Friday, July 19, 2013

The Oasis!

Our backyard is done, minus a few hostas and some decorations. It took longer than I thought--I was predicting that we'd be relaxing on our patio by the 4th of July. No such luck, which is a shame as the 4th of July was exceedingly beautiful this year. Alas, as I did predict, the yard is done just in time for a horrendous heatwave.

The heat, it kills the grass. Have I mentioned how much I despise grass? It hates me back. Actually, in the pictures it looks a bit better than it does today--it wasn't as hot two days ago and the weeds in the middle of the yard have grown like 6 inches this week (not actually an exaggeration, because you can't see them in the pictures).

Next to the deck is a tumbled paver patio.  It is pretty big--roughly 15x20.  We have a 6-seat rectangle table that will probably sit down there, plus the grill and smoker.  And there may be room left over for a low seating set with a firepit (TBP -- to be purchased).  Along the wall on the right side of the picture, I need to find some large pots or something to soften the edge of the foundation and blankness of the siding. 

Around the concrete drain are six good-sized Rose of Sharon.  There are rocks around there too--I apparently grabbed a photo pre-rocks.  If you can't hide the darned thing, make a pedestal out of it.  With the brick edging, the rocks, and the bushes, it is crying out for a Grecian Urn or a birdbath or something.  I'm not actually kidding on that (though I'm pretty sure that a 3-5 foot statue would be heavy and expensive)..

The landscaper also added rocks under the deck, and a nice border of shrubs around the base of it to soften things.  Along the back of the yard are five good-sized white pine trees with clumps of the tall decorative grass between (they are almost visible in the shot of the patio...bad light in the evenings when I'm trying to snap photos).  They aren't a wall, but do distract the eye from the street beyond it.  And they will get bigger as time goes on.  The tree line doesn't completely cover the back border, because if you look toward the other corner, there's a lovely view of a lake and open greenspace. We want to emphasize the nice view and downplay the road.

Finally, the part that's not visible is all the drainage work.  The long straight line of dirt leading toward the concrete pedestal is where they buried a drain pipe that comes off a downspout and the sump pump.  Previously, those outlets left a swamp on the side of the house (and made the sump pump work overtime).  They ran the drains that were in between the patio and deck out underground as well. A swath through the middle of the yard has been smoothed to remove a rut formed by water runoff. The back of the yard behind the trees used to look jagged, as though the builder had pushed dirt back there and just stopped (which is probably exactly what they did). It now has a nice rounded shape that looks intentional and a fresh layer of grass seed that we can maintain easier than the weeds that we had before.

Our inground sprinkler system has been repaired and activated, and I might relent and have a lawncare company spray stuff on the grass to make it green (I'm tempted to just buy spray you think the neighbors would notice?)  I have finally come to realize that we are going to have to fertilize the grass to make it grow, as our dirt is more gravel than soil.  And it's way too expensive to just pave the whole yard.


Bethany said...

I'm sure you were kidding about grass painting, but when I was a kid people did it all the time!

Your yard is looking pretty good! Hope our grass isn't fdead by the time we get home from vacation!

Kristi Lea said...

With the drought around here the last two years, I semi-seriously considered painting the grass green. If we lived in drier part of the country, I'd think about some sort of artificial turf.

Somehow, I think our neighbors might gang up on us for painting our grass or replacing it all with plastic. We already got a visit from one of our trustees who was worried about the fact that the landscaper had delivered a bunch of gravel (base layer for under the patio).

Apparently he thought we were just going to dump the rocks on common ground and leave them. The small area was in the least conspicuous place ever (barely touched a part of the common ground, and that got re-seeded when done), and was far less of a nuisance than the alternative (delivering sand and gravel and materials to the street in front of our house, which would have made a dusty mess for all the neighbors to drive through).

Bethany said...

You have trustees? What about more drought tolerant plants and windflowers? I can say that painted grass doesn't look bad, but it isn't really nice on the feet. It's better for areas you don't really use much (like the front lawn) but want to look nice. I hate grass. Considering how allergic I am to it, we have a nod to grass in our back yard, the rest is raised beds which someday will have mulched paths between them, and a bunch of bushes. Granted, our yard is minuscule comparatively speaking. Does your neighborhood have some rule requiring grass?

Kristi Lea said...

The neighborhood has three trustees (a pretty high percentage, given that there are only 14 houses). We pay homeowners dues that go for upkeep of the common areas--a drainage pond-like thing that doesn't actually hold water, just pumps it out, plantings along the fences (one of which is the side of our own yard), the gate to the neighborhood (yes, it's gated, but seeing as how our house is along the road right at the gate, clearly that wasn't a major draw for us), plus the neighborhood road itself. Our last neighborhood association meeting was held in the court at the end of the one street :) We probably have some sort of neighborhood rules/building codes, except that no one ever bothered to give us a copy when we moved in.

The trustee thing is pretty common in this area. Even in neighborhoods where the streets are maintained by the city (like in our last house), there are usually areas like entrance signs and pools (last neighborhood had one, this one does not) that require some sort of maintenance and governance. I suppose that where people have individual lots that aren't part of a planned neighborhood don't have to deal with trustees.

I'm not sure that we'd be required to have grass, but we are probably required to keep up some kind of minimum standards. At just under half an acre, we'd spend a fortune putting in flower beds to get rid of the grass, and need a full-time gardener to keep it all in nice shape. I'm pretty sure that wildflowers would be discouraged--too much like overgrown weeds (though it does work for one commercial building known for its "green" architecture--"Natural Prairie in Progress" it says next to their windmill). But as I've mentioned, we live in a gated neighborhood of 14 homes. Not really smart to make enemies of our neighbors.

This particular trustee is nice enough, but a little obsessive about yards. He was out hand-sprinkling grass seed on his yard in 95-degree heat one afternoon last summer while telling me about how he was spending more on his water bill than his electric bill. During a drought when nearby cities were being told to conserve water. He does have a beautiful yard. Apparently one of our neighbors made him mad by dumping rocks and dirt on a different section of common ground, which the neighborhood had to pay to haul away, so he was somewhat sensitive to the work we were doing. I'm pretty sure we left things in the same or better shape as before.