Friday, March 22, 2013

Yard Last Summer: Before and After

As I prepare for the season of gardening ahead, I realized that I did not write a single post about my new yard last summer, probably because I was too busy working in it to write about it. It's a grassy 70 by 20 feet, which is big for New York standards and gives us a good amount of space to work with. Unfortunately, the lush and shady trees make gardening a challenge. I also think the patio is awkwardly small - something we're trying to improve this year. It's a constant experiment and work in progress.

Before: the first time we saw the yard last June

After: In Late August, after cleaning, planting and decorating

We moved in to the new apartment in late July, and the apartment had been vacant since April or May, so the first step was just to clean up the overzealous weeds and trim the grass, which my boyfriend did using a scythe and a pushmower. I also dug out lots of weed roots using a trowel.

Under the weeds, I found the remnants of an old raised bed. However, without knowing the provenance of the soil and it being in a shady spot, I chose to plant ornamental plants rather than vegetables in the bed. I did a lot of digging to put impatiens in the ground and decided that I'm never again planting annuals in the ground as starters - only as seeds. Perennial starters - like the hostas and dusty miller - on the other hand are worth it, since they will come back again this year.

I planted an assortment of flowers and herbs in pots, which did fine, and fall vegetables from seeds, which didn't grow (post to come). In the back of the yard we keep a compost bin made out of a trash can (which also deserves its own post). While we trimmed back a lot of weeds, we left the lovely ivy already growing and expanding along the fences on both sides.

Evan's parents gave us a bistro table set, which is perfect for dinners for two. They also gave us the chiminea which extends the use of the yard into cooler mosquito-free fall and spring times. It's technically illegal to have open fires outside in New York City, but the chiminea is much safer than a firepit, and it's only an issue if neighbors complain to the fire department, and so far, so good. 

For entertaining, we made a big table by putting an old door on top of sawhorses. We found several wooden folding chairs on craigslist, that we keep stashed away inside and pull out for extra seating for dinner parties or backyard gatherings. My images of actually having outdoor dinner parties around this table, however, were quashed by tropics-level mosquitos (someday I'll write about that too).

It may still be snowing, but this year, I'm already scheming up what are probably over-optimistic plans of more flowers, more vegetables and fewer mosquitos.


  1. You have done a great job on your yard. I feel your pain on the mosquito-infestations! Georgia is the worst!

  2. I love the space!

    Such a bummer about the mosquitoes. I'm eternally grateful that we don't have many here. D is probably more grateful because he's one of those people who mosquitoes flock to. Wish I had some helpful advice for you!

    (Mosquitoes and bed bugs are the only reason I wish DDT was actually safe for the environment. I don't wish most bugs ill, but those ones can all disappear as far as I'm concerned.)

  3. Ick. I hate mosquitoes. I read that lemongrass repels them, though. It's worth a try!