Tuesday, June 3, 2008

Yard Project

Ok- so a little background on this post.  When we first moved into our house 3 years ago in April of 2005, our front yard had just recently been professionally landscaped by the previous owner.  She had done the back yard as well and with all that she did in front and back, she had spent thousands and thousands of dollars.  It was all very beautiful, but we did think it was odd that our front yard had no grass.  We were the only family that we knew that had no grass in front- just bushes, flowers, big, decorative landscaping rocks, and beauty bark.  We didn't think a whole lot of it then because it was very pretty when we moved in.  All of the bushes and flowers were new, so they were tiny, the beauty bark was new and fresh and there was no weeds or moss.  We would have preferred grass, but, again, it was pretty and we were just excited to be in our new house.  That summer, our yard maintenance was minimal- we probably had to weed our yard maybe 3 or 4 times for a few minutes each time.  There just isn't very many weeds that pop up in new landscaping with fresh bark.  Our neighbors always commented how lucky we were not to have grass to mow and how good we had it with our "easy" yard.  That first summer, we agreed.  It was easy- we hardly had to do a thing.  Still, as pretty as it was, it would have been nice to be able to use our front yard- the only place we could sit out front was on a big rock, and we couldn't really walk on all the landscaping.  But easy is easy, right?

So here are some pictures of our newly landscaped yard the day we moved in in 2005.  These are bad pictures (I had to scan them) but you can see how small all the plants are and how nicely groomed everything is.  No weeds and lots of space in between each plant/flower.

The first summer of up keeping our "easy" yard passed quickly.  Fall came after that first summer, which brought trimming and pruning for the winter.  The small bushes had grown a bit and it was quite a bit of work getting everything trimmed back down to size and ready for the winter.  The next summer, everything was not as easy as the first summer.  The plants all grew at a rapid rate- tall, wide and growing together.  The beauty bark started to disintegrate and disappear, moss started growing in its place and weeds started popping up all over the place.  Pruning and trimming that next fall was even worse and the next summer was the same- bigger, out of control plants that were no longer pretty, less bark, more moss, and tons of weeds.  We got behind on weeding and up keeping and our yard got away from us.  

Fast forward 3 years to the present.  Easy and pretty quickly changed into...... 

THIS!  I refer to our yard in this state as the Garden of Eden after Adam and Eve got kicked out. "... cursed is the ground for thy sake... Thorns also and thistles shall it bring forth to thee..." (Genesis 3:17-18).   It once was pretty, but soon became cursed.  This picture above and the two below were taken at the beginning of May of this year.

This overgrown mass of green ugliness used to small, pretty plants that had distinct shape and size.  Now we can't even see past it to see our neighbors!

The weeds were many and tall!  We had Chloe stand next to this weed to show how tall it was.  Chloe is 40 inches, so this weed is at least that tall!
Embarrassingly enough, our yard was so overgrown and out of control, we had no idea that a bird had built a fine little nest into the ground in between 2 over grown bushes.  We stumbled upon it when we were weeding at the beginning of May.
Chloe is holding one of two bird eggs we found, and she cared for those eggs for the rest of the day like a little mother bird.  We put the nest and eggs in the house and she would run in and check on them every few minutes.

So, the first Saturday in May we decided to take care of our disgusting front yard once and for all.  We spent the entire morning and afternoon ripping out all the bushes and weeds.  We left just the pretty flowering plants and the big, decorative rocks.

Here is the progress we made that first day.  It looks a lot better, but we still have a long way to go.
Notice all the green moss and weeds..... yuck.  We were undecided if we would just rip out all the big plants, weed really well and then just lay new beauty bark, or rip EVERYTHING out and put in sod.  We debated and debated, then just decided to go for it all and put in sod, which is what we have desperately wanted anyway for the past 3 years.  Putting in new bark would have been the easiest and the cheapest.....  we had a lot of work ahead of us.

Notice in the pictures above the huge, decorative rocks.  There were about 10 of those in our front yard that we needed to get rid of.  Sounds easy, but it's not.  First of all, each of them weighs probably 300- 500 pounds each (too heavy to just pick up and throw away).  Secondly, even if we could pick them up somehow, we have no truck or any way to haul them away.  Even if we figured that out, the local dump does not allow rocks that heavy to be dumped, so we physically had no means of getting rid of these rocks ourselves.  We were stuck between a rock and a hard place, literally.  

