First things first, we needed to clear out the front beds. There were lots of basic perennials - hostas, lilies, irises, seedum, etc; and about a million bushes - arborvitae, Japanese maples, different evergreen bushes, and plenty of other things which I have zero clue as to what they are. We trimmed back bushes, split and transplanted a bunch of the perennials, and cleared the weeds.
Neither of us have the greenest thumb, so we just kinda muddled through. We also didn't want to put anything into the ground this year, so we worked with what we have. Some of the bushes look pretty awful, so I trimmed as much of the dead branches off as I could, and we'll see what happens in the spring.
Next step, mulch. We went with very cheap, very basic cypress mulch. I wanted something that would provide a nice thick layer of weed protection and add a little more color, without breaking the bank. It turned out nicer than I had imagined!
We love the outcome!