A few years ago when we bought our house, we took on the ambitious project of landscaping the exterior ourselves. This involved a lot of “dirty work”, including removing white landscaping rock from the front beds and moving it to the backyard (under our deck). We did this, mind you, without any help from a wheelbarrow (yes, we were cheap). We also tilled new beds around the sides and rear of our house. Aside from a little advice from my “master gardener” mother and a few internet searches, J and I pretty much went into our landscaping project without much forethought. After all, how hard could tilling up the soil and plopping a few shrubs in the ground be, right?
Wrong. Mistake #1: Not wanting to mess with the garbage-baggy plastic liner, we thought (and read) that simply putting down a thick layer of mulch would keep weeds/grass at bay. Maybe this would have worked a little better had we removed all the sod/grass we tilled up, but we sort of missed that step. And let me tell you people, grass has a stong will to survive. After a few months, our “thick” layer of mulch had grass sprouting out of it all over. Not exactly the look we were going for.
Mistake #2: One of those aforementioned internet searches led us to the concept of “natural edging”. Neither of us are big fans of the plastic border edge that is pretty common in landscaping. I understand that it gets the job done, but I don’t really like the look of it and also don’t like how the lawnmower can chew it up over time, so we opted for more of a natural look. Let’s just say that worked about as well as the time I decided to go “natural” with my hair color. Major FAIL. Apparently I misread the diagram and couldn’t figure out which way to point the shovel to get the proper angle. Nice work, chica!
I’m kind of surprised that J and I let this project go so majorly wrong, because we are typically the planning, doing your research type when it comes to big undertakings such as this. I guess we were just too eager to finally do a big project on our new home that we “shot first and aimed later”.
So, about that “aiming later” part. Make that WAAAYYYY later. In between our landscaping debacle (I’ve always wanted to use that word!) and when we were finally able to fix our mistake (hey, landscaping and accessories are not cheap, people!), a certain little someone decided to make her appearance. Needless to say, we were a little preoccupied that summer with a new little bundle to even care about what our poor neighbors had to stare at every day out of their kitchen window.
Well, now that S is nearing the two-year mark, we’re finally at the point of making our yard presentable again. Granted, it is still a challenge to do yard work with S investigating everything, but we are taking it slow and know eventually it will get done.
After a recent week-long rain, I decided to try my luck at the “natural edging” again in the backyard. And yes, I did read the diagram correctly this time (and also looked at a few more internet sites). Working with wet soil was great and the edging turned out much better than I expected. It was so nice to see a definite border to where the grass ended and the landscaping began. My next step was to reapply mulch. I love, love, love the look of black mulch. I think it looks great next to a green lawn and really sets off flowers and shrubs. I just don’t like the look of green grass growing IN my black mulch (like last time), so THIS time, I put a thick layer of newspaper down to (crossing fingers) kill any grass/weeds underneath and then a thick layer of mulch on top. You can see the before and after pics here (along with the layer of newspaper):
Nine bags of mulch and a few dozen newspapers later, and we finally have a respectable looking backyard. (especially since J worked his tail off and stained the deck, pounded in our fence posts that had started to make their way out of the ground, and ripped out the atrocious fence/pen thing from the previous owners…what a man!)
Now on to figuring out how I’m going to do the remaining 3/4 of our yard while trying to keep S from running off to the park across the street…I guess the rest will have to be a nap time project!
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