My Back Yard Transformation

Many of you may not know that I’m the daughter of a very successful landscaper in Charlotte, NC.  He has owned and operated his own company for over 30 years and my brother, after college, returned to work as the VP of Hyatt Landscaping.  I’m only slightly proud of their work (wink, wink) and pray that their business continues to grow over the years.

While we lived in Germany we were not responsible for the upkeep of our yard, as it was really just one big field that the government paid to take care of.  When spring rolled around and the riding lawn mowers started coming back, the smells of the freshly-cut grass mixed with the gasoline and oil smells that the mowers produced drew me back to my childhood and made me a touch homesick.  Homesick for my childhood home which also happened to be the base of my dad’s company.  We had, on a lot just behind our property, all the equipment and heavy machinery necessary to get the jobs done. Backhoes, dump trucks, bob cats, pick-up trucks, etc.  I remember once cleaning one of dad’s tractors… a little too well.  Apparently the gobs of grease gooped up around the joints (hinges?) were necessary for the proper function of the machines… I probably shouldn’t have taken a roll of paper towels and wiped up every drop I could spot…

Anyway, being back in the US, and being in a real neighborhood has afforded me the luxury of my own back yard…. a yard for which I am responsible for the upkeep.  For many this is a major chore.  For me, it’s a blessing.  I have spent many hours working to get my lawn to the point it is, which is still far from the perfectly manicured yards I was raised to appreciate.  My yard still has a variety of weeds that are in the process of dying, some that I need to research a little more to find the right spray, and it has a type of grass I was raised to categorize as a weed.  However, here in this mostly-dry climate, Bermuda weed grass is apparently the best, most hearty type of green growing stuff that one can plant and call a lawn.  And so, I’ll work with it, and not against it.

(Funny story:  Back in Colorado I had worked for a couple of years on the little square of grass I had in my fenced-in back yard.  During our final spring there I heard that I could get grass seed from housing, so I took them up on it.  I spread that seed, watered, and, a few weeks later, noticed a few weeds.  I picked them.  I found more weeds.  I picked them.  Several weeks of this went by before my then-neighbor (and still close friend) told me I was picking “grass.”  I assured her that the annoying stuff was a weed, and she corrected me.  She had a horticulture background and told me exactly what I was looking at… the product of the “grass” seeds I had spread a few weeks prior!  I was mortified… not embarrassed that I hadn’t known that this was considered “grass” to some people, but highly frustrated that after all my hard work I HAD BEEN THE ONE TO INTRODUCE the foreign seed to my yard!  I guess the weed-like Bermuda grass is a favorite for some people living in hard-to-manage climates, but this girl is not a fan of the stuff.)

So I sit here on my back porch, watering my Bermuda weeds grass, trying to pretend it’s not 97* in September, writing this blog post about my yard.  Here is a timeline of the progress of my yard.

July 16

The day our household goods arrived I sat on this very porch, coffee in hand, expectantly awaiting the truck.  I snapped a picture of my yard, and this is what it looked like:

IMG_1574July 24

One week later, after nothing more than some daily watering, it looked like this:

IMG_1656

Quick note:  A great set of tools include a really nice sprinkler (one in which you can adjust both the width of the spray and the range of motion it sprays) and a timer.   I have mine set to come on every evening at 1700, but I often step outside in the morning and turn it on for 30 minutes.  It turns itself off so I don’t have to go back out there to manually do so.

August 8

Two weeks later, after lots more watering.

IMG_1743 IMG_1741

We have a pesky patch that was almost completely dead since we had placed the box (that you can see in the background) there while we waited for some lines to be buried.  It looks much better now, but is still not completely healed.IMG_1742

August 19

Notice here (almost exactly one month after we got here) that there is a huge patch of weeds near the bottom right half of the picture.  One day I spent six hours picking each of those weeds out of the grass, as there wasn’t a spray that would kill just that weed (without doing damage to the grass).

IMG_1794August 30

I paid the boys a set fee per root… they lasted 45 minutes.

IMG_1853

My dad sprayed the yard for Nutsedge and that weed is starting to turn yellow in places. It’s a nasty, hard-to-kill weed that has made itself at home in my yard… but not for long! Working on this yard has been quite therapeutic.IMG_1864September 7

This is the latest picture I’ve taken of my back yard.  You can see a thin patch (it’s slightly brown or tan) where we had to work really hard on the weeds.  It’ll fill back in once the Bermuda weeds spread out.

