Before (What we had summer 2013)
When we moved into “Claribell Manor” (we haven’t decided on a name for the house yet), the north side of the house was overgrown with lilac bushes/trees and tree shoots/sprouts/suckers from the lilacs and various other trees. In total we had seven mature trees growing on the north side of the house. Two of the pine trees were dead but the other five were in great shape. There was a chain link fence for half the fence line and a break where presumably the previous owners once had a 16 foot gate. There was no grass on the north side and whatever earth wasn’t filled with tree sprouts was filled with either weeks or sand. Although there is/was 18 feet between the garage and the fence there was only about 3-4 feet of walking room because the shooters were so overgrown.
The Goal (Summer 2018)
We plan to keep most of our trees… they are beautiful year-round with gorgeous leaves that produce A LOT of shade. So the north side will continue to be in mostly shade, so I want to build a shade garden. It will start at our pine tree and go back to the back of the garage where a privacy fence will start.
Step 1: Clear out the tree sprouts. When we first moved in we simply cut everything back… and quickly decided that we really really need to get a trailer and/or truck. During that first summer I borrowed a pickup truck from a friend and took at least 20 trips to the compost pile to dispose of whatever I had trimmed off that week. Then I let a large pile accumulate and hired some teenage boys to bring their trailer and haul away our monster pile. That was $200 well spent.
Step 2: Get rid of the extra (and dead) mature trees. We had one obvious removal (a dead pinetree) but there are 2-3 other trees that we could potentially get rid of as well (to increase space in the side and back yards). Once the bushes were gone it was easier access to the pine tree and I possibly could have chopped it down myself, but it made me nervous since it was close to the house and big. One day a tree removal company was in the neighborhood and saw me out working in the yard. They asked if I had any projects they could help me with. I explained I had plenty (“just look around”) but that I didn’t have the money to pay them. They told me about their wonderful we’ll-do-tons-of-billable-work-for-you-now, bill-you-later promotion and I explained that we didn’t work that way but I may contact in the spring if we had more money then. He asked what my highest priorities were and I explained the pine tree, the lilac bush roots, and the big bush in the backyard. He told me “since they were in the neighborhood” he could do all of that for a mere $600. I reiterated that we didn’t have the money and he countered with $450. I said no and he drove away… only to come back around ten minutes later with a $175 offer. SOLD! Tree gone.
Step 3: Till and level
Step 4: Plant
Step 5: Hardscaping
What we have so far