Monthly Archives: May 2014

FENCE! (does that express our excitement?)

After the DAYS of ivy removal and then the joy of bamboo removal, it was finally time for the new fence!  Timing for everything worked out really well.  We felt like we really cleared out as much as possible before the new fence went up and were excited that once it was up, we’d be at the point of really starting to transform the yard.

Two days before the contractors showed up, we also got another big delivery…

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PLANTS…lots and lots of new plants!  4 hours in a nursery with a toddler, now that’s a story for another post.  For now, we had a patio full of plants and on that Friday morning, this rolled in:

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That’s a lot of lumber and I have to move NONE of it! In 30 minutes we went from this:

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To this:
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I’m not going to lie, it was really nice not having a fence at all.  I considered (for about 1 minute) the idea of not putting one back in and letting our yard feel like it goes on beyond the alley to the back lot of another property.  Reality then set in, of course, and the guys got to work setting the posts.

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Things went quickly once they got rolling and it was exciting to FINALLY have a real fence in place.  Of course, they also removed and rebuilt the side panels from the house to the neighbor’s properties to match.

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So long nasty, broken, wobbly, rotting, barely operable fences and gates, it’s really been great living the last year with you.  Now that I’ve gotten you to this point, I’ll have to leave you with a little teaser.  Since the new fence went up, we jumped right into getting the landscaping in and haven’t actually taken finished photos.  Crazy, right?  Sorry about that.  In the meantime…

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May 22, 2014 · 3:24 pm

Bamb-who?

Along with Ivy, Bamboo was another ‘wonderful’ addition to our backyard landscape.  Don’t get me wrong, I actually really LIKE bamboo and think that it’s structure, height, and leaves are very pleasant and add a nice structure to landscapes… in pots or VERY well crafted planters.  Using bamboo to create planted ‘walls’ and a place is great.  When you create such a place in the middle of the open lawn with NO boundaries to contain the bamboo, then you get a big ‘ole mess of nasty that takes over the yard.  This was the secret garden in our yard:

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Lovely, Huh?  I cut back about 1/2 of the bamboo in the fall to get a better idea of what was really in there and this was what it looked like this spring.  Originally nestled between 2 large trees, I imagine at one time created a very pleasant oasis.  In fact, we uncovered a lot of stones that created a little patio within the bamboo jungle.  It was the intention that after all the ivy removal, I would take on the bamboo removal.  Everyone balked that I would say that.  Neighbors responded with ‘good luck’ or ‘yeah, we tried too’ and even ‘no way in hell will you get that all out’.  But I was determined.  After day three of ivy removal, I was exhausted but very pleased with all the progress!  I grabbed my trusty pick-axe and shovel and walked across the yard to the jungle.  With the new fence installation about to be scheduled, I was on over-drive to clear out as much as possible before it’s arrival.  I found a little batch of young bamboo shoots furthest from the main jungle and thought I’d start there and work inward.  One, two, three thrusts of the pick-axe and… nothing moved.  Not an inch.  What the hell was I thinking?  I’m exhausted!  I threw the pick-axe onto the ground and walked away.  It was decided.  Everyone was right, ha, there was no way I was tackling this myself.  The next day, I called a landscape crew; they came that night for an estimate.  It was half the price of a previous estimate, so they got the job.  Three days later this happened:

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Daycare was closed that day and Naomi was selected as a jury and sitting in a trial, so Gabriella was home with me when the ‘truck’ showed up.  She loved EVERY MINUTE of it and could not stop watching.  It couldn’t have been any cuter.  In the end, this is what we were left with:

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A 95% bamboo free side yard that had been seeded and strawed.  And look how HUGE it is.  We truly had no idea how much space was over there and it completely opened up the yard.  We just spotted little grass seedlings popping up today so it’s well on it’s way to becoming a previously-useless-but-now-full-of-grass-and-open-air section of our yard.

Ivy removal- check

Bamboo removal – check!

Up next, NEW FENCE!  The crew was here last Friday to remove the old fence and build the new one.  It’s unbelievable what the yard is looking like now!

