Getting Dirty

When we first saw our house, on a cold November night, our realtor quickly dismissed the yard. I’m sure he was trying to avert our attention from the landscaping — or more accurately, lack thereof — as it would probably turn off most buyers. With crusty brown dirt under our feet, surrounded by dilapidated fences and some various trees, it certainly didn’t look like much.




However, Anthony’s eyes were wide with the idea of this great big (big for the city) canvas for him to play with and make his own. As a landscape architect, this would be the first time Anthony could design something for us, and continue to build upon it for years.

Enter, phase 1:

photo(1)I’m so lucky I married a professional when it comes to all this — I would be completely clueless! While I was dreaming of floor coverings and color schemes for the interior, Anthony was working up these amazing plans for the yard. He still has to explain them to me, but I could tell just by looking at them that we were going to have the prettiest yard on the block. I could also tell, however, that we had a lot of work ahead of us. Man, I didn’t even know the half of it!

Anthony had created the plans with the intention of a multiple-phase approach, concentrating on the ground cover this year and focusing on some shrubbery, new trees and patio work in future years. However, before we got into very much, we needed to tackle one major eyesore: The fence. Actually, let me clarify: The fenceS.

For whatever reason, over the 100 years of the house’s life, 4 different fences had been erected through the yard — some of them right on top of each other. On the south side of our yard, which also happened to be the most visible and longest side, there was a strange collection of various fencing bordering our property. Some chain link, one wooden fence in a state of disrepair, and even a length of something made out of metal pipes and barbed wire. Clearly, these had to go.



We chose to leave the fence to the professionals. While we wanted to take care of most of the landscaping ourselves, we knew that the fence would never get done — nor get done right — if we tried to conquer it ourselves. We had no knowledge of how to build a fence, and knew the project (like all projects) would turn out to require much more work and materials than we anticipated. So, after we had scheduled the fence company, we began work on our own portion of the yard.

You know that clause I just put in there? About underestimating the work and materials involved in a major project? Please remind me that the next time I agree to digging up nearly our entire yard. But, with any luck, you won’t have to, because the work we put in this spring will hopefully last us a long time.

So, I already shared a few pictures of the garden (which also serves as a few more “before” pictures), but this was the first project we tackled, and was the first glimpse into the work to come, so I will recap here.

We spent some time leveling the surface area and digging trenches, into which we laid bricks that we rescued from the former chimney of the house. The walkways give me easy access to my plants, and we added a 1′ pound-in edging/fence all around that astonishingly keeps our tall dog out of the off-limits 1

After the garden was done, Anthony decided that the brick-laying was so much fun (or maybe they just looked nice and we still had a ton of free material left over) that he decided to build a small patio for the studio out back. Just large enough for a small table and a couple chairs, the neatly-laid bricks also make a nice visual separation between the two buildings.



The next step involved a whole bunch of digging. Anthony noticed that the surface of the yard was quite a bit higher than the sidewalks, which would not be suitable for all of the rock and mulch beds he had planned. So, he took on the immense task of grading the yard by hand as a night-time and weekend project.With some areas of the yard needing nearly 2 vertical feet of dirt removal, I think we both quickly discovered that we had bit off more than we were expecting. However, determined to get it done, Anthony (sometimes with the help of his wife) relocated countless cubic feet of dirt and created the foundations for our new 1 photo 2Once the beds were ready, we trucked in the rocks and mulch!We found a program in Denver that offered free mulch one day of the year. We were promised as much mulch as we wanted to take home with us, so we rented a truck from Home Depot and headed to the outskirts of town, filled it up with a couple bulldozer scoops of mulch, and pitchforked it around our yard.Next, we had 8 tons of local river rock delivered. Now, if the next photo isn’t intimidating, knowing that the two of us would be shoveling it all around the yard, I don’t know what is.


Taking a deep breath, we set aside an entire weekend to dig and install edging, lay landscape fabric, and move these foreboding rocks.

Piles of rocks

Piles of rocks

But, after conquering what seemed like the impossible, the rocks were spread, the mulch was in place, and Anthony and I were beat. Of course, there were adventures and misadventures and setbacks, but we got it done over the course of a few long days.


Front yard, post-landscaping, pre-fence

The last element, the one we left to the professionals (the fence), was eventually finished, and now, we have a yard that we can fully enjoy! Plus, we have the added benefit of virtually no upkeep at this point, with all of the zero-scaping that we invested in. The rock beds are a little massive now, but will eventually be broken up by some low-maintenance flora and fauna.But that, will wait. For now, we enjoy:


View from the back

The side yard and gazebo -- where we have some vines growing

The side yard and patio

Back patio

Back patio

Patio brick work

Patio brick work

Front yard

Front yard

That's a lot of rock!

That’s a lot of rock!

Home sweet home!

Home sweet home!

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s