Can we talk about my back yard?
That’s the current state of it, as seen from the back edge of the property. Well, overlooking the back edge, which is the creek that runs though all the back yards on this side of the street and is then diverted into a pipe under the road.
I don’t have any pictures of what the yard looked like when we bought the house 13 years ago June.
It was, for lack of a better word, overgrown. My nephew, who was a wee one at the time, called it ‘a jungle’. For about 10 years or so before we bought the house, it was a rental. The interior was maintained, the yard not so much. Before that, a woman lived here who was apparently quite the gardener who had a fondness for pink, but the last few years she lived in the house, her health was declining and her yard suffered. What we’ve figured out from neighbors is that the yard, specifically the back yard, was ignored and just left to run wild for oh, a good 15 years or so.
That’s the view standing at the back of the house.
We have a large lot – .33 of an acre. Our first priority when we bought the house was to get rid the ivy growing up the sides onto the roof and then cut down the trees growing into the house. The back yard could wait.
13 years ago, we started by taking a lawnmower and a weed wacker to cut a path through the jungle. We laid down newspaper, covered it in mulch and over time, grass grew and it became a path. When Pat mowed the yard, he’d cut in closer to the jungle every time, so that every year, we claimed a few more inches. We’d walk through, dig up big stuff, cut down smaller trees we didn’t want, pull weeds. For years, I had a constant patch of poison ivy somewhere on my body between March and November. There were times it would become a full blown nasty case that required steroids. Pat spent a lot of time pulling all the poison ivy out by hand (He’s not nearly as allergic as I am. Also, he knows what it looks like. Me? Ha!)
When the sandbox got installed and the tiki hut built, he cleared those areas to be used, but by and large, big parts of the back yard were left untouched. For a few years, he mowed it all down early, we covered the yard in straw and if anyone asked what the plan was, he’d refer them to me and I, him. “Oh, Pat’s got something going on down there, you’ll have to ask him.” It actually did help us get a handle on what was going on back there.
I did some small landscaping around the tiki hut, per Edie’s request, by moving some wild geraniums back there. I have some more I will move back there. Another work in progress.
During the microbusts a few summers ago, we lost some big limbs as well as some smaller trees back there on the side that had been previously still jungle. I started noticing that maybe there was a new sunny spot to plant sunloving plants. We only have so much sun in our yard and most of that is dedicated to tomatoes and basil. Any sunloving flowers I have are in a thin strip ‘down by the side of the road’, along the edge of the back yard. They are running out of room. I have a lilac and butterfly bush that really could use some space to spread out.
I have a fig that has lived in a bucket since before we had Edie because we can’t decide where we want to plant it. We want to give it space to spread out and with sunny real estate at a premium around here, we just haven’t been able to agree to a spot.
The other day it dawned on me that we could start moving into the space of the back yard that had yet to be fully tamed. We could actually start making inroads to the master plan of what we eventually want the back yard to be. This was pretty revolutionary.
Pat and I walked around there the other day, pulling up the first signs of weed life, and put out markers for what is going to go where. I’m excited to have new holes to dig and super excited to finally feel like we have a plan and a vision to move forward with the back yard. It has taken us 13 years to get to this part.
It was that or start terracing the hill next to the house into the most macdaddy vegetable garden in the city. It’s a steep slope, it’s going to take retaining walls and alot of work. Every winter I consider it, every spring I stand out there and think about it…..and bag it.
This year though, the back yard is finally happening.
Stay tuned for updates.