Weeds, Bushes, Forests: Our Yard... Then and Now

Growing up my parents taught me more DIY skills than I fully realized until I became a homeowner. My mother has an AMAZING green thumb. She can get anything to grow and knows exactly how to care for plants. Why did this skill not transfer to me? I'm not quite sure. I even had a hard time keeping indoor plants alive in college.

Ever since we took ownership on September 30, 2011, I've been resisting the task of tackling our yard. It was over-grown, not cared for, and ugly.

Good thing my husband has experience with landscaping from his high school summer jobs. I would be totally lost without him.... and also paying our neighbor's son $20 to mow our yard :) Seems reasonable to me!

Well, after much work, encouragement from JT's dad, Jack, and more sweat than I care to describe, we've almost completed the transformation of our front, side, and backyard!

Let's take a look at where we started in the front yard on the day we took ownership:

Let me just stop right here and tell you how much I DESPISE cedar. 

Absolutely hate it. So you know that bush was the first thing to go from our yard! A nice man and one chain saw later... and it was gone :) Happy day.

Now for the forest... I mean backyard.

Seriously. No maintenance in 1 yr will do serious damage to your yard. 

Right about now I'm laughing hysterically at how crazy this yard looks. I can't believe it was this bad! As my grandaddy used to say, holy cow.

Here's the planter to the right of where I'm standing when I took the picture above:

Well, after we cleaned all the dead trees, weeds, bushes, ivy, leaves, rocks, pebbles, and stones, we've got one tree left, a Japanese Maple, and a beautiful patch of dirt to till and plant some grass.

Before I start showing pictures of the final product, it's important I share some of the hard work that went into it. Jack came into town one weekend, stocked our garage full of great yard tools, and then helped us slave for two days outside. It was glorious. As Jack says, "You know you've done a good days work when your fingernails hurt at the end of the day."

This next picture is of the right side of our house in the front. Notice the extremely massive holly tree on the far right. The branches are so overgrown it's taking over the ground and turning yellow from an iron deficiency. The bare bushes in the middle are Burning Bushes. They turn bright red in the fall and are beautiful.... and completely overgrown, like the rest of our yard. Those bushes are roughly 8 feet tall in this picture and we've now cut them back 50%. Also, please notice the far left of the picture. There's an evergreen bush there and it's all the way over and touching the Burning Bush. Towards the end of the blog you'll see the final picture of what we've done to spruce that area up.

Crab grass. My grandfather hated crab grass and I married a man who also hates crab grass. At my grandfather's funeral in February of this year, we quoted how he always said, "Nothing can separate us from the love of God... not even crab grass" :)

JT raking 11 bags full of crabgrass out of our yard. Ugh.
Keep up the good work, honey! 

Now to the backyard. After we had some hired hands chop down trees and haul of debris, we were left with this:

Raking leaves, hauling rocks to the front yard to put underneath the bushes, and then chopping down the rest of those bushes in the backyard and we're left with a clean slate. 

After JT tilled the ground and cultivated it for grass, we added 50 bags of top soil manure to the backyard in order to laid our grass seed down. 

After you scatter the seed, it's time to water.... and wait.

The Parable of the Sower now has a whole new meaning for us. We're not farmers by any stretch of the imagination.... but you can imagine what it would be like. 

I took pictures over the next few weeks so you could see the growth. It's amazing to see how much it works! And it was SO much cheaper than laying sod. And rewarding too.

Now back to the front yard, our Dogwood tree started to bloom!

So we're now finished with planting new plants in the front and growth is coming in on our bushes, etc. We decided to keep the center area of our yard and plant a new Burning Maple tree... which we're told can get anywhere from 20-50 tall... so future homeowners, you're in for a treat in about 10 years! Look past this center area and you'll see the right side of our house... let's take a close look in the following pictures. 

 JT reused our pavers from the back on the side so that now we can get around the side of the house easier. And all of that is new grass planted by seed only. Amazing.

And remember our holly tree? We trimmed it up and planted grass underneath. Wonderful! 

Front of the house on the left.

Front door and my planters.

 Front yard on the right side of the door.

Now for the before and afters :)







Yes, those are hydrangea bushes... my fav! We have strawberries planted and they're actually producing fruit! Can't wait to reap the harvest. Also, since this picture was taken, those bushes have almost doubled in size and I've also added 3 tomato plants to that planter. Can't wait to enjoy my tomatoes! I planted Big Boy, Cupid, and Fourth of July tomatoes. 

Slowly but surely... I'm developing my green thumb.