Disclosure: this post may contain affiliate links, which means I may make a commission if you decide to make a purchase through one of my links, at no cost to you.

Disclaimer: So many, many thanks to Compact Power Equipment Rental for sponsoring this project. You guys seriously rock. And now I’m going to have a new back yard because of you! 100% of these words are my own.

Giveaway has ended! Thanks to those who participated! Winner announced at the bottom of this post.

Ok, so the backyard leveling project — can I take a moment just to be glad this is off my to-do list? Not the physical part of the project itself — but the act of writing everything down and finally publishing these before and after photos. And THERE’S VIDEO. After more than six years of blogging about the house and its transformations, it’s amazing how integral these recaps are to my sense of completion.

backyard-overhaul-level-yard

And since this one also includes a giveaway for one lucky reader, I think that’s pretty fantastic! (*giveaway has ended*)

If you weren’t following along in August (or just not paying that much attention — which is fine, we all have those moments and I forgive you), I did something that I never really thought I’d ever get the chance to do: I spent an entire week in the driver’s seat of a backhoe from Compact Power Equipment Rental and leveled out my yard. It was one of those projects that has been on my wish list ever since moving into the UDH, but because of time, expense, and a complete lack of experience in literally moving the earth to my will, I put it off. Doing the math on how many cubic yards of fill dirt I’d need, the logistics of how dirt is even going to get distributed, who I’d need to call, whether I’d need approval from the county or whatever, how long this might take, etc. — the list just went on for reasons not to think about this yet. Each little detail seemed so intimidating, and I’ve never really had a picture in my mind what things would look like once finished… making it all that much easier to procrastinate.

leveling grading sinkhole backyard part 1

leveling-grading-sinkhole-backyard-part-2

But I promise you: you can definitely, totally do this. I did. And it was awesome.

digging-up-tree-roots-with-backhoe

So, let’s get to it:

I covered back in this post how the whole thing suddenly came about, especially some of the things I needed to cover before the equipment even arrived: why the sinkhole existed in the first place, how I decided on the right equipment, what to do before you dig in regard to buried utilities, finding fill dirt, and the delivery. After day one, I did a Facebook Live post about my thoughts so far, and you can catch that here.

In the second post, I covered a little more about what the yard has looked like in previous years, the other projects that had to be done before I could tackle this one, how I tricked my friends into giving me free labor (I kid… sort of), and learning how to use the equipment. I did another Facebook Live video then, too.

day-3

All caught up? Good. Because when I last left off, things were starting to look really different, and I was finally standing in a part of my yard that I’d never stood before (that sinkhole was dangerous, so I generally avoided it).

filling in the backyard sinkhole day 1 and 2

It took many trips from my driveway to the back yard to distribute the dirt (low power lines prevented the trucks from driving back further), but after days 2 and 3, I was making significant, visible change, especially to the back left corner:

backyard-overhaul-back-corner

Starting on Thursday morning, it took about two full days of work to get the entire first huge truckload of fill dirt moved into the yard. For my neighbors, watching me ride around on this thing, scoop up dirt, and carefully navigate to my back yard proved to be a sight to see. One guy walking his dog grinned from ear to ear and gave me the thumbs up; kids getting off the school bus were thoroughly confused.

After trying to compact the sandy fill dirt (lowering the bucket in the front along the ground seemed to do the trick), I realized I’d probably need some topsoil so that I could help establish grass. According to my neighbor, I didn’t want all of this work to get eroded away from rainfall, and grass would help it stay. I called up the soil guys to get a second load, and that’s where I ran into a snag: they were closed as of Saturday afternoon and wouldn’t be able to deliver until Monday morning. Wop, wop. I was pretty disappointed, especially since I was expecting a whole crew of my friends to come over that evening to help move more dirt around, and that essential piece was now missing. We made it work by having them start on all of the roots left over from the pine tree removal from last year, and they all seemed to really enjoy it!

friends helping with roots on the backhoe

Sunday was rather boring since I was merely trying to get things compacted and level and scoop up remaining dirt off the driveway (the ONE area where it seemed super easy to get everything compacted well, which I didn’t want). I also filled in another sunken spot in the front yard that would make mowing easier in the future, and dug up the rest of the plants that I wanted to clear out. The pile was laughably huge… all of that was in my yard?

backyard-overhaul-huge-pile-of-plants-roots-and-stump-chunks

I also piled everything up since I didn’t want to have a repeating sinkhole problem; the whole issue was created back when the house was built because of buried debris just like this, so I was cautious to remove and separate every large branch, root, and bush I could find, and only leave compacted dirt behind.

