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Topic: Help! Worst backyard ever...need ideas and a plan of attack  (Read 3586 times)
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SewPixie
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« on: August 06, 2007 02:22:49 PM »

I am embarrassed just to post pictures of my backyard. It looks terrible and I just can't take it anymore. Long story short, H was to be the one to work on the yard...we are now on month 6 of a seperation so I don't hold much hope that it will get done.  Cry The past 6 months I've been working a lot on the inside of the house to make it look nicer and finish up projects that never completed. That yard is one of the things I want on that list. I rarely have anyone over since I don't want them to see it. I don't need something ultra fancy but something presentable would be nice...something where I could get some patio furniture and sit outside and craft when it is nice. Someone is coming to do an estimate for new windows tomorrow so all of the yucky screens will be gone (dog shredded them).

So I come here for suggestions and guidance. I have a few limitations:
  • No car so would prefer supplies that can be delivered or work that can be done by a professional.
  • H has the car and I may be able to get a little help so may be able to pick up some things.
  • Pretty much just me, so again some jobs may need to be contracted out.
  • I haven't set a budget but would prefer to not spend too much at once (such as I'm not going out to get a pool out in any time soon) but don't mind paying for services.

The rest of the pictures are on my Flickr. I did get some weed whacking done today which helps a tiny bit.


Those weeds by the orange tree as so thick I couldn't get them with the weed whacker. They are like thorny trees..yipes!

So here is my plan of attack so far to get it to at least a bare state. I am in Arizona so what I need help with is a plan for what to do once I get it cleared up to make it look nice and not get this bad again.
  • Move all junk to front to have picked up (enlist H to help since it is his junk..and ther is a lot of it)
  • Shovel up the dog 'stuff' (so gross...maybe I can get H do do that too...his dog Wink )
  • Find a way to get rid of that tree like weeds (what the heck are those??)
  • Weed whack the rest of the weeds

And here are some of the ideas/needs I have
  • Bushes or something by the windows to prevent the dog from jumping on them
  • Have trees put in to give more shade/interest
  • Someday enclose patio maybe..for now patio furniture and maybe paint concrete
  • I love grass but it probably isn't practical here in AZ. Perhaps just some on the side with the orange tree?
  • Flowers! There is no color in the backyard now...need flowers/bushes that can withstand the dog when he is here
  • Sprinklers: There is an old install that is only 3 pop ups and I'm not sure if it even works. Should I get new installed or can that wait?
  • Get the wood fence replaced with block, replace the gate

Any other ideas?
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bigyellowtaxi
« Reply #1 on: August 06, 2007 05:17:30 PM »

Based strictly on those prickly weeds, I looked at those pics and thought, "is that in AZ?"  Cheesy  I have some of those in my yard and they are awful!!! And painful! 

I would suggest digging them out with a shovel or something. Then to pick them up, use tongs (like the kind from your kitchen). I have a pair of dedicated cactus tongs I use for things too prickly to touch. 

Mesquite trees are nice, low water use and grow super fast.  You can buy the 5 gal size at Lowe's for about $18. 

re: dog poop, I have to say that the best 20 bucks I ever spent was on a pooper scooper. 
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SewPixie
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« Reply #2 on: August 06, 2007 05:29:15 PM »

Fantastic idea with the tongs! I am forever getting stuck with things so that is perfect. I have some old bbq ones that will become my cactus tongs.

And I think I will add a shovel and a pooper scooper to my shopping list. Actually there may be a shovel in the garage I will have to check.
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IamSusie
« Reply #3 on: August 06, 2007 05:42:34 PM »

I wish I could help. I live in Illinois and we have grass lawns and prairie gardens.  Your yard is really a blank canvas.  You are lucky you don't have large dead trees to be removed or big drainage problems to correct.

I'm thinking you need a gravel path and a patio with some furniture.  Go to the local garden center and find out about what flowers and shrubs grow well in your area.  I'm the type that loves gardening, but I lose steam in the heat of the late summer so I have to grow things that survive neglect. 

I read somewhere that weeds are just plants growing in the wrong place.  Smiley

Good luck!
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SewPixie
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« Reply #4 on: August 06, 2007 07:50:30 PM »

I'm from Indiana so grass is certainly what I am used to! My parents and grandparents made it look so easy...grass lawn and some flower beds.

It doesn't show up well in the pictures but there is a covered patio that is a decent size. I think you are on to something with the gravel path...one over to the area with the orange tree then one over to the gate. And the best part is that the gravel can be delivered and I have a wheelbarrow to haul it into the back. 

This is seeming more possible now. Smiley
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cataway
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« Reply #5 on: August 07, 2007 09:21:36 AM »

You should also visit gardenweb and see what they have to say about planting in your area, I would recommend checking out xeriscaping which would render your sprinkler system unnecessary.
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« Reply #6 on: August 25, 2007 11:24:52 PM »

I think you need to look at your yard as a positive blank slate. Definitely look into xeriscaping-it doesn't have to be just rocks and cactus. High Country Gardens
http://www.highcountrygardens.com/
has really good ideas for your area. You can grow penstemons and sages for colour, all sorts of things. And make sure you add containers-that way you can add height and you can have some of the plants you remember from the midwest mixed in with your natives. Think of the garden as a series of little rooms.
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SewPixie
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« Reply #7 on: August 26, 2007 10:07:47 AM »

Thank you balkandina! I really like the idea of small rooms. I think you and cataway are right on the xeriscaping. I just started to look at High Country Gardens and I can't believe all the color in the xeriscaping section!

The heat has kept me from working on it for a bit but I did manage to find something to get some of those huge sticker weeds (they look like tumbleweeds when dry).

I'm going to have to do some research on this but the ground is so hard I'm wondering if I need to till the whole thing of something to be able to do some planting.
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« Reply #8 on: August 26, 2007 11:21:15 AM »

If you don't have access to compost maybe start with raised beds and containers. Till just a section so you're not overwhelmed. First build a little canvas shade tent to sip lemonade or wine in and contemplate what the rest of the yard will look like Smiley Smiley Smiley
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"People sometimes reproach me with having neither genius nor talent nor deep feeling, but I have a will of my own"Isadora Duncan
ndc
« Reply #9 on: September 06, 2007 12:36:14 PM »

High Country Gardens

I'm so glad they were mentioned. I *heart* HCG/Santa Fe Greenhouses. The plants are fabulous quality, shipping is fast & they have tons of stuff that thrives in AZ.

Good luck & keep us informed with more pics as you are able to do this. And remember, you can do this!
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