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Homeowner shares before-and-after photos after turning their yard into a shade garden: 'What an incredible transformation'

"Here are some of my back yard native plantings after 10 years of intermittent efforts."

“Here are some of my back yard native plantings after 10 years of intermittent efforts."

Photo Credit: Reddit

One Maryland homeowner turned their yard from an ordinary lawn to a shady, private park full of native plants.

The Redditor posted about their process in r/NativePlantGardening, where many homeowners have shared similar success stories. Native plants have gotten more popular in recent years because they grow well with minimal care, need little to no extra irrigation, and attract local wildlife like birds and pollinators — all because they're a natural part of the local ecosystem.

"Here are some of my back yard native plantings after 10 years of intermittent efforts," the original poster said, sharing "before and after" photos. "I … am still experimenting, fine-tuning, and moving things around."

Photo Credit: Reddit (After)

Their "before" image shows patchy, dying grass filling most of the backyard, with a weedy, neglected garden bed running along one side. Only the two trees in the yard seem to be thriving.

In the "after" photo, though, everything has changed. The original poster has refreshed the garden bed with a border of large, natural stones and nurtured huge, flowering bushes to grow in it, including cranberry viburnum, white wood aster, blue wood aster, golden groundsel, and inland sea oats. They've also added another bed with smaller plants like shrubby St John's Wort, plus a seating area where they can enjoy the cool shade. The unhealthy grass is traded out for a tidy mulch pathway. The entire yard looks bigger, more comfortable, and more secluded.

"Did you plan to have a mulch path or did that just evolve?" asked one curious commenter.

"The path evolved," the original poster replied. "The grass that was there before was patchy and ugly most of the year partly due to rainwater pooling. So about seven years ago I had everything that wasn't a planting bed covered with wood chips, and then refreshed them once a year. A side benefit was that as the wood chips broke down they gradually improved the soil underneath, which now is less compacted, has worms, and soaks up more rainwater. As the beds got bigger, the mulch area got smaller, to the point that it now looks like a path."

"What an incredible transformation!" said another commenter. "Surely that was a woodland fairy I just saw darting around the cranberry viburnum…"

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