Thursday, April 19, 2012

yard tour.

Like I mentioned before, we are slowly chipping away at our jungle of a yard.

Before I get to the to-dos, I will show some that we've already checked off the list...

We installed new lighting around the front of our house.  There were solar lights on clearance at Lowes so we stocked up...

Joe also replaced the light that hangs beside our mudroom door.  I don't have a picture of the old one but let me describe it for you:  it was smaller and uglier.  Here's the new one:

It wasn't 'til I was outside taking pics of the solar lights in action when I noticed the cool glow it gives off...

In non-lighting related news, we removed the messy-looking, dead-leaf-collecting shrubs in our front yard and demolished the rotting retaining wall (which is mostly hidden by the unruly shrubs in the photo below).

You can also see part of a wooden box-type-thingy in the mix up there.  We thought that it was just a decorative way for the previous owners to display their rusty bucket but had a better understanding of it's purpose as soon as we started to tear it out.  You see, our house sits back a bit and is also at a lower elevation from the main road.  Because of this, our sewer system needs a pump to make sure everything makes it up to the main sewer line.  The unattractive contraption hidden under this rotted wood has something to do with that pump.  While sewer systems aren't a big interest of mine, all I needed to know was that we aren't able to remove this thing and had to find another way to hide it (while still being able to access it in case of emergency, prolonged power outage, etc.).  It's about 3 feet across and over a foot high.  We considered one of those fake landscaping rocks but anything that covered this would be way too big - and expensive.  We also thought about re-building a box out of the same landscaping timbers that we used for the retaining wall - and, to be honest, that still might be an option.  For now, we used bricks.  I figured that bricks would match our front walkway, can be easily removed whenever necessary (they are just resting on top of each other and we didn't use any sort of adhesive) AND they wouldn't rot like wood would.   It looks a little unsightly right now but I hope that it won't be as obtrusive once we plant around it.

I guess it would have been nice if I removed that stack of extra bricks sometime in the near future too.  Oh, and we will eventually plant those plants that are just sitting there in their buckets - we're just waiting to get some larger shrubs so we can plot everything out.

Yeh, that's a bird bath on top.  Totally random.  I haven't seen any birds use it yet but James loves splashing around it in.  Gross, I know.  Also, that small bush was originally in our backyard but needed to be removed so we re-planted here instead of throwing it out.  Yay for free stuff!

Speaking of removing plants, we also trimmed the rhododendron brushes in front of our house.  Below is a picture of what they looked like last spring.  It doesn't look so bad this picture but they had become very unsightly since this was taken and blocked most of the front windows.

I say I trimmed them but Joe might say I got a little lopper-happy and hacked the heck out of the poor things.  Whatever.  All of the dead stuff is gone, they don't look like they are eating our house anymore, and if they don't grow back, I will have any excuse to rip them out all together.  All signs point to a win in my book.  (*crazy shadows alert*)

Before heading to the backyard, here's a shot of the large tree that looms over the front of our house...

I'm pretty sure we're going to have this removed.  It isn't in terrible condition but there are several dead limbs and it blocks a lot of the sun from getting to the front of our house - not to mention it would be tragic if even one of the branches were to fall. 

As for the rest of the front yard, we have to clean up the shrubs that line our property, lay new weed blocker, mulch, and hopefully clean out the front corner of our yard that is currently overgrown with briars and other miscellaneous yard waste.  I'm not sure if you can see it in the picture below so I pointed to the bright orange corner flag buried back there marks the corner of our property and also drew some lines to give a rough idea of where our boundaries are.  It would be nice to be able to actually use some of this space...

Our backyard is a much bigger challenge.

Here is a shot of the huge, dead tree that I have referenced numerous times.  This tree is coming down soon now that we got the OK from our neighbors - it's technically on their property.

We spent several weekends last summer clearing out the area around this tree which was filled with vines and briars.  (You can see a picture of what it looked like before we moved in here.)

We also spent a lot of time clearing out the opposite corner of the yard and still have a lot of work to do.  Tearing out briars by hand is a grueling process but it's free and it justifies us swearing as much as possible for an entire afternoon.

There is a random section of fence that will eventually be removed and we are trying to decide if this tree should come down as well.  Once we clear out this section of our property, we plan to install a fence.  Since the fence will sit about 10 feet back from where this one is now, I am thinking that the tree will look weird being in the middle of our yard - and mess with the open flow we're going for.  I should note that we considered just planting a natural fence to line the back side of our property but then concluded that it would be way too hard to maintain and keep all of the vines and briars from attacking whatever we plant back there.  As fences can often be an eye sore, we will plant some attractiveness in front of it to keep it feeling natural and woodsy.  Big dreams.

I drew some arrows pointing to a few flags that mark our back property line and also drew a line to show how much we will need to clear out.   In the end, a new fence will be built along our property line and we will have lovely grass covering all that area that is currently a yard waste graveyard.  Like I said, big dreams.

And for the biggest eye sore of them all...

Yeh, we still have done nothing with the giant sandbox left behind by the pool we removed last year.

We have some huge granite blocks that are just sitting at the end of our driveway and waiting to be moved over here to form a retaining wall/steps that will lead to a stone patio.  

Our imaginary patio will cover less than half of the sandbox so we plan to level out the rest of it and plant grass.  For now, we have a gorgeous old barrel to burn some of all this growth we're ripping out.

Oh, and because nobody has volunteered to come help us with yard work, all of this is probably years away from completion.


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