I’m so happy to have the pine circle in front planted with native shrubs. The drawing below shows the new plants in green.

Before: A Southern Natural Area under Pine Trees

Bruce and I planted a variety of red and white azaleas under the front pines during our first spring over thirty years ago. Only two types of white ones survived, but they were huge! Unfortunately, they didn’t support any pollinators. They did provide an excellent hiding place for wisteria, grapevines, and other thugs. And they were an improvement over the wispy lawn that struggled here when we bought the house.

In the late 1990s, I planted a pair of Flying Dragon hardy citrus on either side of the path to the seating area. These very thorny shrubs are not native, but so architectural and fun! They also fit into my edible forest garden theme. I tried to harvest every fruit. Each one that got away seemed to produce six new plants. Clearly, this would be a disaster if they spread to the wild, so out they went.

The chairs are just barely before. I found them marked as free during a neighborhood walk on Thanksgiving weekend. Just what I had been looking for! The wooden bench that had been there succumbed to wood rot last year.

During: Hiring a Landscaper to Remove Large Shrubs

I cut the branches off the Flying Dragons before the landscaper arrived. Then David Druck of A Green Bee Landscape and Maintenance used a Ditch Witch to rip out the azaleas and Flying Dragons, plus two old stumps and lots of vine roots. He carefully shook the shrubs to save as much topsoil as possible. Fortunately, he didn’t see any birds’ nests in the shrubs.

After: Planting Native Shrubs and Mulching with a Neighbor’s Leaves

David then planted the new shrubs. I got several bags of leaves from a neighbor and spread them thickly around the new plants. As I finished raking the leaves, the sun set and the rain started, soaking in the new plants.

I didn’t take photos of the deciduous plants that had already lost their leaves.

Now the Natural Area is Good for the Neighbors and Good for the Wildlife

This is the last big project on my list for converting the garden into a wildlife paradise. Having the front yard full of attractive natives will demonstrate to the neighbors and others who come by how beautiful native plants can be, especially with their extra layers of movement and color from the birds, butterflies, and other pollinators.