The Summer of Landscaping

This year I’ve decided to take the bull by the horns and fix up our backyard. When we bought the house in 2006 we had BEAUTIFUL landscaping – just gorgeous. The previous owner was an avid gardener and we inherited a beautiful oasis.

By 2007 it was in complete shambles. I’m not a gardener and as a result we basically let everything go to pot in quick order. We now have a mix of wild strawberries (which, despite the name, is a weed), rampant English ivy, random blobs of cement from having our driveway repaired in 2009 and from the house addition in 2012, two years’ worth of fallen leaves, lots of crabgrass and several overgrown shrubs and trees.

It’s a mess. I’d show you a picture or two, but I’m too ashamed.

But that’s all coming to an end! This is the summer that we finally do something about the backyard! This is the summer that we do something so that it’s something we can take care of more easily! This is the summer we put in things we can’t KILL if we ignore them!

The 2012 home addition on the back of the house resulted in us having two areas of the yard where we get significant puddling during heavy rainstorms. One is right up against the foundation of the addition and the other is the pathway to the shed just off the new patio that was poured at the time of the addition. I’m going to address that this year by creating a rain garden near one downspout to lead water away from the foundation AND regrading and laying down pavers & gravel from the patio to the shed. We also have massive puddling behind the shed that needs to be addressed.

We’re having a tree service come in and do some serious pruning of the 14 trees we have in the back yard – a mix of trimming and removing. The result will be a more open backyard rather than having it feel like an oppressive canopy over our heads. The tree service gave me a below-budge quote so they are coming to do the work sometime in the next few days.

I’m also hiring a couple neighborhood kids to come get up all the leaves and even clear out some of the ivy. They are coming the first weekend of June once school is out of session.

Once the ivy is gone, we’re going to have someone come in and remove the cement blobs the week after that (they are hiding under the ivy). Once everything is cleared out we’re going to throw some “kill it all” weed killer to try and get rid of the wild strawberries in advance of re-seeding in the fall.

The piece de resistance is that we’re going to get our patio extended in the back – right now we have a modest 12×14 patio – we’re going to tag onto that and pour another 22×14 all along the back of the house addition. We’re not worried about losing lawn because NOTHING grows in that section of yard.

I’m also hoping to plant some privacy hedges along the back fence – nothing crazy big though. I love mountain laurel (our neighbors had it in NJ) so I’m going to plant a row of small mountain laurel trees along the back fence and let them grow into a 6′ tall privacy hedge from the shed to the corner of the yard.

Where the ivy once was I plan on putting down 3-4 layers of cardboard which I will then cover with 5-6″ of mulch to ensure the ivy does not come back. Then I’ll put 5-6 very large containers in which I will grow mostly ornamental grasses and annual plants because they are easier to maintain and I can pick and choose the annuals I want each year.

There are a couple other sections of the backyard I’m going to address, but it’s not worth going into. Suffice to say, if I can get all of this done by November, we are going to have ONE AMAZING BACKYARD to spent our evenings come cooler weather. The mountain laurel won’t arrive until early November, so that will be the last thing I do for this project.

Once the tree guy comes and clears out the overgrowth I’ll post before and after pics. And then again once the ivy and leaves are gone. Then again once the cement blocks and debris are removed. Because once those things are done it’ll already feel like a completely new yard back there – before I even begin to prettify it!

Okay, okay. I’ll go ahead and show you some pictures now. Don’t judge me.

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