Sunday, May 11, 2014

Backyard Part I - Irrigation

So, I've talked about our backyard here before.  I have complained about it.  I've mentioned a deck 100 times.  I've reveled in our little successes, then been sad when it got gross again.  

This time, however, we are fixing it up right.  And I'm hoping this success story will stay as one!

The short version:  Our backyard is mostly wooded/pine strawed, with a small area by the house with a patio and flatish ground.  We've tried growing grass three different times, but it never worked, due to water issues and the shadiness of the area.  Also, our dogs are maniacs.  But with Harper's arrival, I knew I wanted it to be something that wasn't totally terrible and a place where she could at least be, without fear of being eaten by spiders or smothered by detritus, even if it wasn't the perfect grassy backyard.  Also, I wanted us to have a space where we could actually hang out and enjoy ourselves for the month or two each year that outsideness is bearable here in Georgia. 

As I said, we have done small projects before to try to spruce this space up.  We always went the cheap route and never "did it right."  This time, I wanted us to plan, prepare, save, and really do it in hopes that we would have lasting results.

We knew grass was out, so I drew us up a very basic drawing of a hardscaped backyard.  May as well embrace it fully, right??  Tony agreed and I gave us an April deadline so we could actually plant before the heat wave set in.  And, spoiler alert - we're actually doing it!  Like, for real!  It's almost complete!  No one was more shocked than we were.

Here are the awful, blurry before pictures from this March:

Any green you see is trimmed weeds:

You can tell we care:  turned over table and a dead Christmas tree.  Classy!  Oh, and we have a sheet posing as a curtain hanging in that window on the left.

At least the kid is cute.

Lovely, no?

The first step, although it's not the pretty part, was to put in irrigation.  Water flows down hill from the gate area and makes a little river through this area, which is part of the problem.  Everything gets too wet and washed away.  We had a tiny drain in our side driveway that was not working at all, so water had no place to go besides the top of the ground.

First we had our retaining wall (you can see it outside the gate there) repaired so it wouldn't come crashing down with the next big rain.  Rain waterfalls over it, all rushing to our backyard. We had a friend of a friend do it, but it was still pricey.  It's made of old wood railroad ties, so we got the rotten ones replaced.  It's in decent shape now.

Next, Tony painstakingly dug a 50 foot trench from the gate to the middle of the backyard, right in the water path, and laid a long black drain pipe to replace the old tiny one.  He added box drains and a french drain.  Fun stuff!  (and also, so pricey!  it's just stinking plastic!)  We might still get a little flooding when it pours, but at least the water has a better route to take now.

Harper helped by trying to break her ankles falling in the trench four weekends in a row while he worked on it.

Oh, and we got rid of the Christmas tree!  Big progress!

This whole process took a while.  And while I was anxious to get to the good stuff, we knew this was most important.  Also, poor Tony has done most of this himself.  I'm either wrangling Harper or sadly too pregnant to dig long trenches (so sad).  He has been such a trooper.  One day I sat out on the patio and ate a popsicle while he dug.  He loved that.

We tend to talk big when we plan out things we would like to do to our house.  Often, they never get done because we don't want to spend the money or we're lazy or some combination of the two.  We have both been kind of shocked that we are actually doing this project!  We have spent a good chunk of change on all of it (totally hard for savers like us to do!), but that's what was really needed to do it right.  Luckily, we've been saving our pennies.

Next installment:  Hardscaping!  


  1. Wow! You guys are really doing it right. Good for you! I tend to be a person who errs on the side of quick and immediately satisfying. But it's not always for the best. I'm excited to see how everything turns out.

  2. You guys are awesome!!! So so SO impressed!!

  3. What?! So impressed by that trench!

  4. What?! So impressed by that trench!

  5. This looks so great- can't wait to see the finished product!!

  6. This makes me tired just thinking about all the work. I love backyard projects when they're done, but the doing them is so not on my list of things I enjoy. Good for you guys - it's going to make such a big difference!


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