IMG_1893 IMG_1894And just to compare before/after:

643iiqflQ1yTHQkqc%igUwOh, and one last thing:  Mom and I picked out a set with a table and six chairs at K-Mart for a crazy good deal.  I paid $150 for all seven pieces.  I was in need of a rectangular table that would fit all six of us… the round table we had was too large to fit on my current porch.  We were also happy to find (on Walmart.com) the shades to help drop the temperature a few degrees.  (Just a note… the round table was given to us by a Chaplain friend while we lived in Germany… we have passed it on to another Chaplain family who is very excited about having it!  Thanks A&J!!)

IMG_1865

About Jennifer

"Yes, they're all mine." The answer to the question I hear most often.
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13 Responses to My Back Yard Transformation

  1. smilindown says:

    I think bermuda is a weed, too! Fescue, all the way!!! 🙂 Great job on the yard! Now come do mine, okay? 🙂

    • Jennifer says:

      And not just Fescue, but Kentucky Fescue! 🙂

      I love my yard!

      Oh, and my dad is close enough to do your yard and you’d probably end up with a massive water feature! 🙂

  2. It looks amazing!!! Great job!

    I was not raised in a family that bothered much with lawn care, and when we owned our house we were one of those people who cut it and that’s about it. And I couldn’t tell you the difference between grass and a weed if my life depended on it.

    But I will say that the best grass I have ever touched was at Lover’s Point in Pacific Grove, CA (Jessica’s hometown). I used to go there just to lie in it. It felt like velvet.

  3. Shane says:

    You do know that Kentucky 31 Fescue is a “cool season” grass. Therefore, the hot Texas sun is going to be hard on it. But if you water it enough I guess you will be fine.

    On a lighter note, your yard looks great!

    The Rev

  4. Krista~ says:

    I only recall once when we lived in a house my parents used Horse manure for the back yard and the grass was super green!

    • Jennifer says:

      I bet that WOULD make it super green! I will not go to those lengths… 🙂 I did spread fertilizer and I water several times a day. But horse manure, I will not do…

  5. ellenwit says:

    Ok, what do you do about a large backyard with horrible soil? We’ve seeded and aerated 2 times, and we might as well have just flushed the money. It dies, I tell you. We have watered, but it doesn’t last the winter. And my water bill would be astronomical if I watered like you. But now its mostly like crabgrass and now there are patches of white sand showing up. Crazy land. It’s horrible. I don’t know how to fix it, and I fear losing all our green stuff if I try to kill the weeds. It’s mostly weeds.

    • Jennifer says:

      I have no idea… Maybe you need to plant another kind of grass? Maybe you need to have someone bring a truck-load of good soil in? My dad would know… I, on the other hand, got lucky that the grass was already mostly in tact and that it is a creeping grass, so that it’ll fill in over time in the places I made it bald by removing weeds… I’ll see if my dad/brother have any tips for you…

    • Jennifer says:

      From HyattLandscaping: Hyatt Landscaping, Inc. wrote: “This is not at all uncommon, though not knowing where they live in NC makes it tough to diagnose. If it’s very wooded, the trees could be blocking sunlight or their roots could be competing with the water / nutrient intake. The soil’s PH or compaction could be hindering any progress. Certain types of turf do better in certain locations. The “patches of white sand” makes me wonder if they’re closer to the coast…which may change my recommendations. Generally, I’d recommend a good post-emergent herbicide applied at the correct time to take care of the current weeds. Install a water-efficient irrigation system with a smart controller. Amend the soil as needed (may require PH adjustment) and lay SOD. This will allow you to begin a pre-emergent program much sooner than if you were to drag out the process over many seasons. When you seed a new lawn, you should expect a couple years of proper watering, aerating, overseeding, etc. before you end up with a mature lawn. Hence the sod! Oh, and while you’re at it, you may as well go ahead and install that patio, fire pit, and landscape lighting system you’ve always wanted! :)”

  6. The yard looks great.
    You have received a Versatile Blogger’s Award nomination. http://littleguysjourney.com/2013/09/12/vba/

    • Jennifer says:

      Thanks for the compliment and for the nomination! That’s cool! I’ll have to check it out tomorrow during my “me” time which, like you, happens pretty early! 🙂

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