Garden Photo of the Day

Compost and Mulch

Secrets of a beautiful, low-work garden

Today’s garden belongs to Julie Hammond. She writes:

I am an avid gardener in Peoria, Illinois, expanding plantings with divisions and markdowns. I learned the hard way that compost and mulch are the secret to a great garden. People think I work really hard, but most of my work is done by the end of May. The rest of the summer, I just water the pots.

This is a picture of my front garden, taken in June 2018. While I’ve lived in the house 27 years, this garden was put in about 2011 after we had geothermal wells dug in the front yard. The Japanese maple on the left was a $6 markdown put in about 1993. It might have been taller, but my boys kept jumping off the porch and breaking the leader. I have a Hopi crepe myrtle (Lagerstroemia indica ‘Hopi’ Zones 6–9) near the brick-and-concrete-walk intersection on the left. While it dies back most years, it comes back strong and is a novelty in the area. The light green shrubs in front of the porch are deutzia ‘Chardonnay Pearls’ (Deutzia gracilis ‘Duncan’, Zones 5–8). In a few more weeks, the hanging baskets will be dripping with flowers.


The west bed, planted with hostas, was the first in after the dog wore a dirt path along the fence. It has been widened a few times but has never performed as well as the north and east beds, as those were amended with multiple truckloads of compost before planting. (My twins still tell stories about being forced to drive to the landscape landfill to fill the truck on Saturdays.) View this article on how to build a brick path.


In the north bed, perennials luxuriate in soil richly amended with compost.


Ernie the dog posing with the outdoor fireplace. The fireplace stone came from an accent wall on a motel from the 1950s–1960s.


Colorful annuals bloom next to the fireplace. View this video on how to create great container groupings.


Have a garden you’d like to share?


Have photos to share? We’d love to see your garden, a particular collection of plants you love, or a wonderful garden you had the chance to visit!

To submit, send 5-10 photos to [email protected] along with some information about the plants in the pictures and where you took the photos. We’d love to hear where you are located, how long you’ve been gardening, successes you are proud of, failures you learned from, hopes for the future, favorite plants, or funny stories from your garden.

If you want to send photos in separate emails to the GPOD email box that is just fine.

Have a mobile phone? Tag your photos on Facebook, Instagram or Twitter with #FineGardening!

You don’t have to be a professional garden photographer – check out our garden photography tips!

Do you receive the GPOD by email yet? Sign up here.

View Comments


  1. mjensen 06/27/2018

    beautiful front yard, great job

  2. Maggieat11 06/27/2018

    Very nice! Glad to see a photo of your home too, to see how everything "fits in". Love the fireplace also. Thanks for sharing!

  3. User avater
    meander_michaele 06/27/2018

    Wow, Julie, what a welcoming front entry you have. And, it's pretty impressive to have lush flowers growing in what's often referred to as the "hell strip". And your backyard area looks amazing...esp. with that super gorgeous fireplace.

  4. sandyprowse 06/27/2018

    Funniest thing I’ve ever read on this site was about the Japanese Maple and how it would have been taller if it had not been jumped on by the children living in this lovely home. The dog was also a welcome sight. What a delightful garden to enjoy with my coffee on this rainy day in Toronto Canada. Well done!

  5. User avater
    treasuresmom 06/27/2018

    Love it all (and Ernie) too.

  6. sheila_schultz 06/27/2018

    You have certainly found the magic potion for your cheerful gardens, Julie. They are lovely, and Ernie is a very handsome fellow. He must love to lounge on your lawn while guarding his family!

  7. carolineyoungwilliams 06/27/2018

    Thank you for sharing your beautiful garden Julie. It's a well planned garden with amazing points of interest. I enjoyed every area.

  8. toweringpines 06/27/2018

    I have been reading GPOD for a long time, watching ups and downs. Lately the the post have been great, more pics, more info. I used to enjoy reading comments too but they seem to have declined.

  9. Meelianthus 06/27/2018

    Beautiful gardens Julie and your front approach to your charming home is just lovely. I too am a firm believer in mulch, mulch, mulch! It is so great for all of the plantings and keeping weeds down and just makes gardening a lot easier.
    I agree with 'Towering Pines' regarding the declining comment section. I think the GPOD has lost a lot of it's charm when 'users' are mostly numbers and there is no place for a 'response' from the GPODer to the commentor. I think many people have missed the old format and although Joseph is doing a fine job, it just isn't the same.

  10. cheryl_c 06/27/2018

    Hi, Julie, I love your design and your plant choices - and you have given me an idea for a focal point in a new garden I'm planting with mostly ivory colored flowers: an ivory colored jardinere! Perhaps with a splash of totally different annuals in it- that came from your fourth picture, with the oak leaf hydrangea. Thanks for that! and thanks for your pictures. Ernie is a real focal point himself! Thanks for including both him and the photos that show the big picture!

  11. cheryl_c 06/27/2018

    PS - to Meelianthus - I think you can click on the green 'Reply' included under each comment if you want to specifically reply to a comment. Am not sure why we seldom hear back from the gardener whose work is featured, but I have found replies to my comments on occasion. We are no longer notified in our e-mail accounts that those replies are occurring, so we have to keep going back to find them.

    1. Meelianthus 06/28/2018

      Thank you Cheryl.

      1. cheryl_c 06/28/2018


Log in or create an account to post a comment.

Related Articles

The Latest