Finally, the topsoil arrived, and I finished things off with distributing the remaining load. Insert “that’s what she said” joke. I did a final Day 5 Facebook Live video too.

filling-in-the-back-yard-sinkhole

bringing-in-topsoil

Charlie was… a little uncertain with what had all happened. I pretty much gutted her bathroom, which I can understand is quite a change! She seems to love how much more of the yard she can explore now, though.

backyard-overhaul-right-side

Once my rental was over, it was time to arrange for pickup. All I had to do was hose the equipment down and fill the fuel back up, and it was ready to go. (Sniff. I’ll miss you!)

hosing-down-the-equipment

I’d like to take a minute and just acknowledge that for some of you guys, this might not even look like the most amazing transformation to ever happen to this house. But I assure you, after the last couple of months of being able to walk around my entire yard instead of having to avoid the giant pit behind that tree, believe me: this is big! And the most amazing part was that once I had this part solved, I suddenly found the inspiration for what the rest of the yard will look like. I started drawing plans!

new-backyard-plans

I basically Kevin Costner-d my way to an actual plan for the back yard’s design; until I finished it, the ideas would not come. It’s been a couple of months already, so the pine straw is coming down and I’m full of ideas. I can’t wait to get started on all of the other things. My favorite part? The overgrown back corner is now going to be the perfect spot for a shed:

back-corner-for-shed

At CPER’s request, I combined most of my experience into a short video for Youtube, along with some video footage of me in action. If you can’t see the embedded video below, just click over here (and subscribe if you’d like to see me do more vids). I also uploaded the Facebook videos to a single playlist so that you can watch them all in one place if you wish.

Here’s the before — a craggy, scraggy mess:

backyard sinkhole view from tree

backyard sinkhole and yard debris pit

And here’s the after: aerial view! As things were leveled out, it became clear that there was still one “ground” stump that wasn’t going to budge (it was WAY too large). So, I’m going to use it as a burn pile for a little while to see if I can get rid of more of it, and then begin the next few plans. :)

backyard-aerial-left

The yard still has a slight slope, but that was the plan all along since I didn’t want to interrupt or change the flow of water as it drains from my yard to my neighbor’s; I’m pretty proud of myself for keeping that intact.

backyard-after-with-no-sinkhole

I also started growing some grass seed, but it’s going to be a longer process to get it all green again. Still so much left to do. And finally… the giveaway…

new grass growing in the backyard

backyard-backhoe-makeover

Giveaway Alert! (ENDED)

equipment-rental-example

And now, one of YOU guys gets to win your very own rental! With how big of a difference this project is going to make on my future backyard changes, I’m thrilled that CPER was willing to let someone else try this out for themselves. They have lots of options for rental equipment, so it’s a choose your own adventure situation — up to a value of $500. Here are all the details:

  • PRIZE: One equipment rental of your choice from Compact Power Equipment Rental, up to $500
  • NUMBER OF WINNERS: 1 (one)
  • LOCATION: US residents only. They rent their equipment out of select Home Depot locations (cities listed below), so that should cover most of you guys just fine. But should it be the case that you don’t live inside their delivery range, they are happy to provide an alternative prize, such as a Home Depot gift card of equivalent value. So even if you don’t see your city on this list, you should enter!
  • HOW TO ENTER: As usual, let’s keep it simple, and make me laugh! Use the Rafflecopter widget below to mark that you’ve left a comment (yes, I’ll check), and answer this question for entertainment’s sake: What’s the funniest or most embarrassing thing your neighbors have ever witnessed you do?
  • GIVEAWAY ENDS: Friday, October 29th at 11:59PM

Good luck!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Again: many, many thanks to Compact Power Equipment Rental for sponsoring this project!

