yard progress

We have been tackling some yard projects in our spare time, and between rain storms. The first area of focus has been the lower front/side yard. It is off the daylight basement, but very visible from our driveway. Here is a photo of what it looked like before we started any work:

This is a layout I drew on floorplanner.com. It's pretty rough, but it gives you an idea of the layout I am planning.

1)  The deck: This drawing shows that it juts out in front, but we have ruled out changing the shape. We were originally planning to redeck it with TREX, but at something over $35/board, we are really intrigued with a new option—a paint product called Restore. Has anyone used it?

2) The concrete planters were totally overgrown. So we completely dug them out. 

We still need to add some better soil and amend what is there, and then I intend to have some fun with planting a variety of bulb flowers and perennials. It is a contained area that shouldn't be too hard to water and weed regularly. 

3) The voles (like a large mouse) attacked our liliacs through the winter and chewed around all the stems, rendering what last year was lush green bushes to lifeless twigs. I couldn't believe the damage the could do in one year. I've heard it is because we had so much snow cover for so long over the winter. We mowed the bushes completely down to the ground this year, in hopes that they will grow back completely. They won't flower for about 3 years now. 


4) On the hillside below the lilacs and also on the other side of the yard, we will be edging and laying gravel to ease mowing. I am going to do some good dry-weather hardy plants and rock landscaping also. I have over 300 feet of edging to install before I can start planting though. Wish me luck.

5) And last but most definitely not least, the swing set. 

We purchased it quite awhile ago (from Costco) and had it delivered, where it sat in a crate in our yard for several weeks.

I marked out the area for the swing set with a hose (and then marking spray paint), and finally on a rainy afternoon Tom had a chance to dig out the sod with the backhoe.

The actual construction of the swing set drug out over a few more weeks, as we only had a chance to work on it for a few minutes here and there. We had it about half done before we left on our trip to Western Montana last weekend. When we returned and woke up the next morning, we discovered that the swing set fairies had paid us a visit while we were away and had finished it up! It wasn't too hard to figure out that the swing set fairies wore boots and Wranglers instead of wings (OK, maybe not Wranglers) and were none other than my cousins Rob and Brian. (Rob is working for us for the summer and Brian just moved in down the road.) They absolutely made our week. The girl's eyes lit up when they saw it and they have clocked a ton of playing hours on it this week.

With some muscle help from my Uncle Lloyd and babysitting help from my Mom, we have been making even more progress with the edging, weed fabric, and rubber mulch. The reveal is coming soon!