When I bought my first house it came with a tiny patch of grass in the front yard, and the rest of the yard was all rocks. We spent months putting in a fence, terracing, and a yard. We then spent several more years putting in a deck and a ton of plants. We were very proud of what we had accomplished, but I swore I’d never take on a big yard project ever again. I’m now on my third.
The house we bought this year had a small cement slab off the back door that served as a patio. It was really only big enough the put a couple of chairs, there wasn’t even enough room for the barbecue. Not wanting to do any major projects, we tried very hard to find someone to build a deck. Unfortunately, all the contractors we called a) wouldn’t call us back, b) called us back but couldn’t do this simple (for someone who knows how to build decks) two-day project for another two months, or c) wanted an incredibly large amount of money. We finally gave up on the contractors and deck builders and decided to put in pavers, something we knew we could do ourselves.
So we dug out around the existing slab, had a bunch of gravel, sand, and bricks delivered, and went to work enlarging our patio. You would think A.J. would have been as happy as can be to have us all outside in the yard, with all the outdoor sounds, smells, and squirrels. But after a while A.J. got bored. And what does A.J. do when he gets bored? He helps, of course!
After we finished the patio, the next project was building a couple of large planter boxes. For some reason there’s a giant hedge along one side of the yard, a giant hedge along the back of the yard, but along the other side of the yard, the side closest to a very busy and noisy road, there’s nothing but the fence. We could plant another hedge or trees, but that would require about 10 years of growing time to even get above the fence, or we’d have to spend a huge amount of money (and figure out how to dig very big holes) to put in full-grown plants. We came up with another option: Build planters that are three feet high and plant four foot plants. That puts the plants above the fence from day 1.
For this project we needed a few things we didn’t have: a truck, a miter saw, and woodworking skills. Fortunately my dad has all those things. My parents came to visit for the day and got us a good portion of the way towards building the planter boxes.
And once again, who was the most helpful one there? A.J.!