Saturday, December 7, 2013

The Front Yard

Before-- if you can see the pumpkin, we know it is October

Okay, I know the front yard is not actually in the house- but it is something that is bigger than me. There were more people involved in making the front yard become a reality.

You helped.

For that, I say, "Thank You."

Let's back up.

Remember when I talked about the back splash and the CPA put the smack down on the money tree? That morning- prior to the appointment, we met with a landscaper to see what we could do in the front yard to add depth,  making this rambling ranch house more polished and, mostly, just more finished.

We met with the CPA and as we were leaving his office, I got a text from the landscaper that told me the price. I sighed and responded that we were on a moratorium with spending on the house until further notice. He understood as he was also in the process of renovating a home.

But the front yard looked bad.
We were THE eyesore of the neighborhood.
So much work, so very much work had gone on in the inside, but it didn't matter- because people judge books by cover... and our cover was ugly.

What could I do to solve this problem? We had our budget, we had our play money, and we had goals. None of these things left room for the big expense of the front yard. And it was a big expense that would take months setting aside extra money on top of the other money we were already saving for all those other things that we needed and wanted to do.

The yard was not getting any prettier.

A few months ago, I retired from work. For years, I sold health insurance and loved the work that I did and the people I worked for. It was fun to go into businesses and be an expert on something that was so vital to everyone. It was rewarding to work for those who wanted to improve the lives of their employees.

And it was profitable.

Now, as I sit and type, Niece and LMC are sitting at the table eating a lunch I cooked for them and Bennie is on the floor, trying to figure out how to crawl while keeping her thumb in her mouth. The pay is not as good- but the rewards are greater. I get to see my sweet niece and nephew more than twice a year and get to be a part of their lives as much as they are such an important of mine.

What does this have to do with the yard? I'm getting there.

In the past, when I wanted to make a large purchase- I just did it. I made money. Husband made money. We saved money. Times are different now; we are a one-income family and decisions on this scale have to be anticipated and planned.

I grabbed my camera that I love so dearly and thought about all the times people have told me that my pictures are good. Next, I grabbed my computer and took to Facebook to see if people were willing to pay for pictures of their cherubs. Knock me over with a feather, they came in droves. I had to raise my prices. They came faster. I raised my prices again... and still they came. A third raise and I was booked every day for weeks on end. Though the price was raised several times over, I was still cheaper than the cheapest professional photographer. Maybe more entertaining? Maybe more fun? Maybe.

I was not doing this to put food on the table, rather to put plants in the yard. Within three weeks, I had reached my goal and happily contacted the landscaper to see if the price had changed or if it was too late in the season to plant.

We set a date and his guys got to work yesterday ripping out the scrawny twigs that were once azaleas. Pulling into the driveway in the afternoon, I literally screamed with glee and clapped my hands in exaltation at the amazing change that had taken place over the past six hours.

Our house is coming together.

We put [insert something I was paying attention to here] in the front of the house, lining the left and right side. In front of the dining and living rooms, we put tea olives in the corners, loropetalums in the back, miniature gardenias in the front and lining the top of the walkway. On either side of the door are two knock-out roses that I will try my very best to not kill.

Every southern yard needs gardenias and roses.

Those lovely plants that are lining the left and right side will grow tall and we will keep them cropped directly under the windows. The loropetalums will grow a few inches taller than the window base and the gardenias will be pruned into a snowball.

The landscaper made the recommendation of putting azaleas where the gardenias are. About that moment, SIL pulled in to pick up Niece and LMC for choir and I asked her opinion. She has opinions and I love her for it. She said not to do azaleas because they are only pretty only one or two weeks out of the year. She is right- she usually is. Insert gardenias. The even better part about going with gardenias instead of azaleas is that we have about 96 azaleas on this property. I am not exaggerating. Some day, I will get a head count. But, for the moment- let's just say that there are a lot of azaleas.

The yard makes the house looked less like an eyesore and more like a welcome addition to the neighborhood. Hopefully the neighbors agree.

They probably disagree with the blow-ups and the ornaments in the yard, but those are the things that LMC loves the most. She is not as excited about the landscaping as we are. But Mickey Mouse and Snoopy? Oh- she's all about those!

Cropped out of these pictures is the driveway. We have a one-lane driveway and a two car garage.... of which, neither car can fit inside. Husband and I cut across the pine straw next to the driveway and over the last few months, it has taken its toll on the bed. We are going to drop some crush and run in the next few weeks and put river rock over it until the next phase. The next phase will be to lay another concrete pad and file down the curb so that both cars can drive up and down the driveway without that Clampett look that we love so much.


Just to have a close up comparison....

Thank you for trusting a novice photographer to take pictures of your family this year. I had fun and I hope you did, too.

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