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69 Comments

  1. Throw a can of paint outside which opened and rolled down our long driveway, leaving a lovely pattern all the way down. Ooops! ;)

  2. It want me that got embarrassed as much as it was my husband. We were out flying kites with the kids in our backyard, my son lost hold of his string and as my husband ran catch it, down his pants came. Neighbors got an eye full and I about peed my panting laughing at him!

  3. My 2nd child was super comfy, and I was not. So, 3 days after my due date, I decided to trim our hedges that were way overgrown (think Don King’s do, and then some). I got out there with my brand new trimmer, and trimmed them all. Then, my crazy giant pregnant self crawled all over the yard picking up debris and carrying it to the curb. I’m sure they all thought I’d lost my mind. But, our hedges looked awesome and baby finally came 3 days later.

  4. Nice job on the yahd (as we say in RI) and bonus on convincing your friends it was fun work. No doubt, being able to have a chance at playing with a big kids toy was key. Up here, being able to plant grass and having it take is pretty much over. How about in Georgia?

    Lastly, great job on the video. It added a nice touch. You’re a natural.

  5. My neighbor knocked on my door when I was removing floor mastic that likely contained asbestos. So I was wearing a tyvek suit and a respirator. She was a little startled.

  6. I have never, ever split wood in my entire life before buying my house, which has a woodstove. I cannot tell you how many times I swung my maul and totally missed not only the piece of wood I was aiming for, but the stump I had it on. I never got hurt…except for my pride…and the neighbors walking by got a good laugh!

  7. My neighbors often catch me jogging around the block, dancing to songs on my Ipod as I go. It’s really the only way to stay motivated while running…

    1. Hey Carolyn! My original winner for this giveaway did not respond, so you have been re-selected at random as my giveaway winner! I’m going to send you an email in addition to this message, but please send your contact info ASAP! Thanks!

      1. Wow! This is awesome! Just got your email! I guess I know what I’ll be doing over the Christmas break!

  8. Probably when we were potty training get the dog, cheering like a fool every time he went to the bathroom outside. Like um, it’s just poop. No need to get so excited!

  9. all sorts of weird work outs. once my pants feel down doing burpess. i’m sure the 80 year old man next door enjoyed that.

  10. Well, we tackled some tree limbs, bushes and brush with only a Sawzall. The battery pack would die, and we’d have to charge, then return, then come back out.

    We really need a saw. A real one.

  11. My neighbors have seen me doing all kinds of crazy things in my yard. The funniest thing they probably saw was me outside in the pouring rain hooking up a hug hose to my downspout to divert water away. I was soaked and muddy up to my knees.

  12. I wish I could win this! I have always wanted to operate a backhoe, but there is no room on our property. I will let it go to someone else.

    1. There are dimensions listed on the site, and you never know – you could rent something else that they offer!

  13. The funniest thing my neighbors have seen me do is exercise outside. I prefer to be outdoors, but I sure do get some strange looks! I try to just ignore it, but I am sure my neighbors are getting lots of laughs!

  14. CPER would certainly help me clear out the scrub and dead trees in the backyard! No more neighbors inviting their friends over to sit around the fire and watch me get attacked by tree branches, or stumble over backwards as I try to break away from the tangle of vines and mess that’s back there.

  15. Wow this would be amazing, I can think of so many projects we could do with a rental. ThankYou

  16. My dog was running after my neighbors car. I was outside with my hair looking a HOT mess and in my boyfriends underwear chasing the dog down….

  17. My neighbors watched me drop a cake in the middle of the street because I tripped. Thank you for the wonderful giveaway.
    Erin
    ErinLoves2Run at gmail dot com

  18. We live in the country so we’re glad neighbors aren’t close enough to see what we’re up to!

  19. Oh, it has to be the time I chased my canopy tent through our field during an unexpected wind storm. They loved that one!

  20. I’m not sure it was totally embarrassing, but probably entertaining for the neighbors… The first time I ever cleaned the gutters. I was afraid to get off the ladder and onto the roof, so I kept standing there at the top of the ladder, putting various parts of my body on the roof before getting afraid and taking them off. This went on for a good 10-15 minutes before I gave up!

  21. We live on a hill and our driveway slopes. It’s a rock driveway…I’m sure you can see where I’m going with this. One day I was chasing my boys and we came running down the driveway and I slipped and fell right on my tush. My neighbor was outside working on his yard and witnessed me in all my glory wiping out. It was quite comical. Nice job on your yard by the way!! Woman power!

  22. I was walking into my house while eating a slice of pizza, when all of a sudden my 25 lb dog ran towards me, jumped up to get the food… he was unsuccessful, but caught a bit of my pants in his mouth, and just yanked them down around my ankles. So there I was pants towards my ankles (boxers covering everything thankfully), the pizza flew into the air and while I didn’t initially catch it, I batted it around a few times before catching it in my shirt. Of course, I then think “eff it” and take a bite since it never fell to the ground… that’s when my neighbor said “I give you an 8.5… also, pull up your pants.” I no longer order pizza.

  23. I can’t remember exactly was I was working on at the time (outside in the front yard) but I needed to finish it that evening so I set up the giant work light and put on a head lamp and got it finished.

    I love tools but I’ve never ridden on one! I can see a backhoe in my future!

  24. When I was younger, I thought it would be a good idea to tie my dog’show leash around my hand. But not just once, I tied it about three to four times to make sure I wouldn’t drop the leash. Well my dog weighed about 55 pounds. I was lucky if I weighed that sopping wet. She was a well trained dog so I thought I could use her to guide me aso I biked (why did I do this) with my eyes closed. Surprisingly it worked pretty well. Except it was trash day. I managed to ride full speed into a large garbage container with my eyes closed. And thenot because I so thoughtfully wrapped the leash around my hand so many times, when the dog freaked and bolted, my neighbor got to enjoy watching me be drug across the street. At the time I didn’t think it was funny, now I wonder how he didn’t die laughing at my stupidity.

  25. Probably the funniest was power snaking the main sewer line during a blowing snow storm.

    When a guy’s gotta go…….

  26. Amazing how much fun moving a bit od dirt can be, great videos Sarah and great job, with sunlight reaching the new topsoil you should have a nice back yard of grass with many uses. There is nothing like a garden shed to keep all your outdoor tools out of the garage…nice. If desired and want instant grass, you can now not plant grass but see if your area Rainbird Lawn Irrigation Dealer will sponsor your backyard irrigation system for similair publicity and multiviewing. With a simple pop-up system ( with shrub or garden heads installed if desired ) in place you could either have sod put down by a ladnscaper or have a friend with a trailer go to the sod farm and get what you need and y’all put it down yourselves..it’s fairly easy…just make sure the green side’s up Sarah, you’ll like the finished product more and your neighbors won’t be looking at you funny.
    A great job and fun doing it with an outcome of a backyard you can now enjoy – WIN WIN!

  27. The funniest thing my neighbors have seen me do is ending up in the ditch, I have a large lab and she does not walk well on the leash so she pulls me often. I lost my balance and ended up laying on my back in the drainage ditch in the yard. LOL..

  28. All of my embarrassing moments with neighbors have occurred IN the house, never outside. Here is the first one to happen- I was 8 and a half months pregnant with second child. Nesting thing going on so I decided I had to do a major cleaning of my bathroom tile. I was naked in the bathtub wearing only a pair of bikinis and rubber gloves. My three year old daughter was playing in the hall. I heard something and came out of the bathroom to investigate and came face-to-face with my neighbor from across the street, whom I didn’t really know. It turns out that she had knocked (thank heavens it was a she!) on the front door which I didn’t hear and my daughter went and opened the door! I don’t know which of us was more shocked!

  29. My neighbors witnessed me completely lose it. I was getting rid of an old door and was putting it in the bed of my husband’s truck. I measured and thought it would fit perfectly, but when I went to close the tailgate, it didn’t shut. Instead, the tailgate came flying back down and hit me so hard in the boob/stomach area. I was pretttty freaking irritated at this point and talking to myself. I said something along of the lines of “I’ll show you” and went and grabbed an electric saw. Then I slid the door out the bed halfway and sawed it in half. My neighbor later told me that I was laughing while sawing the door and he thought it was creepy. He then told me he is locking his doors more often now. I was pretty embarrassed and it made me realize that I probably need to chill out some.

