Saying Goodbye to Landscaping

· You can have too much of a good thing. ·

Nov, 10, 2021

When we first purchased the house, Teresa Ramsey, Joe’s wife, wrote historical notes about the farmstead for us, using family records and conversations with family members. In it, she wrote about the landscaping:

“Driveway coming into the house – you will notice there are some steps out front leading right off the drive.  It was said that in the early days, a horse and buggy would drop off passengers at the steps and they would walk from there up to the front door.

Big boxwoods were planted around the 1930s, according to Joe’s grandma Margaret H. When the Ramsey kids were little, the bushes were about 3-4 feet tall and separate plants.  Every snowfall, the first thing the kids had to do was go outside and beat the snow off the boxwoods with a broom.”

You can see how all of the boxwoods and the Hemlock had begun overtaking the house:

Here, you can really see how the Hemlock in particular was encroaching on the house, leading to moisture issues and rotting wood that quickly makes any renovation not fun ($$$$ spent on boring things like a SAFE STRUCTURE. No thank you.)

One of the first things we did was ask our friend and tree removal expert, Josh Young, to give his opinion. Cutting down a healthy hemlock is tough decision because hemlocks are quickly becoming endangered due to an invasive insect. But just trimming the tree would essentially take the beauty from it and, as Josh told me, it was time to let the house breathe again.

So his guys came out and did some digging. It must be fun to play with big toys, because they work quickly and make an immediate impact.

(and yes, that is our furniture on the front porch. We had to move out of our other house before the floors were refinished in this one, so much of the furniture stayed put for a few days. #keepingitclassy)

We are currently working with a local landscape designer to make a long-term plan for around the house – there are some things we need to hide (hello, silage the farmer uses in the winter that is covered with white plastic and held down with old tires) and things we want to bring attention to – like the front steps and recreating the path people used to take when the buggy dropped them off – but for now, we’re just happy more light is filtering into the house. As with most things old, it’s bittersweet to pull up beloved plantings left from a previous generation. I keep reminding myself change is sometimes necessary, and the end result will hopefully make people who love history proud of the house they’ll drive past.


  1. Reply

    Teresa Mallonee

    November 10, 2021

    A great reminder of what good landscaping can add to your property…and where it goes if it is neglected. I love that you have a fresh canvas for your designs. Such fun!

    • Reply

      November 16, 2021

      Very true, Teresa. It’s hard to remove well loved things, but sometimes it’s necessary. I’m lucky the family is okay with changes by us!

  2. Reply

    Meta Sadlon

    November 10, 2021

    Gotta put in new windows…black windows 💖💖

  3. Reply

    Terri Hunter

    November 10, 2021

    I love the landscaping decisions. It already looks like a different house.

    The website is great.

    Margaret Ramsey was my good friend, and I am certainly enjoying seeing the renovations being done to the house. I’ll bet she would approve of all you’ve done.

    • Reply

      November 16, 2021

      I sure hope so, Terri. You clearly hang out with good people.

  4. Reply

    Traudel Shuler

    November 10, 2021

    Welcome to the valley

    • Reply

      November 16, 2021

      Thank you!

  5. Reply

    Michelle Moses

    November 10, 2021

    I so look forward to reading your blog about renovating this beautiful old house. I drive by it every time I leave burn in town and it welcomes me when I come home. I remember when they had the huge oak tree (I think it was an oak)in the front at the house close to the road they would always have a yellow ribbon around it.

    • Reply

      November 16, 2021

      Ah, I’ll have to find out about that tree, Michelle! It may have been a hemlock. Honk next time you drive by!

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Molly, lover of history, old homes and wine (maybe not in that order). Discover our journey of renovation and restoration of an 1870s farmhouse in Southern Appalachia.

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