Finally! pictures of our backyard

Paul found the charger to the camera battery, and I was finally able to take pictures today!

We got the seed laid around the end of October. In retrospect, that wasn’t the best idea, because then all the leaves fell and we were unsure of how to rake them up without disturbing the new seeds. We were worried if we *didn’t* rake them, then it would hurt the ability of the seeds to grow. I did rake parts of the yard, and I have noticed now that the parts of the yard I didn’t rake look more sparse. If I remember correctly, with this type of grass we will need to reseed every spring – I need to investigate that more thoroughly though.

Newly graded and weed-free backyard! (for now)

You can see the areas where they graded the dirt.

Newly graded and weed-free backyard! (for now)

Then they seeded, and put straw down!

Hay for the backyard

Then came the task of watering. We watered the entire yard for 30 minutes a day every day for one week, then every other day for 2 or 3 weeks. Because we only had one spigot and one sprinkler, we had to do it in 4 segments to cover the whole yard. It took about 2 hours each time! I was glad when we were finished with that obligation.

Seeded & covered with straw

I took the following pictures today, about 3.5 months later.

New grass

My daughter LOVES running around in the backyard. Some of the grass is really long, and some is still short and looks like “baby” grass.

New grass

We planted grass behind the shed too, which helped clean up the area a bit. We slowly had to clean up that area the past 2.5 years – there was a LOT of junk and trash back there. You can still see a big pile of cinder blocks (from the old retaining wall) – we tried to stack them as neatly as possible, saving them for future use if we need them.

Behind the shed

I think we’ll mow it within the next month, getting it all the same length. Then we’ll be able to see the holes and if we need to reseed any particular area. I’ll have to do some research on the maintenance of this grass.

It’s really BRIGHT. It’s funny to look at it from the road because the grass in our side yard is faded and yellowish, and this grass is such a brilliant and vivid green color. Hopefully in the summer the colors will even up. I can’t wait to take official “after” pictures. :-)


Backyard – stage 2 this week

We had to do our yard in two stages, due to the grass only being able to be planted certain times of the year.

First stage was putting in a catch basin and underground pipes to divert the water to the back of our property. They also built a new retaining wall, which I love!! Now that it’s been almost 5 months, I can say that it has REALLY helped. It used to be with every rain, our yard would flood, but I haven’t seen it flood once this summer or fall. It’s amazing to be able to walk out back without our feet sinking in mud the day after a hard rain!

Stage 2 is grading the entire yard and planting new grass. Originally we were quoted the price for sod, but it was out of our budget so we’re going to have them put down seed. I am a little nervous about growing grass from seed, so if you have any advice please let me know! We’re planting fescue grass which apparently is the best for the shadiness of our yard. The landscaper told us we’ll have to reseed every year.

On Monday they are coming to put something on the ground to kill all the weeds. (I hope this also kills the poison ivy!) So, this weekend we are going to be cutting the weeds down as short as we can get them and also removing any debris from our yard. (Rusty paint cans, anyone?) Next Friday is when they’ll actually do the grading and plant the grass. So, next weekend look for some pictures. :-)

I just checked the water restrictions in our county, and it looks like the only restrictions non-vegetation things like washing cars, power washing, and kids water things. Ooops we totally didn’t follow that the few times we’ve power washed. It’s not fair that we can’t do any of that kind of stuff on Saturdays. :-( I’m pretty sure it would be incredibly dangerous for me to power wash something with a toddler running around, and my husband doesn’t get home until 8 or 9 most nights, so doing it then is out of the question. Grr. Good thing no one reported us. :-)


A full weekend of painting!

As I mentioned, my parents were visiting last weekend. We spent three days working painting the shed and the back of our house where the add-on sunroom was. It looks so much better! I’ll share the before and after pictures first since I know that’s what you’re really interested in. :-)

First off, the back of our house:
Where the porch was

This was what we discovered when we took off the sun porch. Apparently the house used to be yellow. I already touched up the paint around the front door, so this was just a continuation of that. It was a three step process – first, pressure washing the siding. Then we had to sand down all the remnant material from the add-on. My dad guessed it was very old Liquid Nails, or something similar. We used an electric sander to get it all as smooth as possible. Here is the after:

Back sliding glass door

Another angle, before:
New retaining wall

And after:
It looks so much better!

