Carport + Patio


DIY Landscaping /

We’ve lived in this house for almost three years and have yet to touch the landscaping — Unless “landscaping” includes ripping up a dead bush in the front yard and taking down a small dying tree. We’ve had so much to do on the inside of the house that the landscaping has been put on the back burner. Eventually, we really want to have the front yard done by a pro (or at the very least get a consultation from one), but we thought it would be fun to try our hands at a little DIY landscaping in the back yard… where no one will see it if we royally mess up. All kidding aside, we just thought since we’re doing so much work to makeover the carport covered patio, part of the yard we’d be looking at while sitting back enjoying our new outdoor living area could use some sprucing up, too.

Yard Before /

Okay, some major sprucing up. To make the before photos even worse, this was taken right before the grass was cut. We decided to take baby steps and begin with just this back corner of our house, which also happens to be the biggest eyesore. Luckily, it’s small enough of an area to not be too overwhelming for our non-landscaper selves.

Here’s what it looks like from the side…

Yard Before / 7th House on the Left

To give you a reference point of where this is, that’s our bedroom window on the top left of the photo, and you can see the carport over on the right. If you look closely, you can also catch a glimpse of the sheetrock from the ceiling removal process – which is on its way to the dump in the very near future. Between the carport and these bushes is the aggregate patio.

Yard Before /

The most obvious dilemma is the biiiiiig bush that is choking out pretty much everything around it. Would you believe that we trim this unruly plant several times a year and it still manages to get that big? Not only is it (in decorating terms) “too big for the space”, it’s beginning to kill the bushes next to it. On top of the out-of-control plantlife, there’s not a defined bed of any sort, which makes everything look ultra messy.

After Greg and I got a good understanding of the area and made a mental list of the problems we wanted to address, we sat down and came up with a plan of action. Along with that plan, in typical 7th House fashion, came a diagram of the whole area. Here’s what we’re thinking…

DIY Landscaping /

1 // First up, we need to cut Sasquatch back so he doesn’t continue to choke all of the other shrubs around him. Once big guy is trimmed, we’ll move on to the other bushes and trim those back to give everything a more polished, separated look and help their overall health. Google searching starts now.

2 // Speaking of trimming, we have a tiny Japanese Maple in the midst of all the madness. We need to give it some attention by trimming it and the bushes under it bit so it will grow taller and healthier.

3 // To make everything pop, we’re going to excavate, lay down landscaping fabric and add a layer of black mulch. This is probably the thing we’re most excited about because we think it’s going to make a big difference.

4 // To define the mulch bed, we’re going to line it with landscaping edging – something really simple like this. Like the mulch, we’re thinking this will make a big difference looks-wise and also help keep the mulch where it’s supposed to be.

5 // Next to the mulch bed, we’re going to add a small bed of pea gravel in front of the door to the crawl space (I call it the Keebler Elf door). This will be less dirty than crawling through mulch and easier on the knees than pavers.

6 // Speaking of the Keebler Elf door, the door needs some help. Right now, it’s just a piece of metal leaning against the crawl space opening. It needs some sanding action, a coat of paint and some sort of handle or latch.

So, how’s that for a baby step plan? We’re going to be tackling this to-do list over the next few days and report back after the weekend to give you all the 411 on how everything went, along with a step-by-step of what we did. Hopefully, we won’t have to rip everything out and start over. We’re not expecting the end result to look like Yard Crashers pulled up and made it awesome, but anything will be an improvement, that’s for sure. Sasquatch, out.

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  • Reply
    July 18, 2013 at 9:55 am

    Good luck. We continue to add landscaping to our house every year we live here, a litte at a time. We had a very similar (if not identical) overgrown bush and after cutting it back, we decided to rip it all out. Vines were growing inside of it and it was in the way for a future garden entrance and new sidewalk. I think a good way to get ideas is to walk around the neighborhood or town. And you’re right, mulch changes everything! It’s like the icing on the cake. Have fun!

  • Reply
    July 18, 2013 at 10:16 am

    AHHH!!! Don’t use landscape fabric. We spent hours upon hours removing it from the beds in the house we bought. The weeds grow on top of it and through it and it becomes a nightmare. A good, thick layer of mulch will keep the weeds at bay and improve your soil.

    • Reply
      July 18, 2013 at 11:19 am

      Ewww, good thing to keep in mind!

