"Imagination is the beginning of creation. You imagine what you desire, you will what you imagine and at last you create what you will."
George Bernard Shaw

Monday, July 14, 2014

Yard Transformation Summer 2014

I have to start this off by saying: If you don't have a thoughtful, giving, wonderful friend like Thomas in your life, you are seriously missing out. I think the main motivation behind finally starting the long process of getting our yard under control (besides the fact that it looked like the bank owned our home) was Thomas wanting to put a fire pit in our backyard. He called before Brian went to Oregon and we made plans to turn an old timpani into a fire pit as a surprise for Brian. Because it turns out we don't know all the burning properties and heat thresholds for fiberglass, it was much wiser (and probably safer) to make a raised stone area instead. 

So Thomas came over a few days after Brian left and we mapped out the safest area in the backyard (NOT under low-hanging tree branches like the old fire spot).

The official "before" pic. The old fire pit lid was a marker for some measurements.
We priced out all the materials online and I found a company that would deliver a ton of pea gravel (literally, 2,000 pounds) into my driveway! We were pretty excited about this delivery, but the pile wasn't very impressive. Should have ordered 2 tons!

We don't own a wheelbarrow so Thomas used Arch's wagon to haul all the gravel to the backyard. Wish I had thought to get a pic!
And, after two days of Thomas working in the heat and humidity and full beating sun in our backyard, we have an amazing finished fire pit area!!! Brian was FLOORED when he got home. He had an idea something fire-pit related might be going in the backyard, but he never dreamed it would be like this. We cannot wait to have our first s'mores out there. 

We still can't believe this is in our backyard!!
So while Thomas was tackling the backyard I was working in the front, which is where the foreclosure-esque landscaping was going on. The main problem with our yard is that I've been pregnant or had a newborn/small baby for most of the prime gardening times. OR, Brian has been out of town/in the middle of band/unable to help. Not very convenient! Plus, the former homeowners had all kinds of crazy stuff planted with no real rhyme or reason to it (that we can see). It's hard to take ownership of something and really push to maintain it when you're not crazy about it in the first place. It always felt like we were trying to maintain their vision for the front yard. Now, I'm excited to say, it's MY vision and I am so proud of it so far and how far it has come. It definitely wouldn't have happened without our parents' help--there's only so many usable hours in the day for a pregnant lady in the middle of summer. 
A before picture. The driveway is to the left. And no, that is not grass. It's crabgrass and weeds and random plants (some dead, some alive).
The view from above looking down on the same section. How terrible is all that?!
One of my best executive decisions was to rip everything out below the pretty red plant (which is my favorite thing in the front yard and always has hummingbirds at it) and turn it back to grass. The slope is so steep when you mulch it a good rain seems to wash it all away anyways! And, it's hard to see, but I actually successfully grew grass!!!

TA-DA!!!! This took me many hours in the earlier morning and later evening one day. So much work but worth it!
Here's a before of another part of the yard. I didn't get a good close-up of that right side of the house, but suffice it to say--scary. The main culprit is the giant hibiscus to the right of the steps. It is not supposed to do that or grow like that. Lucky us we got the mutant hibiscus that tries to swallow everyone that comes to our house. It is beautiful when it blooms, but it wasn't enough to keep it there. It's now been transplanted behind the swing at the fire pit area and we're hoping it can hang on. It turns out 90 degrees and 10000 percent humidity really isn't the best weather for transplanting stuff. 

After! Goodbye hibiscus!!
I split up one big plant into 3 sections and put one where the hibiscus used to be. And you can also see I got cocky with my grass growing skills and put another part of the yard back to grass. Plus, all the beds are being edged with bricks now. It's very nice (though labor-intensive!)
A panoramic pic of the yard that finally looks good. I still have some brick edging to complete, but overall this whole chunk of the yard = done!! Next year we'll reevaluate the plants and maybe add 1-2 things. 
The last part of the yard to tackle is a pretty big area. BUT, a lot of stuff is getting dug up, a big chunk of it has already been weeded, and my mom already trimmed all the bushes. So when we get a free couple hours we just need to get all the weeds out and mulch and then we're calling it done for this season. Plus we already spent way too much money on the yard so there's no room for buying any new plants this year. Next year the blue planters and window boxes will also get flowers and plants early in the season. 

One final "before" pic. Completion date TBD.

My final goal while Brian was gone was to turn the side patio into a relaxing place that we actually want to spend time. That has been my intention since we moved in but energy levels, finances, baby situations just hadn't made it possible. I am really happy with how it turned out! I'll probably tweak some things next spring but for a first effort I think it looks really good. Now if we could just get rid of all the mosquitos that make it virtually impossible for me to actually sit out there and enjoy all my hard work!!! I didn't take a "before" pic, but just imagine an empty patio. 

Three huge planters with clematis and petunias. The clematis are doing pretty well and the petunias and sweet potato vines have REALLY taken off!! They should start spilling over the edges soon. 
Arch got his own little chair!!
There are three pretty hanging baskets above the planters. And I hung lanterns and mason jars filled with sand and votives. We haven't gotten a chance to see what it looks like all lit up at night but my guess is lovely!
I've since added pretty cushions to these already comfy chairs! And, a baker's rack in the alcove on the porch that next season will hold fun little things besides just plating supplies. 
I'm exhausted just rehashing everything I did in a few short days. The last day I won't say or admit that I overdid it, but I'll say it was definitely close. I'm happy to have it all almost done and can't wait to maintain it in the fall and next spring!

1 comment:

  1. It looks great Meg! You did a beautiful job with the landscaping. You'll have to give us an update pic once all the grass is in.


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