As you can see, the weeds have grown back from the work we had done in June! It looks great right now because my dad and Paul spent a lot of time weed whacking the backyard.

And now for the shed. I’ve been wanting to paint it because the bright yellow is so in-your-face. It also makes the shed look huge and overtaking the yard. Before:

And after:
Such a change over the bright yellow!

Newly painted

We rented a pressure washer and Paul took care of the siding and the shed a few days before we wanted to paint.
Paul pressure washes the shed

Fortunately, Sherwin-Williams was having a great 40% off sale this weekend, so I took advantage. We started with a white primer, which was the only negative of the whole process. I didn’t notice until I got home that it was oil based, and in retrospect I wish I had immediately returned to the store and asked for an exchange. We ended up having to run out to Home Depot twice to get paint thinner to clean the brushes and the paint sprayer.

The primer is on!
(Sorry the picture isn’t great – at certain times of the day there’s nothing I can do about the direction of the sun!)

This was my first time using the paint sprayer. It made the job go a whole lot faster, though my arm was sooo sore from holding the heavy, vibrating machine. And yes, I did get a paint suit – I didn’t have any painting clothes that fit me, and I didn’t want to sacrifice another outfit. I loved my suit even if everyone teased me about it looking funny. It kept my arms and legs free of paint!
I did 90% of the painting on the shed

Using the paint sprayer

I did as much as I could without getting on the ladder, and then my dad did the rest. I dislike ladders so I was glad he was willing to do that for me.
Halfway done

Looking at it, I honestly think it needs another layer of green, so perhaps I’ll get to that someday. I also have a light to put up next to the sliding glass door as soon as I get the chance. :-) But overall, I think the shed and back of our house look great!


Big project this weekend!

We haven’t done much with our house this summer, aside from a few decorative things that I keep meaning to take a picture of so I can post about it. Mostly, our house is just incredibly messy and I keep saying that I need to just go through and do a major decluttering.

My parents are here this weekend and they love doing house projects. I appreciate the motivation, so I came up with a big project: painting the back of our house and our shed.

Where the porch was


We are painting them the same color, the green that is the same as the rest of the house. I hope this will make the shed not feel so big and in-the-way! Today we rented a pressure washer and cleaned the shed and the siding, which has made quite a difference. I think I might keep an eye out for pressure washers on Craigslist because I could see it being quite a useful tool!

Tomorrow we are going to attempt to get as much of the junk off the siding as possible around our sliding glass door. As you can see from the picture above, there is a lot of stuff leftover from when the porch was put on the house. We guessed the porch was put on at LEAST 20 years ago (based on what the neighbors have told us), and more likely it was more like 30 years ago. They used something similar to Liquid Nails it appears, and even pressure washing didn’t make it budge. We talked to the guys at Home Depot and they recommended an old fashioned scraper and sand paper, at least to get it off enough to make the paint stick to it. That will be the project tomorrow, and Monday will be painting day. As you can see, it’s quite a big painting job so we’re going to rent a professional paint sprayer to make our day easier. I plan to paint the entire shed green, and the trim (the parts around the door that are currently brown) will be painted white to match the house.

I am excited! We need to call the landscaper and schedule their return to grade our yard and plant grass back there. That’s next on the agenda and will have to be done by November 15th I believe (before it gets too cold), but I need to look at our finances first and make sure that we’re still okay to move forward with this project.

Oh, in addition to pressure washing today, we also spent a lot of time in the yard. Paul weed-whacked, my dad raked, and I mowed. Our yard looks great! We still need to bag the leaves and pine straw, but already it is looking so much better. I would like to see the area under the magnolia tree cleaned up a bit, but other than that I’m really pleased with how it all is turning out.

