Our back yard is fairly small (15' by 50'). There isn't room to get terribly elaborate, but we had some ideas. A waterfall or fountain of some sort. A few trees. Flowers. A little bit of grass, at least enough to sit on. We had originally thought about several trees, some quite big, but we pared that down after a lot of head-scratching and staring at graph paper.
We decided that we'd rather find a good landscaper than do it all ourselves, at least this first time. I asked around at work and got a strong recommendation for Sunrise Landscaping. It turns out that they've already done several of the yards in our neighborhood, including a couple of my favorites. They are not cheap, but after seeing several of the yards they've done, I must admit you get what you pay for. We got in touch with them and set up a couple appointments to work out a design that would give us the sort of environment we want without using horrendous amounts of water or poking branches in through our windows.
After all the scheduling was taken care of, we were given a date of late June (this coming week) for ours to be done. Then, last Monday, I got a call from willowisp while I was at the office...
"Mark from Sunrise just called. He says the customer they were going to be with this week has just had something urgent come up that takes him out of town. He was wondering if they could come and do ours in his time slot..."
They arrived about an hour after that. There was a crew of 3 or 4 guys (depending on the day) working on it, plus the supervisor's attention whenever necessary. From start to finish, it took 3 days. Here's how it went.
We were starting from bare dirt and a few weeds. I pulled lots of weeds during the spring and summer, but a few I let grow because they had very pretty flowers that bloomed first thing in the morning.
The plan was to do most of the landscaping in the back yard. The side yards were going to be paths with gravel and paving stones plus some space for willowisp to plant flowers.
The guys began by pulling all the weeds. The first job was to lay down the sprinkler system. They brought a trench-digger back and went to it. I don't have any pictures of that: by the time I got home from the office most of it had been filled in. Poor Sean was terrified by all the noise and banging about. He didn't come more than halfway down the stairs until mid-evening. By the end of the day, they had set up the steel edging for the lawn, the sprinkler system, and brought all of the paving stones that would be used on the side yards.
A big truck arrived bright and early with a load of topsoil. This was tilled into the ground where the grass would go. After that, the guys put in most of our plants. There are roses, plumbago, a crepe myrtle, Indian hawthorn, a Mexican olive, hydrangeas... it's very pretty. Rather than link to each one separately I'll point you at the gallery page that has all of them.
After the flowers went in, it was time to lay down weed fabric and paving stones. Due to a minor scheduling mishap, they couldn't get the gravel in time to lay it down that day, so that was put off until day 3 along with the grass.
Today's truck brought our grass. We got a mix of bluegrass, fescue and rye. They brought that back, then went about putting in the gravel. We got a fairly light-colored stone that brightens things a lot. It looks great when it's rained on, too.
Once the gravel was in, it was time to lay the sod down. That hardly took any time at all. I think they spent more time going over it with a big heavy roller than they did actually putting it down in the first place.
The project was declared (almost) finished at the end of day 3. The only things still missing are a couple of dwarf apple trees that will go in early next week. We'll put those in the back corners behind the rows of flowers.
I'm very happy with how it turned out. There are things we still want to do -- maybe a climbing plant of some sort on the back wall -- and projects still to come, like a fountain of some sort in a spot we left open for the purpose. The fountain will happen next summer. Once all the commotion ended, Heidi and Sean came down to inspect the results. They seem pleased.
Here endeth the mercifully straightforward saga of our back yard. I'll take pictures regularly as things grow and post updates now and then.