We’ve already put the new landscape to good use with an impromptu 2nd birthday BBQ for the little ladies and Jeremiah and I have been sitting on the deck (without being eaten alive) for cocktails after the girls have gone to bed. It’s simply lovely.
But you can’t appreciate where we’ve landed, without seeing where we took off. This yard was so sad. It’s safe to say we bought this house based on location (location, location) and not curb-appeal. We gave up having a proper outdoor space in order to live downtown and while I long for a large yard (toddlers need yards) I’m happy to report that this newly refined space has helped a lot. We actually live within walking distance to several green spaces and parks, so it’s really not all bad.
We started with shrubs. So. Many. Shrubs. The shrubs were removed during our first summer in the house, which basically just left an even sadder, dirty mess, but hey, at least the shrubs were gone. There are several issues with this space. 1) It’s small and awkward – the staircase takes up a good 1/4 of the space, but since this isn’t our forever home, we ultimately nixed demoing and rebuilding. We needed to make the existing footprint work; 2) This is the south and the south means BUGS! Like millions of mosquitos. The only way to combat bugs in the south is with smart landscaping, mosquito control services and, of course, bug spray; 3) There’s about 6 feet between our entryway and the street, which is no bueno with running toddlers; 4) We live on a flood plain and our yard can flood up to 2 feet.
We wanted a space where we could comfortably hang out as a family, entertain guests, and garden all the while keeping our kids safe. In order to get over the hurdles and still meet the demands of our wish list, we decided on 4 main features. 1) A deck for playing and entertaining. We had big dreams of building a raised deck level with the first floor, but after getting a few quotes, we realized that it didn’t make sense for this starter home, so we went with a floating deck at ground level; 2) Landscaping to combat standing water and the bugs that come with them; 3) A fence – we don’t want to lock our kids in the yard, but a fence helps to keep them safe when our attention is elsewhere, like on picking vegetables, weeding and general yard maintenance; 4) Raised landscaping that protects against flooding.
I wrote about the process of building our picket fence, brick retaining wall and fill dirt foundation over the last couple of months, so the final landscaping project was to get rocks, paving stones and lots and lots of plants!
We used the fill dirt to lay a solid base inside the retaining wall. The fill dirt actually makes up all but 1 1/2″ of those exterior rock beds. The top layer of rocks completes the looks. We laid the paver stones first and then surrounded them with the river rock.
I bought a few large clay pots to sit on each of the stones on the right side. I’m happy to report the mosquitos are at an all-time low. I think the rocks are a huge help, but we’ve also planted a few things that are meant to repel mosquitos. The pot closest to the deck has what is meant to be a mosquito-fighting mixture of lemon-balm, chives and potato ivy.
We want to add a few more potted plants to the right side, but we probably won’t be doing that this summer. Our landscaping a plant budget is maxed out and we want to focus on the pergola and trash can hideaway. Oh, if you’re wondering what all those toothpick-looking things are in the garden bed, they’re large stir sticks. We have a bit of a feral cat problem in our neighborhood — we have three sets of neighbors who feed them — and our yard is the perfect litter box.
We even have our own water feature in this new space! Just kidding. The kids water toy has somehow landed in this spot. Add toy storage to the list of things still to do.
We added copper solar cap lights to the fence. They look great and we’re eagerly planning more landscape lighting. Again, future planning…
I did add these little lanterns to the gate entrance, which we’ve lit with candles during BBQs, but we’d like to get solar tea lights to place in them and then add covers, so they’re not constantly filling with water.
We still have a few big projects to complete in this space, but that’s a wrap on the landscaping…for now.