September 7, 2011

The Great Yard Demo of 2011

As I said yesterday, this weekend was super productive. It was also a complete blast. I feel that’s worth noting because you know how some weekends come and go and you’re like, “Man, we got a ton accomplished!” but you’re also a little, “Okay, I’m ready to relax now! Uh, wait…Monday?! Wtf.” Yeah, I can’t tell you how many times I’ve felt that way. But this weekend (I repeat) kicked butt in every way possible.
First of all, my Mom and littlest brother were in town again, so we had the usual lots-of-delicious-food-lots-of-intensive-shopping experience and also a not-so-usual circus experience. We went to see the Ringling Brothers Boom-A-Ring show, which ended up being very cool. The magic act was pretty neat, the elephants were amazing, even the clowns weren’t exactly…uh, terrible (I hate clowns, in case you didn’t pick up on that). There were some parts (non-clown-related) that were pretty hilarious, too. Like instead of having lion tamers, apparently these days they have kitty tamers. Yeah, as in a borderline-cool cat-lady brings out her felines and Fluffy performs all kinds of tricks, from walking tightropes to jumping hoops. It was simultaneously baffling and amusing. But, thankfully, the elephants haven’t yet been replaced (what would you use instead? Holsteins?) so I ended up with some pictures like these:

But why am I babbling on about the circus? You didn’t come here for that. So, I guess we’ll jump right into the real meat of this blog, which is the Almighty Home Improvement Adventure.
Anyway, only Mom, Shawn, and I went to the circus (Denny declined to attend), so when we got home, we were greeted with a couple of amazing transformations on the yard front.

Yep! Denny chopped down all of our cartoons! I mean, trees. Yeah, I’ll admit, I forgot to take pictures of these trees and bushes in their “before” state, so you’ll just have to use your imagination. That whole side of the house was slowly being encroached upon by one massive holly tree, a rhododendron, some kind of juniper (or something similar), and a gloriously thriving snowball bush. So Denny (who was sick of parking his car in the bushes, apparently) got out his chainsaw and chopped all but the snowball down. Now, not only do we have a place to put our waste bins, but we’re also less likely to have problems with pests gaining access to our house. The snowball bush we’ve decided to keep, since it blocks the view of our bins from the road and can be easily clipped into submission.

He also got rid of the hedges out in front of our house.

Hmmm…I know that doesn’t look like much of an improvement, but you have to keep in mind that the “before” picture was taken in July (back when Seattle was still getting more rain than sun, resulting in fresher, greener looking plants) and that by removing the shrubs from the house, we not only have more space around our walkway and drive, but we also will (again) have less of a pest problem. Eventually we do have plans to plant some flowers, but they’ll be much shorter and more manageable than the hedges ever were.
Ooh! Speaking of flowers, while Denny, Mom, and I were at Lowe’s this weekend, we picked up these scarlet beauties.

Look how well those mums tie into the colors in my new doormats! I get giddy every time I walk by them. :)
Well, after returning home to all of that glorious change, I instantly became motivated to chip in and help out with some more demolition (you know how I love to chop down plants!). So, taking some inspiration from this previous transformation, Denny and I got started on trimming up the arborvitaes along the fence. This may not be everyone’s cuppa-tea, but we really like the groomed look that comes from trimming them up about two or three feet. It makes them look less like bushes and more like funny trees.

So, Denny got to work chop-chopping away, while I got to work snap-snapping away. It only took about fifteen minutes, but the difference was pretty huge.

Next, we decided to do something a little more heavy-duty; we decided to chop down all those annoying bushes in the middle of our backyard. Now, I don’t know who decided that planting a massive garden of shrubs in the middle of the lawn was a Good Idea, but I have something to say to them: You were wrong. When perfectly weeded, they weren’t the absolute most hideous things in the world. In fact, you could argue that in their own mature and well-developed way, they were actually kind of pretty. But the fact remains that what could look like a slightly odd garden could just as easily (if not more so) look like a weed farm. See?

The close-up reveals the truth. That place was a jungle that we had no desire to maintain. It also inhibited us from using most of our yard, because who wants to walk around the other side of that forest only to have this view (and approximately a 3’ wide chunk of grass to utilize)?

So after weeding and spraying it (a couple of weeks ago), we got it just enough under control to look like this:

The next step was to get out the chainsaw and start leveling the place (sidenote: we wanted to transplant them all, by the way, but had no place to put them…so down they went).

In no time at all, our yard went from this to this…

While I got to work hauling away the remains, Denny started to dig out the roots.

Yeah, that’s my wee shovel that I usually keep in my car. It was not what you’d call the most efficient tool, but we hadn’t got around to purchasing a big boy shovel yet (by the way, that changed on Sunday afternoon when we went to Home Depot to kill some time). It was a lot of work, but Denny managed to make our jungle root-free within the hour, giving us this incredible before and after shot.

Again, I know that right now it might look a little sad, but we have big plans for this reclaimed chunk of land. You wouldn’t believe how much bigger our yard looks and feels now! We can’t wait to smooth it all out and plant some grass. Hopefully one day we’ll end up with something kind of like this…

[Only with a nicer shed, patio furniture, and some pretty pots overflowing with flowers!]
Until then, we'll be removing the old weedblocker left behind and trying to figure out what to do with this huge mess... Someone? Anyone?


  1. Well, I'm still sad about the cartoons you exterminated. But I can imagine how nice it will look in the end.

  2. @Kaydeemcdee - I pretty much hated that holly anyway. The others...I didn't hate them, but it's nice to have all the extra space. If they had really been cartoons though, I would have definitely kept them. ;)