The back side: What a difference!

I inadvertently took all off last week off from blogging but in a second you'll see what I've been up to. I've been busy, busy, busy working on the back yard (which is really the side yard but for whatever reason we call it the back yard). And it wasn't until after work yesterday when I snapped a few photos that I realized:

1. Holy smokes, somewhere along the line this turned into a really big project, and

2. What a difference from nine months ago.

 

Here's what the house looked like September 1, 2010:

Backhouse1

And here's what it looks like today:

Backhouse2

 

That's some kind of after, huh? In the past six weeks or so, I put in the stone path (which leads to our detached garage), the stone retaining walls on either side of the path, and all of the plantings to the right of the path and the little bit you see in the foreground on the left side of the path. I'll give you a closer look at some of the new gardens, which are pretty bare bones, later this week. My goal for this summer was to just get the framework in, so I focused on getting in trees and shrubs. I filled in with many of the perennials I had around from buying sprees and some of the things I have purchased through the Yahoo plant-buying co-op.

I'll try to take some photos of the garden from different angles. I struggled for a long time about whether to add the half-moon shaped garden on the left side of the path (as you're looking at it now) so I'll be interested to hear people's thoughts on that.

I haven't written much about the renovation since it ended because I was just exhausted and sick of the whole project. It definitely was emotionally draining and every time I tried to blog about it, it got way too preachy and whiny, so I'm saving that for another time when I have had more time to gain better perspective on it. I will tell you this, though: Toward the end, when it became clear that we were way over budget, we gave serious though to eliminating the deck from the plan, and looking at this photo, I'm so happy we kept it. We have been eating outside much more at a table under the pergola and it truly feels like an extension of the living area.

11 comments :

  1. What is a plant buying co-op?

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  2. Hi Amber,
    The plant buying co-op that I'm a member of is a group of plant addicts. It's run by a very dedicated gardener in Pennsylvania, but we have members from all over the country. Basically we buy in mass quantities from wholesalers, so we get the same plants that nurseries get. Generally they come as small plugs. Nurseries then grow these out and sell them in bigger pots for lots more money. It takes a little bit of patience but I've been able to buy so many more plants because of it. We just pay the actual cost of the plant (I would say most plugs are in the $3-$4 range), plus shipping to the person who runs the co-op, then shipping (in flat-rate Priority Mail boxes) to us. I usually grow my plants out in pots for a few months before I plant them in the ground, but this time around I planted several plugs. They require a little more attention, but hopefully they'll do fine. We also buy bulbs through the co-op as well and those are a great deal. The co-op is always looking for new members. All you have to do is follow the link and I think send an email or apply (I think it's obvious once you get to the link). There's no fee or anything, all she asks is that you participate in the group and buy at least once a year.

    @ Alicia: Thanks!

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  3. Wow Erin that is an amazing transformation! I just want to stroll along that path and curl up with a good book on the deck. All of your hard work is really paying off. Prepping the beds by doing the hardscape along with trees & shrubs ahead of time is the smart way to do it. We just finished a new bed in the same manner so I can fill it in with perennials next year. Oh and I like the half moon shaped bed. It breaks up the sea of green grass and adds some visual interest. The whole thing looks very organic like it's always been there. Good job! Can't wait to see more pictures.

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  4. Hi! Thanks for the info on the plant co-op. It sounds like a great thing for budget gardening, especially if you are attentive to your plants, like most conscientious gardeners are. I will definitely check that out. I think your project looks great!! I would love to have that deck with the gardening beds...projects can become overwhelming and after you get some time away from the stress, you will be so glad you did it! It looks beautiful! We are going to be building some garden retaining walls in the next week or so and I am half dreading it and half excited, but also irritated that hardscaping costs SO MUCH!! :)

    I really enjoy your blog, it is one of my favorite gardening blogs.

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  5. Hard to believe it is the same house. I'm glad you did the deck even though it messed with the finances. I think you would be constantly thinking about what you missed by not doing it. This way, yes it will take time to pay it all off, but you will be enjoying it while you pay. Looks wonderful. And renovations are definitely emotionally draining. More than you can imagine at the beginnig.

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  6. Goodness, Erin, no WONDER you're exhausted! You've been a busy little bee! It looks just great and you should be so pleased with it all. We decided that next year, we'll have no projects so that we can just enjoy the gardens and yard and maintain what we have. We'll see how that goes. LOL.

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  7. Amazing!!! What a difference!
    I have a back porch looking like yours in the first picture. Now, I'll be dreaming about converting it to something similar to your 'after'. You did a wonderful job, and I like the beds on the both sides of the path.

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  8. Thanks everyone for the nice comments!

    @3acres ... thanks for the thoughts on the beds. Nice to know you're taking a similar approach. Helps on the budget to do it in stages too!

    @Jennifer: Good luck with your project. I stared at that stone for a long time before I finally just started moving it. Hardscaping is definitely not fun (nor cheap, as you point out) but I reaffirmed my thought that it's worth it and necessary after seeing how it's changed the back yard.

    @Linda: Thanks! :)

    @Kylee: That is definitely my plan for next summer. I feel like I'm a bad "mother" to my existing gardens since they've all been neglected while I work on this project. Of course I'm in the midst of a massive deadline at work, otherwise I'd take a few days off just to get caught up in the garden.

    @Tatyana: Thanks for the nice comments. I never realized what a difference the deck and redesigned back yard would make in the whole feel of it. It was definitely worth it!

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  9. Wow, what a difference. You should be proud of all you've accomplished. It looks great!!

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  10. Fabulous!! I love, love, love the house and the gardens...I think better homes and gardens should come by for some pictures!

    We should be starting work on the house in a few weeks. I'm still not sure what size to do the portico...thats not good huh?

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