Aug 25, 2015

Greening Up the Backyard

Did you laugh when I told you back in July that we were hoping to have our new grass installed a week after we finished the under-deck enclosure? It's a good thing I didn't put any money down on it happening because it took us a month.

This is what our backyard has looked like for the last couple of years. Anyone with dogs knows that it is really hard to keep your grass alive with those pee machines (poop factories?) around - especially when there isn't much room for them to spread out their, ahem, deposits. We patched some of it a couple of times, seeded it at least once, and then finally just ignored it for as long as we could.

Here is a beautiful shot from the day the under-deck enclosure was finished. Keep your shoes on at all times, right?

And here it is now -

Big difference. Big. Huge.

The first step to a new backyard was to get rid of all of the old grass. Some of the soil under the old grass wasn't very nice, so we scraped down several inches to get a nice level area to build on. Our backyard is only about 20 feet by 20 feet, yet we managed to fill the bed of the pickup truck twice - which meant two long trips to empty it before we could move on.

We ordered new soil from a local place, Zander Sod. When Tom saw the two giant bags sitting in the driveway he said we'd ordered way too much (I disagreed). We spent two evenings that week trucking it to the backyard a cartful at a time, and found out that even with two bags we still didn't have enough.(I told you so.) It took a few days to get more soil, but once we had a third bag spread out it was looking pretty good.

This is after 2 bags and unfortunately through a window, so I apologize for the picture quality.

We tamped it all down and had our neighbour come over to inspect. He's a greenskeeper and knows his stuff. His backyard is gorgeous and I'm sure sometimes he likes to pretend he doesn't know us. :-)

We put it in high-gear this past weekend and decided to repair and repaint the upper windows at the front of the house, all while laying the sod between coats. Ambitious, I know. We're in a semi-detached so we were going to paint the aforementioned neighbour's windows too. When discussing our plans, the neighbour said he would be happy to lay all the sod for us if we would do all the painting as he's afraid of heights. Sweet deal. Not only was our sod laid properly, he did the whole thing in about an hour. It took us the weekend to finish the painting, but I still think we came out the winners.

So here again is our new and improved backyard. I can't express how wonderful it is to walk across the yard not worrying about thistles or rocks (or poops, because we aren't letting the dogs out there until the grass has a chance to root.) This whole experience has been great for the dogs because without a backyard we've had no choice but to take them for walks at least twice a day.

We don't have any plants or trees back there yet, except for my beloved purple smoke bush. We had a huge one at our last house  - well over 15 feet high. It was so easy to care for, and so beautiful, even when it wasn't flowering, that we had to have another one. This one is already starting to poke up over the fence and it's only been two years.

But we don't know what else we want to add. This year a vine from the other side of the fence (it's all field back there) worked its way over the top of our fence in a couple of spots and hangs down with green leaves and red berries. It's taken absolutely no effort on our part (my favourite kind of plant) and has added some much needed colour and depth to the space.

We also changed up the sidewalk area by the gate. Before, it was about 10 feet long and we wondered, Why? It doesn't lead anywhere except to the grass. So we pulled out 6 or so feet of it - back to the edge of the house, removed the screenings, and put down grass.

In every area we're going for the appearance of a larger yard, and the unbroken expanse of grass really does make the yard look bigger. Or am I delusional from being out in the sun all weekend?

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