Sunday, July 20, 2014

Renovating the Yard: Part 2 *****see note

So after the last blog post I thought I'd wait for a beautiful, bright, sunny summer day (of which there is always an abundance during a PEI summer) to take some after photos of the back yard....and then it began to rain. And rain and rain and rain. For about a week. I finally woke up to the sunlight streaming in through the window this past Saturday morning. Perfect weather for some quick snaps but alas, I had to go to work and circumstances led me to getting stuck in a parade and eventually ending up in a potato field....long story..... So FINALLY....I managed to take some this evening. Of course, first there needs to be a quick reminder of our starting point:

 The first glance of the house....not even really taking the back yard into consideration...rookie mistake...

Right after we got the keys...

Our first realization that we might have to do something to the yard.

Still thinking at this point that we had it all under control....we just needed to do some raking. Ha!

And now, after a long cold spring waiting for the grass to grow, we finally have a yard! Behold our new yard in all its glory:

There's still a bit of work to be done (of course, there's always more work to be done....this is finally starting to sink in after almost two years of home ownership....) but it's looking really spiffy, don't you think? And yes, that is my veggie garden peeking out from behind the shed.

The new view looking from the corner of the deck (we are very aware of the paint situation going on with our patient, this should be taken care of by the end of summer, weather and mosquitos permitting):

Main difference? The shed now being in the back corner, which really opens up the yard, and the disappearance of my wild garden! I'll be honest....I kind of miss it. I tried to save some of the gorgeous plants, like the irises (irisi?) and peonies, but they are suffering somewhat in their new shady locations. I'm hoping to take care of this next summer and have some plans beginning to form that include a potential full sun garden along the deck...TJ permitting.....

A view of where the deck used to be. The grass is still a bit spotty here, but it's not really a concern because we'll be putting in a walkway to lead to the driveway, as well as getting some new stairs. There's also plans to do something to close in under the laundry room, as once we ripped off the deck we found that there was no foundation or insulation. Suddenly it made a whole lot of sense why the pipes froze the first winter and also why we have to keep the electric baseboard heater cranked to high from September to May. I'm hoping that if I make TJ crawl under the house with a bunch of that pink fluffy stuff we'll see a small difference in the electric bill next winter! Looking at this picture I'm realize that our chestnut tree would be the perfect place for a swing. Hmm....grown ups get swings too, right? Not just for kids? Also noticing that our laundry room window needs some paint and a nice window box. The best thing about this part of the yard is how much easier it will be to shovel snow from now on!

 The view from the lower part of the deck, with a bit of Ru's swimmy pool sneaking into the photo. Also featured are my DECK TOMATOES! I'm just a little bit excited about those. If you look to your left you will see my new clothesline....I've been waiting for a clothesline forever! Its presence makes me more inclined to do laundry this summer. It only fell down three times and Wayne only had to visit twice to "make a suggestion" (a subtle phrase he uses a lot when talking to us....he is a very patient man...) before we figured things out, so I'd say TJ is now an expert in the art of clothesline installation. However, if anyone wants a clothesline installed, you probably shouldn't call him because I get the feeling he wasn't really into the idea of being an expert clothesline hanger. Wayne however, would be a good person to call. You may notice that our hammock is missing. It was eaten by a squirrel and despite my best efforts, could not be fixed to meet safety standards.

All in all, the yard is looking well. The mosquitos drove me away before I could take pictures of the other side yard (to the right in this picture) but we've also been attempting some work down that side as well. There's two sections mapped out for some flower beds, and we chopped down a good portion of the lilac and maple trees, as well as the mysterious bushes with the white flowers that smell nice. We're currently waiting for some more grass to grow down that way before attempting anything else at the moment, but I have lots of fall bulbs and some perennials to stick in the gardens once the "mozzies" die down....if they ever die down.....

So there you have it! Yard renovation 2014 (mostly) complete. Ru is quite pleased with her new space and loves to sit on the deck and survey activity on the Confederation Trail in the early morning. She's not a fan of when the lawn chairs blow off the deck but hey, who is?

*****Note: TJ would like to make it clear that he was very much involved in the great shed moving and deck chopping of the previous post, despite what photos may depict. He is quite certain that the only reason he does not appear in any of the photos is because he was usually UNDER the shed or the deck when they were being moved, otherwise he would be featured quite prominently. I told him I'd make a note of this to appease him as well as reassure his adoring public.

Friday, July 11, 2014

Spring 2014: Renovating the Yard

I'm baaa-aaaack.....

After much begging and pleading from masses of my fans (okay....2 people....maybe 3 if I stretch it...) to bring back the blog, I'm finally back in writing mode and ready to update! I can't lie, I'm pretty motivated by the large coffee I had this morning (is anyone surprised?).

So what's been going on since that stormy, stormy few weeks in April? Well, once the snow melted our backyard started to unveil itself little by little. At first we thought "Oh, it just looks so terrible because we had so much's just a little muddy. It'll dry and look nice soon."


Our backyard had no intentions whatsoever of drying out or growing any of the grass that we had so painstakingly planted last summer. After all of the chopping, ripping, tearing, shovelling, raking, seeding, watering, etc etc that had happened last year, we were left with a big, soupy mess. I couldn't believe it. I thought that the yard had been looking pretty good by the time the snow came. See?

The grass was growing in nicely, we had a veggie garden, we moved some plants around....what happened? Canadian winter. That's what happened.

So. What were we going to do about this? After buying the house, TJ and I had thrown around a few ideas about what we would do to the backyard if we could start from scratch, but didn't really put any of them anywhere near the top of our renovation list. However, we were starting to realize that maybe we should shuffle that list around and make the yard our top priority this spring. It was time to bring in the big guns.

First things first, we had to keep hauling out the bricks, rocks and concrete blocks. A few truckloads later, the yard was looking slightly better. But why stop there? Why not move the shed to the back of the yard?

So we did.

After moving the shed I was surprised at two things. One, that the shed was still intact. Coulsons don't have the best track record when it comes to moving sheds. Two, look at how big our yard looked all of a sudden! So again....why stop there? Why not....RIP OFF THE DECK!

No, no, wait. First we should dig some holes.

How the conversation is going in the following photo:
"Digging holes is hard."
"This machine will make everything much easier."

Yes, the machine will make everything much easier.
The conversation in the next photo:
"It's just some little ruts. It's still good, it's still good."

Okay, NOW let's rip off the deck!

Many thanks to our neighbour Gary for keeping a close eye on the going-ons and jumping in to lend a hand!

The next week or so was spent nailing all the pieces of the deck together and making sure everything was lined up correctly. Most of it was. Like many of our previous disclaimers, if you come to visit us, just make sure you kind of squint and let your eyes go unfocused. Everything will look great!

But once our "new to us" deck was in place, something was just not quite right. Hmm...what could it be.....

oh yes, the mess we had made along the way. No problem! More heavy machinery should do the trick!

There! Now everything was just like new:

Yes. This was much, MUCH better than the soggy, muddy mess. Now it was just a muddy mess! That's progress, right?

The good news is, it gets better. And soon there will be photos of the better....but for right now, enough of blogging, I'm going to sit on my deck!