amis au fil des ans

just a few good friends, sharing adventures in family, arts, and sometimes heavy machinery

ever bite off more than you could chew?

b and i are very good at that.  we have a hate-hate relationship with our yard.  so last week we had a company come and tear out everything in the front yard and take down 4 trees and now we have to do something with it.  but it needs so much work that it sends me into a mild panic attack just thinking about it.  but we have to do something.  we just need the something to be in the low low low low low financial requirement category and the something has to be in line with our master plan.  some pictures to give you a framework:

front before and after:


right side before and after:


back before and after:


master plan includes a new front entrance-way, pergola, play structure, garden, flagstone patio around the house and off of the sunroom, and a fence.

i think the steps for this year will be as follows…

1.   excavate more of the land in the back right of the house to expose more ledge (rock).  both for 2 reasons.  1:  we like it.  2:  it will act as a natural retaining wall and can (hopefully) save money by using what is natural versus creating something man-made.  we also need to address some drainage issues since during the rainstorm yesterday it was discovered that we have a waterfall coming through our basement window.  sigh.

2.  level the front, right, and back yards.  the front yard will remain on a hill but we need to level the top part so we can put a fence at the top of the hill and do a low maintenance mulch garden down the slope.  b wants to rework the steps and path to come up by the driveway as opposed to the sidewalk.  we also want to level the area to the right so we can put a play structure for the girls.  the back left we also want to level so we can put up a pergola for an outdoor sitting area.  did i mention we also want to remove all the vines and ivy on the ledge?

3.  update the sprinkler system.

4.  lay sod and spread mulch.

5.  install a fence.  (note:  this is a pipe dream as my budget is $0 and clearly the above items will not be free.  but…a girl can dream.)

next year we will get the play structure for the kids, do some plantings, build window boxes, and hopefully get a couple raised garden beds.  main concern with the garden is that it will have to go in the front yard as that is where the sun hits.  i think as long as we have a good fence that should be fine….?

the following year we will tackle the new front entrance-way, pergola, and patios.

totally doable…right?


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5 thoughts on “ever bite off more than you could chew?

  1. wow, a fresh canvas…look at it that way. 🙂 it’s a lot of work, but take it one step at a time. i have a bad habit of wanting everything done, done, done. i have no patience. so my advice is to be very patient and do some little things in the meantime to make yourself feel better about it. its going to look great!

  2. you’d be surprised by how much you can get done quickly actually.

    i would suggest you address the basement drainage issue first. no sense in digging or installing anything only to ruin it later.

    what kind of soil do you have? since you’ll be doing a ton of digging, that is going to make or break your progress. when you say excavate the back to expose the rocks, do you just mean pull out the vegetation?

    we did our brick paver patio ourselves (ok, arguably hubby & a friend did it while i was out of town), and it only took a weekend. we didn’t put in a pergola because we have a massive oak tree overhead, but two friends just did and it only took about 2 weekends. there are some good tutorials online. don’t forget a fire pit!!

    sprinkler system updates are a piece of cake. the only sucky part is digging the trenches (note soil question above). there are some super cool sprinkler heads out there, let me tell you! you’ll be a pro with that purple pvc glue. don’t waste money on a pro unless you need to start from scratch and just don’t have the time. seriously, it’s not hard.

    laying sod and mulch is easy too, but tilling the yard you will definitely want a gas-powered tiller. we hand-tilled our neighbors yard a few weeks ago and let me tell you….argh!!! we planted our lawn using seed, which is great if you want a low maintenance lawn but not great if you have kids and dogs sloshing through the mud for upwards of 6 months (or 12 months if you’ve been keeping track). watch out for the mulch – i always seem to underestimate the amount i need. also i avoid rubber mulch.

    a front-yard garden will be great! lots of people have gardens across their whole front yard. if you are going to have a fence, that will be great too because many veggies grow better on a fence (cukes for sure). also, check out the book square foot gardener (get it from the library, its only good for 1 read then you get the gist and return it).

    lastly, my favorite part of the yard – bulbs. you’ll probably have tons more luck because of your climate, but talk about an investment that keeps paying dividends!! i get mine from they always have a bunch in the back of the catalog for $5 and they multiply every year so you can split them off and spread them around. i’m sure you already know this but whatever, i love bulbs. hahahahahahaha

    and to answer your question: yes, i always bite off more than i can chew. that’s how i learn so much. and why i go to bed at 9:30pm. i’m worn out.

    • sedwards515 on said:

      ok… you give so much information on landscape that you should have your own blog about that! seriously though…thank you!

      i will be back for more questions and thoughts when i can digest this comment…

    • sedwards515 on said:

      you bulb-lover you!

      i wish you could come to boston and see my yard. i have a hard time explaining the ledge properly. but basically it is like living on a mountain. i have a huge rock wall in my backyard but it has long been forgotten under dirt, ivy, ground cover, etc. we want to take all the stuff off and have the rock show through. so we can actually put up rock climbing gear! how cool would that be?

      but yes, i agree with doing the drainage issue first. i think that will require some excavating first though…

      not sure what you mean by what kind of soil do we have…it looks pretty dark and not too sandy, a little rocky. but things are definitely growing! lol!

      we have done sprinkler updates and sod laying before so we know the steps there. i think our fear is more around the slope in the front and leveling things in the back. we want to be sure whatever we do doesn’t come crumbling down because we didn’t reinforce properly. eeeks.

      i will definitely look for that book when it is time for the garden!

  3. seriously…sarah is right jamie, you need to landscape blog. that was all greek to me. i guess its from years living the condo life then moving into rental houses. i don’t really do much yard work and still only container garden. one day 🙂

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