Starting a yard

A few weeks ago, we accepted a load of beautiful Missouri River bottom dirt, rolled up our sleeves and ignored every fiber of our we-hate-yardwork being and got started on the yard. Ultimately we want a fenced, low maintenance spot to hang out. We have plenty of patio plans as well, but first we need to start the process of getting the yard in shape. Let’s take a quick tour of the befores.

On the side in the back, the new parking pad install left a lot of upturned debris and an uneven edge to the concrete.



The yard had a myriad of problems: uneven tracks from the bobcat, a small trench next to the new concrete and zero grass.




Up front the concrete guys got a little overzealous with the bobcat, tearing out a swatch of ground up to the sidewalk when the patio really needed to stop at the front of the building.


And this… a dead, seriously overgrown tree.


None of that looks great, but the biggest problem were the bricks and debris throughout. I know demolishing a brick house isn’t a tidy process, but at one point I seriously questioned whether they took ANY bricks out of the lot.

It’s hard to capture in pictures, but basically every square foot looked like this


or this


or had foundation stones that were more like icebergs, just a wee bit showing above the surface


but not something you’d want to run your boat into…



We used some of the larger pieces to build up the area next to the stairs.



We spent an entire weekend excavating as many bricks, rocks, and miscellaneous building parts from the yard as possible. Aaron hauled dirt to fill in the holes and I became a human aerator, raking up the bare areas so grass seed would root. In related news, CNN just ranked this among the worst jobs in the history of the world. (Not really.) (But they should.)

The last step came when Aaron laid $170 worth of zoysia seed and some fertilizer. We cringed when he checked the price at Home Depot, but these are the things you do when you have a forever home. You buy the ideal grass. The grass that barely needs mowed. The grass that will blanket any remaining debris with a smooth carpet. The grass that hopefully won’t be demolished by Great Dane pee.

By Sunday night, we all felt like this*


*No animals were forced to help with the yard work. She always looks this tired.

Then we waited and watched.

And waited

And then Aaron did some more research on zoysia. Fun Fact: It’s nearly impossible to grow zoysia from seed. The traditional method is to buy plugs and let is slowly invade your yard.


If you learn nothing else from your time here, please know that you should not buy zoysia seed. I don’t even know why the hell they sell it at Home Depot. Round two of grass seed (a Missouri-friendly fescue blend) a few straw mats and some love from the sprinkler and we’re finally seeing some reward for our efforts.







It still has a long way to go. Aaron will spend the year cultivating the grass and eliminating the weeds. Once we have a solid swath of grass, we’ll get zoysia plugs for Perfect Grass Attempt #2.

Clearly we have a fence skeleton in place. We’re waiting for the rest of the material and I’ll give you the full break down once it’s up.

  1. Do you need a caption? Hurwie hurwie daddy make it grow! I gotta go!!!

    1. Lol! Yes, maybe a Mojo caption contest should be a recurring topic.

  2. You guys are incredible. Seriously, I know how much work that is, and what you have so far looks great. The worst part of a lawn is the incredible amount of water it needs – the best part is how much dogs love them. Fingers crossed for a wet enough (but not too wet) summer to encourage your baby grass to grow.

    1. Thanks, Kati!

  3. What a transformation! And it isn’t even finished yet. It is really starting to look good. I hope you are getting the rain we have received around here in the Northeast. I feel like it has hardly stopped raining for the last month. Our grass is growing like crazy.

    1. We’re getting a moderate amount of rain, but not enough to keep the sprinkler put away. It’s totally worth it though 🙂

  4. That stinks about the zoysia! But it is looking great now. I can totally see where you’re going with this, and it is going to look amazing when you’re finished!

    1. Thanks Anne!

  5. […] let’s take a look at what we were working with. These pictures are pre “Starting the Yard” but just imagine this space with a bit more grass. The fence line is pretty obvious thanks […]

  6. […] So if you asked me what my least favorite project was over the past year, I would definitely say starting the yard. It was an entire weekend of hauling of trash and buckets full of bricks out of the yard, manually […]

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