 

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May 16, 2014 · 2:27 pm

April showers, brings May landscape overhaul?

We’ve lived in this house for just under one year now!  It’s hard to believe because sometimes it feels like we just moved in with lots of unfinished little projects; other times it feels like we’ve been here for much longer.  But the truth is that moving day was May 18th so we’re officially coming up on our one year in this house anniversary.  Crazy what we’ve been able to do in that time and yet, there was one large area of our home that had seen very little improvement.  Sure, we ‘maintained’ what we inherited and made some very modest improvements in order to get through the summer, but let’s face it, we were busy unpacking and trying to get our new LIFE in order to really worry about too much more.  The YARD.  One of the things we LOVED about this house was the flat, open, manageable sized yard.  Well, we loved what the yard could be.  We knew that buried under years of neglect and layers upon layers of leaves, ivy, dirt, ivy, ivy, bamboo, and some more ivy, there was a great outdoor space for us!

We thought this year, we’d tackle a new fence and a phase one round of improvements, but once we decided to hold a large outdoor event at our house in mid-august, we decided to bite the bullet and do a more complete overhaul of the yard.

Here’s what we started with when we saw the house:

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Ok- from a distance, it doesn’t look THAT bad.  Trust me, it was.  First step was finally taking care of the fence.  It clearly had seen better days and was in need of a complete removal.  There really was no saving it because some years back, a tree along the back property line had fallen (onto the garage, no less) and when the roots up-rooted, it took the fence up with it.  Hence the current condition with our fence lifted at one point and leaning into the alley in that spot while leaning into the yard at the other end.  The side fence pieces from the house to our neighbor’s  were also barely holding on.  The left side literally blew down one day and the right side with the gate was hardly operable.  No saving them either, they all had to go.

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We got 3 estimates for the fence.  Two large companies that have done a lot of work in the neighborhood and a smaller, local landscape company.  In the end, price and product led us to contract with one of the large fence companies.  We’re basically installing the new fence in the same location as the existing, except we’re adding a larger gate by the garage and moving the short fence line into the yard by 4 feet in order to create a larger parking pad off the alley in front of our garage.  Not that parking is ever a problem in our neighborhood, but we figured we might as well plan the new fence to allow for it now because we wouldn’t want to have to modify the new fence in the future.  Also, fences are expensive!  We’re hoping to do this now and NEVER AGAIN!  Fence install day is Friday (TODAY!) so we’ll show you how that turns out in a future post!

Our to do list included more ivy removal.  We knew we’d have a few weeks before the fence was installed so we figured we’d take the opportunity to clear out the ivy along the fence line so that once the new fence is in, the area would be cleared and done.  Ivy. UGH. I’d like to meet the person who thought, ‘Oh, what a lovely green plant that has no fragrance, no flowers, and no real purpose in life.  Yes, let’s plant it everywhere and let it cover the ground, climb the walls of the house, climb the trunks of all the trees and, my favorite, spread through the lawn creating a desert condition on the ground that no longer supports the growth of anything more than a collection of weeds.’  Oh, what I’d say to that person… anyway.  We know that ridding the property 100% of ivy is not realistic, but we wanted to give ourselves the best chance to maintain its removal which meant that we had to dig out as much of the plant and roots as possible.

And so we set out on the ivy clearing, pulling one root strand at a time.  A pick-axe, shovel, and three 12 hour days of physical labor, and the yard went from this:

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to this:

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The yard was already looking better and BIGGER!  We packed 14 contractor bags full on ivy vines.  JUST THE VINES…14 bags!  It was ridiculous and we’re so glad to get it out of here!  In the process, we uncovered a stone retaining wall which was a nice surprise.  It wasn’t huge but we dug out all the stones and stock piled them for use elsewhere in the yard makeover.  It may not look like a lot in these photos, but trust me, the yard was taking shape.

Up next in the yard overhaul…Taking care of the bamboo jungle once and for all!

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May 9, 2014 · 10:15 am