I am so excited to share this project, because it has been years in the making. Three years, to be exact, and a whole lot of sweat equity. For some reason, we thought it was a good idea to buy a raw 2-acre property, plop a house into the middle of it, and have our contractor clear the entire center to leave us with an acre of bare dirt. “It will be great to plan our yard from scratch,” we said. “Like a blank canvas,” we said.
Little did we know, we would be spending the next three years of our lives battling a jungle of weeds, moving mountains of gravel, mulch, and garden soil, and bumbling our way through building projects that we had no prior knowledge of how to build. Yet, finally, just this summer, we’ve been able to stand back, put our weed blinders on, and say, “Gosh, the yard is actually looking pretty good.” And there is such a satisfaction and pride in knowing that we have done all of this ourselves.
Our house is situated sideways on our property, with one end of the house facing the road, and the front door facing the neighbor’s property. This was the best way to maximize views and natural light with our floorpan, but unfortunately, it means that the part of the house most visible from the road was this big, ugly grey wall. We installed an extensive drip system last summer to irrigate all of our landscaping, and this has really helped the plants to grow and start to fill in the space. This summer we’ve been working on adding some design elements to the wall to give it more character.
We built a wall trellis to fill up the large blank space between the windows of the house. We are planning to try to train a climbing rose up the trellis, but I think it also looks pretty nice without any plants on it. We built the trellis out of pressure-treated 2 x 4s and 2x2s, and mounted it directly onto our siding. It’s a very simple design but I think it adds a big impact.
We also made a simple, shutter-inspired address sign featuring some rusted metal tree art made by a team of Washington artists (view their stuff on Etsy here). A couple of years ago we hung a metal owl made by these artists on our mailbox. Sadly, it was quickly stolen (we chalked it up to bored teenagers with island fever). Hopefully since these trees are way up our driveway, and not easily accessible to road traffic, they’ll be safe. We made the background of the sign out of cedar 2 x 4s, stained the wood with a clear protective coat, and attached the whole piece to the wall using L-brackets. We made small wood bases for the trees so they would pop forward off the background a bit.
To add a pop of color, I spray painted some metal rain gutters cornflower blue, and filled them with soil and succulents to create some cost-effective window boxes. We cut them to the length of our windows, attached them to the window trim, and drilled holes in the bottoms for drainage. Lots of different things can be grown in gutter gardens, but I chose succulents because they tie in nicely with our desert-themed rock garden out front. I’m looking forward to seeing what the gutters look like once the plants grow and fill the space a bit more. The best part is, metal gutters like these only cost about $6 each. I might have to make one for every window of our house!
We built two of our raised beds using salvaged pallet wood. The larger, center bed was made by stacking and cementing cinder blocks and red brick pavers. I like the pavers on top because they provide a nice ledge to sit on–our cat especially likes to sit there because the bricks heat up in the sun.
My wife used scrap wood to cobble together a wonderfully handy deer fence around the edge of the brick raised bed when I was frustrated by the deer eating all of my plants. She put each segment of the fence on hinges so I can easily access the bed from all sides. She really saved my sanity with this project, and now I can grow my dahlias in this bed without fear. It’s really lovely to see deer wander through our yard without feeling like they are my mortal enemies in an ongoing war over the garden!
We still have a lot of work to do on our property; I think it will be a gradual, lifelong project. But now that we’re starting to see the results of these first few years, it’s a journey we’re happy to be on. I definitely wouldn’t change the way we went about creating our home–it’s slowly turning into our own patch of paradise, just like we intended. Hopefully this post has sparked some ideas for your own home landscaping projects ❤