Tag Archives: yard

Can you dig it (We can dig it): A Backyard Saga


In case you don’t understand today’s post title, just start singing “Whoomp there it is”. Nothing like a little Tag Team. Anyways. About digging.

We’ve had projects here-and-there going on inside the house, but, outside the house. That’s a different story. Let’s just say we’ve left no surface untouched and no rock unturned. I’m not even quite sure where to begin. Spoiler alert: this post doesn’t wrap up neatly with a bow. It’s more a “what’s been going on around here” update.

I’ve only posted on our yard projects here and there. I’ve mentioned how much I like to ignore our backyard situation, how we had one massive tree fall on our deck, how we’ve had to cut down too many other trees (due to an invasive species maple tree, we learned, that was going to kill everything else), and the copious amounts of lumber we had to deal with.

There were two problems with our yard when we bought the house:

1. It was severely overgrown and neglected. Everywhere. Dying trees, invasive weeds, and overgrown gardens (complete with a Zen Garden walking circle in the middle of the backyard – yep, we discovered that when the snow melted.)

2. We had major pipe problems that needed to be fixed. We’re talking 100 yards of pipe here people.

In the last year, our yard has been excavated extensively. We have dug up and replanted the little bit of landscaping that we planted multiple times. Our two walkways have been demolished so I have gravel pebbles all over my house as a result.


We’ve finally finished putting in the new driveway (we have a LOT of driveway with this house) and I can park wherever I’d like now.


In quite possible the only regrettable home decision we’ve made thus far, we decided to take our wires underground. We ran into ledge (read: an outcropping of bedrock) and needed professional assistance.

If there was one thing we underestimated when we bought this house – it’s earth-moving.  New walls can be built, floors can be installed. But earth-moving – that is no laughing matter.

Without going into much detail of our situation (because it’s a very long and not very exciting story 2.5 years in the making), we still have a lot of yard work in front of us. backyard3

We have high hopes that next year will be the year of the grass! Could it finally be here?backyard4  backyard6   backyard9Dressing to match our projects – of course.

Those bright blue pipes are drain pipes – of which we (*ahem, not me) have installed many of over the course of the last year. And I think we’re just about done! (Cue the happy music!)

For the most part, our yard has been very brown the last two years. This was largely in part to the trees (no sun for grass to grow + dying trees and weeds = no grass).

Someday we will have grass! And I will never take it for granted. I will happily mow the lawn. In perfectly parallel lines.

We’re kind of at a middle-point with our curb appeal right now. It always gets worse before it gets better, and we’re 50% worse, and 50% getting better.


All this stone is being put in for our patio prep!

When I stand in my backyard I kind of feel like Scarlett O’Hara at the end of Gone with the Wind (spoiler alert) surveying her war-torn, beloved family estate.

“As God is my witness, I’m going to live through this and when it’s all over I’ll never be [grass-less] again.”

Melodramatic? Obviously.

But after three years of digging, digging, and digging, I can’t WAIT to have a backyard!


On the plus side? We have TONS OF HUGE ROCKS in our yard we will be creating a retaining wall with. Like this one here (I stuck my foot in so you can see how huge it is), this bad boy would have cost $200 at a landscaping warehouse. And it’s free, compliments of our backyard and some backbreaking labor (thank you husband).

Moral of the story: When choosing your fixer-upper, pay attention to the yard! Moving walls and renovating the house is a LOT easier than changing the earth!

The Thing About Roots

We have a beautiful, rather large, rhododendron bush in our front yard.

We needed to move it about 2 months ago because the trunk was about one foot away from the foundation of our house.

Thankfully we had a very warm spring and the ground had thawed enough to move it with the help of a kind neighbor.

It was actually a really neat (and dirty) experience.

It’s pretty crazy moving something that large. It’s alive and growing and has a huge root system.

Did you know most root systems are the same size as the plant above the ground? Since we were only able to rip out about half of the ground roots, we had to lop off half of the rhody branches on top. You can see the end result in the photo above.

We moved it to the other side of our house – and it now blocks our deck from the road – yes!

After many weeks of dedicated watering, we’ve officially gotten blooms!

I wasn’t sure if it would happen this year since, you know, we kind of chopped all it’s limbs off, but it’s surviving.

Nature is amazing.


This Way to Narnia

Well, technically lamp posts are the way home from Narnia.

Regardless, we have a lamp post in our yard. I’d like to think Mr. Tumnus lives in the tree nearby, but he hasn’t made an appearance yet.