  30. Probably the day I was doing gardening and upset an ant hill. They some how got up my shorts and I ended up pulling my shorts down all while doing a little dance to get the biting ants off. Hehe.

  31. The funniest thing my front neighbors have watched me do is shovel dirt during a “storm of the century” then stand there soaked to the bone while directing the placement of landscape boulders. My back neighbors got it better — they saw me completely lose my “stuff” when I was overrun by baby spiders.

  32. I got tired of spot cleaning/using a carpet shampooer to clean my area rugs (and professional cleaning never did the job all that well either), so one day I took one outside on the driveway and got down on my hands and knees with a bucket and a brush and washed it by hand. I sprayed it off with a hose/pressure washer and then used my carpet shampooer to suck up the excess water before I hung it on the fence to dry overnight. It totally worked, but my neighbors still make fun of me for my redneck rug cleaning methods.

    Also, I have been meaning to trench up my backyard and install some kind of underground barrier to keep my neighbor’s super invasive running bamboo out of my yard, so discounted equipment would be AMAZING!

  33. Last Thanksgiving I bribed my parents into bringing me a chain saw and cutting down a 30′ tree that was too close to the house foundation. We were just about to pull it into the front yard when the neighbors came outside. I greeted them with a cherry “happy thanksgiving! instead of a turkey we’re killing a tree!” and then advised them to move their car so it wouldn’t get crushed. Fun times.

  34. Last winter was taking my newborn daughter outside for a walk in a furry bear suit (tiny arms and legs fully extended ,like the christmas story kid). The neighbors thought I was a weirdo cradling and carrying a stuffed animal around and gave me funny looks till they noticed it was a tiny person. Then they told me as much…..thanks guys. Glad to be in the neighborhood.

  35. I was coming home from a work trip, sick with thr flu and threw up in my driveway as my neighbors were outside enjoying a nice dinner al fresco.

  36. I live in the country and had to streak from the house to the clothes line. There’s only a small area where you can be seen from the road and my timing was perfect (for the neighbor!). Now every time he goes by he honks to “warn me he’s coming”.

  37. Well it’s not so much seen me as much as it is hear me. I definitely listen to music while I work on the yard. But I definitely didn’t realize a.) that my neighbor comes home to let his dog out at lunch and b.) that my voice carried so well… One day he told me I have a nice singing voice but he wasn’t sure about all the Justin Bieber. ***face turns bright red and hangs head in shame

  38. This is my first year owning a home and I’d say the funniest thing they’ve seen me do is try to rake leaves. I am clueless at it!

  39. The funniest thing my neighbor witness me doing is riding a zero turn lawn mower for the first time, high speed. I had no clue how to operate it and wanted to surprise the hubby when he arrived home. I ran straight into my car, left a huge dent and reverse it and ran over my hubby’s garden. My neighbor ran out to see was I okay, fortunately I was fine but the car and garden was not.

    1. I’m so sorry that your nice surprise turned into such a disaster, but hey – you got a great story out of it! Nice.

  40. i put a chair then a brick on the chair so i could reach on top of my new car shed to get a stick off i couldnt reach so i went and got a bucket then put the brick on the bucket then i climbed up they drove by cause i was so scared if i was going to fall and said goodness sake i would have gotton that for you im like naw naw im fine i was so embaressed and then still scared i would fall

  41. Right, I missed the fine print about posting something funny about working outside in the yard.

    When we built our house, I installed an underground drain system that was connected to the gutters to drain rain water away from the house. At the end of the system, the water would come up from an elbow pipe buried in the ground about ten feet from the edge of the road. The grass catches anything that flows through and most of the water drains into the lawn. At any rate, there was one time after a storm when I thought the pipe was plugged with leaves and given the long underground length I couldn’t just push anything through to try to clear it. So I had the brilliant idea that if a toilet plunger works on toilets why not on this? So I placed the plunger over the outlet and started working it. Of course the only thing the neighbors could see was me standing in the middle of our lush green lawn pumping a plunger up and down like a mad man.

