Yard Tour Part 1

When we moved into our current home, we inherited a yard full of potential. It has been a fun, but slow journey and this year we are seeing some big results! I never dreamed that I'd enjoy yard work as much as I do, but find myself knowing every plant and fussing over them like so many children.  I thought  it would be fun to show some of our progress and projects. 

The big improvement of Spring 2012 has been The Gazebo. We inherited a firepit from the previous residents that we fiddled with and worked on, but always hoped to do more. You can see in the above image (from the bleak midwinter) what the firepit area looked like. There were some foundational stones and two variegated privets we'd planted last season and not much more. 
At least the fire was delightful. Note the juxtaposition of iced tea and a fire--so southern.

Then in the case of one thing leading to another to another. T built a trail at camp with the help of some Boy Scouts and needed to construct some bridges. A stand of black locust trees on our family's property provided the perfect lumber for the bridge and got T thinking.

Black locust is a phenomenal wood. Often used for fence posts, it is sustainable, reproduces quickly, becomes so hard when dry that it can be a challenge to drive a nail into! My grandfather planted a stand behind our barn for supplying fence posts and there is plenty to be had. In fact, the day T went to cut a tree for the bridge project, dad called to say two trees had fallen overnight--a hot providence, I must say!

So the blessed abundance of access to black locust trees combine with some internet searching and my dad's need to clear some of the stand led to the discovery of a type of gazebo built with a reciprocating roof that requires no center supports, etc, etc. I don't really get it, but for someone with an engineer's brain it was too much for T to resist. He made a plan, cleared the sight and headed to the farm with a trailer and a chainsaw.

Here is the former firepit area, cleared and ready. It was incredibly wet and spongy in that area, so T brought in several tractor loads of mulch and worked a good bit to level and prepare ground.

How convenient to have a front end loader at camp! Also, how convenient to have a wife who can operate the front end loader and drive the tractor--making it so much easier to unload the logs. Nothing quite like a pregnant lady operating the John Deere.

The logs were shaved to remove the bark and over several days, T put the posts in the ground. They were sunk with concrete.

I read online that dried black locust is twice as strong as concrete!

I don't have good pictures of this, but two former staff guys gave us a hard days work to help finish off the gazebo. (Thanks Justin and Justin!)

You can see from this picture of the finished project the inside of the gazebo and some of the wondrous reciprocating roof.

We were really fortunate with this project to not only get the wood for free, but also the tin roof! It came from a barn original to the property (before it was the camp, even!). The barn was torn down a few years ago and the tin was unused. I love the history behind the roof.

All we had to buy was the Quickcrete. Even the sandstone and mulch came from the property. A recent timber cut turned over a lot of rocks--which we love for edging beds.

One view of the gazebo. The not-dried wood is a bit Tiki, but should weather down.  We were gifted with some lovely plants that I'll share about later. But I wanted to talk about the left side of the area first--since we seem to be on a thrifty, recycled  good-stewardship kick!

Folks tend to approach the gazebo from the left if they aren't coming from the house, so T made some log steps flanked by two garden beds.

We've planted clematis on each of the trees that border the area in hopes that they'll make a loverly entrance one day. The bark shavings from the locust trees provide a sort of paving for the trail. In the mean time, this is really a utilitarian side of our yard. There is a trail for the kids that runs alongside the gazebo and off into the woods. On the left are two of our favorite parts of the yard!

This is T's fish cleaning station! I'm sure he could describe it's wondrous features in greater detail, but being all engineer-like, he really thought this thing through. A water hose clamps on the back for rinsing and the top is sloped so the water runs away from the cleaner. Unseen, a bucket hangs off the back of the table behind the cutting board to catch the guts (it has holes to drain the water). Nails cleverly hold the cutting board in one place and the tin (from the same barn) keeps the fish cleaner from being splashed with guts. Always a nice thing, I'm sure. I have no clue what the big bucket on the front does,

Last of all, but precious to me, is our compost pile! I've wanted one for a long time and would just toss things hither and yon, but finally decided to pick a spot and a natural hole in our yard seemed like a good location, which providentially worked out to be just the right spot.
It is not at all scientific, but I appreciate Felder Rushing's advice to just go for it and so I toss it all in and every now and then add some leaves. The cinder blocks came first from construction leftovers, and then from the former firepit. It's been fun to see the decomposition process working. A friends daughter thought it was an animal's nest!

So that's our yard! Part of it at least. This digging and planning and pruning and dead-heading sure gets into one's blood! I never thought we'd be yard people, but here we are and loving it. It's neat to see how all these things came together in a thrifty, reusable and lovely kind of way.


susan weiand said...

I loved reading this!!!! Great ideas, frugality, and a beautiful place for rest and fellowship. Good job.

Jason said...

Paula, you guys are awesome. Also, I am glad to see I am not the only one who listens to Felder Rushing!

Paula said...

I love Felder! Thanks, Susan and Jason.

Guitta said...

I hate waste and so I love how you all used your noggins to reuse some stuff around the camp. My favorite are the rocks. Those are expensive when bought so it is awesome that you were able to just pick them out of the ground. Any extras...? ;)

Joey and Elizabeth said...

HOW FUN!!!!!!!!!! It's probably a good thing we don't live closer to y'all... we would be begging for help ALL.THE.TIME!!!
And I just love the thought of preggo you working the tractor/front end loader :) Too funny!!

Caroline said...

This is all so fantastic and inspiring! You two are amazing!