{project house} our backyard makeover.

our yard has always been a bit more than we could handle since day one. there was lots of landscaping done by the previous owner, but without a strict yardwork regiment & a very green thumb, the plants just took over! there were big privacy hedges on two sides of the yard that needed at least annual, & very expensive, professional trimming, & lots & lots of plants planted right next to each other. needless to say after three years of minimal yardwork on our part, things had gotten a little out of control. plus, the lawn (at least in the backyard) was super uneven & very spotty.

sure enough, I got a bug this past spring to get our yard under control so that it looked as nice as the rest of the house! (apparently a big house remodel will do that…) we started figuring out what we wanted our yard to look like, what our budget was, & reaching out to landscapers to start getting bids. we also decided it was worth it to hire a landscape designer since neither of us know anything about landscaping & we didn’t want to put a lot of time & money into our yard without some kind of design. a friend/neighbor of ours gave us the contact information for Erin Lau Design & she was wonderful! we initially had her out for just the front yard design, but brought her back out later in the summer to do a backyard design as well (we did two 2-hour consults, if that helps anyone who is interested!). not only did she give us simple, easy-to-maintain designs, she gave us a plant list to choose from, & the offer to buy any plants we were interested (cheaper than going to a big box store & saved us from having to drive out of town to a nursery).

of course though seattle had other plans for us & really tested our patience with this project. even though we started the process in the spring (may-ish), our spring & summer were so warm that it didn’t make sense to start any work. if we would have had removal of the old plants & grass done that early, our yard would have been a dirt/mud pit the entire summer! some times it stays cool enough to plant grass in the summer, but everyone we talked to told us to wait until the fall to plant grass & other plants & trees. so we waited. but, the wait did allow us to do some of the work ourselves & save some money. we removed all of the plants from the yard over the course of the late spring & summer, aaron chopped down the laurel bushes that ran the entire east side of the house (with a hatchet & a chainsaw!), & we removed a lot of the rocks that were all over the flower beds. we hired some crews to take out the big bushes that lined our back fence (north) as well as a stump grinder.

after going back & forth with a few yard contractors, we decided to go with EcoYards to do the sod removal, levelling, sprinkler & drip-line installation, & new sod installation. yep, you read that right sprinklers. it was a decision that we sat on for a long time, mostly due to the high cost, but we decided it was worth it after hearing from a neighbor who has the most beautiful front yard that sprinklers were the big secret & a friend who is in the lawn & sprinkler industry. for us, it was worth the investment since we both knew it was the best chance we had at keeping everything alive! {side note: most homes in seattle don’t have sprinklers. we get quite a bit of rain, & during the summer almost everyone lets their lawn go dormant (yellow) & then wait for it to come back green in the fall.} plus, a major selling feature was that this irrigation system has rain sensors so it can adjust the amount of water it puts out based on the rain fall – so cool! we have a little weather station on the back of the house.

finally (finally) we had the crew on-site & they were here for two weeks. it was crazy to see the transformation & we are super happy with the results! we have planted six trees in the backyard, plus mulch in the flowerbeds. then in the spring we will plant the remaining plants in the backyard, & do the removal & planting of the front yard.

without further adieu, before, during, & after pictures! {sidenote: the yard was really hard to photograph with the privacy hedges!}

BEFORE {May, June, & July 2014}:

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{the back hedge & rhodie (left).}


{the back hedge. you can see our neighbor’s garage back there.}


{the laurel hedge that was on the east-side of the house.}

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{the back hedge coming down!}


{& the hedge is gone!}


{we actually had the laurels trimmed this spring since we were on the fence about whether we wanted to get rid of it or not. we quickly decided we wanted it gone… oh well!}

20150530_235614269_iOS  {aaron putting together the shed.}20150627_190245140_iOS

{after years of being behind the back hedges, the side of our neighbor’s garage was in rough shape.}

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{the side fence (west) coming down in July, along with all of that ivy!} 20150703_195756981_iOS

{aaron & our neighbor taking down the old back fence.}

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{setting the new posts.}

20150705_173758172_iOS{a new fence!}

20150712_200407391_iOS  {the old laurel. you can see the gap to the right where we had a quince taken out in the spring.}20150809_180438419_iOS

{aaron chopped down ALL of the laurel hedges – by hand! – over the course of the summer, & then we slowly got rid of it in our yard waste.}

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DURING {September & October, 2015}:



{the lines sprayed for irrigation – white – & the flower bed boundary – orange.}






{aaron planting our new trees.}



AFTER {November, 2015}:

