House Projects: The Backyard

I don't know if you got the memo or not, but I'm serious about fixing up our house on a budget.

One area that's been a thorn in my side all summer is our backyard. Some things—like the grass that has trouble growing because it's so darn shady (and because Butter tears it up every time he feels the need to announce to the world that he means business) and the unruly, ugly bushes that line the back and sides of the house—aren't going to be fixed anytime soon.

But I realized I could easily and inexpensively paint the railing, as you saw yesterday.

I also decided I could revamp the little area to the left of the patio, where an unruly, uninspiring assortment of lackluster plants spring up every year on part of the ground, and the rest of the area remains uneven, weedy dirt. Sounds lovely, right?

It's made even more so by the fact it has become Butter's favorite place to relieve himself. Here's a little warning: dog pee does not pretty plants make.

So a few weeks ago, when I was particularly angry at how hideous that side of the yard looks, I started yanking out plants. (This area is, by the way, the main thing our neighbors see when they sit on their back patio, which I realized when we went next door for a birthday party—and that embarrasses me.) So I yanked and dug until I had an almost-clean slate. (I did, however, leave a few of the plants from before, as well as a few Asiatic lilies and daylilies I planted last summer that managed to survive Butter's frequent urination.)

Then, for the other side of the little white fence, I went to the greenhouse at Ace, where I promptly rescued a box full of plants that were 80 percent off. I'm not even joking. They're so desperate to get rid of the plants over there, they're practically giving them away. That's how I spent next to nothing on the landscaping you're seeing here. I scored the jackpot with two white coneflowers, Big Blue lily turf, Professor Kippenburg dwarf aster, Husker Red penstemon, and creeping phlox.

(Can you believe I actually noted all the names? This is so unlike me. I can only ever remember a few of the plants growing in my front-yard perennial garden. The rest I just refer to as "the one with red flowers" or the "big one with yellow flowers." I'm so scientific about this gardening stuff.)

Many of these babies are late summer and early fall bloomers, which was intentional on my part. I figure I have tons of spring and early summer color in the front yard, plus the Asiatic lilies and daylilies for early summer color in the backyard, so why not include some late-summer fun too?

After I planted, the finishing touches were easy. I spent a few bucks on a bag of mulch to help keep the moisture in around the plants and to hide all the ugly dirt I mentioned, another couple of bucks on the green fence so Butter has to leave the flower watering to me, and a few more bucks on some new mums to finish off the setting. (Yeah, I paid full price for the mums. They were too pretty to resist! I planted one in the ground and placed two in pots I scrounged up from our garage.) And prest-o change-o, our backyard just got a lot nicer.

I can't wait to sit out there in the evenings with a glass of wine and a book. Sounds like the perfect end to the day, don't you think?

Particularly since I improved the view another direction too. I finally hung up the great little copper spinny thing (admittedly, that's not the official name) My Mom sent me last year.

I had planned to hang it from the house but thought instead I'd hang it here, since I retired the pots from last year.

Things are really shaping up, wouldn't you say?


lgc said...

I can hardly wait to sit on your back patio and enjoy a glass of wine!

Julie said...

Good! Your visit was my motivation to get it whipped into shape because I figured we'd need some patio time!