The Yard Again

So as the lack of a follow-up post to The Before and After – Yard should signal I did not finish, or even get close to completing the project. Our lack of planning crept through the summer and eventually we gave up putting it off for another year.  This year would be different. So with the help of some very talented friends and family, yes one happens to be a Master Gardner, and the fact that I finally acquiesced that I may not be able to install a sprinkler system myself, we have made progress.

I found myself not realizing the details in the planning of a yard, where would we like all the hose bibs to go, which way the garden beds should be placed to maximize the sun, did we need electrical run to any part of the yard, stepping stone, how mush border did we want along the fence and house and so forth and so on. It was all things I never considered, my yard growing up was a huge rectangle with a garden along the back and some fruit trees we planted. I don’t recall there being sketches or a discussion of the drip system for the plants, so I was taken back by my lack of planning for this endeavor.

While we have made some quick decisions and are still making some I think it is coming along nicely.



This is the yard when we purchased the home. The Astroturf was put there as a selling feature, its true purpose was to keep all the weeds as bay. We have since removed the deck off the house, taken out a few of the fruit trees, and replaced the patio. DSC_0391

The back corner of the yard


Step one was removing the weeds.

More weeds to remove. It was amazing just having a uniform yard, even if it was just dirt, made it seem so much bigger. DSC_0047_2

We marked the start of the garden beds.

On the side yard, by the garden, we decided on bark. I will pause here so everyone can appreciate the bark. The bark conversation, all on my husband’s side, was an epic conversation so I want to make sure it gets the appreciation it deserves. DSC_0053_2


The sod has gone down and we are hopeful it makes it. Next steps garden and planting!


Before and After – Yard

So after all the work and the clouds of dust finally settled over everything we owned. We have a new patio and driveway. They are both lovely and completely level. And better yet they are done in just enough time for the kick off of summer and a huge party.

The downside of the project is we had the driveway and patio done, not the landscaping and completion of the yard. So we are now faced with the somewhat uphill battle of the remainder of the back. The Monet lawn we had going, comprised of some grass but a lot of weeds that from far away when mowed looked like a lawn have all but been killed off by the countless wheel barrel trips and heavy machinery. So more to come on that.

Here are the before and after pictures. I love how it all turned out.



Let’s get started

So we have had weeks of no activity on the house and then all of a sudden last week we took a huge step forward. I have discovered although my education was amazing what I should have gone into was masonry. Because as someone who has never had to replace a driveway or patio, I found myself saying things like, “How much could this cost?” The answer was not what I had expected to say the least. But as you can see from the pictures the driveway had become a hazard and the backyard is cracking apart, so we need to do something. And as I was told by everyone who came to give us a quote, “It really adds value to your home.” So I am repeating that mantra to myself as we start Demo Day.


So we spent this weekend ‘cleaning’ up the yard and putting things aside to start demo today. I am both excited at the prospect of a yard and driveway that I can walk on without tripping and scared of what we will find. Since we are only 30 minutes in and have already found a problem I am sure it will be an interesting few weeks.


Of Course

Weeks and weeks ago I planted bulbs in the front. It was going to be a kick off to the new yard. After weeks and weeks, nothing. Not a single one of them sprouted. So I gave up and  broke down and went to buy some plants.

So I rolled up my sleeves to finally get the front yard going. But of course I found this.


And of course not just one but 4 of the 5 bulbs I had planted.

So now we have a bit of a mixed bag in the front but hey it is something. Onto the next thing.


Yard Update

The back and front yard projects have been put on rain delay.


  • The bulbs that we planted in the front have yet to even sprout.
  • We managed to fill in the holes in the backyard  that were created when we removed the deck off the back of the house. My daughter, while my husband filled in the holes, managed to plant giant sunflower seeds in the holes.
  • The sunflowers, of course, are now sprouting and will be 7 feet tall shortly.

Hopefully this weekend we can get back out and start some of the projects.

Backyard – Starting Point

The Backyard is overwhelming. I am just going to start there. I had a cold dose of reality this weekend that we are looking at a multi-year project to get where we really want to be. We are very lucky to have an amazing friend who not only makes the most amazing salad and gives the best hugs but also happens to be a master gardener. She came over this weekend to help us build a plan of attack, provide suggestions on everything yard related and provide real encouragement. We now have an amazing starting point.

But to know where we are going I thought I would show you where we are starting.

The theme of the yard was sheds, fountains, astro turf, trees and stuff.

When we bought the house there was a small strip of cheap turf laid over bark which was added as a selling feature.


Sheds, sheds and more sheds.

Plus, our trees are an amazing fruit called Green Sicilian Nectarines. Minus is that ALL the trees are the same. We had 5 of the same tree in the yard.

