We decided that we could do the earth a solid and use a 50 gallon rain barrel to help water our yard and garden. Fortunately there is a $50 tax credit here in Wisconsin for purchasing just such a barrel, so when I saw one advertised on Woot.com for $80 (that retailed on other sites for around $150) I thought it wouldn’t hurt to give it a try (so final cost of barrel = $30). We decided to put it on the SouthEast corner of the house at the top of a sloping side-yard. The following pictures show the evolution of this portion of the yard.
When we purchased the house there was a tree growing there near the corner, and weeds lined the front and south sides of the house. There was also a tree growing right up against the house, scraping shingles off our roof and the roots were pushing into the foundation. At the same time there was a large bush that took over the SW corner and the weeds had gotten completely out of control.
So we started (summer 2013) by clearing all that stuff out. I borrowed a chainsaw to take down the tree and then used pruning sheers to clear back the weeds. Prior to the purge we took a three week vacation and the weeds came back with a vengeance (see below).
Part of the problem with the “weeds” is that the previous owners had planted several lilac bushes along the side and the roots had spread to fill the entire side even though there was no organization for the “plants” above. So we couldn’t solve this problem by simply cutting back the weeds, we had to get at the roots many of which went very deep.
By the end of the summer we had enough “cutting” projects that we bartered with a local tree removal company and had two trees, a large bush, and the roots for several other trees and bushes ground up (Cost = $250). That included this side of the house with all the remaining lilac roots.
With it all cleared out (see below) we were able to then put in a small vegetable garden on the side of the house (tomatoes, cucumbers, punkins) and start landscaping the SE corner. I also planted grass in all the places where we didn’t have a garden.
Finally, we decided to pull up the garden and grass along the immediate side of the house in favor of mulch so that the plants would have room to sprawl and we wouldn’t have to worry about cutting the grass underneath it. I then hardscaped the SE corner with some bricks from the Home Depot (approximately 30 bricks at $1/each = $30). We used some bricks we had gotten for free off Craiglist as a landing plate for the water barrel and used them to divert run off water back into the garden.
So here’s the before and after: