Slow Yard Progress, And Some Buried Garden Treasure

After showing the state of our ugly backyard back in April, we got off to a pretty good start working on it this year. To see the steady stream of posts on the subject, check out the Yard & Garden category of this blog, where I’ve actually somehow written 11 whole posts on various yard things since that April post (many of them flower-related).

In recent weeks, though, progress on the yard has slowed down a bit — even though the to-do list still has quite a few things on it:

  • Weed and mulch the areas along the garage and back fence, and plant some non-weedy plants there.
  • Do something about the formerly overgrown area right along the house. (In the long term it would be awesome to build a patio there, but for now we’ll probably just plant some grass to try to keep the weeds at bay.)
  • Do something about the ugly, rusty old clothesline pole (which you can see front and center in the first picture in this post) — currently thinking just paint over the ugly rustyness and maybe add some hooks to hang some hanging plants from it.
  • Add some kind of lattice to close off the storage area along the basement stairs, and ideally re-paint and prettify the stairs leading up to the back door.

There’s still a lot to do, and with it already approaching the end of July (how the heck did that happen?!) it’s starting to look like a real possibility that we’ll run out of summer before we can finish it all.

Of the list above, the only item that has seen any progress at all is the first one — using the “weed” term pretty loosely, since a lot of what I’ve been pulling up in the yard actually seems like it was put there on purpose by the previous owners. For instance, along the back of the garage there was this really thick bed of some kind of leafy ground-cover plant, with a very solid mass of roots all the way along:

Digging Up Ground Cover Plant

Our next-door neighbors had some of the same type of plant growing on their side of the fence, and when I started pulling up the plants in our yard, they got all excited and happily started pulling up the ones in their yard too. It was only then that I realized that this plant is super aggressive in how it spreads, and they had just given up on trying to keep it out of their yard as long as we had it in ours. Yikes!

So anyway, it all got dug up from along the back of the garage, and so far it’s stayed gone. Although the same can’t be said for other types of weeds — you blink and all of a sudden you have what looks like a small bush growing in what used to be a completely cleared-out area:

Ferny Weed Thing

(You there… where did you come from and how did you get so big so fast?)

I guess that’s the danger of clearing sections of yard without planting and mulching right away — the work will get undone by invading weeds a lot faster than you think.

So overall, the backyard progress has slowed down quite a bit lately, with no big improvements or accomplishments to show. A mid-summer slump, you might say. But there’s been a lot going on elsewhere in life, including some fairly big and stressful work-related things for me (which I might blog about in more detail eventually) so I’ll consider it a win if we can make any yard progress at all, however small, over the coming weeks.

On the fun side of things, though: check out this nifty little “treasure” I randomly dug up while working on some gardening:

Barrel Charm Dug Up In Garden

It’s a little barrel-shaped charm. Just a plastic one with silver paint, and the paint is starting to peel off in places, so I know it’s not worth anything and it couldn’t have been back there for too long. But it was such a fun little thing to find that I think I’ll hang onto it, and maybe consider it some kind of gardening good luck charm. And it makes me wonder what else might be buried in this little backyard!

What about you guys — anyone else struggling to stay on track with big ambitious yard projects this summer? Did you ever dig up some random unexpected thing in the process of gardening? Feel free to share any stories in the comments!


  1. That bush looks like a tree of heaven, which will become a tree pretty quickly. If you don’t want a tree there, you might want to remove it soon. The roots go pretty deep if you don’t get them out quickly. Be forewarned, it might smell like rotten peanut butter.

    • Wow Tammi, thanks for the tip — I’d never heard of a Tree of Heaven before now, but looking it up, it does look like that’s what it might be. We definitely don’t want a 50-foot tree that close to the garage, so we’ll have to pull it out ASAP! :)

  2. Weeds! Ha-ha! You’re doing a really good job of getting rid of yours and making your yard beautiful. Geoffrey asked me one time “What’s a weed?” I tried “super aggressive” but some of these have really nice blooms; “invasive non-native” but that would eliminate roses and other beautiful plants, “smelly” well that covers a lot! So my answer was “It’s anything we don’t want in our garden.” Unfortunately, I have way too many of those! Only interesting thing we’ve found is shards of native pottery and clumps of artist grade clay. These weren’t really dug up, more like exposed by storms.

    Your yard has really come a long way, but you may not realize it. Feel good about what you have accomplished, don’t worry about what hasn’t been done! It can wait until next year!

    • Thanks for these words of encouragement! You’re right that everything doesn’t need to get done all at once before the end of summer, and realistically the backyard will probably be an ongoing multi-year project. Haha, and you make some really good points about the whole concept of “weeds” — it does seem pretty arbitrary when trying to actually define what a weed is, doesn’t it? I think the “anything we don’t want in our garden” explanation fits perfectly though, and by that definition I’ve been pulling out tons of them! :)

  3. One thing I like about rabbits, I have an excuse for not pulling weeds so often, as they love things like dandelions, sow thistle, Spanish needle (dad called them Beggar Lice, their seeds stick to you like ticks) and KUDZU!!! So with my gardening efforts going more and more to things the rabbits or I can eat, my definition of “weed” is vastly different from many! Mom is right about that “artist quality clay” though, I got quite a bit of it whenever the tide went out as a kid. Later I learned that the deposit used to go all the way under the bay to the opposite shore, and was used to make pottery and bricks where that old chimney remnant is off Scenic Hwy.

  4. I’m with Grandmama, your yard is coming along beautifully! I also agree with her definition of weeds; and what you said about them just popping up overnight…too true!! Of course, here’s it’s like “You there…where did you come from, and who are all these friends you brought with you? This is NOT a garden party!” The little charm you found is so cute! We haven’t found anything too spectacular out here, but Robert did find an old Coca-cola bottle once. And LOTS of random metal (Granddaddy was famous for burying things to build up low-lying land, lol).

    I wonder if that pole in the yard could be turned into a tether-ball game for Lillian? Just a thought. :) She may not be old enough for that game yet, and I like your idea of hanging baskets from it too. :D Keep up the great work!!!!

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