By Holly Collier, Guest blogger

The ugly shrubs are gone. So is most of the grass. Now, I've got what I wanted: a blank slate. But where do I start? I'm not going to jump right in. In fact, I plan to take the winter to plan. And I could use some help. Here's what I've got to work with:
  • My house faces south. It is light stucco and there’s a concrete driveway, so there are some mighty hot spots.
  • The front window has an awning, and part of the roofline has eaves. The previous shrubs were too close to the house, which probably contributed to their demise.
  • My soil is heavy clay.
  • The only other plants in the yard are a row of lilacs along the property line on the west side of my yard and a scrubby pine that took a beating when the Bobcat came through.
  • My house has a cute but challenging footprint. There’s a side entry and unusual porch, which I adore until there is a foot of snow and ice and no place to put it. So whatever gets planted near the porch can’t break under a heap of snow.
So readers, what would you do? I'm eager for your suggestions. Plan with me. Dream with me. Or at the very least wish me luck. And may all your sewer lines remain intact.