Tuesday, June 4, 2013

Backyard Bliss...Well, We're Working on It

So, we've been in our house for two years now.  Time flies!!

And little by little, we've been working on making it ours. Adding decor, making improvements...discovering the previous owners' "fixes" and actually fixing them. You know the drill.

So, slowly, slowly, slowly, we've been working on the backyard.

Here's what I hope will soon be the "Before" picture. It looks terrible, I know.
First, Mr. Gardener worked on the drain. Previously the downspout fed pretty much right into our window well to our basement. Which is, basically, an invitation for flooding. Given that the first summer we lived in the house, it did pretty much nothing but rain and last year included the Derecho and some outlying rain from Sandy, we didn't think this was a very good thing.

We have gathered, based on many unusual things we've discovered in our house and on neighborhood commentary, that the previous owners were interesting people. Yeah so about that...

Last summer/fall, our friend, Matt, helped us tear down the deck.

Tear down the deck?, you say (you among other people).  Why would you do that?

Remember those interesting people?  

I'm pretty sure they hired kindergarteners to build that deck using scrap wood they found on the side of the road. It was a hazard to humanity. While tearing it down, Josh and Matt found many places where it wasn't attached to the house or itself. Because structural soundness is clearly more of a desirable feature than a necessary one.

Also, we live in a townhouse. Which, I might add, I love. But that leads to some inherent features, including small yards. This deck? It took up most of the yard making our not-so-big yard look itty bitty.

Remember that neighborhood commentary I mentioned?

Among the "It's so good to see people finally taking care of this house" comments we get while working in the yard, we also learned the "history" of our deck. 

Our house was flipped. So we didn't buy it from the people who lived here last. So there were a few (nice) modifications made. When they flipped the house, they actually removed part of the deck, so while it took up most of the yard before we tore it down, it actually used to take up the entire yard.

Now, I would like to show you a picture of our yard in its current state (changes coming, hopefully soon, it won't look this terrible forever). Do you see the air conditioning unit in the left hand corner? Do you also see how low our doors sit? 

Yeah, so this wasn't a tall deck.

Apparently the deck sat directly over the air conditioning unit and they had a little hatch that they opened on really hot days to allow air flow.

Because that sounds like a brilliant idea.

So, we're working on getting a new, patio-style deck. We've hired a contractor who is working on the design, filing permits, and working out the details with the HOA. Which, I must say, I'd far prefer for him to deal with the HOA than do it myself. :) Then we'll fill the rest with gravel or something similar and, of course, plants.

Cherries ripening on our cherry tree
Grass and a traditional patio isn't really feasible for our backyard because we have this really lovely cherry tree, which is well-rooted into the ground and will throw bricks or that type of material into upheaval shortly.

Our previous owners did not take good care of said tree. Due to improper pruning, they introduced a lot of potential for infection and disease. They also opened the door to infestations by ear wigs and carpenter ants. Mr. Gardener and my dad did a lot of work on the tree when we moved in and we're hoping that it will be healthy. It looks pretty good, but only time will tell.

The birds and I have to share the cherries. I leave them the top ones (my ladder doesn't reach that far) and I try to snap up the low ones before they can.

And naturally I needed a place for more tomatoes. Mr. Gardener built me what we call a "tomato gallows" to hang my topsy turvys on.

Three varieties - Super Sauce, Super Sweet 100, and Better Bush Boy.  I think Super Sauce is on the left, Super Sweet 100 in the middle, and Better Bush Boy to the right.

I hope to have an update to this here soon.

Then we'll be on our way to backyard bliss!

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