Okay – I know y’all are waiting patiently to see how the progress is going inside the house, but we’ve started to take advantage of the beautiful weather to get some yard work so we’re switching gears here for a bit. The outside of our house needed some serious lovin’. Here’s a before picture to give you an idea of what we’re up against.

The yard needs some simplifying and we’re starting this process by removing the shrubs that go next to the driveway and at the front of the yard. We were finding that if we had two vehicles in the driveway, the person getting out of the vehicle on the left hand side of the driveway would open their car door right into the bushes, which could be a scratch hazard. And then when you would get out of your vehicle and walk towards the house, you’d be catching your jacket on the shrubs. The point here is that these shrubs need to go – end of story.

We started to remove the shrubs by cutting the tops off so we wouldn’t have to look at them all winter and then we ended up having the driest winter in decades in Calgary so we ended up looking at cut-off tree stumps for the whole winter! Once spring hit, Cam was convinced he could dig the shrub stumps out so he worked away digging at them with various shovels and saws, but it took hours to get one stump out. It turns out the shrubs had some pretty intense root systems after being there for 30 years. So we ran a whole lot of water onto the shrub stumps so the ground was good and wet and then we borrowed a heavy-duty chain from our neighbours and pulled a few of the shrub stumps out with our truck. This worked okay, but we found that since we had cut the tops of the shrubs off, that the chain would slip up the tree stumps fairly quickly and come loose. Tightening the chain as tight as we could before even hooking it up to the truck was key in this process. The next day, Cam’s Dad came over and the two guys had borrowed a few tools from a landscaping neighbour and set to work digging them out by hand. It was a dirty, grunt-labour job, but the remainder of the stumps were removed. In total, removing the shrubs took about 9 hours.

Here's the view from the patio above the garage now:

Here's a view of what the yard looked like this spring, where the shrub tops where cut off, allowing you to see the rest of the yard and flower beds better:

This is the tree that completely blocks the view of the front of the house, so we had to cut it down too.

Cam and I spent another 10 hours or so cutting out plants and weeds from our front yard and flower beds that were completely overgrown and out of control. We rearranged some pre-existing rocks in the flower beds so they were standing up and making more of a visual impact. We cut down another tree that was in the middle of our yard and completely blocking the front of our house. We aerated the lawn and spread fertilizer and grass seed.

Here's a before of the flower beds:

Here are the photos after we ripped out all of the overgrown plants and placed the rocks upright. We still plan to add a few more plants and some cedar bark mulch:

We arrived at a much simpler, cleaner starting point for the other projects that we wanted to do to our yard and to the exterior of our house this summer. Up to this point, we’ve only spent money on the fertilizer and grass seed, which cost under $50 so the elbow grease went a long way! There has been a huge improvement in the yard already and we’re just getting started! Here’s where we are at now:

Click here to see the next post about how we built a modern fence in the pursuit of increasing street appeal


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