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June 8

Backyard Renovations: Part 2

If you missed my latest backyard post, this is what Felix and I were starting with when we bought our house.

backyardJungle_2

Can you see me back there on the right??  heh

Last week I caught you up to 2015:

Backyard Renovation

But now it’s time to wrap up with what we’ve done so far this year in 2016.

Last year I missed out on vegetable planting for the season.  After apartment-living in the city, I’ve longed for my own vegetable garden!  This year I wanted to hit the ground running and make it happen!  What can be better than wandering in your own back yard to pick vegetables for dinner or feed some hungry bunnies?!

Early in the spring (but not early enough), I planted seeds to start plants in my basement under grow lights.

Veggie Garden Plans

All of my vegetable & herb seedlings are non-gmo, heirloom seeds from Baker Creek.

Seedlings

I have spaghetti squash, zucchini, yellow squash, tomato, bell pepper, yellow beans, green beans, cilantro, basil, parsley, and numerous types of lettuces.  (Shout-out to Michelle who told me about this company. Thanks lady!)

Seedlings

After much research – since that’s what I do before starting any new endeavor – I decided that we should build sub-irrigated, raised planter beds.

Albo-grow-Box_diagram2

Image: Courtesy of Albo Pepper – FYI I used his directions to build out my box along with this.

There’s basically a reservoir of water at the bottom of the bed that always holds water.  That way the roots go down for the water which results in a nice root system; it’s supposed to reduce weeds, rot, and other issues that may happen with watering at the top.

Felix and I started planning and then building two raised planter beds, what feels like months ago.  But we finally finished them.

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The reservoir does need to be filled about once a week, but I can go several days (like on vacation) without worrying if all my plants are going to die on me.  There’s also drain holes on the side, at the bottom, to prevent any flooding from rains.

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I have a tendency to ‘go big or go home’ with projects, so I do hope this works out for me this year.

As an FYI, Felix posted each and every time we worked on our garden boxes.  You can find many more in-depth construction blog posts here.

I intended to get these boxes finished like 2 months ago, so I missed out on some springtime peas.  But I’ll survive.  heh I have read that I can actually do peas again in the fall when the weather gets chilly.

The other large project that we worked on was a new fence!

Old Fence

The old fence was all warped and very unattractive.  I felt like I couldn’t really start to plan out my garden until a new fence was put in, since I didn’t want to plant & then remove it all for the fence install.  That and …… I was having some major territorial issues with the dog that lives next door.  It was getting to the point that I couldn’t be outside without my adrenaline rushing & having heart palpitations due to the dog.  (Happening again right just now thinking about it…) So Felix and I decided that it would be in everyone’s best interests (mainly mine) to make the fence a priority this year.

Of course, we like to save money when we can, so we did all of the leveling/grading of that fence area on our own which took us several days to do.

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Just a few bricks we found in the yard – even after things were cleared and leveled last year.

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We ran into some issues during the grading with an old tree stump that we already had ground down.  Turns out it needed much more stump grinding, so we had to call out our tree guys to get rid of it once and for all.

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After the grading was done, we were able to just kick back and watch our fence be built by professionals.

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I now have a brand new fence and a vegetable garden in progress, in what once was basically wilderness!

Backyard Jungle

It feels like a fresh, blank slate that I can finally start building out/planting in.

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I have all sorts of schemes saved in my pinterest page, but I need to sit down with my mom again so we can plan on how to make it even more lovely.

Some of the top things on my list that I’d like in the backyard are:

  • Espalier Tree/s
  • Lilac Shrub
  • Fire Pit area
  • Fountain

cottonwoodLawn

Even though I may only be able to do one of the four this year, it already feels like I can breathe again in my backyard with some privacy; I can enjoy being outside once again.  It feels so good.

  1. Tasha / Jun 8 2016

    It’s amazing what you guys have done!! Kudos to you. Here I am just whining about weeds I can’t get under control and a flower bed that’s maybe 70′ long full of only a few random roses and a veritable ton of lava rocks and weeds that we want to re-do…. and look what you were up against. :) And I hear you on the neighbor dog and new fence, ugh, it was a big part of the reason my dad came to build our new fence last year. (And hopefully this year to take down the old one on our alley side and put up one that matches the new fence, ha ha.) Good luck with the veggies! I usually do a few containers but we have one small self-contained bed my dad built a few years ago so I have a few tomatoes in the actual ground for the first time ever. Aaaand smart move on the sub-irrigation because I *am* totally worried about them when we go on vacation in a week! ;)

    • Liz / Jun 8 2016

      Well first off – *yay* you made it to the end of the post. heh This was a long one! :D

      Lava rocks – those seem like a challenge to remove. Weeds are worth whining about Tasha! We got dumped on last week with cottonwood spores/seeds and the weeds are everywhere in my front yard. And I just weeded out the whole thing. :( It’s a constant battle against nature vs. keeping things pretty and tidy, no?!