    It gets better. My wife videotaped me and it ends with me looking up when I start to hear sirens like they were coming for me. She was then kind enough to share the video with all of her Facebook friends so they could see the lunacy too. Sharing is caring. So they say…

    1. Ah, don’t worry about sharing a story unless you’ve got a good one! And I’m glad you did, that was hilarious!

  42. OOOOOooo I wanna win! Power tools! I loved your video and I want to play too! :)))) I have a gazillion bromeliads that could go… and tree trimming… OOOoo fun!! Thanks!!

  43. That they’ve actually SEEN me do? It’s a toss-up between “take out my trash in my PJs in the middle of a weekday” and “carrying a ball-jointed doll and a huge plush dragon in plain sight to take photos of them at the park”–the former was more embarrassing for me, but the latter was usually more uncomfortable for them.

    But there were admittedly a few embarrassing things that occurred that neighbors never actually saw was back when my parents lived in the house we now call “Mount Doom.”

    Now, Mount Doom was not in the. . .best of neighborhoods. It was this bizarre, unincorporated area with no HOA and dirt roads. People fought over those dirt roads–even to the point of filing a lawsuit against each other regarding the road, speed limits, and speed bumps, I kid you not. Place was a magnet for strange people: one guy made totem poles as a hobby, another built a greenhouse instead of taking down their collapsing/rotting barn, a third had two inexplicable pine poles at the start of their driveway and claimed he stole and resold other people’s landscaping trees (apparently that’s a thing?), one claimed to have a meth lab. The crown jewel of crazy was the guy who looked like a biker Santa Claus; despite his cuddly appearance, he was a cranky-ass pack rat who kept all kinds of weird crap in his yard, up to and including an LAPD bus. I do not know how he got said bus. I do not WANT to know how he got said bus.

    The one upside to the neighborhood was that it was very hilly/mountainous. And Mount Doom sat on one of the steepest hills there. Now, this does mean that the driveway was an absolute nightmare of steepness and drainage problems, but it did give us one distinct advantage: unprecedented privacy.

    Laughing at the dog because he crashed into the fence chasing a rabbit? Yelling at same dog for killing a different rabbit and trying to eat it? Screaming because you found what you thought was a bat on the porch, only for it to turn out to be the biggest moth known to mankind? Traipsing to the hot tub butt naked in the middle of the day, because you can’t be arsed to put on a swimsuit? Watching your parents get into an argument over the benefits of sifting the local dirt as opposed to trucking in sand to lay the patio?

    Yeah. All things that happened at Mount Doom. And the neighbors were completely unaware of any of it.

    Just the way we liked it.

  44. Mine was a dirt issue as well. We had a massive dump truck full of dirt delivered to the house…in a subdivision. Of course gates aren’t made to fit a freaking dump truck through them, so they had to deliver an entire dump truck load of dirt at the end of the driveway. Well, unfortunately, the one thing we didn’t think to do–check the forecast. A freaking monsoon popped up no more than 30 minutes after the dump truck left. Our dirt was quickly running down the subdivision , and I was on top of the now muddy pile with random tarps and rocks attempting to salvage the dirt. After an entire day of raining, the newly formed mud pile was quite the talk of the neighborhood.

    Needless to say, a man was involved in all of this. Then I got smart and just started doing Bachelorette projects and haven’t had an issue again! ;)

  45. Probably falling in a hole in the backyard. I was just walking along and suddenly half my right leg was buried in a large hole and just sort of disappeared.

  46. Thankfully, I haven’t had any big run-ins with the neighbors! We do have a church behind our house and sometimes as we are doing yard work on Saturdays, they nicely invite us to church. But, my husband is Jewish and we live in the south so we don’t try to explain all that…

  47. I lived in apartments for over a decade and there has never been a chance for my neighbors to witness my clumsiness, but I am buying my first house in a few days and I’m sure they will get to witness a few of my learning-along-they way blunders and efforts! lol