The lamp post in the yard was slightly worse for the wear.

Please overlook the terrible photo. I thought I had one of the lamp post, but all I could find were these pictures I took when we had our huge dumpster and it was in the corner of this one.

Don’t worry, you’re not missing much.

While the post was worn looking, the glass was a little cracked and the CFI lightbulb was quite charming, the basics were still in good shape.

Instead of replacing the new pole, we gave the existing (already installed, working and sturdy) one a facelift with Rustoleum Rust-Prevention glossy black spray paint.

We also purchased a new lamp… topper? What is the appropriate vernacular here? Lamp head? Lamp shade? Lantern?

Yes, I believe we have a winner with “lantern”.

We found this one on sale at Lowe’s with brought it down to about $40 with a 10% off coupon.

Moose changed the lantern one afternoon and we were in business!

Considering new posts go for upwards of $100, I think this will do just fine!

The Narnian time-continuum shall continue.

Winter Prepping our Fixer-Upper

We got our new driveway this week!! As you can see the caution tape is still up.

Our old driveway was old. See #6 of this article for more info!

Since the door was rotted out when we purchased the house, we also had a new garage door installed (from Home Depot).

I know we’re in the throes of Autumn, but around here most of our glorious burning leaves have fallen off the trees and are shriveled and brown all over our lawn. (This is the best time for leaf crunching.)

The last month we’ve put all of our focus on the EXterior of our house to prepare for winter. We’ve already had our first snowfall (and a big one at that) but fortunately it melted quickly, therefore giving us more time to prep outside before the long and snowy winter arrives.

1. Gutterball

Our colonial-style house has a traditional crown molding trim on the outside, which apparently most people didn’t put gutters on back in the day. We had gutters installed about a month ago – greatly decreasing the chances of flooding our basement, yard and garage. This is something you will definitely want to get a few estimates for – we had some people estimate our gutters as high as $8k! It definitely pays to bring in the competition. Although this was not a cheap (or DIY) project, it will be worth the investment as it should help prevent any kind of flooding in our yard that has deteriorated the foundation of the house from 60 years without gutters.

2. Screen it

We had a screened porch on the front of our house that leads to our front door. The screening was pretty old, full of holes and needs to be replaced. A few weeks ago I ripped out the screen and coinciding 100000000 staples. Now I just need to repaint the porch with exterior paint and then we will rescreen in the next few weeks. We are also going to install a new light and a beadboard ceiling.

3. Energy Audit

Last weekend we had an energy audit in our home – sounds exciting, eh? eh? A local representative came to our house (for FREE) and spent about 3 hours going through our home. He was able to tell us where we were losing energy efficiency and how to fix it. He also replaced all the lightbulbs in the house with the new CFI bulbs. The best part is, the government subsidizes a huge portion of the updates we can make. For example – the energy auditors will set us up with someone who will blow more insulation into our house. Most of the cost is subsidized and the amount we spend will pay itself off in our first winter in this house! Plus, being green is cool these days. Haven’t you heard?

4. Driveway

Somehow we didn’t think shoveling our 30 year old, crackling and crumbling driveway would be that fun in the winter. This was obviously not a DIY project, but another project you should definitely get multiple quotes for. We actually have 2 driveways to our house – one in the front and one on the side. We decided to redo the one on the side (that leads to our single car garage) and we widened it so we can park 2 cars side-by-side in the winter and not need to worry about the huge one in the front yard!

Also, you can’t really tell from the photo, but we had a drain put in the driveway so water will be drained away from the house and not into the garage!

5. Yardwork. My new least favorite word.

We have been preparing the yard as best we can for winter’s harsh friends called ice and snow. We’ve been trying to blow our leaves every weekend – because the last thing you want to deal with in the spring is a yard full of sopping leaves that have been buried and frozen for four months. We’ve filled in a few ditches with excess dirt and, as you saw in my post last week, we’ve been trying to turn our fallen trees into firewood as quickly as possible.

6. Concrete work

Moose has been patching up the concrete sidewalk to our deck and we also brought in a professional to help of resolve some foundation issues on the exterior wall of our walk-our basement (this was something we knew we would have to fix when we purchased the house).

7. New Windows

Okay, so we haven’t really done this one in the last few weeks, but when we moved into the house in June we had all the windows in the house replaced. The old ones were NOT efficient. Most of them couldn’t even open. Our new windows will be keeping a lot of heat on the INSIDE of the house. This was not a DIY job nor was it cheap, was it has definitely been a worthwhile investment.