Ours is a corner lot. We are slowly removing the old overgrown shrubs and will be replacing them with what I'm calling a "modern cottage" landscape. Where we live in Utah is considered the high desert so, a low-water landscape is an important objective. Oh, and we already removed the white metal awning over the dining room window. It blocked our view to the Wasatch Mountains, which, admittedly, we can see best in the winter months.
Here is the front of the house as it looks today.
Looks like the house can breathe now that it's not hidden behind those big shrubs and that useless awning!
The pots were a quick project. A simple can of spray paint and some painters tape gave these basic terra cotta pots a more modern aesthetic. I had different pots out front last year that Jack spray painted yellow when I was 40 weeks pregnant, but I relegated them to the back this year. Actually, I haven't decided what I'm doing with them yet this year.
To do (Front):
- Phase I:
- Remove stumps from front
- Remove shrubs on the north side of the house
- Plant grasses
- Paint the front door a fun color
- Phase II:
- Remove grass
- Plant low shrub "wall" along sidewalk edge for a better transition from public to private (I'll talk about this in a later post)
- Add a pea gravel or decomposed granite (dg) patio with table and chairs
Of course all of the above requires redoing the irrigation system, which is necessary (it's an older system) but not a cheap endeavor.
The backyard is a little challenging because it is open to the side street and the "back" is our garage and driveway, which abuts the neighbor's house to the west. We are of the opinion, however, that we don't want our yard completely walled off to the neighborhood with a tall fence along the street (and I'm pretty sure a street-side fence is limited to 4 feet by code)(I should probably know that). Our objective is to create a comfortable outdoor room with "windows" to the sidewalk. We like seeing people walk by --we've met many neighbors that way, but a little enclosure would make it feel like a usable room. Another objective is to create a true playscape for the boys. Gavin loves to be outside and we'd like to nurture his affection for nature. As much as possible I'd like for the nature to stay outside so, mulch and gravel will be part of the new plan, as opposed to the straight up dirt and mud that gets tracked in now. I'll share our plans soon.
We built the tall fence on the south edge of the property last year. We thought that maybe we could get away with delaying that project, but it was necessary for the basic enjoyment of our yard. The short story is that the neighbors to the south were hosting their relatives in a rundown camper, their dogs didn't get along with the relatives' dog (and all would bark through the previous chain link fence across our yard to any and every dog or person on the sidewalk), there is graffiti on the wall of their crappy garage from the previous tenants, there's a punching bag hanging from a tree, and a toilet (inoperable, I hope) sitting by the back door. Now that you think we live in Redneckville (we don't), you understand the need for a six-foot fence! The rest of the neighbors thanked us profusely for covering up the eyesores. It's true what they say about fences. #goodfences #goodneighbors
No, the fence is not facing "backwards." We intentionally designed it this way so that the fence would have a little detail and so the street side with the gate would line up with something. Eventually we'll replace the chain link next to the driveway and along the north side of the yard and the height will line up with the middle cross piece.
You can see how it lines up in the back of this photo.
In the center of the backyard is a lovely cherry tree. We thought that it would yield more cherries than we could eat, but either the birds ate all of them or the berries never really developed because we never saw one last year. The tree has two redeeming qualities: 1. in the spring, it gives off the most intoxicating fragrance and is covered in pink blossoms, and 2. it delivers an incredible amount of shade, making much of our yard cool enough to be enjoyed in the summer. The Utah sun is very strong and SLC is at ~4,000 feet elevation, which makes shade incredibly important. We can even sit outside for dinner for much of the summer except the hottest days and are shaded from the hot western sun.
Last fall Jack built two raised planter beds for our vegetable garden. This is the first year I've planted using the square foot method. So far it's been helpful in terms of figuring out how many plants per square foot and not overplanting. I set up a simple grid using twine and a staple gun. Then Gavin and I used more of a broadcast method for planting seeds. It was a whole lot easier planting with a preschooler that way instead of forcing neat rows. Gardener's Supply has a great kitchen garden planner that I used and would recommend (see plans below). I've already harvested the arugula, some spinach, and beet greens. The sparrows are doing a number on my beets. I had no idea they liked beet greens. Now I have to get a netting. #notyoursalad
Along the fence by the sidewalk, we are slowly chipping away at the grass. I dug out a small bed last year, but this spring we are being more aggressive. You can see in the photo below that the grass on the left is a little brown. That's where Jack turned up the ground. You can kind of see the line where the grass will remain to the right. It lines up with the north wall of the house.
In that last photo is our peach tree. We planted it last year just after we moved in. We added a pear tree this year. Fruit trees were pretty popular with the Mormons when they settled in the valley as a way to be self-sustaining. Fruit trees appeal to my Yankee spirit. I grew up making preserves and canning tomatoes with my dad. The rest of the plantings in this bed will not be edible, but are chosen for their low water needs and seasonal interest. The last remaining shrub to the left of the peach tree is an old forsythia that we cut back to the ground last spring and it bounced right back. It looks ok in this photo, but it's spring show was unremarkable and it is a bit of a mess. So, out it will come.
I'll add more house tour photos soon. Stay tuned!