Today it is warmer outside than it is inside our house, readers, and Dan and I are scheming to overhaul our backyard. If you’ve never visited our home, I can spare you the trip and tell you our yard is ugly. We’re not even talking about the front yard yet, so let’s just keep things focused on the back yard.
The grass is patchy and completely intertwined with some kind of creeping clover vine that comes to us courtesy of our neighbours beyond the chainlink fence. Short of ripping up all the grass and sodding the yard, I think we’re stuck with it. There was a half-baked garden going on when we moved in, but it looked mostly neglected. My mom helped me identify the weeds from the non-weeds last summer, and when it comes down to it, anything I didn’t plan myself and don’t want there anymore is a weed. Most of it is coming out to make way for nicer and neater things.
Pinterest has been helpful in looking for garden ideas, but it’s easy to fall down the Pinterest rabbit hole and plan a grand garden with steps and weed-free garden beds and patios and water features, but I know all that costs lots of money and in most Pinterest cases, they’re probably professionally landscaped lawns that we can’t afford. Coming off of the winter of leaks and cracks in the basement (hope you’re enjoying our money, Simon!), we are looking for some low-cost/high-sweat projects that we can safely do ourselves. As discussed in previous posts, we’re very much in the Ikea category of home improvement and DIY; we need solid instructions and a proven plan, with little more than assembly required on our part.
So this brings us to our garden plan, and what we just sat down at Starbucks to hash out this afternoon. Let’s begin with the preliminary work that Dan has been doing to keep himself from falling asleep in the afternoons as he gets himself back on Canada time after returning from Japan.
Dan spent a few afternoons puttering around the yard and tidying up the leaves and dead plant life that always resurfaces after the snow melts. He also took it a step further and pulled out the concrete edging pieces that were next to the shed flower bed, now seen in the left of the picture below:
He also took apart the wooden boxed-in garden beds that were along the back of the property, because they were entirely overgrown with weeds, and Oscar had used them as his personal pooping grounds all winter. We love the idea of raised garden beds, but the ones that were already in place weren’t tall enough to keep Oscar from stepping right on in.
Our Muskoka chairs have come out of the shed for the season (they could really use a fresh coat of paint, side note), and I enjoyed a peaceful morning sun-soak reading my book and letting my hair air-dry today. This pictures also shows you the state of our “patio”, how ugly the shed is in that dark brown colour, and the pile of concrete divides, waiting for their next project.
The driveway extends all the way to the back edge of the house, and when we put up our fence over the driveway last summer, it left us with a delightful little “patio” area on the side of the house. There’s still some more clean-up to do, but this space has potential too.
The plan needs to be refined, and narrowed down to what’s possible, but here is our first crack at it:
We like clean and simple lines, and we were both on the same page when it came to the overall design and feel of anything we did with the back yard. No elaborate garden beds, because as much as I like to think I have a green thumb, I really don’t, and I don’t keep up with the maintenance that a finicky garden requires. We also have concerns that Simon will need to dig up the existing patio at the back of the house in order to finish his repairs on the foundation cracks. The cracks along the side of the house will be repaired this summer from the outside, and I am very much in favour of being thorough and taking care of the rear wall as well. So that means that this summer’s attack plan is for the far end of the garden only.
We want to cover up the chain link fence and gain some privacy in our yard, first and foremost. I’m sure our beyond the fence neighbours are lovely, but I don’t need to see them all the time, and I bet they don’t want to see us either. Rather than putting up a wooden fence directly in front of the chain link fence, we would like to install some kind of vertical garden. We’re thinking of a pallet garden wall, supported by their own sturdy fence posts rather than relying on the who-knows-how-strong-it-is chain link fence. And since that would be a large stretch of all the same look, I want to break it up with sections of just straight pallet “wall”, maybe with planters attached or some moss graffiti art.
For the gardens, we want to set up some raised garden beds for growing vegetables and fruit, and these will be high enough that a roaming mutt can’t romp right over the tender plants. The area around the 3 or 4 raised beds will be all gravel. This will eliminate a lot of the patchy grass/creeping vine problem. Where the gravel meets the grass, we can hopefully reuse the concrete bumpy divider things, because free.
For the side patio, a few simple planter boxes would be nice, with flowers and herbs since they’re right outside the kitchen door.
The next step is to sit down with someone who knows more about plants and gardening than I do and create a plan (cue Momma). We’ll also be visiting garden centres to get ideas and cost things out. We’ll keep doing little touches here and there to the yard, and you’ll hear more from us when it looks like something worth sharing.