Our side yard facing north was always in sad, mediocre shape. Initially, we stacked firewood and trash cans there, underneath a Crabapple tree. The firewood got moved to the other side of the house and we turned the spot temporarily into a dumping ground for other trash as we landscaped the front yard. But afterwards, the trash cans stayed in what was now a mostly dirt area with scraggly weeds growing. Fugly!
So, last summer, in an attempt to conserve time and money, I made a simple suggestion to hubs. Move the pile of leftover pea gravel (from building French drains the prior year) to this muddy spot so, at minimum, we wouldn’t have to trek in the mud to get the trash cans. Hubs, with that our-backyard-makes-me-want-to-puke look, acquiesced and the cleanup began.
Of course, hubs being who he is could not leave a simple, no-cost plan as I originally suggested. We ended up ordering 20 tons of grey gravel off Craigslist to fill the whole side yard. That’s another post, but ultimately, several things had to happen to turn this sad, neglected muddy spot into our favorite outdoor room (so far).
1. Clear the rubble. I don’t even remember what happened to the old pile or rocks and cement. I think we slowly through it out with the garbage.
2. Grade dirt away from the house. (What’s with the former owners? Every piece of land next to the house seems to be the low point of the yard!) We piled the extra dirt on a small hill and ended up planting blueberries and raspberries, and added round pavers and extra rocks (to snuff out that darn bind weed). Here’s a look at our “Blueberry Hill.” (This is last year’s photo, with bucket and other junk in the photo. This year’s blueberries aren’t out yet so the hill is looking a little less green. Hopefully soon!)
3. Lay down weed barrier. Even if you think it’s too shady for grass or weeds to grow, weed barrier is only $30 for a 300-foot, 4-foot-wide roll at Costco or Sam’s Club.
4. Add pea gravel. Add gray gravel for walking path.
5. Add accouterments. These included small-to-mid size boulders to separate the path from the “beach.” Take down wood patio rails separating the patio from this new room. And then, with my daughters help, we added colorful lanterns from Ikea, hung crystals and other baubles like Christmas ornaments on the tree, moved my parents authentic cheapo Mid-Century patio chairs to the beach plus some chaise lounges we picked up along the way.