Thursday, April 10, 2014

The Yard: 12 Years In The Making

Now that we're smack dab in the middle of gardening season nirvana, I thought it would be fun to take a look back at where the yard started.

I bought this house in October of 2001.  The yard was a nightmare, to say the least, but I needed to make the house livable first.  So I spent the winter working my butt off on the inside.

Here's a little peek at my new dream home:

This is the living room.
The fake wood paneling was especially nice.
That, and the grossest wall to wall carpeting you've ever seen in your life.

A beautiful pepto bathroom.

Floor to ceiling sunshine yellow kitchen, which also included a wall of fake paneling.
The lovely surprise of wallpaper was under it.

My realtor said that I must have a vision.  
Well, that, and the fact that a major fixer-upper was the only thing I could afford.

Once spring hit, I was out in the dirt.
I wish I had taken more before photos.
These are actually after I had done most of the cleanup. 
I filled a dumpster with junk.

So this is the patio I inherited.
Don't be jealous.
It's actually where the existing patio still is.
You can sort of see the amazing green corrugated roof goodness peeking out.

This is the back of the house, mint green metal siding and all.
I got lucky and had a new roof put on in the sale.
That was about the only thing it had goin' for it at this point.

This is the north side of the backyard.
There was a rickety old picket fence on all three sides.

The back corner on that side.

This is the east side, the back of the lot.
It's funny to see how small that rhody was.

The other back corner.

After I got all the junk hauled away, I ripped out the picket fence.
I used the boards to build window boxes for all the windows.

I also started tearing out lawn.
There was only, what used to be before the weeds and grass took over, a small planting bed around the perimeter.
It was about a foot and a half deep or so.
As you can see, that clearly wasn't sufficient for the likes of me.

That is a serious pile of sod right there.
Awww, to have the energy of a 20-something-year-old again.
More grass was removed around the whole perimeter, and the plants started goin' in.
The majority of what I started with were plants that I had brought with me and starts of things from my mom's yard.

I made a small bed along the back of the house, on the right in this next photo.

I was also having a fence built during this time.
Posts are set.

Fence is up and my first summer is in full force.
The hydrangea was one of the only existing plants here.
You can see two of the window boxes that I built with the old fence pickets.
I actually still have one by the back door that miraculously hasn't fallen apart yet.

I put a veggie and herb garden on the south side that first year.

This is the north side, same as the picture with the white van above.

Once The Dad was in the picture - we met the summer of 2002 - he built the fence :o) - 2003's major project was ripping all that God-awful metal siding off.
This is the front of the house, in progress.

Aside from the ghetto-looking house, look at all that lawn!
And the ugly magnolia tree that I had mentioned the other day.

The south side.

I spent that summer sanding the entire house.
I also used a heat gun to remove all the paint from the window trim.
That was a looooong project and it was not even a little bit fun.
Scraping windows in 90 degree weather with a heat gun is high on my "never again" list.
But we got it all finished and finally got it painted.

The Dad (not actually a dad, or even a husband, at this point) extended the fence forward to the front corner of the house, on the south side, for more privacy.

We also ripped out the old pergola over the patio and built a new one.
We used pavers to widen the existing concrete patio across more of the back of the house, as well.
And one of my favorite parts of the backyard, which is no longer there, was the boardwalk pathway he built me.
I loved that thing.
We had to rip it up when we added on to the back of the house in 2006.  :(

I know the dates on the photos say '94 (gotta love the old school cameras, right?), but these are from the summer of 2004.
The year we got married.

This photo is the same view as the mint siding photo above.

A few more from the same year.
I rearrange outside as often as I do inside.  :)

Look at that beautiful wood path.
Someday I'll have a boardwalk again.

These next ones are from our wedding reception that we had in the backyard.
I had to throw these in to show how much more lawn we used to have.

You can see how much bigger that rhody in the back corner had grown, even by then.

Looking toward the other back corner.

It doesn't seem like it's been that long.

Anywho, fast forward a couple years, and once we found out I was pregnant with Baby #2, we decided to add on to the back of the house.
So bye-bye boardwalk - and everything else.
This was the spring of 2007.

We put an addition along the whole back of the house, minus the patio area behind the garage where the pergola is.
It's about 30 feet wide and came out into the yard about 12 feet.

Look at how little The Kid is.
He was 18 months old when we first started.

The inside was finished (well, livable) by the time The Girl was born in October, but we didn't put the siding on until the following summer.
Cedar siding is EXPENSIVE!
We waited until we could find it used, and ended up finding it on Craigslist.
They had the rough side facing out on their house, so that's why it looks new.
The smooth side, that we wanted, had never been painted.

Because we lost half of our patio area, and basically half of my flower beds, we built a deck out the other direction, behind the patio, into the yard.
We also jacked up the pergola because of where our new french doors went in - it sat too low for head clearance comin' off the top step.

And then, in 2012, in true Mindy fashion, pregnant with Baby, I dug out more sod and put in the fire pit area off the back of the deck.

So should we do some side by side before and afters for fun?

The south side.
It's changed quite a bit since the yuccas in the first pictures.

The east side.

The north side.

The back of the house.

Another angle of the back.

Crazy, right?
Here are some pictures of the front from last spring.
Clearly, the lawn is long gone.

And more shots of the back in the summer.

East side - the back of the yard.

The south side, where the veggies were the first year, is now partly house, but this is the same view.

The flower beds along the back of the house and the wine bottle path.

And the fire pit area.

A lot of work has gone into this house.
A lot of man hours put in by The Dad and yours truly.
Inside and out.
When I bought this house, never in a zillion years would I have thought, as a 25-year-old, that I would still be here with a husband and three kids.
But it has become more than I could have imagined a house to be when when I was in my 20's.
We're crammed in like sardines, I complain about the things that aren't done yet, or the things I wish we could change, and it ain't on the greatest street in town, but it's ours and it's home.
And here we go, into another gardening season.
Which is almost guaranteed to bring more changes.