  48. I literally cannot think of anything “funny” enough to win a contest! I am not even sure how this is possible since I constantly make a fool of myself. I guess the one thing that comes to mind is that I decided to sand the plum colored front door to get some of the paint drips smoothed out from previous owners, so I could paint it a “Tiffany Blue”. I had this all planned out – pinned on Pinterest and everything. But the paint wouldn’t smooth out. So I went to the store and bought the citrus stripper. I stripped and sanded, sanded and stripped. There are 7 layers of paint (plum, red, country blue, 2 shades of green, white and brown) and the more I go at it, the harder it gets to smooth out. So, currently my front door looks like it belongs on an abandoned home, (you can see all 7 layers peeking through) and I’ve lost my drive to finish – sooooo many other projects to do that I can actually finish! So, right now, I’m just calling it a Halloween decoration and going with it. Considering I’ve only owned this home for 3 months, I’m sure the neighbors are a little worried I’m lowering their property value.

    So…if you have tips on that…that’d be great! HAHAHA!

    1. I’ve never stripped my door, but Pretty Handy Girl made a good tutorial on how she did hers. Best as I can tell, it takes a lot of stripping agent applied over and over. If you have a fiberglass or metal door like I do, you should use sandable Bondo instead of wood filler to fill in any gouges. And once you’re ready to paint, I have a tutorial here for some techniques on paneled doors and here’s how to avoid taking it off the hinges!

  49. The first fall I lived in my house I was trying to creatively start some garden beds by laying out damp newspaper and covering them with wet leaves. . . neither was quite wet enough to combat against the winds from the south that come right up the valley towards my house. I spent 20 minutes setting the two beds up and another 20 chasing down the newspapers as they made their way across the yard, under the fence and down the the brushy swamp below my neighbor’s house when a gust blew through. The gentleman was kind enough to ask me if I needed more. . .

    1. I’ve had it happen too. I use a hose to keep the paper wet until the mulch is down, if that helps!

      1. Sadly I was working with one hose at the time (a month or so into owning, so still figuring out what I was missing!) and it was at the back of the house, not the front! I’m sure it was just as entertaining to see me carting a wheelbarrow full of wet newspapers back and forth around the house :) Four years later and the veggie garden is well established now.

  50. I tend to live in my PJs on the weekend, so I’m often caught outside by our new neighbors as we check out new changes we’ve made to the house. Really embarrassed that this is how I’m meeting most of our new neighbors – but I guess they should start getting used to it. :)

  51. While chasing my dog that got loose, I slipped and fell in the biggest pile of mud on the whole hill. My neighbor stepped outside just in time to witness my dog run up to me, lick me on my face, and take off running the opposite direction.. I still hear about it every time we talk..

  52. I woke up one morning with the idea it was time to have a pond in the backyard. Not a BIG pond, just a small 8′ by 10′ Koi pond. With water lilies. Frogs. You know, a *small* pond.

    I had a shovel and arms and legs that worked just fine, what else did I need?

    Well. I dug. And dug. Dug some more. The kids would come out and watch for a while and go back inside. The neighbor just stood there watching me over her fence. I dug for DAYS.

    No one told me there would be roots once I got down a couple of feet.

    I decided pretty quickly those trees in the backyard didn’t really need those roots. I had to borrow an ax from the fence-staring neighbor. She just shook her head and handed it to me.

    Bottom line, I made that pond. It took me a few weeks to dig the hole but I got a liner and lined the thing, then an aquarium pump and some tubing and made a little waterfall, and overall I was very pleased with it.

    Never again. :)

  53. Very nice job out there! That’s pretty good size backyard, can’t wait to see it when it’s all done.

  54. The most embarrassing thing my neighbors watched me do is forget to put my car in park and watch it roll down my drive away ( our drive away is a hill) into a rock wall.

  55. We were trying to give our mailbox a mini-makeover, and my shirt kept coming up while I was bent down pulling weeds. I finally got sick of trying to pull my shirt down and figured “hey, everybody’s got a butt crack, right?”

  56. I recently put a fence on my property; living in central Texas, it’s all limestone under 1″ of soil. So my poor neighbors got to listen to me grunting for months while I used a giant metal rod to break up rocks to dig the post holes. I also managed to sawz-all my water main line during this process, but thought it was the gas line so I went screaming like a banshee across the lawn. #fencesaretheworst