The Backyard Makeover: Before and After

After the third outdoor post this week, you’re probably wondering what’s going on with the kitchen progress.  I can assure you it’s been on my mind (I’ve been watching videos and reading up about how to install my kitchen counters and sink when the time comes.  It makes me a little bit sad that I’m not carving the hole for the sink right this minute.  But I know I need to wait for some expert help to at least feel comfortable making that first cut).

But despite knowing that you guys want to get more updates on the kitchen, there’s something I’m dying to show you first:  before and after photos of my backyard makeover.  When it comes to “after” photos, I simply don’t have the willpower to keep them in my SD card.  I. must. show. them. NOW.

Part of it has to do with the amount of sweat, mosquito bites, bugs down the bra, etc. (and almost tears) that go into this kind of a makeover.

Before

backyard makeover

After

backyard makeover

Part of it has to do with simply feeling like I’ve actually checked something off my neverending to-do list.  For a compulsive project starter, this is huge for me.

Before

backyard makeover

After

backyard makeover

And holy crap – my birthday wishlist item is complete!  My muscles are finally back to normal, and I learned a ton of new things about building a wooden fence with Dad.

Before

backyard makeover

After

backyard makeover

Between the first couple of days of cutting down ivy and pulling weeds, I felt pretty good at all of the progress.  But there was one very clear element missing:  color.  I mentioned before that spring brings bright pink azalea blooms, but for the rest of the year, I’ve had nothing back here except bare patches of dirt and two “garden” areas running under each window.  That all changed last week.

Before

backyard makeover

After
backyard makeover

Chairs: Ikea clearance // planters: Homegoods // pillows: Target // garden stool: Kirklands

Some of these plants won’t return next year (like those gorgeous mums), but in terms of both short and long-term planning, I think the effort will pay off for more than just one season.  And might make my neighbor happy to not live next to such a slob anymore.

Before

backyard makeover

After

backyard makeover

Before

backyard makeover

After

backyard makeover

Not to mention, I have a place to put my beer and reflect on exactly how much of a difference a few weeks of hard work makes.

backyard makeover

And one more thing:  I get help from some pretty awesome people.

This blog is a lot about how I remodel this house “alone” – and yeah, I suppose many times that’s true.  But when it comes to the big stuff (like learning how to install a toilet), I know that I sometimes need help.  My parents were gracious enough to dedicate two of their weekends to helping me with my back yard, and my friend Amy took time out of her own busy day to come over and basically turn dirt into magic.  So I can’t really wear that “she’s doing it all herself” crown on this one – it’s simply not the truth.  If it hadn’t been for them, there’s a good chance that right now, I would be sitting in the middle of my yard, half-eaten by mosquitoes, and throwing an epic 29-year-old tantrum from being overwhelmed.  Or maybe I wouldn’t have done any of it at all.  But I’m glad I did!

orange mums

Of course, there are still other future plans for the yard: filling in the sinkhole in the back, building a short deck around those pine trees, creating a more elaborate fire pit, etc.  Those will (hopefully) all come at some point.

Adios for now, Back Yard.  I’ve got a kitchen to finish.

Comments

  1. Sarah In Illinois says

    HOLY COW!!! That is an impressive makeover! Thank goodness for friends and family that give a helping hand!

  2. Harper says

    Holy amazing change! I love the before and after pictures. Hard to believe it’s the same backyard. Great job. Glad all of your hard work paid off. Now get back to itchy those bug bites!

    • Sarah says

      Ha, GOOD! Between the shade from the trees and Charlie, grass doesn’t have a fighting chance back here.

    • Nans says

      Love seeing the trees free of the evil ivy. After your mums stop blooming, plant them in the ground. They totally come back each year and give a great burst of color just at the right time.

      • Kelly says

        She’s right–and beat me to the post! Mums do come back, and they’re pretty carefree. If they get gangly, cut or pinch them back by 1/3-1/2. Just don’t cut or pinch them past July or so, so you will get flowers in the fall.

      • Maja says

        I was just thinking about the mums! They are perennials, so either planting them into the ground or even just leaving them in a pot somewhere where it’s reasonably cool but not freezing cold should work. Unheated garages are often recommended for places with colder climates… so probably not much need for that in Georgia! (I’ve had hostas and lilies come back after being left outside on a covered porch in Ohio, and I do not have a green thumb at all.) Mums are quite hardy and often frost-resistant too, though that partly depends on when they’re planted. You might want to check this out to make sure you get the most of them if you’re considering transplanting them: http://gardening.about.com/od/maintenance/qt/HardyMums.htm
        But they’re really quite tough and they should come right back next year (once you start watering them, if they’re in a pot), probably with a vengeance! Good luck!

  3. says

    Awesome job lady! Looks like a whole new backyard!! My potted mums always come back year after year, so maybe you’ll have the same luck!!

    Shannon

  4. says

    WAHOOOOO! Unbelievable transformation. The trees look so much better and from the first picture I was shocked there was somethig behind that mess–like a neighbor! Grass? You didn’t mention grass….what stage is that–last? You are a super woman! great work Sarah!

    • Sarah says

      (see comment above) – I actually don’t think growing grass will be successful back here between the shade and Charlie. I’ll eventually give it a try, but for now, I’m just happy she has less for her leash to get tangled on (tangled dog = barking dog = annoyed neighbors)

  5. Lori Moore says

    It looks absolutely amazing! Job well done. I find landscaping so daunting! I would have all my post-kitchen work beers in the wicker chair. Oh, and when they finish blooming, you can plant your mums in the ground and they’ll come back every year!

  6. Southern Gal (@sogalitno) says

    LOOKS GREAT!!!! lots of hard work (as a gardener i know!) Congratulations!

  7. says

    Being a veteran of holy-crap-this-yard-needs-work myself, I can say you did a great job. You should check your zone about the mums. I had a beautiful mum in my front yard that came back bigger and prettier every year. It would put some nice color in that newly cleaned out tree area in your yard.

  8. says

    I love before and afters! You can see just how much hard work you (and friends and family) put in! I wish I were more DIY so that I could have the same effect on my fixer upper :)

  9. says

    What an awesome transformation! How sweet of Amy to come over and help too! I wish you both lived closer we could all help each other out!

  10. Bri says

    Much improved! I’m hoping I can bribe my parents into helping me do the same with the house that’s almost mine.

    I’m curious–how’d the fencing go? Did you find it really difficult or a breeze as long as you had the help?

  11. Ann Marie's mom says

    What a great job you did, I am so proud of you and I do not even know you! My daughter is Ann Marie (white house black shutters) she said to come by and say hi, and wow….I love the chairs and pillows, I wish we lived closer I could send you some cuttings you need some Iris, and lily of the valley

    • Sarah says

      Hi Ann Marie’s mom! Your daughter is AWESOME. Thanks for taking a look at the makeover too! Lily of the valley would be so pretty in my yard (but with Charlie being back there, I wouldn’t want to put anything poisonous, right?).

  12. Stacey says

    You should try planting the Mums in the grounds before frost, and they should come back in the spring. I’m in southern Ontario, Canada, and mine come back every year as cheerful as ever :)

    Great job on your yard, looks amazing!

  13. Andre says

    I love before and after shots, especially of the outdoors. Thanks for putting together such a fun home improvement site!

  14. Basement Waterproofing says

    Well done. A little work in the yard paid off nicely here!! Nice job!!

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