One of the reasons I fell in love in our house was the yard. Our neighborhood is a suburban neighborhood that was built and planned 40 years ago. So while many of the houses started off the same, over the years additions and changes have made each house a little different.
One of the main benefits of living in an older development is that we have sidewalks, mature trees, and larger lots of land.
While our house is adequately sized (only about 1800 square feet), the yard is enormous. We have about 3/4 of an acre and the house is situated on a corner lot with a bit more space than our neighbors. This is both wonderful and terrible.
We love having a yard the kids can play in. I love to garden in the yard (when I can find time). It’s also kind of awesome to be in the middle of everything but feel like we’re a bit secluded.
However, the previous homeowners were an elderly couple. The husband passed away, and the wife moved into a home. The house sat untouched (and not maintained) for a long time. While they loved to garden, and especially had passion for trees, the landscape was pretty overgrown when we moved in. We had trees that butted up against both rear corners of the house, as well as a line of arborvitae (more pine trees) that cut the yard in half.
The previous owners were obviously going for privacy, and planted trees, shrubs, and plants along the three borders of our backyard along with those trees that were close to the house.
The trees closest to the house were removed right after we moved in for safety reasons. It was helpful that we had received the funds to do so from the seller. We also removed the trees that cut the yard in half. Again they were too close to the house, and a danger to our home so they had to go.
Over the last 5 years though we’ve done some work to improve things it was a huge challenge. Many of the pants were gorgeous specimens, but placed too close together (especially the trees) so that they weren’t healthy.
As much as I tried to right things after living with it for so long we knew it was time to make a change, so we decided to drastically ‘reset’ our backyard with some professional help.
I contacted a local tree company, (Harlan Tree Service) and they offered me a great day rate for tree work and clearing the many shrubs at the back of our lot.
When we arrived home from our vacation they had worked on one side of the yard already, so we were stunned to come home to many of our giant trees being gone. Over the next few days the crew came back to remove the rest of the plant ‘clutter’ from our yard including tons of trees, bushes, and more.
I’ve been digging around for some before shots, but the best I could find are these snow pictures below. That tells you how much I loathed it! I never took pictures of the landscape there.
Upon moving in we removed an above ground pool in the circular area in the middle of the backyard and eventually loaded that area with dirt and grass. Additionally we added a bridge for the kids to get up and down from the hill to the flat area below as well as using some old tree stumps as ‘stepping stumps’ for a fun natural play area.
In this photo you can see a large tree on the left as well as several pine trees, and a variety of shrubs. To the right the property is lined with more pines, a crabapple tree that’s way too crowded, and so much more.
This photo is a bit farther to the left and you can see an additional tall tree, pines, and more peeking out of the corner. Not pictured are the far right and left where there were even more pine trees!
Here’s how the yard looked after the trees were gone. Keep in mind the trees that were removed were either diseased, reaching the end of their lifespan, and/or were too close to the other trees.
In addition to the tree removal we got rid of a few of other things including:
- the painted wood ‘bridge’ we made from an old deck for the pool that used to be in the yard
- the tree ‘stepping stumps’ that were beat up from 5 years of use
- the carpeted patio (more on that below)
- a small deck from our dining room that went nowhere (we called it the “Juliette” deck)
Removing these things was a process that happend over several days-the main part being the patio.
Here is a shot of the right side of the yard with the trees still in and the horrible patio that’s carpeted. (who does that???)
The ‘patio’ area was carpeted over (outdoor carpet, but STILL) but covered in dirt and moss and coming up in spots. The carpet covered a inch thick layer of concrete (that crunched when you walked on it) over rectangular brick pavers.
I’m not exactly sure why you’d add concrete to brick pavers or carpet over it, but I image it went through several incarnations before becoming the mess it was when we moved in.
While the carpet looked fine for the first two years it became obvious over time that it needed to go. I spent several days this week yanking up the stinky carpet, digging up brick pavers, and collecting concrete pieces.
It’s satisfying though to have that eyesore gone!
Still on our backyard reset to do list:
- Find a home for the brick pavers.
- Clean up shrubs and ground cover, and rake areas to remove debris.
- Use a tiller to make way for more grass areas. We figure that adding grass will be the easiest option while we assess what we want to do with the yard in the long-term.
- Remove the ‘sun porch’ from the back of the house. The roof slant isn’t safe, and it is falling apart slowly.
We hope to have grass take over those areas by the Fall, and have a more detailed landscape plan, as well as having all the debris and extra junk gone from the yard.. Additionally we’re considering deck and patio options as well as plants, fences, and more. Most of that will happend later (in phases) but we’re considering a ‘starter deck’ or steps to use to exit the dining room to our backyard.
I absolutely love demolotion phase of remodeling, so I’m a happy camper right now.
What projects are you working on right now?