When Michael and I moved into our home two years ago, one of the biggest selling points was the low maintenance yard. Our neighborhood has a yard crew that mows our lawn and takes care of our shrubs. The side yard--our responsibility--is about the size of a closet. We were in heaven... for the first year. Last summer, however, we realized that not doing anything with our lawn was killing us. We love being outdoors yet our yard left much to be desired. 2010 was the summer of concrete staining, potted plants, one row of English ivy, and more mulch than one yard should ever allow. We also learned that our yard, while still small, is much larger (or at least longer) than we realized.
The mulch was a temporary fix, so last month we met with a landscaper to see what he would suggest. We really wanted to plant sod, which he nixed immediately due to the lack of sunlight. He mentioned river rocks and said he'd email us a quote.
You guys. Holy cow. He gave us two separate quotes: $1331 and $2955. The quotes included prep work, weed cover, and two different types of rocks. That was it. Not only were both quotes over our price range, but for $3000 I better see diamonds amidst river rocks. We decided we would take our last year's DIY project to the next level and plant English ivy EVERYWHERE. That would take care of our need for green as well as stay within our budget.
I typically don't discuss money on this blog (thank you mom and dad for teaching me good manners), but in this case I want to break it down for you because, well... I'm super proud of us. I am seriously considering sending the landscaper a link to this post in hopes that he stops ripping off the American public.
One last thing--we have absolutely ZERO knowledge of plants/soil/flowers/etc. This past month has been a labor of love (we have insane blisters, back pain and red necks to prove it), but we fully realize that no one would look at our yard and think we'd hired a landscaper. We understand that and we're ok with it. We also realize that ivy is a process and it looks downright funny this year. But next year? It'll look better. The year after that? The ground could be completely covered in beautiful green ivy. And when that happens, we can sit back and realize these painful weekends in 2011 were absolutely worth it.
And now, let's break it down! (If something was on sale, I included what we paid for it as well as the original price because GOOD LORD I love sales!)
English Ivy (8 flats): $150
Pond pebbles: $30
Hibiscus (2): $45 (original price: $60)
Azalea bush: $25
Purple spike plant (See what I mean? No clue): $20
Begonias: $40 (original price: $55)
Hanging basket flowers: $19
Hanging basket: $0 (recycled from last year)
Flower pots: $0 (purchased last year)
Watering can: $0 (purchased last year)
Patio Furniture: $400
Plates (6): $26 (original price: $36)
Napkins: $0 (wedding gift)
Table decor: $60 (original price: $75) (total splurge)
Bird Bath: $50
Chiminea: $65 (original price: $130!!!)
Garden stool: $70 (original price: $90) (total splurge) (But also great when we have a 5th guest!)
Gloves (2): $8
Tiller: $20 (I would've paid $300 for this--it was a lifesaver)
Concrete stain for touch-ups: $0 (purchased last year)
Sealant for concrete: $15
GRAND TOTAL: $1108
Don't get me wrong, I realize $1108 is still quite a bit and we're now eating ramen noodles to compensate, but knowing that we did all of the above for less than what it cost for "prep work, weed fabric, and native gravel" makes me one very happy lady. :)
Last year, before the stain:
Sideyard (like I said, looks a bit goofy right now...)
Rows and rows (and rows) of English ivy. Just looking at this makes my hands, arms, and back so tired.
When I bought a flat of pink begonias this little guy hitched a ride (he hadn't bloomed but I assumed he was pink). As soon as I saw a white bloom I dug him up. Michael then replanted him in his very own pot. Is it weird that I'm talking about a plant like it's a person?)
Thumbs kept us company while we worked!
Our star performer for the next few months...
What are you waiting for? Come on over--we've got beers in the fridge!
Actually, can we re-schedule for tomorrow? We are exhausted. GOOD NIGHT!