We spent all day yesterday working in our front yard. We used to have mostly grass with a small perennial garden. Now it’s the other way around. We have a little peninsula of grass wrapping around from the side yard – the rest is mulch and hardy perennial bushes and plants. We spent a couple hours yesterday digging the grass up by hand, and then decided to go rent a tiller. Best $30 we’ve spent in a long time. The tiller did in 90 minutes what would have taken us 6 hours to do by hand. And it did a much better job. Then we put down weed-blocker fabric over the tilled area. That cost about $40, so it wasn’t cheap, but we decided it was worth it. We know that neither of us has any extra time as it is, so there was no way that we were going to be in the yard weeding all summer long. I don’t mind pulling a few straggler weeds now and then, but I don’t want it to be a weekly project.
We spent about $60 on perennials. We got plants that spread and get very big without requiring much water. I also have a friend who has offered me some of her hen-and-chicks and some valerian that we can go dig up next weekend (free!). For this year, our yard will look a bit sparse – mostly mulch with a few plants. But in a few years, everything should fill in nicely.
The best part is the mulch. We’re getting it for free from the local tree-recycling center. They have a mountain of wood chips free for the hauling. So we lined the trunk of our car with a tarp, and we’ve hauled two loads of chips back so far. My husband is over there right now getting the third load. We’ll probably need about two more loads to finish the job. I can’t imagine what all that mulch would have cost to buy in bags…
We haven’t decided yet how we’re going to do the rock border. We have a bunch of rocks that we salvaged from the open space behind our house last year for our small perennial garden. They had just been dumped with a big pile of dirt, and we hauled them back to the house one at a time. But there are no more left, and the ones we have only go about half way around the new border. We saw another pile of dirt and rocks in an empty lot a few miles from here, so we’re going to go check that out. But we’re not in the business of stealing rocks, so if it looks like anything is going on there besides dumping rocks, we’ll leave them be. We know of a few places that sell remnant rocks, but we have no idea what they charge. This afternoon, once we get the plants in and the mulching finished, we’re going on a rock-hunting mission. We’ve decided that we’re not going to spend more than $50 on the rest of the project, including the rocks, so if they cost more than that, we’ll have to find another solution.
Whatever we end up doing, we know that the yard will look great. We’re both really excited about it, and the whole thing is costing us about $200. I have a friend who spent $15,000 on landscaping last year, for a yard about the same size as ours. She and her husband bought a new house that just had dirt in the yard, and they paid someone 15k to put in rocks (big ones), flowers, grass, and irrigation. It looks great, but so will ours. I had no idea how much landscaping cost until she told me that story. Now I know what a deal we’re getting by doing it ourselves and looking for bargains as we go.