I think it might take another year but my goal of eradicating all grass from the front of the property is slowly being realized. It only took a few hours to dig out several more bucket fulls of sod and put it in the compost bin.
I took some phlox and a large licorice herb plant (this thing is a bee and butterfly magnet) from the back and put them out front. I also put in some pansies to see how they do this fall. I'd still love to put in a nice sumac (or several) or a magnolia to fill the yard a bit more but decided to wait another year for that as well. Maybe I'll just get more pots and create more terra cotta columns.