Project: Space to be a kid

We inherited a very lovely, well landscaped backyard when we bought this house. It was our favourite thing about the house in fact. I grew up with an avid gardener as a mother and I hated yards that were nothing but lawns, I wanted magical little spaces for my children to play in as I had and so this was my dream come true. As our kids grew and had the unusual penchant for running around we realized it was not working out for us quite as well as I had hoped it would, and I started to fantasize about yards with nothing but big expanses of green running space. My first idea of moving was shot down by Aaron (kill-joy) so I had to move onto Plan B. Our property is not exactly large but I figured we could create at least a little more running space without sacrificing too much charm, and so we embarked upon this sweaty project.

We had several commitments this week so as I mentioned before, much of this work was done in the dark. I will now document the before and after of this undertaking in painstaking detail especially for my mother and anyone else who had to listen to all the obsessing regarding my poor tragic grass deprived children prior to the event.

The BEFORE view from our deck. In the foreground on the right is a big bed of weeds that we used to use as a vegetable patch. Believe it or not it was completely cleared of weeds just the week before and all that grew in while we waited for the sod to arrive. Stuff grows well in this swamp. (We moved the veges to the side of the house which wasn't being used for anything this season and they are doing quite well.)

Here was what the lawn comprised of before. As you can can tell there was very little space for the kids to play.

So we decided to incorporate the lilac bush, the bed to the right of the lilac bush and the previous vegetable garden into the lawn. Which involved cutting down the lilac bush (which actually had not been performing well in the last few years so it was not toooo painful. That branch right there is much heavier then it looks btw.

Gracie clears the sticks and branches away. She is so tough. Little hiked up skirt not withstanding.

Finny sort of helped too.

So here is the area sans lilac bush. You can get a better view of how little the lawn was. Really no space to play other then on the swingset.

Back in that area between the slide and the gazebo, we cleared out part of the flower beds so that the grass could expand into that area too. I transplanted some of those plants along the edge of the gazebo to cover an ugly exposed bit of the foundation. This pleased me. Once we had cleared out many big rocks, a brick border, all the random toys we found under the foilage and all manner of weeds, we transplanted some plants and "leveled" the area.

Then we laid grass over allllllll of that (and let me tell you, when I say "we laid grass" I mean Aaron laid grass as I stood by slapping mosquitoes and telling him that he missed a spot. "Laying grass is not nearly as straight forward as it sounds in this case as you can tell he was working with some rather curvy, uneven terrain. In short it was rather an ordeal. He also replaced some of the patches under the swingset that had been destroyed by little swinging feet. The replacement parts currently look a bit like a bad toupe, or a furry green animal pelt.

Then in a stroke of genius. Ie: D'uh why did we not do this from the beginning? We moved the swing-set to be along the back of the yard.

This was the back corner of the yard. I believe this shot was actually taken after some massive clearing out had already occurred. It was just a big mess of ornamental grasses, weeds, with some nice flowers. It was a jungle

After quite a bit more clearing

We split up that ornamental grass bush that was just sitting right in the middle of everything and put it against the fence which provides nice coverage there. Then we laid grass in the cleared jungle area. Here is Gracie testing it out. This is where the slide part of the swing-set would end up being.

This all created lots more space for this ( love their faces in this shot so you should click on this photo). Really, you should. Can't you just hear the soundtrack as they run in slow motion: BooooooRRRRRN FREEEEEEE. As free as the wind free as the GRAAAAASSSS grows......

And this. Of course.

On the other side of the garden, we cut a cute little grass path into the big flower bed in an area that was very prone to weeds, transplanted some of the plants there along the path and into other more needy areas and made that part of the bed into cute little shaded grassy area for reading or having a picnic. I may consider putting a sandbox here. But the grass is so lush and nice it would be sad to kill it right away. Here is one side of the area previously inhabited by another jungly type combination.

Here's the other side of the little alcove. Which used to look like this. And required lots doing what they are doing:

And after: Ahhhhh...Doesn't that look like a nice quiet place to chill? Sooo much nicer then having to pick through plants to weed that back patch. This whole area is sort of hidden away. I believe in having hidey holes for kids in gardens, I think they are so magical. I am thrilled that now we have a nice combination of some running space and some cloistered spots.

I am so excited. It was so satisfying to see what I had imagined in my head come to fruition. Our next challenge is to find a way to eradicate the swarms of mosquitoes which also find the new set-up tres attractive. I swear I felt my feet leave the ground today as they descended upon me. I fear that I am going to need a blood transfusion pretty soon.

I'm reading: Project: Space to be a kidTweet this!


Denise said...

Your grass is BEAUTIFUL!!! Love those happy excited looks on the kids faces!!

Marigolds are supposed to help keep mosquitos away. Also, be sure you don't have any standing water where they can breed.

nyn said...

This is Amazing!! You all did SO much work. I love all the before and after shots. It really gives you the appreciation for all you did. I admire your dedication and hard work. I would have looked at it and said. Let's move to a town house where someone else does the yard. I am REALLY lazy that way. It makes me appreciate how much you put in that much more.

Audra Marie said...

Oh wow - it looks awesome! We won't even discuss my backyard or lack thereof. Let's just say that the weeds are taller than me. :( And the thorns...