Our Yard, the Summer’s Major Home Improvement

When we moved in we made a list of home improvements we’d like to make.  The house could use new carpets, but they work fine and are expensive so thats on the long term list.  An external paint job was necessary, so my brother with a bit of experience did that (for no small fee, we spent about $3k including all materials).  The furnace is really old, but I’d bet we can keep that running.  So what to work on?  Maybe nothing?  On the plus side that wouldn’t cost anything at all.

But I love me some manual labor, outdoors is preferable, and the backyard had some issues, so that’s where I headed.  Our house is set back a bit further in our lot than we’d like so the backyard is small-ish and the lawn is even smaller.  In addition the previous owners had cut down three very large trees approximately in the middle of the backyard, left the (enormous, 2-3ft wide) stumps and covered them with a massive growth of ivy.  That wasn’t our style and we wanted more grass.

So what to do?  Here’s what we did and how much it cost us.

Sold the rubbermaid shed.  We have a 3 car garage and a 1/5 acre lot, who needs a shed? :    -$450, I’ll count it.

Sold the pavers under the shed (it was sticking right out into the corner of the yard…) :    -$40

Tore out the ivy: free

Dug up all the dirt around the stump: free

Used sledgehammer and iron wedge to beat the weakest most rotten stump to death: free (on the plus side swinging the sledgehammer hundreds of times was a good workout, on the negative side by back didn’t always feel so good.)

Tried to beat out the other two stumps: Free, didn’t even come close

Tried to saw through the roots of the two stronger stumps:  $10 for a new chainsaw blade before giving up.

Rented stump grinder from Home Depot to remove the two stumps: $120 plus a full day of labor and some more back pain, but on the plus side again we probably got close to a yard or more of fine mulch to spread, and that was desperately needed

Bought 100 16″ x 6″ retaining wall blocks from Lowes to hold up the hill so we could push the grass further into the yard (the stumps were growing on a slight hill: $300 plus a ton more exercise and pain at 60lbs each

Gravel to backfill the wall: $12, we were able to mostly use the gravel from under the shed’s pavers, but had to go buy some in the end, just shoveled it into the back of my SUV with a tarp

Bought new topsoil to plant the new grass: $215 , most of the soil by the stumps was very clay-like so I got rid of it.

Fertilize and seed the new lawn: $0, the previous owners left behind quite a good deal of quality seed and fertilizer.

Bought Cedar and Screws from Home Depot to build two planting boxes – $120

Costs:  $780

“Revenue”: $490 🙂

“Net” cost:  $290

That’s all for this year.  I think it looks pretty good.  I’ll add a picture or two once the grass has filled in a bit more.

Next spring we plan to fill in the area above the wall with some flowering plants, maybe rhododendrons. possibly some blueberry bushes, and various other flowers for other areas of the yard.  Will Update.


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