Tuesday, September 8, 2015

A Retrospective. 1. The Front and Back Yards, 2007-2014

In some ways: so much changed!
In others, not so much.

Makeovers inside the house tend to be decorative in nature, low budget and somewhat easily changed.

Changes made outside, though, tend to take much longer (sometimes several years) and are somewhat more permanent. They also tend to be done by my husband!

However, there are a lot of pictures--and it may take a while to get through the whole post. I advise a good beverage.


Eight years ago, the second picture I posted on the blog was this one:

What a shaggy dog!

Here's another taken at the same time (but I didn't post it.)

As you can see, we're on a corner lot.

That fence encloses our gigantic back yard. One of the reasons it's so big is that our garage is sideways--unlike most every other house on our block, it faces the street and not the alleyway.

We have two structures inside the back yard: the playhouse (you can just see the roof poking up from the fence) and the bike shed which is rarely photographed, back by the garage. We will return to the back yard.


In April, we had a snowstorm.

In May, we went to Ontario and Quebec to visit relatives: and when we returned I was on fire to de-shag the front of the house!

The first to go was the gigantic cedar shrub-- or Thuja--to the left of the front door.

Next, we decided to take down the lopped off tree to the right of the front door--and right outside the dining room.

This is a good view of it--though the leaves from our neighbour's birch tree are intruding at the top. You can see how close to the house it was!

We took it down with a large axe and rope: you can read all about that here.

Ladies and gentlemen, I present to you: The House!

and one tired hubby.

I started hacking out the sidewalk that was in front of the dining room window. I'm not sure why. It seemed like a good idea at the time.

We also took out the mess of a flower bed and made some changes to the area around the front door.

A look at the street--and that scraggly bed. It had alfalfa growing in it.

Old railway ties gone! We kept them--and finally found a use for them this year, eight years later.

I changed out the light and the mail box from brass...to black.

Hubs also reconfigured the gutters.

By the time the snow flew again in November, things looked quite different!

As for the backyard, we bought a new table. Fortunately, I took a ton of pictures, so I can give you the lay of the land, as it were.

Immediately to the left of the back door was a sidewalk to a gate that was never straight.

Here's the same spot from a different perspective taken later that summer.

That fence is on the east side of the property. The play house is just on the other side of the Highbush cranberry beside the gate.

Playhouse, guinea pig house and dog house. Those slabs of wood on the ground are covering the old sandbox.

That's another highbush Cranberry. I loved the shape of it, but it became diseased and we took it down. That house behind the huge evergreen? Someone also took that down (and built a horrible monstrosity in its place. You'll see.)

Turn the corner and we have the garage. We're now facing south.

You can see the outline of where the old vegetable garden used to be. We weren't entirely sure why the previous owners put it there: it never got all that much sun. There's the bike shed with its obnoxious doors.

This is the west fence.

And here we have our "patio."

And our new table.

Such a great backyard!


The next year, we started painting all of our trim white, and half the fence (the East side) went from gold to taupe/brown. Hubs also started building planter boxes--and a new path in the backyard was born from the rubble we removed from the front the year before.

One of the only pictures I have to show you the front is from our sad attempts to decorate for Halloween. Note the lovely white trim.

The back yard took all summer, as you can imagine.

We started out like this in April.

We had quite the pie of rubble already!

You can see the new colour on the fence.

Being too cheap to take it to the dump and pay to get rid of it, we decided to repurpose it and make a new path.

Taken from the window in the upstairs powder room.

Chris built the first form.

And we painted the trim:

He got three of four forms built

And almost all of the trim:

We just plain forgot to do the storm window on my son's room--but we deliberately left the upstairs windows for next year. The window in the bump out closest to us is the library landing--and the window in the bump out further back on the right is the powder room.


Once again, I haven't got a great photo of the front to show you.

You can see the lawn is slowly reclaiming that old planting bed.

In the backyard, by the fall, we'd finished building the planting boxes and edged them with paving stones.

The path: 

We did add one brand new feature: the fire pit!

We re-located it though, once we realised it really wasn't going to work underneath these wires.

And so, that was 2010.


I lost most of my pictures from 2011 (in January of 2012) so if we made any changes, I don't have a record of them.

Here's the front yard, in May:

I struggled with getting plants to grow in this very shady north facing spot.

And the back, somewhat earlier:


No changes.


In June, I got the idea to hang a basket where nothing but weeds would grow.

Finally, finally, I painted the west side of the fence in the back yard.
You can barely see it, though, behind our raspberry bushes! Chris put a cup in the ground and he and Ben batted a golf ball around a few times.

Chris also moved the firepit to the other side of the path.


This year, the last in our Retrospective, we widened the driveway by moving our back gate and fence further into the back yard. Unfortunately, I didn't take proper pictures. But essentially, that step my son is standing on used to be in the back yard.

We also added the laundry carousel (the whirligig).

See that bit of yellow and the big eyebrow window on the building in the back? That's the monstrosity I was talking about earlier. Be glad you can't see more of it.

And that, at long last, is that.


FlowerLady Lorraine said...

How neat to see the progression of photos! You have done a lot. Like you said, working with our properties takes time, gardens and projects evolve.

I think you've done great inside and out.


Alana in Canada said...

Thanks, Lorraine. We have come a long way--we have a ways to go, yet, though I doubt it'll ever be "pinterest" worthy! I'll settle for clean and tidy!

t said...

Wow...lots of hard work. You have really made great progress over the years.

I have an above ground pool in my backyard and am thinking of taking it down. I would like to use the space for a garden area and patio; you have inspired me with all you have done. I know it would be multi-year process and I have been saving to have a bluestone patio put in....not too big, but I know it will probably be expensive regardless.

Christina O said...

What a lot of work you've done, it looks great! Can't wait to see more of these posts. :)

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