  • Reply
    July 18, 2013 at 11:21 am

    It’s so hard to get motivated and deal with the exterior. Since I park in the garage, I hardly ever see the outside of our new house, but it totally needs work. The wood siding is brown with darker brown trim, we have a dead bush, and really empty mulch beds that are begging for some hydrangea bushes. But unfortunately, we’ve already hit our move-in budget buying furniture and such for the inside of the house. We’ve only been here a month, so I’m thinking we’ll be in a similar situation as you guys, tackling the outside once we’ve settled in for a couple of years.

  • Reply
    July 18, 2013 at 11:59 am

    We were told by the owner of a nursery/landscape company (whose own yard happens to be amazing) that the best way to edge a bed is 1. Layout a hose to mark the edge of the bed 2. Drive wooden stakes along the edge of the hose you laid out (about 3 ft. apart) 3. Dig a narrow trench along the outside edge of the stakes to fit the black plastic edging into, making sure that the rounded part of the edging just covers the wooden stakes 4. screw the black plastic edging to the wooden stakes 5. backfill along the stakes and plant! We used this method in our yard Over 10 years ago for a flowerbed/mixed border that is over 200 ft. long and we have not had 1 speck of grass growing into our beds and no frost heaving of the edging. Best method ever! Just make sure that the black plastic edging is at least 6 inches tall in order to keep the grass rhizomes from growing under the edging. Whew, sorry for the novel!!!

    • Reply
      July 18, 2013 at 12:04 pm

      Yep, we used the hose trick and it really worked. Thanks so much for the tips!
      Oh my goodness, over 200ft?! Wow!

  • Reply
    July 18, 2013 at 12:48 pm

    Please don’t use dyed mulch! It will leach all sorts of toxins into your soil.
    And to beat a dead horse, here is the complete argument about landscape fabric.
    Good luck, I love gardening. I’m never as happy as I am with dirty hands and shoes!

    • Reply
      July 18, 2013 at 12:55 pm

      We’re total newbies at this, so we appreciate the help! : )

  • Reply
    July 18, 2013 at 2:41 pm

    A quick note about mulch for you….make sure you read the bag because I noticed now they put chemicals in some of the mulch to kill weeds!!!! Who knew???

    • Reply
      July 18, 2013 at 2:44 pm

      Why can’t they just keep it natural and simple?! haha
      Thanks for the heads up!

  • Reply
    [email protected]_Brooklyn_Fig
    July 18, 2013 at 4:54 pm

    We’ve lived in our first house for 7 months and it makes me so relieved to hear you’ve been there longer and haven’t worked much on the landscaping. Our landscaping is a nightmare! It’s definitely just a ton of overgrown bushes, too many bushes, some dead bushes. Can you tell there’s a lot of bushes?! I’d love to know what you used to create that diagram, because our house certainly needs a plan!

    • Reply
      July 18, 2013 at 5:00 pm

      Haha, I feel your pain!
      I used Illustrator to create the diagram. It can easily be done in Photoshop too. Hope that helps!

  • Reply
    July 18, 2013 at 9:34 pm

    Um, winners here, we didn’t tackle our landscaping until we had lived here 5 years! :/ oh well, we’ve got a great start on it now because we did a consultation with a landscape designer. We found her through a local nursery, I just asked if they had anyone who could help us with our design and they hooked us up (and now we get 10% off there every time we buy something that’s for our plan). For about $200 she spent an hour or two with us and gave us a great starting point. We didn’t splurge on the sketches, so they’re just the one she quickly did in pencil while we walked around the house, but they’re a great starting point for us.
    We still are learning about what looks good and what doesn’t, and we’re still slowly working on the landscape when we have time, but we think we’ve saved a ton so far doing it this way.
    All that for me to say that I highly recommend doing a consultation with a professional! Good luck!

    • Reply
      July 18, 2013 at 10:13 pm

      Good to know!

  • Reply
    [email protected] Houses Big Dogs
    July 21, 2013 at 11:15 am

    I like the baby steps! Can’t wait to see the updates! Quick question/suggestion? What about putting down a few pieces of flagstone along the landscape edging to hide it? It helps create a small path since you’ll probably need to walk through the area or around it more frequently to water or weed? Especially if you are in a rainy area and the grass can get mucky. You can mow over the flagstone if they are sunken down/leveled with the grass. (Just cut out a few pieces of sod) Sorry, I just love landscaping, I may not be the best decorator but love to play in the dirt.

    • Reply
      July 21, 2013 at 3:17 pm

      Great idea! Thanks so much for the tip!

  • Reply
    August 2, 2013 at 5:42 pm

    Don’t feel so bad guys, it took my wife and I 7 yrs. before we even thought about doing any serious landscaping outside of mowing the lawn trimming some bushes! Now that we’re retired we can now spent time together doing what needs to be done. Hope we don’t get on each others nerves.

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