Our house continues to become a home, one project at a time. Since buying the Apple House in October 2018, we have demolished walls, refloored the entire upstairs, gutted the bathroom, changed windows, and painted every wall and ceiling. With warmer weather and COVID keeping us home, Spring 2020 was the perfect excuse to complete another project as well: designing and constructing our own backyard paver patio.
I am amazed that it is already mid-June. Michigan has been a dealt a very wet and cool summer thus far, but G and I continue to design our house into a home. One very big project that will be stretching across the summer and into the fall is regaining control of our unbelievably jungle-like yard. There was a weekend in April where my husband said, “I’m going to go mow the grass.” and next I knew there was a waving tree outside our bedroom window — he was wrestling one of the many spindles down in the backyard. Since that weekend, many a hosta has been removed from our yard, grass has been seeded, and trunks ground down.
The following are images of parts of the yard in their “Before” state followed by images of their “Current” state. Within the next few months, I’ll share how progress is going and debut the completed lawn look.
The first area of hard work outside was the Northside of our home. When we initially looked at our home prior to putting an offer down, we knew this side of the house would require extensive work. You’ll notice a hole or two in the “Before” shot, but the photo does not do the yard justice. In fact, where the dirt is shown was like walking through landmines — you never knew when your foot was going to fall through the ground and into the cavern beneath. When G and his dad dug a large trench here, they found numerous twisting root systems from hundreds of plants that came and went over the years. The result was a thin layer of dirt over the roots and a trampoline-feeling ground which was perilous to walk. Fearing for anyone’s safety and for the drainage on this side of the house, G tackled this area before even considering any other part of the yard.
As I said, he and his dad initially had to dig a trench the length of the house and width of that dirty area below. It was not an easy job! Then he painted the base of the house, and lay drainage piping into the backyard from the front downspout. This piping was to decrease any erosion in the future and hopefully dissuade any future caverns being created like there was previously. Next G refilled the trench with stone and dirt, and laid grass-seed and hay on top. This was all done mid-April, and we now have a thick patch of grass taking root.
The backyard will be a continuous work-in-progress over the next year or two. However, G and I have been working tirelessly to remove and/or move plants around to make the yard more usable. We have removed all the trees except our magnolia, and most of the random hostas and grasses growing in the middle of the yard. It is beginning to look more like a yard than a jungle!
Mostly, the backyard needed a lot of cleanup on top of removal of random pieces. The green single-pane windows that were not beneficial to our energy bill have been removed and rehung with double-pane Pellas. Unfortunately this little project came a bit quicker than anticipated after I caught my hand through the middle window during a clumsy accident. (No trip to the ER was necessary, but I do have a cool scar now – whoops!) The back screen door was thrown away and the back door was replaced with a steel door for security purposes also. G has patched up a few of the cracks in the foundation that are due to settling over the years, and we plan to paint the base soon.
We also have a pile of 300 foot-by-foot blocks to build a 12 foot x 24 foot patio outside the backdoor, and a fire ring with bricks to design a hang-out area. We already use our backyard weekly, but we’re looking forward to creating this outdoor space to enjoy the sunsets that can be seen over the field behind our home.
The latest area of work has been the South side of our home. Originally, there was a small landing that boasted several overgrown bushes behind a small fence and a busted rocking bench. We have removed the landing completely with only the rocky underlay still there. G dug out a trench (in-progress shot below), painted the house-base, and placed drainage from our front downspout to go down to the backyard. He also removed all the bushes and overgrowth pictured below and we have since planted grass along the entire decline.
I have been loving seeing what plants pop up around the yard and deciding whether to keep them and/or move them. As someone who was not gifted with a green thumb, I am always looking for suggestions and advice on how to better our yard, specifically with plant recommendations, so please share!