Before & After Buffalo Garden DIY

Fall tulipping and widening the driveway

Fall is a busy time in the garden...

An idea that was planted in my head years ago was widening my driveway with bricks or pavers. I had a garden designer add a row of large cobbles between my and my neighbor’s front yards (mostly to keep stuff in my garden from creeping into their lawn). He suggested that my driveway could be wider, like I didn’t know already.

The problem

Instead of stepping out of a car into a bed of flowers, the extra space, added by bricks leftover from other projects, makes a dramatic difference.

When a car is in the driveway, there is very little space for exiting the car without a car door hitting a neighbor’s fence on one side, and having to nearly step in the garden getting out on the other. Winter exponentially increases the odds of having to exit the car into an an unshoveled pile of snow.

The materials

I’ve been storing a pile of bricks behind the shed for five years – I finally went and counted them. I had just enough to be able to add a few rows of bricks along the entire length of the driveway along the front garden. I did have to buy some patio base, and some sand for the base beneath the bricks.

More than 1,500 bulbs

At about the same time, my tulips arrived! I order each year from Colorblends Wholesale Flowerbulbs. This year, 500 of them:

In addition to these, I dug up the bulbs in my “construction zone”, saved them, then sorted them by type – just to replant them all. Most are purple grape hyacinths (muscari). But there’s a good number of allium, tulips of different sorts, and a few hyacinths. I spent a lot on these over the years so I wasn’t about to trash or compost them. The muscari multiply each year, unlike the tulips which either disappear or diminish each year. All told, I probably had more than 1,000 bulbs dug up, most the muscari.

  • flower bulbs in pots
  • box of colorblend flower bulbs
  • flower bulbs in cardboard box
  • Dug-up bulbs to be sorted.
  • flower bulb placement in flower bed
  • daffodil bulbs
  • daffodil bulbs being planted

Invasive removal

Looks nice here, but it is the bane of my existence.

It was also my chance to try and rid this area of the invasive chameleon plant (Houittuynia). I hate the stuff. It came attached to some plant given from a friend’s garden. It had taken over that area. It will never be gone, till death do us part. I was able to dig it up as best I can. It had massive amount of loose roots. Any little piece of root left in the ground will grow into new plants next year. Much of the soil dug up from here went straight into the garbage, no re-using or composting.

Plant shopping in other parts of the garden

There was a grand “shuffling of the perennials” from other parts of the garden.

Rather than spending money on new plants for the newly cleared space (we’re on a covid-lack-of-work-based budget here), I moved plants from other areas of the garden – like a Japanese maple that was completely hidden, a low-growing conifer I’d not seen in years, and other plants that were getting too crowded out in their space. I have a habit of planting too much and too tight, so it was pretty easy to take out about every third plant and move them into this area.

Rearranging smarter

And I moved some other plants in this section that were too big or tall for the space, like crocosmia, hibiscus, and monarda, into other ares of the front garden. Nothing in this area along the driveway seemed planned after 20 years. Planting by season, color, and height gave way to chaos over the years.

Front yard garden photos from over the years…

Tulips in past years…

I have a long-time garden blog, a popular garden on America's largest garden tour, and have co-written a book on garden design titled, "Buffalo-Style Gardens: Create a Quirky, One-of-a-Kind Private Garden with Eye-Catching Designs" When I'm not doing all that, I am an advertising designer always out looking to design things to promote your business. Look me up at #jcharlier.

4 comments on “Fall tulipping and widening the driveway

  1. connie661

    Isn’t it satisfying to rearrange and organize your garden sometimes?


  2. I really enjoyed seeing pictures of your front garden over the years, noting when the upstairs window box showed up and that horizontal purple stripe above the second story window, observing the disappearance of the front lawn. It’s a good reminder that gardens evolve, especially when my own garden seems at a standstill. I had reason to go through quite a few of my own garden photos recently, and was surprised at how much the garden has changed over what seems such a brief time (but has now been 9 years). I really have made progress, there’s just always a vision of how much better it could be!


  3. Just finished planting 1400 new bulbs, up from the usual 1000 planted every year. And, I’m out of bulbs with one area to go! There just never seem to be enough. So enjoyed visiting your garden with GWA. Liked your photos, especially interesting to see the pre-shed shot. Looking forward to seeing your tulip shot next spring.


  4. such beauty in simplicity. keep it going Jim.


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