Backyard Part One: The Dig

First of all, lets take a quick trip through memory lane.

This is our house when we made our offer April 2009. Pretty nice, at first glance.

But then by the time we got our keys: ack! IVY! and ack! Locust trees! Really, there were a lot of out of control things encroaching on the space. We could do so much more. So we had some helpers over to get rid of the ivy and we paid to have the tree removed.

Here is the yard March 2010. At this point I started to freak out that we had created a desolate wasteland, but really, it was just a blank canvas.


While we still had massive amounts of firewood to deal with, the next goal was to move forward simultaneously with three things: Planting a slim bed against the house to give a flowery backdrop for our new patio, Start digging a depression for the patio itself, and Place the raised beds to make best efficiency of the removed dirt.

In order to make the most level patio we could, we would have a total assembly of about 6″ to match up to the level of the grass. 2″ concrete paver, 1″ fine sand, 2″ quarter-minus crushed rock. So, we needed to remove 6″ x 200+ s.f and while making a space for the patio, we’d also have all the fill we needed for our new raised beds. Sweet! Paying for dirt is a sort of demoralizing experience, so we’re glad we were able to just amend what we had.

The bed against the house went in pretty easy. We basically just had to till a swatch approx 24″ wide and create a border with stones we found around the yard (someone thought it was fun to bury giant rocks once upon a time!).

Just the beginning
Filled, first plants, and mulch (leftover from the locust stump)

Next, we built a couple of the beds (more on these in a second post), got them placed in their spots, and begun to dig, sift the soil, and mix with equal parts compost to achieve a nutritious well draining mix for both veggies and flowers.

The digging was, well, tougher than expected. Because of the way locust trees propagate (sending runners from the roots), it looks like our entire backyard is crisscrossed with roots. Some as big as 4″ in diameter. Since the tree is dead and gone, it was no problem to cut all the roots out, but you had to stop shoveling about every 3 minutes to remove a root and then moved on.

So, we dug, and dug, and sifted, and managed to fill all 4 beds well before we had completed the excavation. Then finally, we had achieved a pad approx 6″ below the finish grade. Huzzah!

ready for graveL!

Ready and waiting for gravel and sand delivery, paver pick up, and the heavy lifting!

In the meantime, other parts of the yard were actually looking nice (and not like a giant mudpit!). Here’s proof:

Hostas and the Hellebore
This bed is starting to fill out
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4 thoughts on “Backyard Part One: The Dig

  1. Kudos to you guys. That looks like one heck of a project that you’ve been working on! But it is looking amazing. And your hostas are clearly loving the space. Can’t wait to see more pictures!!

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