A Summer in the Yard

This summer has included a few major yard projects at my parent’s house in Salem and since I love working outside, I volunteered to help out. I’m horrible at remembering to take before and after photos so the best thing I can do to show you the work we did in the yard is to show the other side of the yard:

Overgrown trees, encroaching blackberries and general chaos was pretty much the theme on the opposite side of the yard. By purchasing a ton of groupons and the like, my mom was able to buy a truckload of new plants to completely redo the yard. Here’s the after:

My mom locally sourced *free* bark to cover her landscape fabric from a program that recycles yard debris with troubled youth. Mom also used an old sewing machine treadle base with a rescued wood plank on top to create a little table (see bottom left). Grandma donated the wire ice cream chairs and the GIANT arbor that you can barely see behind the fire pit was a Portland craigslist score. Originally the seller wanted $50 but when they found out the $25 cost to my parent’s of renting a trailer because the darn thing was so big, they dropped the price to $25! In order to set-up the plants, we carefully researched the mature size of each and labeled them with huge signs so we could arrange the tall in back and shorter in front. Dad chainsawed the trimmings from all the limbs we cut in order to make wooden stepping stones that you can see in the top photo.

Years ago, my mom tried to plant this part of the yard with shade loving plants and everything died. It was only later that she realized the noon sun cuts right under the trees and the whole area is much friendlier to part-sun/full sun plants. Voila. The plants are doing great and I can’t wait for the yard to grow in!


Building a Vertical Garden

This summer, I helped my mom rip out a holly tree and a cherry tree that were overtaking her deck and replaced it with a vertical shade garden. The original idea came from A Kate Offering. We changed it by using 2x12x12 cedar planks and 4×6 center posts on edge. The project cost was estimated at $350-400 which included all of our own labor. We transported the wood, dug the post holes, poured the concrete and put the darn thing together. The garden needed 8 large bags of potting soil and possibly more after it settles. But, the hard work made a tremendous difference in the backyard area. The privacy was maintained between my parent’s house and the neighbors and the structure should last a good long time. Here are the results:


To My Mom

This illustration totally reminds me of my mom when I was growing up. My grandpa was an optometrist so both my mom and dad had epically large glasses all during my childhood and my mom to this day has her gorgeous long red hair. She was the mom who loved to help me with my math homework, comfort me when friendships turned sour and made treats during sleepovers. She is one of my best friends.

For one of my birthdays (5 years old?) she collected giant cardboard boxes and joined them together and painted them to create a Sesame Street playground in the backyard. I played in that thing until it crumbled thanks to Oregon rain. She was always the one that took pity on every animal that came our way so that our house was always full of kids and dogs and cats and sometimes miniature hamstersor love birds. She was the one who said, “See ya later and have fun!” as I stood in my dorm room the very first day at college hugging my dad while we both cried. She was the one who always encouraged me to keep writing.

Thanks Mom! I love you.

Me and Mom