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I guess I’m lucky that I liked the yard

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POSTED February 25, 2009 4:16 a.m.
I am either completely crazy or crazy like a fox.

How else do you explain someone who has just dug up his entire front yard and replaced it with 101 shrubs, roses, or trees?

Folks who know me understand this is nothing. At the last house I planted 171 rose bushes plus had close to 600 other shrubs and trees. The neighbors referred to it as the Winchester Mystery House yard.

I bought the house where I’m at now for four reasons – it was a solidly built California-style flat top, it had hardwood floors with stunning windows, it was a great neighborhood, and I liked the yard.

Lucky for me I liked the yard. I can only imagine what I would have done if I didn’t like the yard. I’ve removed six trees, ripped out three dozen shrubs, got rid of ivy that seemed to be all over the place, removed two flower beds and removed the entire front-yard lawn. Other than that I liked the yard.

What made this yard different than anything I dealt with before are three huge trees that shade virtually the entire front yard plus a ton of top soil the original owner brought in. It created potential for what I hope will end up being a killer shade garden.

One neighbor -John Alves – is correct in that it will take less water than the lawn. It also means I don’t have to cut a lawn. I’m not saying I despise lawns but I’ve never been able to get them to look right no matter what I did. Call it the curse of Manteca-style Bermuda. Call it lawn grubs. What didn’t make sense to me ultimately was the fact I don’t use the front lawn for anything but to look at. So why should I have something to look at that is about as interesting as a six-lane freeway?

Besides, what other excuse would I have to drop by New Bud’s Nursery or Orchard Supply Hardware more often than I grocery shop at Save Mart?

You’re probably asking yourself what am I’m doing with the 80 plus wheelbarrow loads of grass and dirt that I’ve removed from the front yard. My Dalmatians seem to think I did it to make a giant mound for them to play on in the back yard.

My back yard happens to be much larger than my front yard. This is not a good thing for two reasons. One, it has a huge cement slab in the far corner that part of it once served for an out building I’ve torn down. Two, I can obviously squeeze more than 100 plants and trees back there and still have plenty of room for the dogs to frolic.

It will require me, of course, to remove all concrete I find offensive which is virtually everything in the backyard except for the patio. Once I do that, the dirt from the front yard should fill the area that once was the slab.

One thing I’ve discovered in removing two flower beds and a sidewalk in front is the fact cement must have been dirt cheap in the 1950s which explains why it was poured twice as thick as it is today.

The concrete is the part that really makes me seem crazy. I’m taking it all by hand. More than one person has suggested I rent a jack hammer but what’s the fun in that? It may take me a good part of the rest of the year to get it all out and then dispose of it, but I guarantee you it’ll be pure entertainment. There’s something rewarding – even if it sounds warped – about attacking such a project with a sledge hammer and a crowbar from start to finish. It is as much fun as I have cutting down trees and taking out tree trunks and roots. If I did it for a living I wouldn’t think it was either fun or relaxing. Besides, it gives me plenty of time to think how I’m going to replace the concrete with plants and/or trees.

So am I crazy? Yes, although being crazy about making your home and yard yours seems pretty sane to me.

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