Pictures to come!


before & after: the backyard (phase one)

I know y’all have been waiting anxiously for pictures! This is phase one of the backyard. Phase two will be grading the entire thing and putting down seed, to happen this fall sometime. I also want to paint that shed green to match the house, as well as touching up the paint on the back of the house where that room was. Maybe we’ll do that this summer so we’ll be done with everything by the time we lay seed. :-)

Here is a backyard picture when we moved in:

We took the porch down last summer.

Another angle; I took this picture yesterday. You probably can’t tell, but we also removed part of the chainlink fence.
Before: our backyard

Our backyard looks kinda trashy, doesn’t it? We didn’t really do any mowing or cleaning, in anticipation of the landscapers working on it.

And…. after!
Back of the house

What a change! Here is a picture of the spot where the water always collected, and the previous owners tried to fix it by putting pieces of cement there.
Water collects here

Now we have a catch basin to take the water in a pipe underground and deposited in the dry creekbed at the back of our property. They also removed the fence posts for us.
After: our backyard

I took this picture as they were working, and here you can see the ditches, waiting for pipes. We had underground pipes attached to our two downspouts and to the catch basin, taking water away from our house and hopefully preventing further foundation damage.

A closer picture of the retaining wall. They did a nice job, didn’t they?
New retaining wall

Our foundation still needs help – that is the bigger project we’re saving up for – but at least this downspout won’t cause any other damage.
Foundation is still messed up... but the downspouts are taken care of!

Another nice thing is that the random pieces of cement, cinder block, and bricks have been cleared away (and deposited behind our shed), so that really makes the yard look nicer! Also a lot of the weeds were cleared away as they were digging the ditches, which helps too. :-) Here is another set of before/after pictures – taken in the morning and then late afternoon of the same day:
Before: our backyard

By the shed

Can’t wait to see it all with grass! And I’ll have to work on painting that back side, and then we’ll have a lovely little backyard to spend time in. Does anyone know if you have to watch daytime max temperatures for outdoor painting like you do minimum temps?


today’s the day!

The landscapers have been here since around 10 this morning, and they are still working hard on our backyard. I have been taking “in progress” pictures all day, and when they’re done I’ll take some “after” pictures to share here. :-) It’s looking good so far! The retaining wall is up and it’s amazing what a difference it makes. This one is made from landscape timbers, and the one previously was made with cinder block. (See here for a picture.)

Oh, one thing – they aren’t going to grade the yard until the fall, when we can plant grass. (Apparently for fescue grass, you have to wait until it’s cool enough. I think mid-September is the magic date in our area.) I wish we could have gotten it all done at once, but we waited too long to take care of it before summer!


Making it look like someone actually lives here

Our backyard is trashy. Most of the time I don’t notice it, but every once in a while I’ll look at it and realize how bad it actually looks! It’s especially bad right now as our lawn mower is still broken (argh) so we haven’t mowed the weeds at all.

Our next door neighbors moved out and the house is up for sale. As a refresher, our backyard is kinda at a weird angle and our house overlooks their backyard. You can see a layout here. We have a chain-link fence that (mostly) follows our property line, and they have a cinder block wall just a few feet away from our fence. The land between is technically on their property, and was completely overgrown. When the landscapers came to look at our backyard, they said that all that underbrush was contributing to our mosquito problem.

When we found out that the house next door was empty, we realized that here was our chance to clean up the space that was technically on their land. Paul has been working hard this weekend to clean it up!
The underbrush

Carrying branches to the pile

A huge pile

Can you believe Paul cleared out this much already? It’s worth it, though! It’s really looking good!

Looking good!

Also, if you notice in the first picture, there is black piping that runs from the neighbor’s gutters, goes underground, and comes out here. The water has been diverting straight into our backyard. Yay. Once Paul cleared out the underbrush, he was able to straighten the pipe out and send the water to the creek in the back. He didn’t get the entire area cleaned up, but he got a significant portion – enough to hopefully make a difference in the mosquitoes. If nothing else, it looks better!

Here is what the area looks like now.

Looking a tiny bit better

As you see, the fence posts are still up but the chain link is down. We’re hoping that the landscapers will be able to remove the fenceposts. If I remember correctly, that was something that they built into the original estimate (all the landscapers are running together – can’t remember which ones said they would do that).

