Backyard boom!

Unknown-1Remember Gob Bluth, the pathetic magician brother from the TV show Arrested Development, and how he threw handfuls of pennies to [attempted] great effect? I was fearing that would be us, only with wads of hundred dollar bills, and it was to coax along the endless backyard project.

Here’s the sad state it was in just a month ago. It was 4,000 square feet of dirt and gravel staring us down.

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I blogged about it here wherein I swore I wouldn’t let my yard get me down. But the more pregnant my belly grew, the more despondent I grew toward my ability to tackle this looming project. My husband had pulled up all that old, crumbling concrete by himself (well, ok, he had the help of our 3- and 5-yeard olds). But even with my dear husband chipping away at it with a pick-axe 3 hours a day, it wasn’t enough, and we brought forth those wads of cash.

Though Gob was unsuccessful in his magic effects, ours worked!

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It’s pretty amazing to have grass in the backyard. It was coincidentally completed on our one year anniversary of closing on the house.

I ambitiously claimed we would tackle this project ourselves by the end of June. Turned out having a June deadline was ambitious enough, even for hiring it out. So we hired it out.

Since the completion, our neighbors have been coming over to admire it with us. They are just as relieved as we are that the gravel didn’t get the best of us.

F*ck bed rest: side yard update

I used to scoff at the idea of bed rest. There are all these reports debunking the claim that bed rest is the go-to solution for a difficult pregnancy. And raised by my mother who runs 365 days a year, whether healthy or sick, pregnant or unencumbered, bed rest isn’t something I take lying down.

But since my left leg is strangely in intense pain and I have to rest it, and since I’m not coordinated enough to hop around on one foot while moving rocks and installing sprinklers, I’ve been humbly asking Josh to be my hands and feet for my do-it-yourself shenanigans so I can take it easy[ish] on my body.

No small feat for a prideful, stubborn woman with a penchant for changing her mind and an ambitious attitude for what she can accomplish all by herself. In fact, it took a lot of hours of me hopping around the yard removing a fence and shrubs and plants and lifting heavy slate stones before Josh violently intervened.

Here are some photos chronicling the progress of our side yard.

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Side yard before. The previous owners actually paid someone to landscape this as such.

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Side yard step 1: tearing out plants and shrubs I don’t like and forging a path

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Side yard step 2: installing the arch, buying slate stepping stones, leveling dirt.

I disassembled and freecycled the chain-link fence that was there before. I assembled this arch. And I selected the slate stepping stones (all by myself I might add). Josh removed the old concrete stepping stones and drove  the arch into the ground. And when I decided to change the arch location by 17 inches, Josh re-erected the damn thing for me and didn’t ask too many questions.

Josh smoothed the pathway and will design and install sprinkler system. I planted some plants and will be planting more soon.

And he only yelled at me to rest about 3 times a day. He’s my hero. Good thing I’ve already paid him off with all these spawn.

I won’t let my yard get me down

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Since becoming a homeowner with our 1st home 4 years ago, I’ve proved I am more than a serial plant killer. Josh and I worked together to make it a really beautiful yard.

But the state of our new yard is daunting enough to send me through an emotional tailspin. It’s literally a large gravel/dirt/concrete pit back there. Every time I catch a glimpse of the yard, I get a little anxious.

I need a new kind of medicinal grass.

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It makes sense that I feel this anxiety when I see that mess. I read about how people heal better with flowers in The Mental Health Benefits of Flowers. Flowers can actually help patients recover faster and with less medication, and can change the mood of people. And the new wave of horticultural therapy is based on findings that gardening reduces stress and calms nerves.

These studies totally support my approach to exercising my mental health funk by changing my environment. And since we only get 6-8 months of gardening weather in Spokane, I want to make it a glorious garden when it does bloom.

Armed with this research, I am setting out to redesign our yard, front, side and back, with my trusty pencil and graph paper approach.

Here are my goals:

  • Create beautiful garden spaces for how we want to live and also how I want to think. We want a place to read and write, a place to dine, a place to let the kids play, a fire pit for simple evenings with our family and friends, and we want to savor the beauty.
  • I want it to feel like an English garden that has been given a good amount of natural liberty.
  • Be budget-friendly. We’ll both be doing most of the work ourselves to contribute to the cause.

Here are some inspiration photos that already make me feel at ease.

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We’ve ambitiously set the goal of landscaping completion for June. Stay tuned.