      Tomatoes are water hogs aren’t they? You should totally put them in little sub-irrigated mega pots if you go away for a while. That or run a sprinkler on a timer when your gone… or just pray for rain.

      I planted two tomato plants in my garden box – but I don’t even like tomatoes. I just heard that they’re good for basil and will help give some afternoon shade to some other delicate plants. lol I’m planning on giving away the tomatoes.

  2. MadeByMeg / Jun 8 2016

    Love hearing your home improvement adventure and the garden before/after! I had to laugh though bc in California peas are a winter plant!

    • Liz / Jun 8 2016

      Honestly it would be amazing to be able to grow plants all the way into the winter!

  3. Akram Taghavi-Burris / Jun 8 2016

    Wow! The sub-irrigated, raised planter beds I love that idea. I’m so pinning this for future reference. Your yard looks great! Nice job.

    • Liz / Jun 8 2016

      Thanks so much! It really feels like a fresh, blank slate. I want to fill it up with all of my favorite things now. :D

  4. Jess / Jun 8 2016

    Yay!!!! I love your gardening posts …

  5. PinhouseP / Jun 8 2016

    Impressed!

  6. Cherie / Jun 8 2016

    What a great post of your backyard achievements! Fun to read, and I bet you tickle yourself just looking at it’s gorgeousness! Lotta lotta work, but look at it now!

  7. Meigan / Jun 9 2016

    Wow, what a transformation. Your hard work has really paid off. Thanks for sharing the planting beds-they look fantastic!

    • Liz / Jun 9 2016

      Thanks Meigan; I am totally stoked to soon be able to wander into my own backyard to pick some veggies for dinner! It will be so cool. lol I’m totally a city girl…

  8. K-Line / Jun 9 2016

    Holy cow. Your work is absurdly impressive. I have a fraction of the space, someone else landscaped it, and I can barely keep it together.

    • Liz / Jun 10 2016

      It’s a lot of work (but its good work) & remember I have no children Kristin. heh

      I’m excited, I’m going plant shopping with my mom this weekend and we’re going to plan out my new dream backyard. :D

  9. SC / Jun 12 2016

    The amount of work you two put into your yard is impressive!! We have a pretty overgrown yard but it’s manageable (mostly just clover and dandelions, haha), so reseeding or sod won’t happen until next year. I also had big plans for gardening but we’re taking it easy with just a couple tomato plants for now. ?

    Also, you know what they say about good fences, right? Heh. (Our neighbor has dogs but they are extremely well-behaved, luckily!)

  10. Lynsey / Jun 12 2016

    Amazing, you have done an awesome job, it’s unrecognisable

  11. Loran Watkins / Jul 18 2016

    I’ve been reading your posts on my phone but seeing the photos on a larger screen, wow! I’ve been doing a remodel on my kitchen while looking wistfully into my backyard. It will get there. I have the opposite problem that you do, mine is almost completely concreted in. We’re kicking around various ideas on what to remove and what to keep but its still a struggle. Even before I moved into my house last year we had to have the fence along the back of the property completely rebuilt so that MY dogs wouldn’t bother the neighbors. They ended up reusing many of the boards to save us money and now we’re able to replace the rest and have a real finished fence, it’s so exciting! I checked out your pinterest board and had a save a couple of your pins on mine :)

    PS I have TOTAL garden box envy! Oh, and I have friends that work at Baker Creek and do the annual Heirloom Festival in Santa Rosa in September so if you’re ever out this way that time of year….

    • Liz / Jul 19 2016

      Hey Loran! Thanks for coming to the site to comment. Kitchen remodels are hard!! I haven’t had a ‘real kitchen’ and stove in like 3 years now… so I know what you’re going through on that front.

      I am a pro at demo-ing out concrete. My husband and I are always renting a demo-hammer from our Home Depot and the guys renting the equipment are always surprised that I do that work. But really once you get the swing of things its not hard. I vote for getting rid of some of that concrete in your backyard. :D Much better drainage and then you can have a pretty yard escape. :D

      Oh my you know Baker Creek peeps?! How cool!!! So far my garden is booming. The lettuce is so yummy. I’ll so look you up if/when I come out to California next…. in September. :D Cheers!!

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