The Yard Story, Part One

You've seen some of the renovations of our house that are slowly but surely moving along. One "renovation" that we somewhat anticipated in buying this house was of course the yard. You know in cartoons when hearts replace the character's eyeballs when they fall in love? That's what happened when my husband and I found this lot (well for me. He was probably counting the dollar signs flying left and right out of  each window.) We have a triple sized lot which is amazing! When we first stalked this place prior to the realtor being able to show us around, I actually snuck through the half a foot of snow into the backyard. "Josh the yard is so big!! AND there's even a shed for you to store stuff!" (Please be sure to check out the "awesome shed" in photos below.) Fast forward to spring/summer when we finally closed on our dream home. Closing day was here and spring was in the air. I had plans to plant a vegetable garden that very weekend. I frolicked and skipped into the backyard expecting to see a few rabbits dancing and butterflies flying in blissful happiness. And...our yard is a disaster. This yard could eat every other terrible yard for breakfast and still be hungry for more. This yard's weeds would survive a zombie apocalypse and nuclear attack. This yard is horrendous. You think I am exaggerating just a little bit, but trust me when I tell you I am not.

We've learned a few bits and pieces from our neighbors now that we've lived her for a year-- our house hadn't been lived in for at least four whole years (the mice in our house gave that away pretty quickly). The previous owner was really into keeping his yard and organic gardening, but when he and his wife's health began deteriorating, the yard was no longer maintained regularly, and the children didn't do a whole lot of the maintenance either. So when we found that the whole back of our lot was five foot tall weeds and prickers threatening to eat our daughter, we shouldn't have been hugely surprised. I recommend not buying a house in winter now.

We were hugely overwhelmed. My husband and I may be really great at visualizing how to renovate the inside of our house, but honestly don't know the first thing about gardening. The thought of figuring out what to get rid of, where to begin, which trees were stable enough to save, what to plant where in what light that would work well in what area, well it was just too much for me. After some begging and pleading on my part, we finally agreed to have a professional come and design a landscape plan for us. Unfortunately that doesn't mean a professional will come and rip out 35 stumps for you. :) But for us, this was precisely the direction we needed to get motivated to make our yard a tad more welcoming. As you've seen in previous posts, we are all about doing things ourselves and appear to not be afraid of hard work (though I am likely quivering in my shoes a little.) Sometimes though, you have to step back and make hard decisions about spending a little extra for some professional advice. Yes, we could have landscaped our yard on our own with a lot of research and trials and failures, but with the size of our lot and the potential it holds, I felt that someone with experience would help us maximize the use and appearance exponentially more than anything I would have ever come up with. That was worth it to us.

So here are some before photos and a few of our in progress photos to see where we've come. Stay tuned next week for some more finished landscape shots.

Here is the before shot of the view to the left in our back yard. Those were some pretty dense bushes/trees/weeds that were about five feet high. A good portion of these were truly weeds, so don't feel sad that we lost some great bushes here.


Here is the after (for now). What's that? We have neighbors? Who knew...


Putting the young ones to work early! We rented a backhoe from Home Depot for the day for about $200. This made the process of digging all the stumps up much faster. We were actually able to get most of the brush out of our yard in one long day, versus trying to dig all of these out by hand. That easily could have taken the entire summer. Plus all the men in my life were in heaven the whole day getting to use a big digger. The neighbor men were all oogling too. I'm not kidding.


Here is the view of the back of our lot. Our property actually extends beyond that oddly located fence for a bit. It's a jungle back there!



Here is a close up of the other side of the fence. I had actually attempted to plant a garden back there... After a while I got too scared to dig for zucchinis.


This is the back with the piles of brush after using the backhoe for an entire day.


We decided to rent a wood chipper from  Home Depot the following weekend to mulch up the remains of our yard. It would have taken at least 20 trips to our local dump (which would have turned it into mulch anyway).


Here is the after for now. We recently had a tree taken down by the power company since it was on a power line, so that's all the brush in the back left.


Here is the right side of our back yard. There is a fence hiding in there!


After we cleared that out...yard_9

And the beginning of digging out the side garden beds. We were fortunate enough to have had basement work done prior to moving in. They cleared both sides of the house of all the bushes.



Finally, here is the front of our house. That big ol' pile of brush in front of the door was actually a bunch of weeds that was growing in front of the window. The tree to the left was a plum tree that had quite possibly the strangest shape I've ever seen. Our tree to the right is crying for some pruning action.


Here is to the left of our driveway. We were so happy to get rid of that bush in the back that was blocking our garage.


After for now! A yellow door makes things pretty cheery!


So that's a bit of the progress in our overgrown yard. We've gotten a great deal done in quite a few weekends, but still have loads left! Here's to hoping we get around to planting grass soon, and that it actually grows.

What kind of fire has spring lit in your heinies? Do you also feel like weeds multiply exponentially overnight? Please share your shovel stories!