We've lived in this house for three and a half years, and we're currently in the middle of our third big backyard renovation. For those of you non-math majors, we've redone the backyard once every, well...it's a LOT OF TIMES.
I'm planning to document the major steps in the process -- since hopefully this will be the last version (although it's a whopper, and will probably take us 1-2 years to get everything in place).
But before that, let's take a little walk down memory lane, shall we?
This is what the backyard looked like back in the beginning of 2009. Big, empty, and cold. (Well, just in January, when this first photo was taken.)
That spring, we added the first fence and a few raised beds. You'll notice that I left the gate open and the dogs had fun digging up all of our veggies. This happened within 2 weeks of the project's completion, which did not bode well for our garden adventures (or the dogs' behavior).
Bill rallied and replanted everything -- and also added a water barrel, solar composter (it's the green thing in the middle of the picture), and painted the fence to more closely match the deck.
That year we had a so-so crop of lettuce, cucumber, zucchini, and herbs, but we quickly realized that the water barrel wasn't high enough to create pressure to quickly fill a watering can, and the composter wasn't in a place with enough drainage (so mostly the food just moldered, instead of composting).
So the next spring (we're now in 2010, for those of you keeping track), Bill tore down the fence and moved it three feet back (to give us more room), built a platform for the water barrel (to create more pressure for irrigation), relocated the composter and basically redid all of the work that he tackled the year before. Good man.
By mid-2010, we'd also added a vertical garden, raised the beds even higher, and added two rows of planters around the water barrel. Sweet! This is probably the most attractive our garden has ever looked.
Unfortunately, the coconut liner didn't hold up well, and in the summer of 2011, we moved to a less attractive (but more solid) hard plastic planter box around the water barrel.
What you don't see is that Bill also added an awesome drip irrigation system on a timer, so that we could just walk out and set it for 20-120 minutes, depending on the weather conditions that day. Que bueno!
Most of the outdoor work in 2011 was focused on the side yard, where Bill put in additional trellises for beans, barrels for tomatoes, squash, and other goodies -- all with their own drip irrigation, of course. Anyway, by the spring of 2012, this is what the backyard looked like.
You can see (if you squint) that we have really only tackled the garden area -- the rest of the yard is pretty much the same as when we moved in. You'll also notice that the burlap bags didn't make it to a third year -- they broke open during the planting season so we ended up replacing them with ugly plastic planters -- temporarily.
So, that was where things stood this spring. You may also know that this time period was when our lives radically changed with the arrival of J & S to our lives. With that arrival came the demise of our farm plan, and we started seriously considering living in this house long term. And one of the things at the top of our wish list was a better backyard.
Queue the BIG PLANS.
This recap is getting kind of long, so I'll end it here. Next, I'll show diagrams (ahh, married to an engineer!) of our current set-up and our future backyard plan. Hint: it involves tearing down the fence (once again) for something more spectacular. And for the first time, we'll be looking beyond just the garden to an entire backyard renovation.