It is a dreary and cold Monday in Massachusetts. What do I have to burn at the alter to get some consistent nice weather around here? Spring is the most supreme tease. In many ways, she’s worse than her frigid sister.
Spring was kind enough to grant us two reasonable days on Friday and Saturday, and so I was able to get the boys out into the yard for some exploration, brain storming, and picture taking. I know that we won’t be able to do a lot to the yard this year for economic reasons, mostly, and because we seem to have to much to focus on, but I really want to start us on the good strong path to making the yard a beautiful, functional, welcoming, and special place.
I should say that I’m not going to put up sweeping pictures of my yard because, frankly, the internet is dark and full of terrors. Also, I’m sure that wouldn’t be terribly interesting. Here are the essential facts:
1) We have just about a half-acre of land to play with, and it is all in front of the house.
2) The front yard was completely torn up when they put the new septic system in last fall. They put down grass seed without aerating first, so I’m not convinced anything is going to grow.
3) The septic is located in the front of the yard and the front of the yard is where I get the most light because there aren’t any shade trees growing in the yard (there are on the sides of the property, just not in the front of the house). So, that means raised beds for everything, right?
I’ll show you some of the stuff that I love first and then we’ll go to what makes me scratch my head.
1. My Stone Fence
Stone fences are just so New England. I love them to pieces. They just make me happy. This fence, we believe, actually predates the house–it is somewhere in the ballpark of 150 years old. MY neighbor informed me over the weekend that there is poison ivy growing all around it. So, I don’t know what we’re going to do about that.
This area will mostly be shaded during the summer and fall because there are looming shade-trees directly above it. I’m wondering if I can plant flowers here anyway? Or maybe just some ground cover? I don’t want to put hedges or anything here… I want to highlight and honor the stones as much as I can.
2. This Cool Stump
There is this beautiful stump hanging out at the front of my property, right where my driveway lines up with the yard. There is enough room for a line of hedges behind it (where the snowbank currently is) and then the expanse of the rest of the yard is in front of it. I think the stump is screaming to be a table… I long to put two Adirondack chairs beside it, a fire pit in front of it… and maybe a chessboard on top of it?
3. This really cool tree
There is a gaggle of evergreen trees on my property that are old and tall and make creaking sounds when the wind blows. They are beautiful and I love them. Most of them are unremarkable, but as I was walking around really looking at my yard for the first time, I noticed this:
The thing is beautiful! All of the other trees have regular trunks and are sorta unremarkable (except that they are really tall and sturdy). This one clearly wants to be a show-off! I’d like to draw some attention to it somehow, to highlight it, even if it is at the edge of the property. You can’t see the beautiful detailing from the house and you can’t really notice it when you are in the driveway. I’m trying to think of a way to draw a person’s eye and interest to it…
4. The Freaking Barn
I think that the barn is the coolest part of this property. I mean, I have friends who own their own homes, but none of them have a barn. If we were in Maryland, there would be no way that I’d be able to purchase a home with a barn! It’s just… I don’t know, the coolest. The the barn is in rough shape–and now that the snow has melted, we can once again see what needs to be done to it. My next door neighbor loves the barn as much as we do, but he’s talking about jacking it up, putting down a foundation, doing this and that… and that costs money. I’m trying to think about things that we can do to make it visually appealing for now until we can have the money to really do what we want to it later. Besides, putting down a real foundation means that I’ll have to displace my fox family! I don’t want to do that!
Ok, on to the stuff that makes me scratch my head:
1. This Side Flowerbed
I think that this used to be a flowerbed, but now it is a mess. I can’t tell if the soil is any good, I have no idea what was growing in it… I sorta want to go in there and completely take it out. I don’t think we’d get a lot to grow in here because this area is directly under a very full, very shady ever-green tree. So do I… put some bushes back here? Take it out and let it be dirt? Maybe just put some ground-cover back here? What grows in the shade, ya’ll??
2. Our Backyard
I told you, all of our land is in the front. To the left of this picture is the back of the house, to the right is a pretty steep hill that leads down to the train tracks. I’m worried about the little bears chasing a ball to the edge of the cliff. I’m worried about this part of the yard being overlooked and becoming over grown. This area is also very shaded… it has the potential to be a very important place in the summer time… I can see it being a little oasis for reading in the high summer under the shade without my neighbors being able to see and intrude. Then again, it has the potential of just turning into my creepy muddy backyard… Maybe I should start with a line of really tall, closely planted hedges?
3. Our Front Flowerbed
It’s a disaster. There is a stump here from a tree or a bush that the previous owners decided to get ride of, but this means I can’t put anything in this spot. There is another bush that is overgrown and odd looking, but I don’t know what it is or how it is going to look. There is no evidence of any bulbs or other plants planted in this spot. It’s… hideous. I don’t even know where to begin.
4. The Stupid Septic Spout
The hatred that I have for this thing knows now bounds. My dear and helpful mother suggested that we hold a family contest where family members come up with yearly decorating idea for it. “I’d paint it like an upside-down umbrella! Wouldn’t that be amazing!?” ….no mother… no, it wouldn’t…
This thing seriously drives me crazy. It is ugly, it obstructs the view of the house and the yard, it’s ugly… what the hell? I want to encase it in fencing, have vines growing on the fence, and then put a birdhouse on top of it… is that weird? Is that even possible?
And finally, 5) The Side of the House
It’s ugly, it’s oddly sloped, it’s got two crazy large and over-grown bushes on it… it’s got two old caps to the old septic and there seems to be a sink-hole down there. Disaster. Just… disaster. I don’t even know if grass can grown down there because the ground is so wet and so soft…
I know that this place isn’t going to be paradise by summertime, but I’m looking for ideas on how I can start us on the road to a nice lawn. You know, a place where my neighbors won’t look out the window and just see the dead, brown mudpit next door. If there is anyone out there with suggestions, plant ideas… especially stuff that we can do on the cheap (the real cheap. The crazy cheap!) please fill my comments box with suggestions! Should I just pray for grass? What tools should we purchase this season? No, I don’t own a lawn mower… if I get one of those cool push ones, the kind that doesn’t have a motor, will I want to kill myself by the end of the summer?
And can I kill poison ivy without poison? I really want to do this with as little chemicals as possible…
Mission impossible… as usual! I can’t do it all, but I’d like to start somewhere…
See you Wednesday!