Tuesday, April 1, 2014

Yard to do list.

Spring is here. Finally. I think. I hope. I honestly would not be surprised if it starts snowing at any moment, just because this year's winter has been a MAJOR asshole and that's just the kind of thing he would do to stick it to us one last time.

But tentatively it's here. And with it comes the start of my first ever real adult gardening season. I have never had a yard. I have lived in apartments or the top floors of houses my whole adult life (not counting my parents house, but my mom is the garden boss there). And even if those places had yards, they would be rentals. And it's fine to fix up a rental yard, but at a certain point you wonder how much it's worth putting a ton of time and effort and money to fix up property that doesn't technically belong to you. This year I have a real, adult, QUARTER OF AN ACRE (shut up country people, for a city girl like me, that's a vast wilderness), yard that we own and can do whatever we darn well please with (except for you know, build a huge meth lab, or keep zebras in, or start a tiki bar, okay so fine there's a lot we can't do with it, but we can do whatever we darn well please that's within legal and city code boundaries).

And I have so many ideas you guys. It's like this inner gardener has just burst forth at the first chance to put my hands in dirt. I spend most of my time these days on GARDENING BLOGS (I'm pretty sure that puts me at least mentally into my 30s if I'm not linearly speaking there yet). I flew to Vegas last week (more on that later) and bought GARDENING MAGAZINES for the flight. I'm putting these things in all caps, because it is still shocking to me just how much of an old fart I've turned into seemingly overnight, and how much I EMBRACE it. See, cannot stop with the all caps. This is a momentous life change.

So our yard. I get the feeling that a dedicated gardener lived there at some point in the home's recent past. But possibly not for the last decade or so. Things have gone...awry. There are random attempts at the gardening arts, but mostly, it looks like the last owner's just looked at the size of the yard and its vast potential, shrugged, and said "eh, not for us." But there is so much potential. I look at it and envision an oasis, an eden, or at the very least a yard that doesn't look like the people who live there use it exclusively as the world's largest dog toilet.

It is going to take a lot of work, a lot of long sweaty, muddy days in the sun, a lot of time and research and money, but I am ready. I feel pumped to find my inner horticulturist. I think our yard can become a gorgeous feature of the home, and honestly we will probably be here to enjoy it for 2-3 years tops (have I mentioned our house is a little teeny?). But it's my personal philosophy that every owner of a house should leave it better than they got it. They should add to it, not detract from it, particularly in a 1920s house that in my mind deserves some respect in her twilight years. And I would love my contribution to be a functional, beautiful garden. I may fail spectacularly. In fact I know I will encounter failures, because gardening is dealing with living things that are unpredictable and finnicky. It's not like decorating a room. A couch won't wither and die on you or grow wild and take over the ottoman. Gardening, I suspect, will be a slow process full of setbacks. But I believe at the end of the tunnel it will be worth it. Or I will just be a dirt covered lady yelling at my tomato plants to behave themselves. Time will tell.

As far as this summer's to do list, here it is. I will update along the way.

1. Plant vegetables in the two lovely raised beds behind the shed (done and done-also it took some backbreaking work to pull out a tangle of vines and shrubs and weeds that were all over those beds-I don't think a vegetable has been planted in one for some time).

2. Tear up the old slate stepping stones (they have huge cracks between them that are full of mud) and lay a gravel path that wraps around the shed. (this is my top priority, I think it will make a massive difference in the overall look of the yard and make it seem much tidier and less accidental, and it will help with the mud, I constantly am fighting the yard's endless supply of dog covering mud)

3. Dig up the "butterfly garden" on the left side of the yard that's enclosed by metal fencing. Replace the wild tangle of weeds in there with two dwarf fruit trees (yes, yes I know we will never enjoy the fruit from these trees unless we live here more than 3 years, but I see it as a gift to future owners). I also want to plant some evergreens, and some pretty perennials like lavender)

4. Grow Morning Glory and Moon Flowers along the fence nearest the patio. I adore both of these flowers and my mother assures me they are not hard to grow along a fence.

5. Put in two flower beds along the side and back fence. Plant a tree in each (one that withstands a lot of moisture, still researching that) along with some nice evergreen shrubs (thinking boxwoods) and some other perennials.

6. Convince my handy fiance to build me a wooden planter for the patio (he's already mostly agreed) to fill with herbs. I love the thought of hanging out on the patio and being surrounded by the scent of fresh herbs (does anything smell instantly more like summer than fresh basil?).

7. Add some other patio decor (planters, cute hanging lights)

8. Hire an electrician to put in a spotlight to illuminate the patio that can be operated by an indoor switch (right now we have no lighting outside except for some poorly functioning motion sensors).

9. Buy a patio seating set (we are probably going to do this one within the next week or so-we've decided on a Martha Stewart set from Home Depot, because it's more affordable than most new patio furniture, is a really nice wicker, and well it's Martha after all)

10. Plants lots and lots of grass seed so we can possibly have a yard instead of a mudpit one day.

Whew, writing it all down like that makes it seem like, a lot. But I am confident we can pull it off. Or at least try. And fail at some of it I'm sure. But at the very least I'm confident that the yard at the end of this summer will be improved from the yard at the start of spring.

Unless a sinkhole eats it.
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