Monday, March 24, 2014

Big Guns.

When we bought our house in 2008, it was a foreclosure. We loved that it was a quarter acre lot with a pretty big backyard, but we did NOT love that the back yard and front yard were *entirely* made up of star thistle. We tackled the front yard first, because...well, curb appeal, and then we pulled up the star thistle in the backyard.
From the house listing back in 2008.

Once we pulled up all the thistle, we realized that we didn't actually have dirt in the backyard, we had red clay. Apparently, weeds don't mind the clay, but we could not get anything normal to grow. So, since we were looking at bringing in topsoil and seeding, we put the project on hold for a couple of years (do you KNOW how expensive it is to bring in almost a quarter acre of topsoil?!) to save up. And in 2012, we finally brought in the topsoil.

We (and by we, I really mean Justin) spread the topsoil up to about two feet from the fence all the way around. We also skipped the garden area that wraps around the side of the house (you can just barely see the trellis over in the upper left hand corner of the above pic). We did this for cost reasons, and also because we weren't sure whether we'd eventually do planter boxes along the fence, flower beds, or something else. Then, we seeded. By the fall of 2012, it looked like this:
Womp womp. Not gonna lie, I was expecting a lot more progress at that point! Anyway, last year we planted some trees--we had *zero* when we moved in, and we quickly determined that we needed at least some shade somewhere in the backyard, and so we've planted a maple, a honeycrisp apple, a pear, and a plum tree. Justin also planted a couple of wine grapes that a couple from church gave us, but we're still waiting to see if they survived. We basically left the grass alone last year other than mowing it, and at the beginning of March this year, it looked like this:

A lot more green, but also a LOT of clover in there! It looked much better once it was mowed for the first time, but we still have a good deal of weed and feeding in our immediate future :)
Anyway, this past weekend, we finally started to tackle the jungle that was the border between the grass and the fence. Justin brought in the big guns, and we BOTH spent most of the weekend pulling weeds, shoveling dirt, moving the two raised beds you can see in the upper right corner of the clover jungle photo above.
One of the benefits of having a husband who works in construction? His bosses will often let him bring home the equipment on the weekends. This time, he brought home the excavator, and got to digging. We transplanted our thornless blackberry from the fenceline to the trellis over by the garden beds, and then he dug up that fenceline jungle. Lizzy was *thrilled* to get to take a quick ride with him!

 While he did that, I weeded our 5x20 garden bed and also our strawberry patch, which was no small feat! I may or may not be really sore today, ha!


Now, in the next couple of weeks, we'll be laying down landscape fabric around the fenceline, and bringing in mulch. I haven't quite decided what (if anything) will be planted along the fence, but being that I have a bag of 180 Brodiaea bulbs from Costco, I'm strongly leaning towards those!

We sort of hope that we'll eventually be able to buy the empty lot directly behind our house. It isn't currently for sale, but the couple that originally owned our house subdivided their acre lot into four lots. They've developed one of the lots, and have left the others undeveloped. The husband was a contractor and I think was developing them himself, but recently retired. We've been thinking about sending them a letter that if they're ever interested in selling that quarter acre directly behind us, we'd potentially be interested in buying it.

So anyway, we don't want to invest a lot of money in flowers or bushes on the fence line before at least making contact with the owners of the other property, but I wouldn't have a problem sacrificing $12 in Brodiaea bulbs :) It's sort of a dance between thinking about what could maybe-possibly-someday happen in the future, while also making what we've got now a space that we love. Especially since realistically, even if we did buy that property, it would require all the steps we've taken here (weeding the thistle, bringing in topsoil, seeding, etc), so we'd be looking at a long term several year project there anyway.

 Whew. We still have a lot of hopes and dreams for this space, including installing a gate kit where the plywood is in the above pictures (we had to remove part of the fence to bring in the heavy equipment). This will also include moving a fencepost, so it isn't a small project persay, but doable. We'd also like to build a pergola over the patio, and maybe tear out the raised beds for a bigger garden area. I'd love a firepit and a swing set too.

So basically, we have a long way to go, but I forget sometimes how far we've come already!

We ended the weekend with our first time eating alfresco this year, which was a blessing!

I'm hoping this is a space that we'll be spending a LOT of time in this spring and summer--after all, when you're outside all weekend long, it's amazing how clean the inside of the house stays!


  1. Living in a condo, I'm so incredible jealous of your huge yard! Oh, and for having a warm enough March to be outside in anything other than a winter coat! :)

  2. I love your backyard and I love these pictures. But mostly, I can't get over how much food is on Lizzie's plate in that last pic. If only Isaac would eat like that!!

  3. I just cannot even imagine having green grass, sunshine and short sleeved shirts on right now. AMAZING. Love the yard itself, too. Beautiful!

  4. There's nothing quite like having a backyard space that envokes relaxation (and margaritas!) instead of a need to do work. Your yard is looking great, you're getting close to that relaxation point!!

  5. How long did it take from the dirt to what you have now? We did something similar last year and are still waiting for grass. Super jealous, your yard looks great.

    1. Melissa-- you didn't have an email attached to your account, so I hope you see this! It took two years from the dirt until now. Even still, there are patches that need to be filled in! Hang in there :)


Thanks for visiting La Buena Vida and taking the time to leave a comment--I love hearing from you!

Please know that you do not need to agree with me in order to leave a comment! All comments that are respectful and not anonymous will be published. Thanks again for visiting!

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...

Blog Archive


Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License.