One of the main reasons we bought our current house was to have a larger yard on a quieter street for our kids to play in. While the backyard was in great shape, it resembled an English garden. Most of the space was taken over by a large brick patio, a vast bed of ivy, rows of tall evergreen hedges and a fountain. While lovely for some homeowners, it wasn’t ideal for our young family since it left little room to run and play. The space felt choppy and hard to move around in.
My dream was to tackle that project this spring….but while I had a huge pregnant belly and was literally zero help, Zach jumped the gun and got it all done last fall! It was an incredible gift, and we’re enjoying our grassy backyard SO much this spring. I wanted to share some pictures I took along the way. Zach would have me take a picture from our bedroom window each morning after he’d done a massive amount of work the night before and text it to him at work. When you work at a desk and sometimes can’t see the end product of a day’s work very easily, it was so gratifying for him to work in the yard and see the labor of his hands.
Here we go…
The first major project was cutting down a row of large evergreen hedges, which ran along the sidewalk on the right side of this photo. It only took about 20 minutes to cut them down and immediately opened up the yard. I especially like how I can now see the kids anywhere in the yard.
The second hurdle was killing and digging out all the ivy, which was growing in ALL the brown dirt areas you see in the photo above. RoundUp for ivy worked, but it took about 2 weeks after spraying it over everything. (First we tried a vinegar mixture which definitely did not work.)
Next Zach started pulling up the bricks from the large brick patio. We spent last summer trying to decide where we would want to keep a patio space. In the end, the section marked out with white chalk, where the table is sitting, was the winner since it provided more shade under the locust trees. It was really helpful to live with the backyard for a summer so we could see how the sunlight moved, because originally we were going to put the patio to the space left of the large raised planter in the middle of the photo. But the sun would have been way too intense as it set in the west.
Here you can see it in broad daylight. Originally I also wanted to remove that raised planter bed in the bottom center, but now I am so happy we kept it. I use it for growing all our herbs.
Love those little kids playing back there! Lots of bricks piled up here. I was no help moving them out. Zach is the best.
Ok! The bricks we wanted to take out are all gone (and piled behind the garage), and you can get an idea of the patio space I was dreaming of. Zach had built the little kids’ picnic table and the big patio table earlier in the summer, and this was just the amount of brick space we needed. Now it was time to level the dirt for grass. BUT. We found a HUGE tree stump underneath the spot where the fountain had been standing. It was at least 4 feet in diameter, which means at one point there was a massive tree in our backyard. It’s so crazy to think about how a 1926 house has changed over the years.
So, Zach had to start hacking away at the tree stump to be able to cover it with dirt and grow grass. You can see the stump in the center of the photo.
Hooray! Everything is level and ready for grass seed. Now we water, water, water.
Along the garage wall we created a little pathway out of bricks to connect the driveway to the sidewalk. And we removed the row of stones that had edged between the driveway and the ivy. This made it a lot easier for the kids to run all through the yard without tripping hazards.
Here comes the grass! This is about how things ended last fall. See the mums on the table?
Picking up in the spring! The grass has done really well and those dark spots are just a few places where we added some more dirt and grass seed to fill in. I love how easy it is for the kids to play back here. After tax season ended we had a perfect weather weekend and ate almost every meal outdoors. It’s like adding a room on to our house.
We also changed out the gravel section of our driveway to pea gravel. I definitely wish this was paved and smooth. I’m not sure pea gravel was the best choice as every toddler we know loves to come throw the rocks. Maybe river rock would have been slightly better? But it does feel and look much better than the crushed gravel did. I love seeing the kids help us with projects, especially outdoors.
Looking forward to living out here all summer long!