Monday, June 17, 2013

Trimming the Ash in the Backyard

Once K and I were moved into our house for a bit, we thought we'd have to cut down 2 massive trees in our yard-- the elm directly behind our house and the ash off to the side of the house.  But after cutting down the elm, our tree-trimming-master neighbor suggested that we just trim up the ash in order to get more sunlight in the yard.  Like, drastically trim it. 

We thought it was worth a try.  Worst case, we could always take down the whole tree later if we hated it.  But I really doubt we'll be doing that now-- the tree looks great!  And there is SOO much sunlight in our yard!!  We can actually have grass now, and a garden--  not just dirt!
Our backyard before:
Gloomy, always dark, damp, buggy.  Grass only growing in the patches where the sun could reach.

And the trimming process... 

What remains:
Tall and beautiful elm, with a wide and lush canopy-- just up much higher now to allow in lots of gorgeous sunlight!
(We did take care of trimming off all the stubs-- I just took this picture before that.)

And now...  All this glorious sunlight in our backyard!  It was so lovely to see the sun hitting each new patch of ground as each branch came off.  And the tree will still provide a bit of shade when we want it.  The best of both worlds.


Saturday, June 8, 2013

It's Been 1 Year!

One year ago today, we got this house!  After a couple months of working on loans and wishing, and things came together on the morning of June 8th, 2012.

After our final walk-through, just before our closing.  Taken by our fantastic realtor, Brian Amiot.

Reflections on our first year as owners of a fixer-upper...
#1  --  Nothing will go as quickly as you imagined.  K and I both knew that, in theory, when we started all this.  But I think that we still expected to be further along by now than we actually are.  We don't even have ONE room complete.

#2  --  Yardwork is pretty fun in the first year!  It's the only immediate gratification that we've had so far, and it's been a great feeling to see the yard improve and see our curb appeal change.  Yardwork will probably become a drudgery, eventually.  But for now, it's been a great way to spend sunny evenings and weekends together.

#3  --  This house is going to be cute again someday.  I still believe that, and it still gets me excited to think about it.  All our big plans, and our little plans, will happen with time. 

Monday, June 3, 2013

Our Spacious Corner Lot

Our spacious corner lot...  is even more spacious than we had envisioned!

An important part of the preparation before K can build our garage, is to figure out our actual, physical lot space.  Sure, we could have it surveyed professionally, but K knew she could do it on her own.  (As she would say, "I'm a Hollander!" and they like free stuff, so she says.)

Armed with the map of our lot from the county's website, and strong skills on Google Sketch-Up, K did hours of computing and measuring, trying to determine where our lot markers would be.  Once she knew where our neighbor had a lot marker, she was able to finish her calculations and had a pretty good idea of where all 4 of our lot markers would be.

And she was right.

Yesterday, I helped her measure from the neighbor's lot marker to where ours should be.  And it was there!  Hiding just under the dirt, next to the retaining wall.  The previous owner had bought an adjacent lot from the railroad in 2000, and maybe he also put up the tall fence, so the lot was surveyed in 2000.  Meaning our markers are new, legible, and actually not too difficult to find (once you know where to look, that is.)

Within the next 24 hours, K found the other 3 markers in our yard, and had strung neon-colored string between each of them.  We could really see the dimensions of what we own, and it goes back quite a ways behind our house.

Our yard is big.

That means...  Big garage.  And space for a garden, a patio on the back of the house...  Totally possible.

Saturday, June 1, 2013

Lackluster Lilacs

Since this was our first Spring in the house, this was the first time we got to experience the lilacs blooming in our backyard!  And it was...  disappointing.  For the amount of space taken over by these huge lilac bushes, there were very few actually flowers.  And almost all of those were up 9 feet!!   There was one bunch that I could actually reach last week, so I had one little vase of them in the house for a few days.  And that's all.  :-(

At some point, the lilacs were 6 or 8 distinct bushes.  Now, they are an overgrown sort of wall.  Grown in between to mesh with each other, grown deep, and very, very tall.

K was talking about hacking them down so that they weren't taking over the yard so much, and that sounded horrible to me!  But then I did some reading to see what we'll need to do to get them to flower more, and that's pretty much what we need to do.  We'd need to basically cut them in half, height-wise.  And trim a lot of the extra shoots and the old, dead growth.

It sounds like we probably won't have any flowers the next year, after we do this.  But that the year after, they should do nuts!  And I'll actually be able to reach the flowers without a very tall ladder.  Sounds like a sacrifice I'd be willing to make.