“I don’t care what he’s doing, as long as he’s doing it out there,” my wife said to her friend as I walked by the kitchen window holding a chainsaw. You can do home improvement outside that you can’t do inside, there’s more room and nature handles some of the cleanup, but in my experience, it’s a good idea to keep a few tips in mind when it’s time to increase your home’s backyard appeal.
If You’re Going To Dig, Expect The Unexpected
I knew the garage was getting power somehow, but I guess I didn’t look close enough to see that it was not being electrified from the electrical pole from the street. What a surprise I got when I plunged my all metal shovel into the live wire underground that was leading from the main electrical box to the garage. Once I recovered I was able to call for some help from an electrician to finish my project.
Whenever you buy a house there is a seller’s disclosure sheet in the package of papers you get with the mortgage. I went back to look at mine and found that it did indeed note the buried electrical cord in the back yard, it also talked about a secondary sewer pipe in the back and a cistern that eventually became a sinkhole.
Nature Laughs At Your Plans
“How hard could it be to grow grass?” I thought to myself as I undertook a replanting of the lawn. I didn’t understand that even though my plan was perfect, the execution would run afoul of the basic forces of nature. I put down economy grass seed, the birds at it all. Better grass seed, buried deeper, that just attracted bigger birds.
Eventually I had to go with sod for the backyard. Unfortunately I was unable to figure out that grubs were eating it by the time the sod died. I eventually ended up with dirt dusted by pesticide then by fertilizer and a new layer of sod on top. Although I eventually got my grass I might as well have concreted the yard and painted it green for all the money I spent. But I learned that nature is audacious and powerful even in my own yard and came to expect resistance from the world in general on every future project.
Plan Your Cleanup Ahead Of Time
I was pleased when my new garden was complete. It only took thirty bags of cheap fill dirt to do it. Sadly the bags that held that fill dirt were kicked up by the wind and blown all around, making cleanup a challenge. That reminded me of the tree I cut down a few years ago. Although I had all the needed equipment to do the job and reclaim the wood, the debris that the tree dropped on the grass (note this was new grass) unexpectedly took fifty brown lawn debris bags and days of raking to clear.
When making project plans for my yard work I now assume that it will take at least as much time to clean up my project as it did to do the work. Depending on what you’re doing it could be even longer. No one wants to finish their work before realizing the magnitude of the cleanup. It’s psychologically worth creating some expectation of cleaning time before going in.
Think About Long-Term Success
When I began planting ivy around the garage many years ago I was eager to try and help it grow. It’s only when I completely ignored the plant that it really started to take off. Now I have a beautiful ivy covered wall at the back of the property.
Things take time to grow, but if you give them time you can’t help but succeed. Plant an herb garden and watch it mature. Grow some new grass around your landscaping a little bit at a time over the course of years. Most of all, love your back yard not just for what it is but what you know it could be.