So the question of what exactly to do with our front steps/walkway area has been nagging me for a while. While we aren't loving the poured concrete, utilitarian look, we have been too busy with other projects around the house to give a total overhaul any serious consideration. I wish I had taken a photo from when we first bought the house, since the whole thing looked even sadder back then. There were no plants to speak of on either side of the front steps (between the street and the sidewalk), just two patches of dusty ground where maybe something might have grown in the past? Not cute. Combine that with the cracked concrete and broken, dangerous front step just asking for an accident to happen...
A few months ago my master gardener Mom (seriously, she is amazing with plants!) helped me come up with a simple, low maintenance design for the beds around the front involving a low hedge of dwarf boxwoods with day lilies on the inside. I was so desperate to clean this space up and get it looking better that I was too eager to knock it out-- instead of waiting for larger bushes to come in or ordering them, I bought some dinky little bushes that were way too small to create the look I wanted. That's what you're seeing in the photo below.
These tiny bushes, although better than nothing, kept bothering me until I ran across some more mature boxwoods at Lowe's a few weeks ago. Thankfully the little ones hadn't cost much, so I didn't feel too guilty about pulling them out and replacing them with the new, properly sized plants, which make the space feel more established. And since I removed the old ones carefully, I can always just replant them in the back yard somewhere.
With the plant design completed I turned to the question of what to do with our horrible front step. I picked up a couple of bags of Quickrete mortar mix from the hardware store to fill in the massive cracks and holes and gathered up some extra bricks left over from the landing project in the back yard. Using the bricks to create a barrier, I mixed and poured the concrete in behind them to fill in the jagged, broken sections of the walkway.
Once that section had dried and I was satisfied that the top step was secure, I started building a small second step below it with two layers of our extra bricks. This part was especially fun, since I felt like a real mason, slathering on the mortar and leveling the bricks as I went (even though this was an admittedly tiny project for a real mason, but hey, I'm still proud:)). Using a little trowel to smooth out the mortar, I kept thinking how it's exactly like icing a cake-- not much to it!
So our new front walk area still isn't perfect by any means, and we would honestly still prefer to rip out all of the concrete and lay a brick or stone walkway, but I am really pleased with how just a little facelift has made a huge improvement.