Monday, July 14, 2008

Budget Backyard Improvements

Over the 4th of July weekend my husband was able to take off an extra day making it our first 4-day weekend in a LONG time in which we haven't been traveling or been adjusting to a new baby. We had some very nice family times in the area, attended a neighbor's BBQ and worked on the project below. I wanted to title this post "Budget Backyard Beautiful" but then thought better of it since the dead grass remains. We are under rather drastic outdoor watering restrictions and no sod permits are being issued this year. When you combine that factor with us trying to sell this summer and not wanting to invest much, monetarily, in the yard, the result has been that we haven't done any improvements to the yard. Looking out at the yard didn't have a very pleasing effect so I set about using lots of what we had on hand to make it better.

Here is an in-process picture. I took leftover bricks from our patio project, some weather treated boards, newspapers from our recycling bin to use in lieu of landscaping fabric, a bag of mulch and dianthus, petunias and volunteer squash plants from our garden and some failing planters to put into the area. The black tub you see actually did stay...that's our budget compost bin, which we usually have a metal lid on and usually isn't visible from most areas of the yard or house.

And here is the finished project with about an additional 5 bags of mulch, 10 bricks and a can of spray paint to revive the kids' bench. Total cost: about $25.

As so often happens with me, one thing leads to another and then I wanted to work on this area by the patio. Unfortunately, I had pretty much run out of leftover materials so needed to start from scratch on this one. I bought smaller bricks for the edging, the cheapest landscaping fabric I could find, about 9 bags of pea gravel, 5 stepping stones and one bush and spent about $50-60. We still need a couple more bags of pea gravel to provide better coverage, but of course, Lowe's had run out of it by the time we discovered we needed more. We always seem to underestimate our needs with rock, mulch, etc.

The market umbrella was a free find on CraigsList, which seems to complete the patio a bit more. And look how much the sunflowers have shot up in the few days from start to finish!

Although these projects are far from perfect, they were a reminder to me of the concept of "do what you can with what you have where you are". Sometimes it just does my soul good to just do something, even if that something is low budget and imperfect. I am delighted that my little 4'x8' garden behind the patio is doing so well this summer. We have 5 tomato plants there, along with 3 huge squash plants, 3 sunflowers (Thanks for the seeds, Gigi!) and a couple other flowers, just for the fun of it. From that area I also removed the 5 dianthus, and 8 volunteer squash plants (I think we must have gotten some seeds in our compost in the fall) which were transplanted to the new planting area.

Now if only I could do something about that dead grass....


thehomespunheart said...

Hi Rachel - these projects turned out great! What a great return on your effort and on a budget no less! :)

On the grass, maybe we should pray for some rain?


Sylvia Little said...

Hi Rachel,
Are you for hire? Next summer Tony and I will be doing our yard and could really use your eye and expertise. :-) Your yard looks great - praying for a quick and successful sell!

Mom2Drew said...

Rachel...your backyard looks completely new! Wow! I love your projects, definitely gives it a whole different look. lovely job.