In which I need to do Pilates just to go grocery shopping
I'm sorry Future Jack, but this story must be written down

Let us put on our Backyard Thinking Caps

There was sunshine today! Lots of it! I know the rest of you are buried under forty-seven feet of snow, but I think a Seattleite gets to gleefully clap about sunshine whenever she gets the opportunity, regardless of the rest of the country's misery. SO THERE. 

It was cold, but Jack and I have been SO. BORED. in the afternoons and we spent Hour Three of Molly's nap outside in the dirt. I wielded the big shovel and Jack wielded his plastic yellow Fisher Price shovel and together we dug out the tigerlily sprouts from the layer of weeds and leaves and last year's yard refuse. 

I was out there for a long time, digging and scraping and raking and trying to figure out what we're going to DO with this backyard in the spring. Then I gave up and went to the front yard to dig out THOSE tigerlily sprouts and it occurred to me I probably should have raked leaves this fall. Oops. I raked a lot (though you'd never notice) to the side of the fence, and now I am sitting inside watching out the window as Jack and Molly pick up handfuls of leaves and throw them straight into the air. It's like picking up all the Legos after dinner, only to have the preschooler INSIST on playing with them right before bedtime. 

I am feeling Torn all over again about the yard. I loved living here in the spring - being able to see the kids playing outside from nearly any point in the house, the multiple places to play, the completely fenced in yard, all the different plants, actually using our patio furniture, oh and stringing up the tiny lanterns I bought on sale at World Market last summer. I LOVED having an outdoor space we could actually use. And I'm feeling like we'll be waiting to while to buy a house, like maybe we'll find a few we like this spring and then wait to see if prices drop. (A GIRL CAN DREAM.) And it has flaws, but I like this house and I can definitely see all sorts of silver linings to living here another spring and summer. (Preferably not another fall/winter. The heating bill about killed me when I opened it last week.) 


Photo (13)

This is the part that confuses me. I took this picture with my back to the house. That half-dead looking thing is a very cute Japanese maple in the spring, and it's the only thing I am not allowed to move and/or kill. Not that I would (even though it's in sort of a strange place.) To the right of the maple is a rose bush (not that you can see it). And then along the stone wall and fence on the left side is the row of tigerlilies. These are really pretty until they bloom, they then look nice for all of one day, then straggly and half-dead. No like. But I won't be killing/moving those either. That doesn't seem very nice. Oh, and this is also the part of the patio where we put our outdoor furniture. I had sunflowers along the edge (Jack's seeds grew!) but that was also an awkward planting spot and we won't be doing that again. I strung the lights from the house to the maple to an evergreen you can't see - it was awesome. 

But BEHIND the maple...

Photo (14)


I laid out all my tomato stakes to see if I wanted to do a garden again. So I would mulch over everything that isn't in that little square. But. That's what I did last year and it was SUCH A PAIN. When we moved in this entire area was covered in bark and I spent an entire day scraping it off to make room for my garden. And my garden was lovely until the weeds went wild. I like weeding, I really do, but I could not keep up. I don't think this yard has been weeded in a hundred years. I don't know how many times I ended up just scraping off the top layer of dirt and piling it up in the corner because of the weeds. The weeds killed almost everything except the tomatoes, which were killed by aphids. IT WAS AWESOME.

So no garden! Except. That seems SAD. I LIKE having a garden! I am not particularly GOOD at gardening, but I ENJOY it. 

But I am not doing that weeding again. I am not going to spend another spring and summer embarrassed and upset with myself because I can't maintain my tiny little garden. I am now considering CONTAINERS, which feels 1) more manageable and 2) smarter as a renter who may or may not be moving soon. But I still want to do something with that space. I think something kid-friendly because I also spent all last year yelling at the kids to stay out of the garden. 

I can mulch over the entire thing and then just let the kids play up there. I'll be able to control the weeds, and we can put up the cardboard playhouse or the wading pool or whatever in that spot. Or I can just put bark around the flowers and plants and leave the garden space open for kids to dig and be crazy. Or I can do nothing. All that fixing up is not cheap, after all, and I MAY OR MAY NOT BE MOVING!

I think the cost of bark is worth it to me though. Even though I have to buy a TON of it (for the back yard, the sides AND the front yard) it makes everything look so much nicer and I wouldn't feel like a total Yard Maintenance Failure every time I looked out the window. For those of you wondering, I did kind of sort of bring this up in a conversation with the landlady... just kind of asking what she'd like me to do with certain areas of the yard and what my thoughts/options were, giving her plenty of room to say "OH WE'LL TAKE THE COST OF YARD MAINTENANCE OUT OF YOUR RENT!" But alas, she did not offer it. 

Oh, I could also grow GRASS there, which is what I think I would do if I owned the house - or do some serious gardening and/or weed destruction - but then we would have to mow it and we don't have a mower. (Or a place to rent a mower which is what we did in the old house!) We DO have grass in the front yard, but the landlord sends a mowing service to do that. I'm pretty sure EXTRA grass costs EXTRA and I just don't want to deal with that conversation. LA LA LA!

THOUGHTS? What would you do with this space? Could I put my containers out there? It's just sort of... AWKWARD. 



I would obviously have a huge ass garden.
If not that, then grass, because I hate bark dust (mulch to you?) and it gets tracked all over and it is annoying.
One thing to try is that if you plant everything in your garden and then put down a thick layer of nice quality hay (not the crappy kind full of seeds,etc) around the plants it will keep the weeds down.


It's only February and in the good ol Midwest we can't even think about gardening outdoors until Memorial Day - that would be the end of MAY.
That said, containers are a splendid idea for flowers and veggies. I would not suggest anything labor intensive for re-do of weedy garden plot since you are renting and actively searching to buy. unless, you come up with the idea of the century or the owner is willing to give you a break on your rent comparable to you landscaping expenses. FYI - asking permission first and then submitting receipts can work in your favor.

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