Back Yard Grievances

Our back yard rarely makes an appearance, with good reason.  We haven’t done a lot of work to this space.  And we don’t like how it looks.  But, this is what we’re working with:

Before I start my backyard tirade, let’s note the positive, shall we?  Our yard is very open, especially compared to other homes in our ‘hood.  The yard is completely fenced in, we have a patio to entertain on, and plenty of trees, most of which are a fruit variety. 

Now, onto the picture riddled rant.  When you walk out the backdoor, you’re greeted by hoses, toys and an old rug.  Ben and I are always switching between the two.  He hates this one, so he always tosses it. 

You’ll also notice there is no barrier keeping the rocks from spewing all over the patio.  This is because the previous owners constructed brick planters against the house.  The planters started falling apart, so we yanked those out, but the concrete extends to the previously pavered area, so we poured rock in to cover that.  Now it drives me crazy.

Continue to walk along the uneven patio, until you’ve reached this odd mostly paver filled 4 foot square area.  I am told this had a water feature before Ben tore it apart.

To get to the garage, walk around a trash can, which is now filled with dirt and grass clumps.  You can’t really tell, but a small brick paver path leads from the patio to the garage.  Because the grass is taller than the brick, the walkway is always dirty and covered over.

Then, you’ll notice our giant wood pile with a large, dead, grassless area.  Great for dogs.

Though, this isn’t as bad as it once was.  In April 2006, shortly after Ben proposed, I flew out to visit.  The wood pile was much larger (keep in mind the house extends about 4 feet beyond the garage), and the rest of the backyard was much shabbier, then.

Now do you see why the grass is dead in this area?  The pine tree was much smaller, we had a random group of honey locust trees (which had huge thorns), and the old fencing.  Yikes, I had forgotten just how bad this looked until now. 

Technically this next annoyance isn’t part of the back yard.  Rather, the north side (left if you’re looking at the house from the street) is covered with mold specks because the siding never gets direct sun light. 

 I think a quick wash with a very watered bleach solution should do the trick.  Or do you know of a more eco-friendly solution? 

Other annoyances?  Having two grills.  I’m a vegetarian, so I don’t really care about the benefit of charcoal over gas.  And, if you look closely, behind said grills, is a dog house.  Also, the south side fencing is still chain link because we have to dig out a concrete post.  The north side fence is installed, but not stained and we have half of a hollow core door as a gate.  Can you say, “Redneck”?  And the Ash tree by the patio has to go.  I’m trying to talk Ben into two smaller, symmetrically placed fruit trees along with hydrangeas.  The problem?  I have a black thumb.  Scratch that, I don’t even have a gardening thumb, so Ben knows he’ll be the one taking care of the plants.   

All of this to say, I think we’re finally going to do something about this!  Talk of a poured concrete patio (and my dream of a pergola) has been going on in our humble abode.  Nothing is set in stone (pun intended), but we’re really hoping to have the time and weather to tackle this.  Sooner than later. 

Any suggestions for an eco-friendly, scrub-free, mold-kicking solution?  Or easy-to-care-for part-shade plants?  Yes, I tried to use as many hyphenated descriptions as I could.  Are you planning a patio?  Or any other outdoor sprucing?

12 thoughts on “Back Yard Grievances

  1. Rent a “hot water” pressure washer to clean the siding and you don’t have to use chemicals.

  2. Do you heat with wood?

    And as for plants. I have no idea, maybe a cactus I hear they are hearty haha. I bet my thumb is as black as yours. This year we are putting in a small garden and I have been told not to even look at it because I might kill the growing vegetables.

    1. Sam, That’s a great idea! Ben has a pressure washer at work. I wonder if we can hook it up?

      Shawna, Before we installed the geothermal, we strictly used our wood burning fireplace to heat our house, except when we were on vacation and then we used the ineffecient furnace. Yep, sounds like we’re int he same boat. Haha.

      Andrea, I’ll look into the cleanser. Hopefully something will work.

  3. Don’t use bleach on the siding. . . it is not good for killing all types of mold. You should get a housewash product specificially for mold and mildew and vinyl siding. I am pretty sure they make some that are even ecofriendly.

  4. For shady areas, I really like hostas. I also have had a lot of luck with euphorbia– they come in all kinds of variations and are going gangbusters in my yard. For ground covers, I think pachysandra is pretty, but it take a couple years to fill in. I also really like liriope because it can take a lot of abuse from my dogs. None of these require any attention aside from the occasional watering. I would steer clear of hydrangeas, as they can be fickle and it can be hard to get them to bloom. I love lilacs, but I am not sure how they do in your area.

    1. Cait,

      I love hostas, too but our backyard gets a lot of sun. Thanks for the other suggestions, too. I’ll have to look into those. As for lilacs, they grow well here, but Ben doesn’t like how scraggly they can look, but I would love to have lilacs. Hydrangeas are just so pretty, I wish they would work, but you might be right about the difficulty. Boo to that. Hah!


  5. I’ve had great luck with Simple Green. It’s available just about anywhere. I see on their website they have a wash concentrate for siding. It’s non-toxic and biodegradeable. Hope this helps!

    1. Dearmolly, thanks for the great tips! I didn’t know oil of cloves could kill mold.

  6. Hi, just wandered over from your link in the comments at YHL.

    I plan to plant hydrangeas this year as well. As long as you plant them in a good spot and pick the right variety for your climate, they’re easy. We never did much to the ones at my parents’ house. I’m all about easy care plants, like hostas, ferns, daylilies, and various bulbs. As for part shade, you could try heuchera.

    Also, oil of cloves does make sense to me, since they used it to pack my gums to kill the infection I got after my wisdom teeth were removed. Probably more expensive than other cleansers, though.

  7. Hi I know you posted his yesterday, I think lol but a suggestion for ego friendly mold killing on the side of your house is sol-u-mel. Its a melaleuca product. If you know of someone who orders you can just tacck onto their order for the month. If you don’t know of anyone go heck out their website, great ego friendly products. Good luck! I love reading your blogs!

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