Building walls

Our landscaping projects continued last weekend. Tony and I were on our own (no help from friends or family), but we still managed to get a lot done. Tony’s main focus was on digging out the dirt around the foundation at the back southwest corner of the house. Our house is on a hill, and the southwest corner is at the high corner. Over the years, it appears that runoff from further uphill has stopped and settled along the southwest corner, so the dirt was above the foundation. In some spots, it was half way up the first siding panel. This was allowing water to seep in over the foundation into the basement (we suspect it was letting mice in the basement as well). This weekend, Tony dug out to the appropriate level around that entire side of the house.  We clearly have a lot of dirt to move now!

Southwest corner after 9/19/15 weekend Southwest corner after 9/19/15 weekend Southwest corner after 9/19/15 weekend Southwest corner after 9/19/15 weekend

My focus was on the front yard. We have a staircase that connects the sidewalk and the front door, and so far all of our landscaping efforts have been focused on the main yard to the left of that staircase. This weekend, I focused on the side yard to the right. It was originally tiered, and each of the tiers was held back with a retaining wall made of railway ties. Some of these walls were falling forward, the plant life that was in there was overgrown, and the railway ties did not match the stone walls in the rest of the yard. Tony helped me remove the railway ties, which were attached to buried 4-foot long pieces of rebar. Then we removed a lot of extra dirt and re-tiered the terrain. We used various rocks we had collected from the rest of the front yard to rebuild retaining walls, but this time to match the rock walls on the other side of the front yard. I then planted crocuses, hyacinths, daffodils, tulips, and alliums and re-planted hostas, iris, and lilies that were already there. The last step was mulch, which we ran out of but will finish on our next weekend. Below are photos of the side yard’s progression.

side yard after 8/29/15 weekend
Side yard as purchased
side yard by stairs after 9/5/15 weekend
Side yard after rock removal
Side yard after 9/19/15 weekend
New side yard
Side yard after 9/19/15 weekend
New side yard

Landscaping part 2

Labor Day weekend we celebrated laboring in the yard some more. My mom Jane and Tony’s friend Dave both joined us for the long weekend, and focused exclusively on the front yard. The first step was having someone remove many of the boulders and rocks that littered the yard. I put an ad on Craigslist, and an incredibly strong man managed to move most of the rocks, many of which were more than 3 feet in diameter, with nothing but a dolly and a winch. It took 3 trailer loads and almost an entire day to finish the job.

After that, we focused on 2 separate beds – one in the back of the yard near the DSC02227house and one in the front near the sidewalk – that I wanted to put perennial flowers in. We loosened the dirt, removed and regraded the slope, and amended the dirt with composted manure to get ready for planting. We found a great end-of-season deal on perennials, so we were able to put almost everything I wanted in the flower beds.

In the back bed: spirea, sedums, Russian sage, purple coneflower, shasta daisies, black-eyed susans, foxglove, hyacinth, daffodils, alliums, tiger lillies, tulips, and iris. In the spring I will add blueberry bushes along the back on this bed.

In the front bed: Russian sage, purple coneflower, shasta daisies, black-eyed susans, foxglove, hyacinth, daffodils, alliums, tiger lillies, tulips, iris, crocus, and butterfly weed. I will add bee balm and milkweed to this bed either later this fall or in the spring.

Before and after photos are below.

DSC02207DSC02226 DSC02208DSC02225

The first weekend – landscaping part 1

For our first weekend of work, we decided to focus on the front landscaping. The previous owners had the front yard professionally landscaped about 8 years ago and then didn’t do much to maintain it. The yard was full of boulders and overgrown evergreen shrubs and trees, most of which were half dead in the center.

DSC02206The first task was taking out most of the shrubs.
This step created a LOT of yard waste! But it also really opened up the front yard.

Tony also started a regrading project in the backyard. In one corner of the house, the dirt and grass come above the foundation. Tony began the process of digging out and regrading the land, which should help prevent water seepage in the basement.

Below are some before and after photos from the weekend.

DSC02180 DSC02205 DSC02181 DSC02207