20151115_214648396_iOS{peering in thru the east-side gate.}

20151115_214706282_iOS{along this side of the yard are three trees which will hopefully give us privacy in a few years.}

20151115_214718293_iOS{there are two more threes along the north/back edge of our yard.}

20151115_214725856_iOS{I wanted to keep the old rhodie!}

20151115_214739720_iOS{another tree at the end of the flower bed.}

20151115_214749660_iOS{a work in progress, but on the west side of our house is a dog run – the dog door is on this side of the house – & the new home for our little shed.}

20151115_214754487_iOS{we still have this giant tree in the back corner. it’s nice to have a big, mature tree, but boy it has so many leaves! i also added our little lawn flamingos!}

20151115_214806594_iOS{& back towards the east-side gate.}

we are thrilled with the work that was done & how the yard is shaping up. it has been a lot more work on the weekends, since we are actually doing work. & by “we” i mean aaron! he is out there every weekend raking, mowing, etc. we are SO excited for this next spring & summer! i’ll be sure to update this spring too!

have you done a yard makeover lately? any suggestions or hints for us newbies?


my weekend in pictures.


{enjoyed a perrier andy warhol edition at dinner on friday night with aaron & my grandmother.}


{our goal for saturday was to clean up the front garden beds & fill up this yard waste bin. we were successful plus some & filled up another smaller bin as well!}


{sadie isn’t very good at yard work.}


{sadie & me waiting for aaron to get our CSA this week.}


{got my birch box for september!}


{picked up a few goodies for the fall from the u village.}


{sadie & i enjoyed catching up on some magazines saturday night while aaron was out seeing Tosh.}


{inspired by the feels-like-fall-weather this weekend & my love for anything pumpkin, i whipped up some pumpkin cream cheese using this recipe from pinterest.}


{watched manning vs. manning on sunday afternoon. #gobroncos #sorryeli}


{while running errands on sunday afternoon i swung by target to check out the phillip lim collaboration. picked up a few goodies & surprised by how much stock was in the store.}


{aaron joined me in my pumpkin obsession this weekend with some pumpkin hard cider.}


{aaron & sadie enjoying the seahawks vs. 49ers game. lots of cuddling helped the seahawks win despite the hour game delay for lightning.}

we had an awesome weekend with not much planned. we got a lot of much needed yardwork done in the front yard {though we haven’t touched the backyard – anyone free in the next few weekends?}. it definitely is starting to feel like fall here in seattle as we got rain and thunderstorms (unusual for the area) despite reaching the 80s earlier in the week. as much as i love summer, i love this time of year! how was your weekend?


my weekend in pictures.


{my building’s cafeteria closed but there is always a food truck around. i got to enjoy a yummy meal while enjoying the sunshine!}


{hung out in post alley at pike place market on friday to celebrate my friend miriam’s birthday.}


{we saw an improv comedy show the pretty wonderful club. it was based on the john hughes 80’s high school movies. so fun!}


{yes, that is a gum wall behind me. post alley is filled with gum. it is a disgusting tradition, but you pretty much have to participate if you are there.}


{sadie & i patiently waited outside for aaron to get us lattes on saturday morning.}


{when it is sunny outside, which it was ALL weekend!, everyone in seattle washes their car. including us.}


{we went “car shopping” this weekend just to look & ended up buying a new car. this is the final picture of us with jez, our old jetta. bye bye jez, it was a great 9 years!}


{bluetooth in cars is awesome!}


{got a new coffee table book by the one & only kate spade, my fav. can’t wait to flip thru it for some inspiration!}


{happy easter sadie! yes, that dog toy has bunny ears.}


{good morning new jetta sportswagen! i haven’t had it long enough to give it an official name – any suggestions? we are thinking something german perhaps. what, you don’t name your cars?}


{making sure the new bathroom hardware is level.}


{had to paint a few touchup spots on the bathroom walls where old hardware came down. i think our latest bathroom project is nearly finished & i am hoping to be able to share it later in the week!}

we had a wonderfully sunny weekend, busy but fun. our weather was spectacular, especially for seattle in the early spring, & we were even wearing shorts to work around the house & in the yard this afternoon. we often get a burst of very early spring weather that gets everyone a little hopeful (& nervous for a very hot summer) but inevitably we will be back to normal cool spring weather. also, we accidently bought a car this weekend. i say accidently because we were really just going to look at cars on saturday. it was our first day out looking & there were a few types & models that were in the running, but next thing you know, we were buying a new jetta. we opted for the sportswagen because, you know, we could use the space for the constant lowe’s & home depot runs/sadie/future babes/etc. but the real reason why we bought the sportswagen was because of the full sunroof which is amazing! we had a great easter weekend – how was your weekend?


my weekend in pictures.


