Our house has a very small fenced back/side yard. We have a white picket fence, less than four feet tall, so the view of the open space behind our house is not blocked at all and makes the whole area feel bigger. But the fence is about nine feet from our house. It goes along the south side of our house and then across the east (back) side to about the middle of the house. The rest of the yard is not fenced. When we moved in, there was a four-foot wide band of gravel around the house, with a narrow stip of grass between the gravel and the fence. We shoveled all the gravel out and turned that area into a garden, which we’ve kept every year since. So we have a garden that wraps around two sides of our house and is about four feet wide. Then we have a strip of grass about five feet wide, and then the fence. The narrow strip of grass isn’t much use to anyone, but it’s a high-maintenance grass, so we have to water it along with the garden.
We had thought about building a deck in the back yard, but the materials were going to be pretty expensive. Then my husband came up with a fantastic idea. While I was helping my friend last week, he spent his evenings renovating our backyard.
First he transplanted the remains of the east facing garden over to the south side of the house, next to the current garden there. Then he dug up all the sod and spent hours breaking up the clay soil behind our house. He added in compost and worked until the entire section of our yard behind our house was flat and smooth and rich. Then he planted a highly drought -resistant fescue grass seed all over the whole area. It’s sprouting like crazy right now, and it’s going to look fantastic by next summer. He spent $30 ($10 for seed, and $20 for extra rich sheep manure compost to use in addition to the compost that he makes himself). Yesterday he spent another $25 on three ornamental grass plants – two of them will get to be 12 feet tall and he planted those just outside our fence between our house and our neighbors’ somewhat unkept deck. The third grass is a much shorter variety, and he split it in two and planted it in the corners of the new yard, next to the house.
So for $55 and several evenings of work, we’re going to have a great backyard. Instead of having a narrow strip of garden and a narrow strip of useless high-maintenance grass, we’re going to have a short, wide garden on the south side and a fenced 20′ by 9′ area of low water grass where we can have a picnic table or just hang out. We hadn’t priced all the materials for the deck yet, but I don’t think it was going to come in under $55.