Landscaping Pros

Phil and I have been living in our home for a little over a year now, and we finally made our first real update to the house!

Ever since we moved in, the area in our front yard and the two sad little bushes that were planted there have been the bane of my existence. Poor Phil had to endure my complaints for many, many months before we finally decided to put pen to paper and map out a landscaping plan.

We decided to create a stone retaining wall, fill the area with mulch and plant a few bushes that would grow together to form a hedge under our windows.

The first step was to mark the area where the retaining wall would go.
*Please note the sad little bushes and lack of healthy grass…I know. However, I love the purple heart wreath that my Grammy made for us for our wedding day!

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Next, I dug up the two tired bushes. BY. MYSELF. That’s right. All by myself. I’m going to brag on this for this as long as possible because I was extremely excited that I did it solo (that’s sad, I know, but I’m still proud).

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Old, nasty bushes GONE!
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After spraying the area thoroughly with Roundup (to kill the grass for easier digging), we dug a trench to place the concrete stones in for the retaining wall.  IMG_0103

The next and by far the most tedious task was to lay each stone and build up the retaining wall. The key is in the foundation level. Each stone that you lay on the bottom level has to be perfectly level. That meant we had to use our hands to remove and/or add soil, then measure each stone with a level until the stone lay perfectly flat.

The other tricky part was that this area in our yard slopes down, which meant that we had to build up the wall higher on one side. To do that, we had to lay down a few stones on the lowest level of ground, then keep building up layer by layer until we were even with the highest level of ground.

The first couple of attempts at the beginning were rough going…Exhibit A:
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But then we started to get the hang of it…
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…until we ran out of stones and had to run to Sutherlands to restock. But at least we finished the first full row with the stones we had!
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The last row of laying stones was by far the easiest since we knew everything was level to that point. Finishing the retaining wall felt GREAT – like laying down the last few pieces in an incredibly difficult puzzle you’ve been working on for weeks!

Stone retaining wall: DONE!
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Next, after many, MANY trips to Wal-Mart, we filled the area with top soil. We needed enough to fill the area where the soil would almost hit the top of the retaining wall in order to support the stones. This took 35 bags of top soil. I kid you not.

The progress after 10 bags (and us daunted by the fact that we had to pick up WAY more bags of top soil then we thought)…
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We then planted three Yew bushes, which are known for being low maintenance and easy-to-grow shrubs.

Although they grow at a slower pace than others, they will grow in to each other if you would like more of a hedge look, or you can prune them as separate bushes. They were also a little less expensive than the Boxwoods we found, so these were an easy choice for us.
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After the bushes were planted, we laid down landscaping fabric around them (secured by pins) to prevent weeds from growing in the area.
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The final step was to fill the area with mulch. You need to lay no more than 4 inches of mulch on top of your planting soil, so we didn’t need to make nearly as many trips to Wal-Mart for this step (thank goodness).
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And KABOOM! The finished product!
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And one more before and after comparison for good measure…
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We both rewarded ourselves with a VERY refreshing cold beer while we admired our work! Not too shabby!

Despite the many hours of hard labor we put in to it, we enjoyed completing our first home project together!

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