Yesterday was the fifth anniversary of moving into our house and getting our dog back (best day ever!) This place has certainly come a long way in half a decade. We finished the basement, which has been a huge improvement. And the yard has gone from being a field of weeds to being a place we love – we’re out there all the time, and we still marvel at how much it’s changed since we bought the house. Here’s the back yard when we moved in:
Here it is today:
In the first picture, everything in the yard is a weed other than the handful of bushes and trees. The stuff around the edge is a massive patch of thistles, and the mowed area in the middle is just things like tumbleweeds and bindweed. It was quite green at the time, because there had been a lot of rain that spring. But the yard was in sad shape. The front yard was the same story – just weeds and lots of bare spots, with one spruce tree on each side and some neglected lilacs on the edge. Here’s the front now:
We’ve planted roughly 90 trees on our 3/4 acre lot in the last five years. We’re big fans of the forest look, and we love watching our baby trees get bigger. Eventually, there will be an evergreen windbreak across the northwest edge of the property, and another evergreen forest in the backyard, next to the orchard and behind the garden. The idea is that they will get thick enough that the yard will require very little maintenance in the forested areas. There’s still plenty of grass area just off the back patio, but the rest of it seemed like it would be better as a forest than as a grassland. So far, so good!
When we first moved in, the back patio was hot, exposed, and uninviting. The previous owner worked in the concrete industry, and he had poured a gigantic patio (adding a basketball hoop has finally made the patio feel “just right” instead of huge!). The only trees on the property were way out around the fence, and there was no shade at all on the patio until late in the day when the house created shade. So we strategically placed trees around the patio: three evergreens on the north side to provide a windbreak, two hybrid cottonwoods on the southeast side to provide shade, and a red maple on the east side for shade. The cottonwoods have done amazingly well, and the southeast side of the patio is comfortable and welcoming just about all day now, even on the hottest days:
The garden is coming along as well. It’s been a bit disappointing this year – the plants don’t seem to be growing as quickly as usual, but there’s still plenty of summer left, right? Back in April, we tore out our raised beds and tilled the whole area, creating a smaller garden footprint, but without the grass walkways that had been a pain to manage in the past (and of course, we added a couple of trees in the area that we reclaimed from the garden… because that’s what we do when we have extra yard space!) Then my husband repurposed the old irrigation system to fit the new configuration, using a combination of drippers and sprayers to cover the area depending on what we had planted:
Here it is today:
When we tilled up the old garden space, we moved the mint and some other perennial herbs into pots so that they wouldn’t be able to take over the garden space around them. We’ve also got a blueberry bush in a pot towards the back, since it needs much more acidic soil than we have around here. Our carrot bed is in the back right corner, and we left it as a raised bed, since it has been augmented with lots of sand to make the carrots grow nice and straight. Some things are doing really well, like the tomatoes:
But other things – like our salad greens – are still a little on the runty side:
So far this year, all we had used was our own compost to improve the soil. But since so many of the plants appeared to be struggling, we added some organic fertilizer last week, and I think there’s been some improvement. Hopefully we’ll be harvesting some greens other than dandelions in the next few weeks!
A late frost killed off the blossoms on our apricot and peach trees this year, but our cherry, apple, and plum trees are doing great (the cherry tree has a net over it because the birds would otherwise be all over it!):
So that’s where we are for right now on the yard, orchard, and garden – much better than when we moved in. The garden is still a work in progress – we like the lower maintenance that goes with having one large area instead of multiple raised beds that we have to mow between (and using a rototiller sure is easier than digging the whole area by hand each spring!), but it seems like we might need the better drainage of the raised beds, at least in some areas of the garden. So we’re going to see how it goes for the rest of this summer, and then reassess in the fall. We’ll probably have a truckload of good compost delivered early next spring, and that may be enough to bring the level up so that we have better drainage. We’ll see. For now, I’ve got my fingers crossed for our tiny pepper plants and miniature greens that should all be three times their size by now. And feeling grateful for all the yard work that we’ve done over the last five years. It’s definitely paying off, and the great thing about trees is that they just keep getting better with time!
I know a lot of my readers love to garden… how are your veggies coming along?