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Hi friends!  It’s been a little while but I can feel the interest and inspiration for decorating & DIY creeping up on me again.  The only difference is that now my decorating budget is even smaller, haha sigh…

When I think of the projects we have going, most of them are creeping forward at a very slow pace – the granny flat, refinishing the windows, various minor house decor tweaks.  Much too boring to blog about.  I have a few awesome things to share in the weeks ahead as I work on some more interesting ideas, but right now  I do have one great project to tell you about – our backyard!

Here’s the motivation for putting a fenced backyard onto our property.

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She recently turned one, and she’s been walking for two months now.  Baby needs a safe place to roam where I don’t have to be standing over her every second to keep her safe.  Because this is the backyard before.

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Not really safe for a little one to run around, and so many sharp/dangerous things to climb on or put in the mouth, so the Chief did a blitz backyard 1000% makeover in two weeks.  Two weeks people!!  He is a star.  He just decided that if we were going to make a yard, we were going to put down sod and have it ready for the Cinco De Mayo party we had planned.

Step one: well really step one was install the fence but I forgot to take any pictures.  We got simple 3′ squared off black iron fencing from Home Depot which was one of the cheaper options they had, and also isn’t so enclosing as to stop the sightline to the rest of the property.  The yard still feels big.

Step one that I have a picture of was to put down a truckload of composted chicken manure.  This stuff smelled kind of bad for a few days until all the ammonia had evaporated, but it is the best for growing things – I wish I’d thought to keep some for my veggie garden but when the Chief gets a wild hair he just goes for it till the project is done, and I didn’t really have time to think of that till it was too late.

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We watched.  It smelled.

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Later on I helped shovel it around the whole yard with Miss E on my back.  You can see the gate here – a friend made it by hand and the Chief has been storing it in the shed for years now.  Amazingly, it fits perfectly with the rest of our fencing system!

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Then the Chief rototilled the manure into the soil so everything was nice and deep and loose for roots to take hold.

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Lastly, he used a wide pushbroom to make everything flat and level.

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I didn’t get pictures of the next two steps, which were laying the sod and putting in the last sections of fence.  It’s important with sod to really wedge the edges tightly against each other when you install it, so that you don’t get gaps or dead edges.  The Chief did a really great job with that.  Lastly, he installed a small area of redwood decking to put the barbecue on and open up the patio, with two redwood steps leading down to the lawn.  It makes such a difference to the finished feel of our yard.

Here’s the patio!  The house exterior has work yet to be done but the yard is soooo amazing already.

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Here’s another view where you can see how the Chief put in a tall wooden fence with a locking gate in between the shed and our house.  On the other side of that will be the granny flat’s little enclosed front yard, so we’ll both have privacy.IMG_2852 (1024x767)The back yard is amazing and we all use it and enjoy it every day.  We were able to keep costs down by borrowing all the heavy equipment we used and by DIY of course!  Sod cost about 4x what seed would have cost, but the Chief wanted grass for the party and it wasn’t that big an area to do after all.  Now that it’s established it only takes about 4 minutes of watering every day, even in the crazy heat we’ve been having.  Oh yes, the Chief installed the sprinkler system himself too!

Any tips on backyards with little kids and maybe (hopefully) getting in some garden beds?  What have you done to make a haven of your yard for your family?





Is it really Thursday already?  It’s been a busy week!  Time to post again.

So last weekend, MY plan was to finish stripping the dining table.  Unfortunately, the weather’s plan was to drizzle all day Saturday and part of Sunday.  That made a no-go for my outdoors only project.   Luckily, the weekend was not wasted, and neither was the rain.  The Chief borrowed a Bobcat from a builder he knows (you know, one of those adorably mini bulldozers) and graded the backyard.

So, the backyard.

I haven’t show a single picture of the backyard.  You can guess why.  Ok. I’ll be specific, I hate when people make me guess.

1. The house is a fixer-upper on a slow timeline.   All the project debris and leftovers and, yes, trash, has somehow migrated to the backyard.

2. There is no grass.  The dirt and dried weeds merely exist to hold the stones in the soil together.  As far as trees, there is one lone palm tree that we don’t actually want. 

3. I am married to a car guy.  One of the non-negotiables that came with him is having various project cars parked along the back of the property.  I am ok with that, but only because I’m crazy about the guy.  The thought that soon we will have part of the backyard fenced off for a patio and vegetable beds and some lawn and flowers and I won’t have to SEE the cars makes it a LOT easier :) 

Here is what our backyard looked like at the beginning of the weekend. 

Then the Chief  sorted the various scattered junk into piles.  Trash pile, keep pile, burn pile, good wood to reuse pile.  We had friends on Saturday who helped and kept us company. 

Then there was much juddering and jolting of the Chief’s fine self (and resultant headaches) as he spent hours in the Bobcat on both days scooping and dragging and tamping and redistributing good soil, rocks, and fill dirt.

The drizzle was a blessing after all because it kept down the dust from the Bobcat moving earth around and helped make leveling and grading easier.  We still had to bring over the hose and spray the dirt a bit as things dried out so the Bobcat could keep grading efficiently, but we definitely saved a lot of water because of the rain.

We ended up with a big pile of good dirt that was full of rocks (visible on the left edge of the previous photo) which the Chief and I spent several hours sorting through by hand on Sunday to get the biggest rocks out.  Picture me ruffling through the dirt like a dog, making a pile of cleaned dirt behind me and tossing all rocks fist-sized or bigger into the frontloader of the Bobcat to be dumped elsewhere.

At the end of the second afternoon, the yard looked more like this:

Here’s a view from before the grading was done, but it gives you a sense of just how HUGE and FLAT our suburban Southern California yard is (and I can tell you that’s rare.)


So that’s the latest on the ole homestead.  Now it just needs that fence to enclose half the yard, and a veggie bed and chickens and grass and civilized green growing things!

What do you think?  We still have a long way to go but I am inspired by the changes.