Wednesday, 30 May 2012

Backyard Beautification, Pt. 1

    It is so hard for us to stay focused in one area of our house, especially now that it is starting to be nicer and nicer outside. We find ourselves in our backyard a lot, which naturally leads to more backyard project inspiration. One of our New Years resolutions/goals was to turn our backyard into an oasis. That goal is still on the books, but we now have found ourselves in a situation where we have to get creative due to financial constrains and budget prioritization. 

This seemed like a good place to carry on with our backyard projects. This small section of our yard left a lot to be desired. We understood the reason for the stones, as it bridges the gate and the cement pad, a high traffic zone where grass would be killed pretty quickly. But we just weren't feeling it and its sad state.  I had decided on this particular day just to weed around the stones to just clean things up a bit. But somehow that led us into a full blown afternoon of demolition. 

Soon I had busted out the shovel and was digging up the pavers stones, with some apprehension I might add as I was fully aware that there was probably whole ecosystems of creepy crawlies living beneath these bad boys. 

Case and point. Actually it wasn't as spider-rific as I had imagined it would be under there. A lot of ants, and one lone giant slug. Poor buggers, hit by natural disaster Anderson. 

The stones were no problems to get out and we were glad to see that there was a plastic barrier laid, this made removing the weeds as easy as pulling up the plastic. 

Underneath was some really compacted sand. Our ultimate goal will be to have a smaller path from the gate to the cement pad and to let the grass grow in a bit. We really are grass people, as seen with our front yard re-do, and think that in the long run it is less maintenance and looks cleaner with proper care. 

We removed all of the red bricks from the corner and raked it smooth, removing some bigger rocks and weeds. Now this is where things got interesting. We decided that since most of the braces around the higher part of the the dirt were rotten, we would just make this entire area level and take out the wood for good.  

Which then led us to the decision to move our compost. This decision was based mainly on convenience and aesthetics. Most people think that composts stink, I originally had thought that too until we got ours going. But the truth is that it doesn't smell at all if you do it correctly, so I had no objections to moving it out of the way of the gate and closer to the cement pad ( which one day will hopefully be more of a outdoor living area).  We used two of the large paver stones and some of the smaller red bricks to make a sturdy pedestal for the compost to sit on. Unfortunately moving your bottomless compost means that it  goes everywhere temporarily. 

So here is where we are at now with this project. We are still in the process of digging down the higher portion of this area so that it all is level. Unfortunately we do not have a wheel barrow, so this step was made harder by our "shovel into large bucket and team carry it over to the pit in our yard" method of dirt removal. Another advantage of our decision to make this area level is that the excess dirt here is being used to fill a large crater we have in the backyard. We always knew we wanted to fill it in our attempts to make our crazy ravine backyard less crazy and this is turning out to be a great way to save money on fill. 

We ran out of afternoon and energy, so we aren't finished with this project quite yet. I think the area looks a lot better already, even if it is just bare dirt for the time being. Now that we know the wonders of turf we might choose to go that route over grass seed, but we will decide once we get the stones back in and develop more of a design plan.  

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