Way back last spring, when we first started house hunting, one thing Skyler and I agreed on was we needed mature landscaping. Big trees and as forest-like as possible. And the bigger the better.
When we first came to see our house, we fell in love with the huge evergreens and ferns in our almost quarter acre yard. (Which, I know. All you mid/east coast folks – quarter acre doesn’t seem like much land. Here in the city, it’s a good size.) We knew it was over grown and would take some love and attention to get it shining again, but we knew it was worth the clean up time and effort because you just can’t add 60+ year old trees into a yard. I didn’t even want to see any new development or any even just 10 years old because I wanted OLD trees in the yard. Yes, it was that important to me.
These are the listing pictures of the yard (yes, they are horribly blurry, as are all the house photos from the listing. Our realtor didn’t think we’d like this house based on the ugly photos, but I could see past them and begged him to show us this place).
The yard did not even look this nice when we went to see it.
Because of our “mini forest” and with not getting into the house until mid-November, the amount of leaves that were on the ground was astronomical. We raked and raked and raked (yes, even me. 7-8 months pregnant.). Every week that yard waste bin would go out to the curb and finally, about 2 weeks before Ellery was born in February, we had all those leaves finally cleaned up. It was insane. And by that time, we had no grass (not that it was in superb condition anyway).
Some “we’re-cleaning-up-but-it-still-looks-bad” progress photos:
Cleaned all the ivy off of the retaining wall…
Took out the retaining wall stones (we’re going for a more natural forested look…).
This is how bad the “grass” was after we cleared all the leaves off of it. Oh, and that line going across the photo? Yeah, that was a zipline. It was up for about 6 months, but once we started seriously making some progress in yard work, I insisted it come down. I didn’t want to have a nice yard and get clotheslined by the zipline every time I walked across it… :)
As we cleared out all over over grown ivy and other plants, we started discovering these nice big round rocks all over the yard. You can also see there was a pathway that led from the back porch to the small extra patio. This was after Skyler dug out all the little pea gravel from the walk way.
The zipline and how our yard looked for months this winter/spring.
We dug out bricks from the pathways that led to both side gates and also to the small extra patio.
Cleared out overgrown shrubs from the back patio area…
A BAJILLION BLUEBELLS. OMG. It was insane how many popped up. I don’t even want to know how many hours have been spent digging these up from the front AND back yards. (And we’re only maybe 2/3rds done with clearing them out.)
We also decided that the rinky dink, add on front deck was silly looking and I hated that it felt like something that you would add on to a manufactured home. (Trust me. It was worse than it looks in the photo. And sloping.)
We cleared out the two overgrown rhododendrons that were on either side of the steps, and also cut down the gum tree (the horrible kind that leave those pokey little balls all over).
After a loooong while, the front & back yards started to look more “clean”. SO much dirt, but not a ton of overgrown shrubs, ivy, weeds and dead stuff hanging around in the flower beds. We trimmed the limbs off of the trees that were hanging low and in the way.
Looking cleaned up, right?! :)
And then, it was finally time to level out the yard, do grass seed, build up our retaining walls, and plant things again!
We brought in THREE big dump loads of dirt… which have brought neighbor kids out of the wood-works to play in. Something about a giant mound of dirt that screams to be jumped and dug in.
Almost every day this summer so far, our children have come in at dinner time looking like little hooligans. But OH the fun they’re having and memories they are making! (That’s what I keep telling myself every night at bath time, anyway. It eases the pain.)
Both the front and back yards took several loads of dirt to make them more level. Our house is slightly on the hillside so we knew we wouldn’t be able to make it completely level, but we could definitely improve the situation.
Finally time for GRASS SEED!! I actually did a happy dance. (Of course, selfish reasons. I was thinking of perhaps less horrible bath experiences with the boys.)
Look at how much soil Skyler wheeled in!
And then. It started to grow…
We moved some of the existing ferns and plants around in the yard for a more ideal lay out, and have gone to probably every nursery within a 45 mile radius in the last few weeks. Twice each.
But we’ve come home with some great plants (and trees) for (mostly) great prices and I’m happy with the plan we’re working with!
Here’s how we managed to get a 6 ft tall evergreen home – I’m back here because, well, I had to give my seat up. :)
Sticking out of the window a couple feet. #ghetto
The back yard is much more done than the front yard at this point, but the front will follow suit before too long. We have a couple trees in will-call that we need to pick up and then we can plug away at the front and hopefully make some great progress in the next 2-3 weeks.
The front yard is still in major overhaul phase. Still thousands (yes, literally) of blue bell bulbs, still discussing plan for plants/trees in the awkward front corner (to the left) of our house, still discussing plans for a new front porch… (I feel bad for our neighbors with this ugly view, but at least they can see we’re working on it!). These were taken probably a month or more ago, and we now have a leveled front yard with grass!!
THESE ARE ALL BULBS!! *tear tear*
Our awkward front corner. We’ve already decided we don’t want grass in that portion because it would be a pain to mow. You can see we ripped the deck off.
Skyler, tirelessly slaving away at digging out bulbs, and you can see our blueberry bushes and strawberry plants:
Hard to really see, but the front yard is leveled out and just waiting for seed:
A week or two ago, grass starting to grow in and blue bells slowly diminishing!:
Here are the most updated photos as of yesterday:
The grass has come in spotty in the back yard so we seeded again the other day.
Building up the retaining wall area so that the boys had a level area up top to play. We have some fun ideas for this area, like making a mini-city with roads fir them to drive their hot wheels cars. (Probably a next summer project.)
The boys checking out their new area:
We had 2 spots of bamboo growing. We felt that was too tropical and not right in our woodland back yard, so we dug them up. We did place a portion of one of them behind our bedroom window for right now so that it at least sort of blocks the view from the side of our neighbors house.
What the girl does while we do yard work all day:
New natural stone retaining wall with some ferns and a rock step path.
We decided this railing (which was wobbly and not attractive) needed to come down:
Much better! It doesn’t feel as closed in now.
Back this photo again… now that the railing is gone, we can do a step down to the area under the window and small tree. Our plan is (probably next summer) to do a paver patio all in this blank space with a fire pit and a small fountain.
We recently just bought a bunch of shade plants (different coral bells, hostas, ferns, and ground cover) because the most sun our back yard gets is this spotty action, to put in the retaining wall areas:
Got another couple hydrangeas and other shade plants to place around my back patio too.
Back to the front yard – these are some of the plants that we’ve collected and will be using in the front area and weird triangle area. Skyler LOVES Bend and high desert, so I told him we could go a little with that flavor of landscaping. So rosemary, lavender, grasses, evergreens….
…and giant boulders. :)
*sigh* I can’t wait for this ugly mess to go away. Slowly, but surely. :)
But hey, at least we have green grass now!!
And there you have it. A lengthy run down of our yard progress!
Still to come: FRONT – new porch, new triangle area landscape, front flower bed landscape, chunky rustic fence around the grassy area, placing the boulders, making a patio paver area in front of the house. BACK – figuring replacement deck railing for the half of the deck that we left railing on, removing the metal roof over the deck, cleaning out flower beds of debris (old leaves and wood chips), play area on top of mound for the boys – mini-city, rock climbing wall, sand box, paver patio, fountain & fire pit, replacing metal side gate with 6 ft wood gate, make small patio deck a “she-shed”, repaint and clean up shed….
Many many more things to work on still. But I still feel like it’s getting much better and functional now! More progress pictures at the end of summer to show what we accomplished the rest of this summer! :)