Taming the Wild Backyard


MaryAnnTen years ago when we moved into our house the backyard was a big blank canvas ripe for planting, there was nothing there but grass. I did what any over-enthusiastic gardener under 40 without a clue would do and planted a nursery full of variety. I sort of had a plan. I envisioned a cottage garden, full of blooms neatly tucked behind a white picket fence; only 10 years later, there is no picket fence and it definitely didn’t end up neat.


I started with small patches along the back of the house and around the deck. Then we took down some large nut trees a little too close to the house for comfort and the stumps were transformed into flower beds. And wouldn’t it look nice if that bed connected to that one. And I had too many vegetable seedlings and couldn’t fit them all in the raised beds so we could just add this here or that there. And so it went for six years or so, there was always one more thing I needed to find a spot for.

These days between age and having a 5-year-old to keep up with, I just don’t have the time and energy I did when I created it all. If I had the body I had at 25 with the smarts I’ve acquired at 43, I’d be in good shape, but no such luck, it’s all going in the same direction and that definitely isn’t towards youth. Last year, I decided it needed to become more manageable, and I’ve been working towards that goal, some days though, it gets overwhelming. If I had the time to dedicate to fixing it all, it wouldn’t be so bad, unfortunately I live in the real world. There are no hired gardeners, no landscape designers, no hunky muscled workers to tear it all for me. There’s just me, and I’m also the cook, the housekeeper, the finance clerk, the laundress, the babysitter, and a million other things all in a day’s work.


Little by little I’m working at it, and I’m learning a lot about patience along the way, mostly, that I don’t have any. If I look at the whole thing together, I get too overwhelmed and get nowhere. I’ve found that I have to pick one spot and focus on just that one thing until it is done. Currently that spot is the vegetable garden.

2/17/2015 12:23:49 AM

What an amazing backyard transformation idea! I really appreciated while I was viewing your yard along with its white picket fence that has created a secured and cheery ambiance for your yard where you can spend your weekends with your kith and kin. I also deal with fencing company that provides fabulous fencing products in US industry with reliable services.

8/13/2014 11:56:26 PM

My neighbor did the round cinder block raised bed and it is about 3 feet tall. He created a wedge like a piece of pie and therefore has full access to the center. Plants love it.

Live The Good Life with GRIT!

Grit JulAug 2016At GRIT, we have a tradition of respecting the land that sustains rural America. That's why we want you to save money and trees by subscribing to GRIT through our automatic renewal savings plan. By paying now with a credit card, you save an additional $6 and get 6 issues of GRIT for only $16.95 (USA only).

Or, Bill Me Later and send me one year of GRIT for just $22.95!

Facebook Pinterest Instagram YouTube Twitter

Free Product Information Classifieds Newsletters