ongoing project: my front yard

I'm trying to get back into the swing of blogging, no less because VEGAN MOFO is in September this year! Since I'll be posting about food every day of that month, I'm writing about the house this month. I meant to be updating all summer.. but it turns out that the first year of being a first-time homeowner is really time consuming! July's post was and the next couple posts will be about some of the projects that have been taking up so much of my time (which would otherwise have been spent blogging, I'm sure).

First, here is the home my husband and I bought a little over a year ago:
It was a partially flipped house built in 1910. I say "partially" because it seems like the flippers did the minimum amount of work they could do while still getting away with calling the home "flipped." But that was okay with us--we were both okay with the "fix-me-up" nature of some of our house.

I'll show you some inside shots in a later entry, but the real projects that have been sucking up my time are outdoors. Did you notice my front yard in the picture above? And how by "yard" I mean "dirt?" Here's another view:


When we moved in, the only green in the front of our house was a few patches of crabgrass. (Which, true to crabgrass's nature, soon became "a jungle of crabgrass.") I put down grass seed and am still slowly trying to choke out weeds.

The slope of the front of our lawn is a difficult angle to mow, so I decided to turn the worst of it--the edges-- into flowerbeds. First I had to get rid of what was already there. I bought some black plastic sheeting. (Specifically I bought "landscape fabric," but any black plastic sheeting will do.) Because it is black plastic, it not only blocks the weeds underneath from getting any light, but it absorbs light, making the ground underneath it super hot, killing the weeds and (hopefully) their seeds. I laid it down along the edges of the lawn. It comes with flimsy plastic stakes, but I knew they wouldn't do the job for the many months I intended to leave them there, so I also just weighed down the plastic every few feet with pavers.

The green on the lawn in this picture is all crabgrass.

I did this in October of last year and warned our neighbors that it would look ugly for many more months, but it was in an attempt to make it look pretty in the future.
This past April, I rolled back the plastic, which had done a good job killing the weeds! I used a digging fork to turn the soil, mixing in some compost as I went. In retrospect, I should really have used some stronger tools (like my hoe axe!) and done a better job of really mixing up the soil, but I didn't know that at the time.

The picture above shows freshly-turned dirt on the bottom left side, and the paler row of not-yet-turned soil. Please ignore my thumb in the corner (oops). The picture below shows the fully turned bed:

One bold robin, one of the first robins of the season, LOVED ME for turning all the soil, and followed me around the yard like an excited dog. All I had to do was turn my back, and when I'd turn around, there he'd be. He was sort of my yard work mascot this spring, as every time I did a new project, he'd be watching me and eating any worm I might unearth.
I then planted flower seeds. many of which died. Our front lawn gets full sun all day, every day, and we had an incredibly dry spring. I had picked all drought-resistant varieties, but despite daily watering, I couldn't keep the flower beds moist enough for little seeds to thrive--poor things! I replanted a few weeks ago, and some of the flowers are finally coming in, but it's a slow process. I've learned my lesson for next year: I'll have to start my plants indoors.
This is still a work in progress. It's not as pretty as it will be next year, but it's a start. I'll keep you posted!


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