Saturday, June 4, 2016

Front Yard Makeover

When we moved into our brand new home, we really didn't anticipate the amount of work that would need to be done.

We were so excited to move into our first real house, complete with a yard, that we hardly thought about all the things that we would need to do in the future to maintain it. Let alone all the tools and materials it would require -- I shudder to think about how much we must have spent at Home Depot during that first year... 

We definitely didn't think much about the landscaping when we first saw it. 

It looked pretty typical compared to what we had seen around the neighborhood.

However, when spring came and a bunch of the plants started to die, we realized we may have a problem. 

We found out a few things:

1)  Our neighborhood has had amazing soil. That is, before the developer came along and stripped it all and sold it to the people building the golf course, leaving rocky, hard, clay behind. 

2)  Our builder didn't do anything to prep our yard for landscaping. Instead, they just dumped about two inches of topsoil over the rocky clay and covered the bumpy ground with sod.

3)  Also, they didn't bother to put in any climate or soil-appropriate plants. Instead, they just popped in whatever they had (or whatever was on sale) that would look decent and convince us to close on the home sale. Thus, why everything was turning yellow and/or dying. 

Ah, hindsight is 20/20, but these are the things that happen to first-time home buyers like us. 

We had some work to do. 

Eventually, we realized that in order to make our front gardens into something that anything living could thrive in, we would have to remove about two feet of the rocky, clay dirt that was there and replace it with decent soil. 

We had no idea what we were about to unearth.

Bucketful by painful bucketful, Stewart began the backbreaking work of digging out the soil... 

Once we started digging in the garden bed, we discovered rotten two-by-fours, rusty nails, burlap sacks, bottles and cans, and a huge amount of concrete over-pour from the foundation just a few inches down. 

No wonder nothing would grow here! 

It was basically a construction waste dumping ground with a few inches of topsoil thrown on.

You can see that just a few inches down, we encountered what was basically a thin slab of concrete. Stew actually had to use a pickaxe to get through most of it.


Finally, after uncountable hours of digging and hauling away buckets of dirt, we were ready to bring in replacement soil. If someone would have told me that someday in my life I would pay good money for dirt, I would have laughed in their face. 

Just look at me now... 

Shovelful by shovelful, poor Stew started filling in the holes. 

In the meantime, I started researching and shopping for replacement plants.

And with some helpful resources (the main one being my mother) we were able to select what I think turned out to be the makings for a really pretty front garden.

We also replaced a hedge on the side of the house that surrounds some unsightly power boxes. 

The addition of some decorative bark, rocks and lighting finished off the final look. 

I really can't take credit for much of this project. Stew really took the initiative to get it done and did all the manual labor himself. 

And I still can't believe what a difference it made!

We actually finished this project about a year ago, and everything we planted is still thriving in our new garden beds. 

Even though it involved a ton of cost and effort, I am so happy with the results, and proud of us for completing our first major outdoor project at our new home. 

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