Front Yard makeover progress

We have owned our home for 17 years and the curb appeal of the house has always been an issue.  Within the first few years we updated our walkway to a more attractive flagstone.  We removed ivy that I swore was going to come in the windows and strangle us.  We added some landscaping.  Then the oldest child went to college followed by her 2 brothers and landscaping was no longer top priority.  Until now.
We have a small, narrow front yard which gets a lot of shade from surrounding trees.
This side of the yard is so small and it slopes toward the driveway.  Trying to make this area look landscaped was so frustrating.  The only planting that always looks great is the oakleaf hydrangea to the left there. 
I’m sure you are looking at those scraggly bushes under the windows.  No matter what I plant here (and it has been plenty) nothing will flourish.

This tree is a 40 foot Sweet Gum tree, towering over our one story ranch house.  The proportions are all wrong and I have wanted to cut it down for years.
Finally, last summer I talked Mr. Bee into getting it cut down.

The tree company did a good job of taking away all of the debris and grinding the stump, spreading fill dirt and sprinkling grass seed.  I filled in with plants from my back yard and deck and bought a few.  Since this was late summer, it wasn’t a good time to run out and buy a ton of plants.  Plus, I wanted to be deliberate and have a plan. 

Here is how it looks today, a stark and desolate patch of ground.

But that is about to change.  April is a good time to plant shrubs and perennials around here. In preparation I have been studying pictures of small front gardens to get some ideas on how I would like for this area to look.
This is what I am thinking.
I really love the full, but tidy way the plants are arranged in these photos, although I wouldn’t go for the topiaries.  Of course landscaping is always complicated by considerations of weather and sunlight requirements.  Even though the tree is gone, the area is shaded by another tree in the middle of the yard and by the house at certain times of the day.
And it would be nice to have the majority of the plants be evergreen.  I hate the desolate look during the winter.  There’s a lot to consider but I am excited to finally be able to create a more welcoming landscape in front of the house.
With list in hand I will soon be headed to the garden center.

Do you have plans for your garden this spring and summer?

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