Last week I wrote about the problem of “The Fourth Side” in our yard, and the hedge we planted to begin tackling it. But as I alluded to in the post, there are a lot of other issues in the backyard that we’re itching to take on as the weather gets warmer. Today I’m sharing more about our plans for the space, plus a few of the projects we’ve just taken on in addition to the hedge (including how we got rid of all the sod and rocks from our hedge undertaking…).
In terms of quick fixes, we’ve taken down the defunct satellite dish from right above the back door:We just got our grill set up on our deck, which was a gift from my dad and stepmom for the winter holidays that we had boxed up in the basement until the snow finally melted.
We also grabbed a new patio set from Home Depot, replacing the rickety wood table and lonely lawn chair that the seller had left behind:
Pro tip: Lawn furniture is much cheaper if you don’t buy it as a set. We couldn’t find any 6-chair sets for less than $500 so we were beginning so scour craigslist, and then I realized we could buy 6 chairs and a table separately at Home Depot for $190. The chairs all match and it doesn’t look any worse than the $500 ones sold together, in my opinion.
But lawn furniture arbitrage opportunities aside, there are so many issues left to tackle. The two I’m talking about today are:
1) The patio
2) Dead, dead, everything is dead.
There’s a small rectangle of uneven bricks in our yard that I guess would be called a patio. It’s not the nicest looking thing, nor is it particularly safe (because of the uneveness).Clearly something needs to be done about it. I’ve researched a lot of options, and I think digging up the existing bricks and reusing them (plus some new ones) in a much better, somewhat bigger patio will be the most cost-effective approach — buying new patio pavers or building a free-standing wood deck would both probably end up costing us a minimum of $500, which is more than I want to spend at this stage. So stay tuned, this should be interesting!
Dead, dead, everything is dead
It’s true, and not just because we had 5 feet of snow on the ground until last month. Even when we toured the house last July, the grass was pretty dilapidated and there wasn’t a flower to be seen. There were some rose-less rosebushes (over)growing in a bed on the side of the house that tortured our poor movers as they traipsed in and out of the house (you’ll have to use your imagination, it was a stressful time and I didn’t think to take a photo of ugly thorn bushes). Sam took a weedwacker to those our first weekend in the house, such was our anger towards them. It felt like a metaphor for the whole moving process. We might have been taking the flowers too personally.
Other than that, there wasn’t a single plant growing in the back or side of the house. Sam and my amazing mother-in-law, Beth, remedied this when she was up recently to work her gardening magic. I abandoned them in the yard to do my weekend long run, and when I arrived home I was greeted with this welcome sight:
Using bricks from the patio, they created a beautiful flower bed along the back of the house. Eventually we may build a raised planter there once we get the patio situation sorted out, but that definitely isn’t a “this year” project and it’s so nice to have something colorful and alive there.
According to Sam, the process of creating a new bed involved:
- Removing the sod where needed to expose the soil across the entire expanse of the new bed
- Using spade, shovel, and small aerator (the thing that looks like a medieval torture device) to churn up the soil to a depth of about 6 inches.
- On hands and knees, picking through the whole bed to remove all the rocks and roots.
- Adding miracle grow potting soil and manure to the existing soil.
- Digging holes for each plant to the depth of their root balls and two times their width.
- Putting each plant in their respective holes, packing the soil back around them firmly.
- Adding a thick layer of mulch over the top.
- A deep watering.
- Digging up bricks from the patio (since we plan to redo it anyway) and using them to edge the new bed.
Frankly this sounds harder than running 20 miles, which is what I was doing while this all went down. But equally as satisfying!
They also tackled the side bed, where the remains of the rosebushes put up quite a fight.
I have the best mother-in-law ever, it’s really not open for debate so don’t try (my husband is pretty awesome too…). Thank you Beth, come visit us any time!!
Also in the yard care genre, last week I also promised to share how we handled the sod and rocks left over from planting our hedge.We were truly at a loss with what to do with all the detritus, so opted to try an experiment I’d read about: turning the sod into plant food by stacking it up under a tarp and leaving it for 6 months. Whether it works or not, at least it’s “dealt with” for now. I identified this depressed corner of the yard near the shed for our the site of our experiment:
Then I constructed the compost pile. Per the instructions I’d read, I put down a first layer of sod, roots up, and then wet it thoroughly. (The hose doesn’t reach all the way to that side of the yard, so I trekked back and forth with pitchers of water.)
Then I repeated with layer after layer until I’d used all the sod.Lastly I covered the whole thing with a tarp. The instructions said black, but we only had dark green. If this goes awry, I will blame the tarp. The instructions also suggested weighing the tarp down with bricks, but why use bricks when you have a million rocks you’re trying to dispose of?
Of course we still had an endless number of rocks (our soil seems to be 1 part dirt, 5 parts rock), so we did what any self-respecting homeowner would do and dumped them behind the shed along with leaves that apparently the seller never dealt with a we didn’t notice last fall. We’ll call it the “rock and leaf pile of shame.” Judge away.So that pretty much catches you up on our yard projects to-date and the projects we’re hoping to tackle to create an outdoor oasis. Before long, I’m sure it will be looking exactly like this:
But in the meantime, I’m just glad to have this:
(Sharing at All Things Thursday, AKA Design, That DIY Party, Tip Me Tuesday, Two Uses Tuesday, A Bowl Full of Lemons, Link Party Palooza, and Think and Make Thursday – and Featured at Tatertots and Jello!)