Monday, May 28, 2012

Blood, Sweat, and Mulch: My Backyard Sanctuary

The early springtime sun, the sizzle of hot dogs at a Rockies game, pear trees blossoming across the city, the smell of steak on the grill: all serve as constant reminders that I have a heck of a lot of work to do in my backyard. Springtime came early in Denver this year, bringing on a new season of household projects.

My respite from home improvements was wonderful but brief. I had always heard the cliché that a house is a never-ending project, and I am now getting a strong inkling that there must be truth in the adage. I completed a whirlwind of major interior projects on the mouse house from October to February, following a rapid and enviable construction schedule. After wrapping up these major projects, I was reeling from the deluge of decisions and trips to Home Depot. I spent February and March puttering around the house, blissfully ignoring light bulbs that dared to go out.

The time has come again to roll up my sleeves and start making some changes. Over the past month or so, I have tackled the back yard. My home is located in a relatively “urban” area, so having a little oasis and outdoor space to myself is a true blessing. There is still work to be done, but the former pile of leaves and debris behind my house has transformed into my own little sanctuary. Here’s a little window into the process:

Before: Here are some photos of the back yard before anything was touched. Note the ginormous sumac tree right next to the pond that smells like poop (I mean, you can’t tell it smells like poop from the picture…but trust me…it really does). There was also another deck in the side part of my yard you can see in these photos. It was in far worse shape than the main deck and also covering my sewer line that needed repair.



Power wash and Stain Weekend: My lovely boyfriend, Matt, power washed the deck for me while I was at work. The difference was amazing: it was a whole new color! We spent a weekend staining the fence and used Restore from Home Depot on the deck. The wood on my deck was very old and splintery. Realistically, I should have ripped it out to replace it entirely, but Restore covers it with a composite-like coating that gives me a brand new deck! 

Gravel and Mulch Weekend: Spent one day prepping for the gravel and mulch. You can read about my trip to pick up the gravel here. We laid weed block fabric and edged out the mulch beds. My aim for the yard was to be a low-maintenance but still “green” space. There’s not really enough room for a grass yard, so the gravel creates a great area to hang out that takes no work to maintain.



Planting Party: I bribed a few friends with pizza and beer to come over this week and help me plant. I ordered a “garden in a boxpackage of plants through the conservation center. They put together packages of native plants that fare well in Denver’s high desert atmosphere. Plus for each purchase, you get a $25 rebate from Denver Water because the plants require a minimal amount of watering.

Fiesta: After sprucing up the back, I had my first official backyard fiesta…success!

Each small victory along the way is a celebration in itself, but it's great to have a somewhat "finished" project to grill burgers in!

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