It’s starting to look better, but the difference will be amazing come June. In the meantime, we still need to remove all the non-organic trash (except for the concrete and cinder blocks – the landscapers will remove those). More long range plans include painting the siding, fixing the gutters, and overall just making the backyard a more pleasant place to hang out instead of an abandoned house. :-)


a month from today!

I called the landscaper and scheduled our backyard to be redone on June 3rd. Exciting!!

They’re going to:
1) Remove all the random pieces of cement.
2) Put in a catch basin where the water is pooling to collect it.
3) Put in an underground pipe that will run the water to the back of the property (where there is a stream).
4) Connect the two downspouts from the back of the house to the underground pipe.
5) Remove the cinderblock retaining wall and rebuild it with landscape timbers.
6) Grade the entire backyard and prep it for grass.

We’ll plant the grass in the fall – I think Sept. 15th is the earliest you can plant fescue grass here in Georgia. I hope we don’t see any ill effects of having it “prepped” three months before we actually do it, but we wanted to get it done now to help with the mosquitoes that are bad this time of year. (They’re going to clear out the brush from the yard, which is where the mosquitoes are hiding.)

So in the next month, we need to remove all the non-organic debris from the yard. We also need to make sure the downspouts are secured properly – we have gutter issues (will be fixed when we reroof the house – apparently there aren’t proper places to attach the gutters??? or something like that). I’m excited to get this project done!

I am not sure when we’ll do this, but I also have hopes of painting the back of the house and also the shed to match. It will be nice to have a backyard that doesn’t look so trashy!!


opening up the backyard

The space between the corner of our house and our neighbor’s house is only a few feet. Previous owners made the space seem even tighter by putting up a fence that cut in from the property line. Here’s what it looked like last summer:
Water collects here

It looked better after we removed the sunporch and cut back some of the bushes:

After we had our land surveyed and realized that the fence didn’t represent the true property line, I wanted to tear down the fence and rebuild it in the correct place. But, that was not a financially wise plan of action. However, I really wanted to take down at least the one part of the fence to open up our backyard a little. It’s hard to explain!

Our neighbors moved out last week and their house is now for sale. If there’s a good time to take care of any property line details, it is now. We also want to clean out the ditch between our two properties (technically on their side of the line) because it is a breeding ground for mosquitoes. Yesterday Paul took down the part of the fence that has been bugging me. The posts are still up, but overall the space looks much more open!
Removing the fence in the backyard

Our backyard looks trashy, I know. We really need to hire the landscaper we plan to hire… I think we’re hesitating because it’s such a big sum of money! Anyways, this will help them get into the backyard and make the transition space from the side to the back much easier. I’m hoping they can take out the posts for us, too.

Someday we’ll put up the fence again to completely close in our backyard. I hope to have a dog someday (after we’re done having children!) so having a fenced in yard will be important. But, we’ll see how everything else goes. Putting up a fence along the side yard to keep toddlers in and trespassers out is a bigger priority for me. :-)


nothing new to report, really

I just thought I’d pop in. We decided which company we were going with, and decided to seed instead of sod, but you can’t seed fescue grass after April 15th in Georgia so we just didn’t move fast enough. (If I had realized that, I would have started these estimates sooner.)

So we have two options.
1) Have them lay all the pipes and prepare the yard for seeding now, then seed ourselves in the fall.
2) Have them do everything in the fall.

It would be nice to get it down now, because we have been having a lot of rain recently and I would love to get it taken care of. The longer we let the water sit around our house foundation, the more risks were taking. But, I’m slightly concerned about having just dirt in our backyard for the next 5 months until we can seed it. Also, our backyard is 100% weeds right now, and I’m thinking that if they prep it now, then we’ll still have to deal with weeds that crop up afterward.

I am disappointed that we didn’t get to lay seed now. I was really hoping that we would have a backyard to spend time in this summer! Oh, well. If we go ahead and do the work now, I can still put up a clothesline which is one of the things that I am anxious to do, especially to take advantage of the summer sun.