out, and it freaked my neighbor out…he had no idea my house had a front door behind all that shrubbery [the previous owner had always used a side door, and the front door served no purpose bc it was shut off from the world with those ginormous bushes.] It made me so happy to see those go.
    Good luck with your plantings & basement window painting!!!

  2. Hi Jenne,

    We fabricated the railing and detail above the bay window ourselves. We have an old photo from around 1895 of the house. We could see that there was a railing there, but nothing more specific. We decided to use simple posts and a railing to match our porch. Then I designed the inserts/gingerbread based on some photos I saw in books. They are made of Azek and I cut them out using a jigsaw (the rest is pressure treated wood that has been painted). We had our siding guys help us install the railing and posts. When they opened up the roof they fortunately found the old post holes and installed the new ones in the same place. Finally we topped the posts off with a flat piece of Azek and a cedar finial that I found online.

    It seems like gingerbread and detail work was out of fashion for a long time, I think that paired with the constant work of painting and repairing a lot of people decided to get rid of it. So sad!

    When we bought the house it was completely covered with asbestos/cement siding. We didn’t actually see the old photo of our house until we had lived here for several years. We also had LOTS of shrubs, most of which I pulled out several years ago. We now only have 2 shrubs that came with the house(and a 100 year old hedge), an old rhododendron near our front porch and the azalea next to the yew that I just took out.

    Good luck with your renovation!

Trackbacks and Pingbacks:

  1. Blooming This Week: Cabbage, Succulents & Nandina | Stately Kitsch Blooming This Week: Cabbage, Succulents & Nandina | Design for the modern older home owner. - January 16, 2013

    [...] am still in love with the Nandina Domestica ‘Gulf Stream’ (Heavenly Bamboo) that I planted in the fall of 2011. This miniature variety does not produce berries, but the colors are so nice and it looks so good [...]

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