I spent 3 days calling contractors and landscapers, trying to get bids on how much it would cost for someone to haul away the rocks for us.  I quickly became discouraged when everyone said prices like "$500 minimum" or "$1000" or $200 per rock" (are you kidding me?) and more outrageous bids like that.  We were hoping that we could find a landscaper that would jump at the change to come and get perfectly good landscaping rocks that they could reuse in their landscaping business, as these rocks are very expensive to buy.  We hoped they would see that us giving them the rocks would be such a great deal that they would not charge us at all.  Unfortunately, free wasn't going to happen, but we finally got lucky and came across a guy who said he'd take care of the rocks for $200 total.  We jumped on that- it was the cheapest bid we'd gotten by a wide margin.  He also had the equipment to haul away not only the rocks, but carry off all of the extra dirt that had been used in the landscaping process and level out our front yard to make the dirt even with our driveway, for a small fee more.  (If you can notice in the pictures above, the ground is lumpy and dirt is piled up much higher than the driveway. )  We were grateful for his abilities, as we didn't have the means to haul away the extra dirt, and it is very expensive to dump dirt as well.

After we finally got the big rocks hauled away, we still had to deal with all of the small rocks that were put in when the former owner landscaped .  She had lined all the driveway edges with rocks (you can see those in the very first pictures when we moved in) .  Not a big deal until we need them all out!  When my dad was down, he and Ben spent an entire afternoon shoveling rocks out of the yard.  This picture shows just one of many wheel barrow load of rocks that they hauled away that day.  Chloe and I also did our part.  Ben and Dad just worked the outside perimeter of the yard, but Chloe and I went out one afternoon and spent a few hours picking up all the rocks that had gotten moved to the middle of the yard when the guy came out and leveled it all.  Surprisingly, Chloe was a huge help and we got done twice as fast as if I had to do it by myself.  3 year olds are great, cheap labor!

So here is what the yard looked like after EVERYTHING was taken out of it, plants, big rocks, small rocks and all.  It is all ready for sod to be laid

We had sod delivered last Saturday morning.
Here is my sod laying man, laying the first piece of sod.

As soon as Chloe saw Ben laying the sod, she ran into the garage and found Ben's tape measurer.

She came back telling us that she need to measure everything and would do just that, announcing "Yep, 2 inches!"

And here, after 3 years of hassle with our yard and one long month of hard work to prep it, is our finished yard with sod, FINALLY!  

Here is the side view where all of the HUGE bushes used to be (if you scroll back up you can see them).  It looks so much nicer now.

We are so excited to finally have sod and to have a yard that will be easily manageable.  No more weeds, and no more pruning.  It is so refreshing to be able to walk outside and see grass rather than weeds as big as plants and plants bigger than our cars.  It was an unsettling, stressful feeling.  We are no longer the eye sore of the neighborhood, thank goodness (we felt so bad for our neighbors having to live next to this mess for so long).  Hooray for grass!  Our dream for 3 years.


Van said...

It looks great! What a lot of hard work! Ben is a great lawn mower- with many years and yards of experience. This yard will be more up his alley. Chloe is a good helper - what a bonus. Good Job!

TaylorClan said...

I can truly appreciate how much work that is. Go Andros family! It looks so nice and feels so good to be done with a project, there are a few(million) I need to finish at my house:)

The Moore Family said...

Holy Cow! Talk about lots of hard work. But the nice green green grass looks awesome!! Where we are living right now we pay a fee and they take care of the one day when we have a yard I'll have somewhat of an idea what to look forward to! And Chloe is a great helper....and you can't go wrong with free labor......"if it's free it is for me!"
Looks like you had a great memorial day weekend! Fun with Uncle Bob! Loved the pictures! Talk to ya later!

Megan said...

we've been cutting up sod here and cutting and rolling and now we have to find a place to dump it! Kind of the opposite--we're looking forward to a little LESS grass to mow.

Tara said...

Phew! What a whole lotta work. It looks great.

Camille said...

Wow, that was a BIG job, but what an improvement! It looks great!