Yardmageddon 2013: Part 1 – The Landscaping Death March

THE MISSION:  De-fugly this backyard!


THE FUEL:  Factory Donuts!


THE FULL DISCLOSURE:  We’ve never planted anything before.  We have no idea what we’re doing outside of a few hours of web research on this topic.

We kicked off Saturday with some early morning planning in the backyard.  Here I’ve used bricks and spigot covers to demonstrate where the arborvitaes might go.


I later revised this down from six to three for these reasons:

1)  They were too close together (I decided putting them a full 3 feet apart was better)

2)  Planting six is gonna be hella grueling

The mockup was still a good idea though because it gave us a much better sense of where the trees will go.  It also helped me illustrate it to my husband better than pointing “over there” ever could.  With the number determined, we drove to Factory Donuts for OMG BEST DONUTS EVER and then drove to Molbak’s in Woodinville for three arborvitaes.  They keep their arborvitaes in the dirt until sold, which is different from how Home Depot packs them tight crowds of potted plants.  I don’t know much about plants, but it seems like the arborvitaes that came out of the dirt would be better than the ones sitting in pots.  I hope it’s worth the $20 or so more per plant that Molbak’s wants (Home Depot $25 each, Molbak’s $45 each) .

These trees are HEAVY!  Fortunately, Molbak’s is well staffed with tough guys ready to toss trees into hatchbacks the way I might toss a hamburger wrapper.  Obligatory Subie action shot:


And we’re done, check it out!


Lol, just kidding.  We Jim actually had 45 minutes of back breaking digging ahead of us him.  (Stay in school, kids, digging holes sucks ass.)  BTW, ignore the holes closer to the fence corner.  We dug there first and found too many roots, prompting us to change our placement plans.


We dug the holes to be about twice the volume of the arborvitae root ball and lined them with several inches of a mixture of fresh garden soil and compost.  Garden soil and compost were separate bags, and we mixed them at roughly a 2:1 ratio of garden soil:compost.  We didn’t get too pedantic about measurements –  it’s just dirt, after all.  Once lined, we dropped the trees into the holes and packed more soil and compost all around followed by a 1″ thick layer of mulch all around.


Repeat x3 times and you have:


High on success and packed with donuts, it was at this precise moment that I went COMPLETELY. INSANE.

I ran off to Home Depot and Molbak’s to purchase a half dozen more plants to place all around the yard, another shovel, a ton of mulch and more dirt.  Here is just some of what two motivated people can accomplish in a brutal weekend long yard work marathon.

Side of house, before:


Side of house, after

  • (I forgot the name of this evergreen, I’ll put it in here when I figure it out):


Front yard, before:


Front yard, after:

  • Blue Chip Juniper in mound
  • Yedda Hawthorne to the right of stairs
  • Hetz Midget Arborvitae x 2  in pots by stairs (not yet planted in this shot)
  • Hosta (we nicknamed it The Buddy when we planted it a few weeks ago)


Also: Sami Salmon


Garage/fence corner, after:

This area was formerly an old stump and a ton of weeds.  MOST IMPROVED AWARD!

  • Degroot Emerald Spire is the biggie plant, the rest are annual accent flowers that will probably look like crap in 3 months


Back deck:

Formerly empty, now home to a menagerie of potted plants and yet-to-be-potted plants.


Front yard, by utility pole:

I pulled out a ton of weeds and planted this cute yellow/green shrub.


Many places:

I planted several instances of this stuff from Home Depot, which is supposed to spread like creep all over the place and choke out things like grass and weeds, making a low maintenance ground-cover.  Curious to see if it actually works…


Amazingly, this isn’t even all of it.  After posting this I realized I missed at least three more plants, and there are a few more left to plant before we can truly call this done.  From here, we water daily and hope this stuff takes root.  All in all, this wasn’t a bad first plant-something-in-the-ground experience, although it did take all weekend and we are both completely exhausted.

Tree Removal: Tree Trimming & Removal Complete

The tree removal and trimming is complete!  Only one thing didn’t go as hoped: the company that cut the tree down doesn’t actually remove the pieces.  Oops.  I didn’t even think to ask about this when we were getting the estimate.  After all, who wants this in their yard?


Fortunately, the owner knew a guy who seemed eager to haul it off in his truck.  Must be worth major bucks or something…

Anyway, here’s the backyard, which is no longer crowded by neighbor trees.  We liked the cave-like atmosphere, but we want to take a first whack at installing some legitimate landscaping back here.


The backyard’s basically blank canvas now.  Unfortunately, I have neither the design talent nor the money for anything sophisticated.  We’re going to plant some aborvitaes a few feet off the fence and see where that takes us.


Onwards to weekend!  Where we will purchase plants and put them in the ground!

Tree Removal: Cutting Down the Hemlock

Today we met with Adam from AGTree, a local tree trimming business here in Kirkland, about cleaning up some of our yard’s trees.

EXCITING! I know, right? I took some convincing, too. I don’t spend a lot of time with trees on my property. I don’t even look at them half the time I’m coming and going. Plus, doesn’t trimming reduce shade? And, well, I WANT shade!

But there is one thing worth getting excited about: NOT HAVING A TREE FALL ON YOUR HOUSE! This is a genuine concern, especially here in the PNW when the trees are friggin’ huge, like twice+ the height of the house. When one of those falls down, it’s not going to be nice. Other benefits: less tree debris on the ground to pick up before mowing, no bridge for critters to use to get onto your roof (and mess it up), and general Pride of Ownership™ feelings.

So here’s what we’re doing this coming Monday:

1) Clearing out dead twigs from the twin cedars in our front yard


2) Trimming the cedars away from the house so we don’t get so many squirrels on the roof (who may or may not be making a fluffy bed out of our blow-in insulation)


3) Trimming the branches that are crowding our backyard. I emphasized that these trees actually give us privacy from the tenants who occupy the house on the other side of the fence, so we don’t want to lose that coverage. But we do want less of a barrier to walking through our yard.

Technically, these overgrown branches are from our backyard neighbor’s tree, but they like when we pay for their maintenance. After all, they approached us two summers ago about paying for their fence repair. So, I’m sure they’ll appreciate us trimming their trees. (Besides, the law allows us to trim up to the fence on our side.)


4) Removing this ridiculously tall and awesome hemlock which, sadly, has a long vertical split going up most of its trunk. I’m always sad when we have to remove a tree, but I’ll be more sad if it splits and falls on the house. TreeTrim4


Yardmageddon 2012: Part 2 – A Professional Asskicking

The landscaper we hired brought a team and spent nearly 8 hours kicking our yard’s ass.  They even power washed the driveway!

Some “after”s:

This tree is coming down next week, since everyone and their mother has told us they think it’s going to fall (on them, somehow).  It’s going to be a lot different without the ol’ leaning tree right out front!

Let’s all lol at the neglected backyard, which looks 50 times uglier since the front yard’s facelift:

Yeah, we’ll get on that soon.  No one can see it but us, though, and we really don’t mind.  It’s natural!  Isn’t that in these days, anyway?

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