Our Big Backyard

The title of this post is misleading. We don’t really HAVE a backyard– just a half acre of large front and side yards! There is so much to do, as there was almost NOTHING here when we arrived.

I sculpted the garden beds near the garage and front walkway a while ago. They’re still doing quite well, although I need to buy another $5 bag of bark.

Valle side bushes 1

An astute observer will note that the sunflowers are quite gone– there wasn’t quite enough SUN for them to flower. We have a lot of shade on this side of the house, which is actually quite advantageous, since we haven’t needed our a/c even ONCE so far! Even when it’s 105 outside (we had one or two days in May), the downstairs is so chilly that you almost need a sweater!

On this same side of the house, we have a few hillsides. These have been quite a chore, and the work isn’t even halfway done. The soil is pretty tough and rocky, so putting in these privacy bushes (drought resistant, since we don’t have sprinklers) made me so sore that I couldn’t move for a few days!

For reference, the sculpted beds I made are up where that basketball hoop is. You know, just in case you are feeling super-stalkerish and trying to picture the layout of our yard.

Valle hillside 2

I only added 5 here to see how they’d do. I’m hoping to add about 10 more, extending to the left where we have a set of wooden stairs. But at $5/each, this is a project that will wait for later!

Here is a picture of even MORE hillside as you come up our driveway. Our MESSY garage (makeover coming sometime next week!) is up on the right. Our plan  for this area is to plant more vinca groundcover. There’s tons of it to the left, the deer hate it, and I think it’s pretty! A shipment is arriving any day now. It MIGHT be enough to cover this area. We’ll see. Fingers crossed. Also, the kids toys are getting moved to the other side of the house. In case you wondered. Eventually, this side will be a stone garden of sorts, with a trellis and fountain! I’m calling it the “Adult Yard”.

Valle hillside 1

Down below these hillsides is our second driveway, where guests park. We triple parked around 10 cars here when I had my piano recital! It needs some repair work, so I have already applied for a free estimate (find more here if you also want to keep your driveway in good condition). You can also see the first set of deck stairs I was talking about. We managed to explore Hanover-Powerwashing.com and it seems to be rather easy to keep your house exterior and deck clean if you hire professional powerwashing service.

Valle driveway
While I was taking these pictures, a lone deer (usually we see them in herds of 3-6) darted right past me and onto the neighbor’s driveway. I’m not kidding when I say that we have a HUGE deer problem over here!
Valle driveway deer
Now we move on to the crazier side of the house. This entire side will be fenced in, eventually. In other words, we’ve bought the fencing and posts, we’re just waiting for the school year to end so we can put it up! We picked up a quality fence at DatsonFence.com. If you are wondering in what ball-park the costs of such a fence is, check out the Critterfence guidelines, this gives you some insight on the costs for an anti-deer fence. After the fence is all finished, we are hoping to make this lawn thicker for the boys to play on. I’m also trying to score more play equipment, but Craigslist as has not been kind to me in this regard.
Valle Kid Side of yard

To the left of the steps as you enter this part of the yard is a barren ugly hillside, with our second set of deck stairs coming up from the guest driveway. My plan, once the fence is up, is to build a retaining wall here and make a flower bed out of it. My plant selection is limited, however, because this is RIGHT where the deer love to hang out!

Valle hillside 3

As you walk down the path, I planted some lavender to the right, up next to the house. There were massive weeds here prior, so I’d say this is an improvement!

Valle side yard lavender

We also found some previously planted mint here! It smells amazing and we’ve already made a few batches of tea from it.

Valle side bed mint

This side of the house I’m calling the “Kid Yard”, even though I have my garden beds here. Now that we’ve had to deer proof them, I think they’re safe from the kids as well.

Speaking of garden beds, we’ve had a bit of a saga concerning these.

Round 1: Originally, I had grown a bunch of seedlings on my window sill. Once Jesse had the deer netting up on the first bed, I planted them all. Sadly, the deer laughed at our little attempt, tore down the deer netting, and ate EVERYTHING. They even left a hoof print in the middle of the bed for me to find, as though they were signing their name to the destruction!

I had also seeded the second bed that didn’t have deer netting yet, and they dug through that too! I figured all was lost. Or so I thought….

Round 2: Jesse and Norm came back with a second idea– two more sets of PVC pipe, and chicken wire with a little door on side so that I can access things. It’s worked beautifully for the past month.

Valle garden beds June

The catch? It’s too expensive to buy 10-15 new plants already grown, so I seeded things…again. Will they be big enough for harvest this year since I’m getting such a late start? Who knows.

And apparently some of the seeds from the last round survived! So now I have NO IDEA what’s growing where, and multiple things sprouting in tight bunches. I probably won’t know what things are until they have fruit!

Valle garden beds June 2

Next up, we have the blank field/yard to the right of the garden beds. This will eventually be our chicken coop/run. Or a playground. Or a chicken playground. Who knows.

Valle chicken coop area

Well, now you know what we’ve been up to for the past couple months! There’s so much to do,  it’s a bit daunting at times. But it’s also amazing and wonderful. Having so many projects to do is fun and brings a bit of hope to each day. How can we make our house even better? I get to ask. It’s such a fun change from renting, where my first concern was always about how to get what I want without it being too permanent. It’s also nice to know we have a return investment waiting for us after all this hard work!
And, in case you wanted to see something super-daunting…I only showed you HALF of our yard. We have NO CLUE what to do with this bottom 1/4 acre….anyone want to build a 2nd house? Or should we get some goats?
Valle front hill
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