Shameless plug alert:  
Just a little reminder that you can purchase my floral photographs in my Etsy shop.
If you see one in a post that isn't in the shop, shoot me an email and I'll list it for ya.


  1. Wow, Mindy! Your before and after photos are amazing. You've turned your home into a beautiful and fun place to be. Good golly you have a lot of plants too! Grass is so overrated. If I had things my way, I'd have rows of lavender rather than a front lawn.

    I often have to remind myself when I see your garden that it has taken years of work. I'm only on year three in my garden, and last year I replanted several of my garden beds. So there is no comparison. Your garden is so beautiful and well deserved!

    It is funny that I bought my first home in 03 and my future husband also built my fence. We decided to move to a bigger home after our second child. The floor plan didn't really allow an addition and we are not the remodeling type either. You and your husband have done great work and I am so glad you are happy!

  2. It has been a wonderful journey for all of you transforming your house into a home. It is amazing how the garden reflects your soul, so full of flowers :)

  3. Dear dear friend!!!!! Let's just start at the beginning...those before shots are insane!!! I can not believe how the house once looked after following along with you for a while now!!! Holy cow!!!! VIsion?!?! had vision!!!!! The work that you have done inside and out is just amazing!!! Ok and I had no idea that you had your reception in the backyard! How beautiful was that!!!! You look so pretty and those white paper balls are so perfect...looks like a Pinterest wedding to me! And the garden.......Oh the garden......the layers and colors you have added to your space just make me want to cry!!! It is my dream to have everything so full and alive!!! And that flipping pile of sod is no joke!! HA you weren't lying pal!!! I am just so proud of are living proof that young people with passion have a spot amongst the top gardeners out there! You deserve it! You are amazing!!!!!! One day we will meet and have a glass of wine and you will walk me around that garden! Nicole xoxoxoxo

  4. I think this is the best post you have ever done, Mindy. Wow- You have done SO much work and it really shows. Your gardens are just gorgeous- magazine worthy. And you were a beautiful bride and you two make a lovely couple.

    I love everything you did and those gardens are simply AMAZING!!!!! Blessings- xo Diana

  5. Such a gorgeous yard! This is what my yard wants to look like when it grows up ;)

  6. It's gorgeous! Your wedding reception looked amazing!

  7. What a lot of work you have done. We own a fixer upper and so I feel qualified to appreciate how much work is necessary to move from a "before" to an "after". Your garden is quite amazing! I am so impressed. Great job Mindy!

  8. Omygosh...this is sooo amazing...and so beautiful. You need to send this in to a great magazine and I KNOW they publish it. Ya'll did a SMASHING job !!

  9. I love before and afters of gardens! This is amazing, and you deserve your gorgeous garden after all the work that went into it--years of work--it makes me tired just thinking of it!

  10. Mindy, It's truly amazing what you guys have done both indoor and out! You're an inspiration to those of us who just make a few cosmetic changes here and there....maybe someday I'll get to do more, if we ever settle that is.

  11. Well I'll be damned. I had no idea what a "fixer" you had in the beginning. You were so brave to buy it, seeing its potential. It reminds me so much of our first house on 80th. It looked very similar.

    And what a transformation. Kudos to you and the hubby too for that fence and all the work he's put in to it as well. Your gardens are fantastic! Your plants are so healthy and your designs tie it altogether beautifully. Someday I want to see it in person. And I can't wait to see what's new for 2014. Such an entertaining post, my friend. Thanks for sharing.

  12. What transformations!!! Your outdoor spaces are just gorgeous! I"m featuring your yard in my Friday Features from this week's Inspire Me Monday linky party.

  13. Mindy, thank you for the wonderful journey !!! We just bought our first house and the yard really needs some TLC :-( Thanks for all the inspiration. What a beautiful job you have all done !!!

    1. Awww, thank you so much, Sheila! I know what it's like to want instant gratification. It's frustrating, but Iooking back, it's fun to see the transformation it has taken over the years. And there are STILL things I want to change! I was diggin' out more sod today. :) Good luck making it your own!

  14. Mindy, that is an amazing transformation. AMAZING. I can't get over how much work you have done!!!! Your wedding, bringing your babies all home here and raising them, all the love and work you have put into that home. There is no way I would ever be able to leave that behind! If houses have souls, and I think they do, just imagine how happy your house is :)

  15. Hi Mindy, I've been hopping from one blog to another on this we morning here in France. I just love these before and after pictures. Great work! But concerning your garden, I wouldn't use the word "yard" because it doesn't sound right for this tranformation, "garden" sounds so much more beautiful, and right! So happy gardening in your gorgeous garden!

    1. Hi, Martine. Thank you so much! Just hearing someone say, "this morning in France" sounds way fancier than any sort of yard work. :) So glad you came by.

  16. Wow, I am just SO impressed! Everything looks amazing! You have a gift for flower gardens! Thanks for sharing!

    1. Awww, thank you so much, Tamara, that's too sweet! So glad you came by!

  17. Twelve years in the making, huh? Well, I must say the long wait is worth it. Your garden looks like a piece of paradise after all the tough works were done, and all those gorgeous flowers made it more captivating. Cheers!

    Al Perreault @ Green Collar

  18. So glad you linked to this on FB...I was in awe looking at the before photos! I'm also a little jealous that you're still in that first home. I had to leave mine behind when we moved to Portland. I still have dreams about all my plans for it.

  19. I replaced approximately 40 feet of our fence. I cut all the boards to match the existing fence boards. Our neighbour agreed to raise the height of the fence to 7'. dog fence


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