{on the second day of spring we got snow after not getting snow the entire winter. #crazyseattlespringweather}


{aaron, my dad, & our friend rhett were working on a house project. it may or may not have been something in the bathroom.}


{my mom helped with some tending to the yard including planting these beauts around our front tree!}


{happy birthday mom!}


{there is nothing like fresh eggs. even for $7 a dozen. chicken ownership, here we come!}


{my mom & i went to the best of the northwest art show at pier 91. she bought the cutest mouse sculpture that i failed to get a picture of. #badblogger}


{i finally pulled the trigger on some fabric for an upcoming diy project.}

{obviously} my mom & dad were in town this weekend. they were gracious enough to help us out with some work & projects around the house. we started with snow on friday, but saturday, sunday, & even today are beautiful sunny days {though not to be confused with warm!}. how was your weekend?



note: if you are a tree hugger or are emotionally attached to trees generally i would recommend that you skip reading this post!

next to our house a previous owner planted a cedar tree that, this many years later, had grown to be quite big & tall. so big & tall, in fact, that the tree was nearly three times the height of our house, nearly obscured our house from view from the street, & prevented the front lawn from growing very well.

we knew upon the first time seeing the house that this big tree would need at least a good trim since its middle branches were growing in & around all of the utilities lines from the street to our house & our neighbors’ house.

once we started getting quotes on trimming the tree, we realized that it would cost us as much to trim the tree as it would to take the entire thing down. while we both hate to see such a big, beautiful tree in the city go down, we were told by tree experts that it would get bigger – much bigger – so we decided it would have to come down. we also decided that the four smaller trees that were in the side yard should come down as well. they were likely put in to act as a privacy screen for the bedroom that is on that side of the house (our bedroom), but the type of tree & the way they were trimmed didn’t allow for any privacy whatsoever – hello neighbors!

some of you may think we are completely nuts or that we hate trees & are evil people, but we didn’t take this decision lightly & have been mulling over it for months. every time we have been out in the yard since it was taken down on thursday, neighbors & others that have been walking by the house have given us their two-cents about the tree & its demise. there have been mixed reviews, but we have found that people don’t hesitate to let us know their opinion. just this morning an older woman walking by with her dog saw the logs in our lawn & began to shake her head. she asked aaron whether there was something wrong with the tree, to which he replied “it was encroaching onto our house.” she told us that she knew evelyn, the previous owner, likely implying that evelyn would be disappointed in our decision to take down the tree. in truth (& what aaron relayed to this woman) was that evelyn had looked into taking the tree down while she owned this house, but thought it was too cost prohibitive. evelyn’s daughter came by the house shortly after the tree came down & congratulated us on taking it down! so, my point is, you may not agree with the decision that aaron & i made concerning this tree, but we made a decision that worked best for us & for our situation.

enough about the backstory & onto the pictures.

these are the before pictures of the yard with the trees:


{the cedar & the maple that is right next to our house.}


{yep, our little house is in there somewhere!}


{the privacy screen in our side yard.}

these are the during pictures:


{the tree guys brought a wood chipper on-site so our half of the block was shut down.}



{the side yard seems so much bigger without those trees.}



{apparently the cedar was growing a bit crooked – right around that utility line.}



{the guy up in the basket had a small chainsaw & apparently just chucked the cut limbs down to his crew on the ground. as much as i would have liked to see the process, it is better that i wasn’t there to witness the limb-chucking.}


{the stump grinder. i think this was everyone’s favorite part since it ground the stumps into sawdust.}


{the resulting mulch from our downed trees. now we are searching for places to put it! also, look how big that maple is & we didn’t even realize it!}

as all of this work was just completed on thursday, & we were left with a pile of huge logs & mulch in our front yard, we aren’t to the after stage yet. this will be a work in progress, but we are hoping to have some form of completion by the end of the month. we will be sure to get some good after shots of the house (now that you can see it from the street!) & the new front yard.

we put the logs on craigslist (in the free section) & nearly all of them have been picked up. aaron spent the weekend spreading the mulch into the side yard & some of our flowerbeds, but there remains a mound of mulch in our front yard. anyone want some cedar mulch? we have more than enough to share.

do you have any big landscaping projects on your to do list?