Luxury Yard Renovation, Phase One

Okay, so I think it’s time we talk about our luxury outdoor living situation. We’ve owned the house for two and a half years at this point and I have to say we’ve made a LOT of progress with the yard but it’s definitely still a work in progress. Let me show you.

Front yard before

This is what the front yard looked like when we bought the house.

Front yard view from the street

It actually wasn’t too bad.

Weird screen plantings

The far left of the above picture is right against the sidewalk and I wish I had taken some better pictures, but the ivy looking lump was actually filled with discarded beer cans (obviously in individual paper or black plastic bags). When it lost its leaves in cold weather, it just looked like a giant mess of tangled vine and trash. There were some volunteer trees and shrubs that were challenging to keep pruned and were also tangled up in what appeared to be really old barbed wire, half of which was buried under ground.

Front yard from sidewalk

We got rid of the big shrub in front of the porch because I really like the feel of an unobstructed porch. I find that an unobstructed view makes the porch and house feel more inviting. It also ensures that any snakes on the porch are visible from the sidewalk, which makes the porch more inviting. For whatever reason, we didn’t keep the no trespassing sign on the porch either.

Best quality mulch

Do you remember the story of the drive by landscaping? Apparently other people don’t agree with me on leaving the porch unobstructed.

Backyard before

Backyard from back fence

The backyard was a bit more of a hot mess. You can actually tell how uneven the ground was based on how crooked this picture is.

Backyard from mid yard

When we first saw the house, none of the trees in the yard were above my waist, except apparently that one right against the house, but by the time we were moved in and starting to work on the yard, there were several that were taller than me. The deck and stoop inspired us to tear them down as part of the initial renovation.

Side yard

I took the above picture to show how the local cable company runs their lines. But the picture also does a good job of illustrating how the side of the house does not seem to inspire plants to live.

Anyway, Phase One of our luxury yard renovation was all about getting the yard under control.

Front yard Phase One

Since the front yard wasn’t too bad, I was mostly able to just start mowing it like a normal homeowner.

One of the neighbors took as much of the unwanted mulch as he could and I did my best to just spread the rest into the lawn, though some of it is definitely still visible two years later.

I worked bit by bit to try to get rid of the the ugly beer can vine on the side of the yard as well as the volunteer shrubs and trees tangled in barbed wire. I was lucky that when the white cinder block house next door was being renovated, they wanted to drive across our front yard to get to their yard. Driving across our yard was not ideal, but in order to get to their yard, they needed to chop down the big trees that were in their way, so I no longer had to worry about keeping them pruned. Woo. Front yard under control.

Backyard Phase One

First time mowing

As you can imagine, the backyard took a bit more work to get under control. The picture above was taken after using up my first battery charge when mowing the lawn for the first time. We got this mower and I have to say that it performed extremely admirably given the conditions it had to work with. After two years of use, the batteries don’t seem to hold nearly as much charge as they used to. I could get new batteries, but now that the lawn is pretty well under control, I’m leaning toward getting this push reel mower. I’ve owned two other ones in the past and absolutely love using them. The only reason we didn’t get one to start with is that they don’t perform well if the lawn isn’t already in good shape. 

Roots

In addition to simply mowing, I had a lot of volunteer trees and their extensive root systems to deal with. The majority of the trees were paper mulberries – a non-berry-producing species that is considered invasive in this area. You can see several stumps in the picture above, as well as muddy spots where I tore up some of the larger roots.

Trimming trees

In the above picture, any of the trees you see that aren’t yet on the ground are between our chain link fence and the neighbour’s wood fence or are intertwined in the chain link. You can also see that by the time we were getting to deal with these, they were well above my waist. These suckers grow fast and dealing with them is a pain.

Yard waste

This was just one of many weeks of bags of yard waste at the curb.

I think this photo gives you a pretty good idea of what the backyard looked like after phase one, along with a pile of wood waiting to join a bonfire. Did mowing the lawn and cutting down trees get me here alone? Noooooo. So I have to mention a couple other MVPs in this process.

Fairway Green lawn care. I had them come out to give me an estimate last summer and I’ve never looked back. They aerated and seeded in the fall and then come 6 more times throughout the year to apply seasonally appropriate fertilizer, weed control, and care instructions. Even the side yard has grass now. We also hired them to do mosquito control this year which is either working great, or there are just no mosquitoes this year?

Since it failed to rain for an entire month after the seeding was done, we got a combination of hoses (here and here), connectors (here and here), and a sprinkler to water the grass. The copper connectors just make it a million times easier to connect and disconnect the hoses. I like the Flexzilla hose because of how sturdy it is and how well it coils, but love the expandable hoses because of how compact, lightweight, and generally easy to deal with they are. We actually tried a couple different kinds of sprinklers and this style worked the best in terms of yard area it covered without getting blocked by the overhanging trees.

And we bought this leaf blower to help keep leaves off the newly sprouted grass. It is pleasantly powerful without blowing away the baby grasses.

So that’s Phase One of our luxury yard renovation. Sorry I don’t really have any pics of Phase One complete – just imagine lots of cartwheel worthy grass. Stay tuned next week for Phase Two updates with plenty of pictures!

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