Thursday, December 13, 2012

OK - This is the first time I've ever tried anything like this, but I have been inspired by a friend to start this & post pictures of our back yard (and house) renovation...  Hubby (my greatest support & love of my life) has insisted that we start, so here goes!

We bought a not so old house (built in 1953) in a small town in Eastern NC three years ago that needed ALOT of work!  Think 70's wallpaper, solid (dark) panelling & oak floors - good bones, but small rooms, metal windows, little insulation, etc...  The best thing - GREAT NEIGHBORHOOD, nice large corner lot & mature (if unruly) yard with well-established plants - azaleas, gardenia, hydrangeas, bulbs, roses, etc.

The house needs EVERYTHING - we have completed the exterior - including raising a roof (flat addition had to come off & go UP), new siding & trim (old chalky aluminum just wasn't my thing), and new windows & sliding doors (great investment in the heating dept - saved us 1/3 on our heating/cooling bill as compared to the previous year).  We have finished 2 of the 5 bedrooms except for a small electric plug change outs - old plugs don't have ground & little things.  We are doing almost all the work ourselves & are researching things we don't know how to do yet (refinishing floors is a big one for me, hubs is not so sure about removing plastered walls - but he's great with the mechanical stuff)!

After finishing the first two bedrooms, we had to hire a contractor to do the exterior work (we planned on this, but ended up having to do it a year early).  The next room became the den (by default) since we had to jack up the ceiling when the roof came off - we are still working on it!  So far we have primed the paneling, built & installed the coffered ceiling & hung new trim.  We have also repaired the plaster surrounding a window (long term leak problem apparently), primed walls & trim, and added crown molding in a small hallway.  This short hall/den project is still going on...

We started the yard project almost immediately when we moved in, but had to put it on hold for a year while the exterior was done - phases/weather/etc...  delays...  Last summer, however, we mapped out our yard plan using BH&G Home Designer Software & are on the road to make the plan a reality!  Incidentally, we hired a great contractor (to do the roof, exterior & doors.  The windows were supplied by Lowe's.

So far we have completed 4 raised beds, started our cutting garden with both perennials & annuals, created our composting bins out of pallets, collected an assortment of outdoor furniture from Craigslist & Freecycle & started cutting back & clearing out the old, well established plantings & began propagating cuttings from our existing plantings to fill in the spaces in-between!  I have potted up a couple dozen Crape Myrtles (spawns from a prolific plant we moved last summer), about 18 Thornless Blackberries, 6 or so Nikko Blue Hydrangeas, about a dozen Gardenias & a couple of volunteer pine trees - ready to go in the ground or give away to family & friends!

Hubs is scoping Craigslist every day for anything we can use & our plan is to increase our raised bed from 4 to 12 and convert the existing to "wicking worm beds".
He's so excited about the ability to water the garden once a week & not waste any water!  Plus when adding the worms, they will create fertilizer from our own kitchen scraps (which we are now putting in the compost bin).  Worms work the beds, create castings, we put our food scraps in & the garden grows...  Next step is to build & set up the beds!  We'll post a few pix!  We also have to remove about 1/3 of our sod - we'll give this away...  The less to mow the better!

In our plans we will have blueberries, peaches, pears, apricots, figs, grapes, strawberries, cherries, kiwi, goji berry, raspberries, apples, blackberries!  We already have blackberries, grapes & blueberries which provide us with a great harvest every season.  We will also have a large cutting garden, a butterfly garden & climbing roses.

So far we have started our blackberries, grapes & have 3 well-established blueberry bushes.  We also have created a "tree garden" in the front side yard with pines, forsythia azaleas, a gardenia, crape myrtle & a small but establishing magnolia (volunteer from the neighbors HUGE magnolia)! 

We got FREE bricks from a Craigslist seller and started our bed borders.  The borders work well in this area since edging is a requirement with the type of grass we have - it trails & will get into the beds if you don't use some type of edging.  Since we started laying our beds out we had an unexpected loss - our brick fence that surrounds the back yard was damaged in a storm & we are currently on the list to get it repaired/replaced.  Our wonderful contractor is going to do the job (insurance is paying) but he is currently rebuilding a house for a couple - it burned to the ground.  I am happy to wait and grateful that we are not in that situation.  I'm sure our neighbors are ready to see the fence fixed or just torn down or something - but they have all been very patient.  Interestingly enough, my great husband is breaking the bricks out, pounding the mortar off and setting them up for us to use in our bed edges! 

So that's the story, thus far...  As we progress, I will post & show pix!