front -before

Front of the house before we backfilled the dirt

This summer we took our house projects outside and kept busy landscaping. Last fall we took out the random plants that were sporadically placed around the house, with the plan of back-filling around the house and adding trim, woodchips, and plants.side - before

back - before






The project started over my spring break when we had a few yards of dirt delivered. I shoveled most all of the dirt around the house as a surprise for J before he got home from work.

A week later we laid edging around the entire house and began planning what we would plant over Memorial Day weekend. back - bricks2 front edge side bricks - 2




We started planting in the front yard, where we put (from left to right) a Husker’s Red Penstemon, Spreading Yew, Small Burning Bush, Yellow-Twig Dogwood, and Service Berry.  They are all pretty small now, but some will be almost 8′ tall, so we need to be patient for them to grow. We put wood chips down around the plants to finish things off.












After we did the front yard plants we moved to the side of the house. I had 2 weeks off before I started my summer research project, so I spent a few days planting hostas; we purchased a large box of them from someone off Craigslist for only $5. I didn’t get a chance to take any pictures, so I’ll update it next year.  Our next project was the garden, which I have already posted about here. In early July J went up north with the guys and I decided to try to work on the back of the house. My aunt had extra mums and flowers around her house that she was going to throw away. Despite the drought we were having, I figured I would at least try to plant them. The worst case scenario is that they die and we start over next year. I spent 2 days digging up the horrible weedy dirt, planting these flowers, and laying down wood chips. I am pretty pleased with the results.


In the back of the bottom picture you can see our clothes line that we put in as well. I have been wanting a clothes line since we moved in, so I was really excited when we finally committed to digging the holes this summer. My dad has an old-school post-hole digger we borrowed. I actually liked digging the holes (since I only had to do 2) and ended up putting most of the clothesline in myself.








After reading this you are probably wondering what J was up to all of this time – don’t worry, I was keeping him busy. Our biggest project was to build a pergola in the back corner of the yard.Originally, we wanted to put in a patio, but after learning it would cost more than $1000 to get a simple concrete patio, we figured we could save some money and put in a nice seating area in the back. Thanks to pinterest, I got some great ideas and designed a corner pergola.

My timing wasn’t the greatest, as we ended up putting it in over the 4th of July weekend – probably the hottest and driest weekend of the year. We started at 7:30am, but it was already in the 90s and humid by 11am. Needless to say, we got it done by the end of the weekend and are loving the results.

Backyard with our new pergola and garden

Backyard with our new pergola and garden

Corner Pergola

Corner Pergola

While J was up north with the guys, I planted two honeysuckle plants to grow up the sides of the Pergola. This year didn’t go that well for them, but Schmalz has a 1 year warranty, so if they don’t grow back in the spring we’ll get some new ones to try out.









It has been great seeing how much different the yard can look with a little elbow grease. The best part of all was the price tag. Had we just done a patio and nothing else, it would have cost at least $1000. After everything was said and done, our total cost was only $651.


Here is the breakdown:


  • Untreated cedar wood for garden boxes and compost bin $127
  • Pergola lattice $46
  • Treated lumber for the pergola and post cement $65
  • Clothesline and cement $50
  • Hose reel $20
  • Edgers for garden $10

(all plants have a 1 year survival warranty)

  • 3 yards of dirt $30 (the rest covered by a gift card we had)
  • Front plants $143
  • Honeysuckle plants $34

Home Depot

  • Edgers $45


  • All-weather loveseat $75


  • Hostas for side of the house $5
  • Plants for backyard $0
  • Woodchips for the yard and the garden $1 (cost of yard waste permit to pick-up free woodchips from the village we live in)


We wanted to plan a landscaped garden in the backyard. We cut out a 12’x16′ section of sod (well, Jason did) but are only using four 4′ x 4′ plot for now. We made add more later. We also put in a compost bin, and plan to add some flowers for decoration – possibly marigolds to help keep the bunnies away.

J using the manual sod cutter – the guy at the hardware store thought he was crazy for doing this without the gas-powered cutter. J told him if he could magically get the gas one to fit into our sonata he would gladly take it. Needless to say he got a good workout in. This took about 2 hours. You can see our old-timer Reel Mower in this picture to.

Pre-wood chips and trim

Almost Done

Front Yard Update

We have been doing some work outside and wanted to post a few pictures to update you all on the progress. Over spring break I back-filled the front with a few yards of dirt, as it was sinking towards the house. Last weekend I put pavers for the border while J worked on the garden in the back. This weekend we planted a large periannual and 4 shrubs – Left to right: red husker penstemon, tauton’s yew (slow spreading), ruby hagg burning bush, varigated red twig dogwood, and serviceberry. They look small now but all of them but the penstemon will be over 4′ wide. We may plant a few annuals or other small plants to fill in for the time being, but this is what we have for now.




We have yet to landscape (that is a project for next year) but we did spend a little time updating the outside. The house seemed to be too light – there were white doors, white windows, and white gutters, and light gray siding. We thought it needed something to pop a bit. We had thought about shutters, but the windows are not a standard size and there isn’t much space between them for shutters. There were metal flashing on the windows that were paintable, so we decided we would try to paint the trim and see if that helped. We replaced the front door, painted the garage and service doors, and painted the trim.

The front door was replaced as well. The old door and pictures can be found here. We plan to put our house numbers up on the side and take off the big gold and black numbers that are on the mailbox