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The State of the Backyard 2017 Edition


When we bought the current house we’re in, it was winter and our showing was at night.  In those conditions everything seemed maybe a bit overgrown, but fine.  How wrong we were.

Here’s what I wrote in a draft for a never-revealed post entitled “Backyard Reveal, Year One:”

The backyard was originally not on my list of things to tackle this year, but once the weather warmed up and I got to take a good look at it, I knew that if I didn’t make an attempt at it I’d have a bigger and uglier job down the road.

Everything was beyond overgrown.  There were tons of nuisance trees, aggressive perennials, and an endless supply of ferns!!  There were also an abundance of peonies, which inspired my peony series.  I originally was going to scale them back, but I love them so much that now I have to keep them.

The sad look of “progress” 2016 edition.
The sad look of “progress” 2017 edition. No inspiration here folks, just a bunch of real-life over-growth.

I had every intention of giving you a backyard reveal, but the job was just too big.  That endless supply of ferns was well over 100, and I haven’t even taken them all out.  In fact, in an area I previously cleaned out, I already have removed 11 ferns this year.  Dominic and I are keeping count.

Check out the backyard in 2016

All I could manage last year was to clean up half of one side of the flower beds, get the garden roto-tilled so I could start applying kitchen scraps, and cutting of the nuisance saplings, only to have them grow back again.  The ground was so root bound with weeds and perennials that a meter section usually took me around an hour to work up.

This year the work is going much quicker.  The Hermit found some bricks for me and I’m digging them in as a border.

I’m trimming the established trees and cutting some to the ground so they can start over.  When I cut down one of the bushes I was very happy to discover an established grape vine!

How do you not notice that you have a grapevine, you ask?  Well, I did, kind of.  Last year I thought it was a weed, or something that was maybe on the neighbours side of the fence.  I didn’t want to be a bad neighbour, so I cut away the parts that were getting tangled up in our bush and moved on to other projects.

In other good news, the dwarf apple tree I transplanted from Humboldt seems to be thriving.  The chives are extremely happy too!

This year the plan is to go through the side of the yard I did last year and continue to get the nuisance perennials out.  I’ll paint the potting shed and maybe the deck too.  The Hermit will rototill the garden space for me and I’ll plant my first city garden

As for the other side of the yard. . . it will probably have to wait another year.

Here’s the home of at least 200 more ferns that I’m going to have to eventually pull out. Anyone want some ferns?

Related: Curb Appeal in a Weekend

What are you working on in your yard?  Do you have an overgrown yard too?

Kristen Raney

Kristen Raney

Kristen is a former farm kid turned urban gardener who owns the popular gardening website, Shifting Roots.  She is obsessed with growing flowers and pushing the limits of what can be grown in her zone 3b garden.  She also loves to grow tomatoes, but oddly enough, dislikes eating them raw.

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Hi, I'm Kristen and I help new gardeners learn to grow their own vegetables and beautify their yards. I also share recipes that use all that delicious garden produce. Grab a coffee (and your gardening gloves) and join me for gardening tips, simple recipes, and the occasional DIY, all from the lovely city of Saskatoon, Saskatchewan.

P.S. First time gardener? You'll want to download the quick start gardening guide below!