How it started, part 1 — Front yard

We moved to Davis in the summer of 1997 and for the 10 years we did very little to our front and back yard. Every few years we mustered enough energy for yet another short-lived attempt at improving the builder-installed landscaping. We always had good intentions but not much time (little kids, work, life).

Front yard ca. 2005
Front yard at the beginning of our remodel, September 2006
This all changed after we completed a major remodel in early 2007. Now that our house looked so good, we felt we had no choice but to bring the landscaping up to par.

Summer 2007, after remodel but before re-landscaping
We hired a landscaping contractor to do the "big jobs": In the front yard, this encompassed installing irrigation, laying flagstone for the walkway and patio, build a 3 ft fence and install sod. In the back yard, they laid sod to replace the lawn that had died during the remodel. Things looked so much better afterwards, we could hardly believe it.

Front yard, summer 2007
In the fall of 2007, we planted drought-tolerant perennials such as lavenders, salvias, yarrows and rudbeckias outside the low fence in the front. Most of them were 4-inch plants from Morningsun Herb Farm in Vacaville. Even though our soil is pretty dense clay and we didn't amend it as much as we should have, they thrived and the following summer our house had pretty decent curb appeal.

Summer 2008
After just a year, we were tired of having so much lawn in the front—too much grass looks bleak to me—so we replaced about 4 ft along the inside fence with a planting strip similar to what's outside the fence.

Planting strip inside the front yard fence, spring 2009
After another full year of growth, this is what our front yard looked like in 2010:

Planting strip inside the front yard fence, July 2010

Planting strip outside the front yard fence, July 2010
We're very happy with the way everything turned out in the front. However, the back yard was another story...