The stuff speaks for itself. We have since cleared out quite a few things

We have since cleared quite a few things out. Here is where we are starting from. from far away it almost looks like all the random grasses and weeds make a lawn.

Front Yard – Project One

The thought of all the work that will be going into the front and backyard is overwhelming so I thought it best to start with a small project. A quick win would be just what we needed to spur us onto the larger projects to come.
In a discussion with my husband it turns out we both hated the ‘bush plant things’ in the front yard. So why not start there? We started with cutting down the smaller of the plants but were quickly derailed but what can only be described as THE WORLDS BIGGEST SPIDER. My husband thought it best to try and get it off the wall it had clearly claimed as its own so we could continue to work but after the spider reared at us we said fair is fair and moved, temporarily, onto the other side of the bed.

The good thing is that most of the plants were mostly dead so they came out easily. The bad thing is that the roots are prolific and put up a fight.

Our yard gets a ton of sun so we looked for something that could tolerate full sun. So bulbs are planted but it is yet to be seen if they will “impress family and friends.” One project down.


Rewarding Great Behavior

My sister received these cards as a wonderful and creative gift for her kids and I loved the idea so much I made them myself. These would be great for rewarding wonderful behavior or for a great report card. It is a just a fun way to reward your kids!

I ordered Avery Business Cards and scratch off stickers to create the reward cards. There are several size options for the scratch off stickers. I created a template on my computer using the label size. You will need to rotate the text on the template to allow the cards to print correctly. You can choose the text you want to add to the card to personalize it for your family. Based on the size of the scratch off sticker you may need to scale down the rewards type to fit under the sticker. I printed a test run to ensure that the text was aligned with the cards.

I opted to do small rewards that I know are well received in our house, like movie night, trip to the park, and ice cream. I also did a few cards with the option for projects and a free day to choose what they want to do.


Once the cards are assembled wait for the good behavior to roll in.

Adventures in Tie Dye

At one of the local ubiquitous art, wind, wine, craft fairs that liter the landscape over the summer months my daughter saw something her young eye had never witnessed.

It was an assault.

Of color. Of pattern.

It was loud. It was flashy.

It called to her four year old sense of aesthetic like a siren song.

It was a tied dyed dress.

After discussing with her that it was not worth the $45 price tag and stupidly mentioning that we could do it at home. I thought nothing more of it. Then week after week, day after day, she ask. When we would me making a dress? She forgets NOTHING. We were off to the local craft store for one of the less intelligent crafting projects of the summer.

It should be noted that here is where the step by step section of the blog begins. And here is where you will see NOTHING. Tie dying with a child is like herding cats that are hopped up on Jolt Cola and Pixy Stix in the dark.

It started out OK, as most adventures do. We bought a kit, which had the dye, rubber bands and gloves. It felt like it was going to be so easy….

DSC_2338We soaked the shirts in the solution that was provided.


DSC_2342DSC_2344Then layer out a giant old tablecloth. Because doing tie dye inside the house sounded like a really good plan. I mixed the dye. How could I have been so naive?

DSC_2349With primary colors my daughter was sure I could mix any color she wanted. This proved a bit complicated later as the ratios for lilac are a little more complex while wrangling a child.

So next is the step by step process of how we tied the shirts to make a “kind of” heart and the detailed way I was careful not to get dye all over the house. Wait, that is not what happened. It was a lot of ‘Don’t touch that!’, ‘Why is this spraying dye everywhere?’ and ‘Yes honey it is going to stain, it’s dye!’. So needless to say there were “NO” pictures, as I was changing gloves every two minutes and  having my daughter say, “That doesn’t look like purple.”

So magically here are the end results. After we dyed them, left them to rest, and had an argument with the husband about whether or not they needed to dry outside overnight, even when the instructions didn’t say it. Let’s all say ‘magic’, cause that is how I am going to remember it.

DSC_2356 DSC_2359 DSC_2361So based on what my daughter said we will be doing this every weekend. So in like three weeks I will be a master at this.

Final Stages

The guest room renovation needed a few more things and after a long debate we decided to do a floating bookshelf in the room. This offered us some extra space for the things we couldn’t bear to part with in the ‘great purge of 2012’.

We bought these shelves at the Container Store.


Next came the hard part, Math. There was an easy template for these shelves (bonus) but we wanted them spaced like a real bookshelf. I will not add the pictures of us moving and then removing them when the math was wrong. DSC_1750 Then drill and add the hardware. This is where you will figure out that like most things in this house, the wall is not flush. So you might want to take 20 minutes to find something to make the shelves flat. A small suggestion is to add a nickel (your denomination might differ) behind the mount on the bottom. This will stop pesky problems like things rolling off the shelve. DSC_1752

Then slide the shelves onto the mounts.DSC_1753

Stand back and bask in the delight that the room is almost done.