Project Dreamcatcher: Two Week Check-in

Isa and I leave for St. Louis tomorrow. We’ll be gone for 10 days, so the first two weeks of my Project Dreamcatcher: Operation Reclaim Our Backyard are officially finished. I have to admit, I’m really impressed with all I’ve accomplished so far. I’ve also changed a lof of my plans and I think an entire new weekly schedule is probably in order. These were my goals for the first two weeks:

WEEK 1 (June 16-22)

1. Buy grub hoe, good gardening gloves and a hose. (CHECK!)

2. Pull out both side lawns plus the rose (????) bush. (ONE SIDE AND BACK – CHECK!)

3. Prepare space for new soil and plants. (CHECK!)

4. Get recommendations for what drought resistant plants to put on the side yard spaces. (CHECK!)

5. Choose drought resistant ground cover for main lawn and order enough for 325 sq ft. (CHECK!)

WEEK 2 (June 23-29)

1. Buy plants for side yard. (CHECK!)

2. Put in soil and plant at least 5 new plants on each side. (ALMOST!)

First of all, pulling up one side yard took an entire week, but I also spent time amending the soil and planting as I went because I found it much easier to keep working if I could switch between tasks. Early in the week I also decided that I was going to pull up the back and plant some lavender (my original plan was to leave the back this summer and eventually build planters back there for a veggie garden but I realized I wouldn’t be ready for that for a long time and I’d rather plant lavender back there anyway). So I decided to change my goal of pulling up both side yards in the first two weeks and instead hoped to pull up the left side yard and the back. I finished both!

I also planted five plants along the left side yard, with ground cover in between each plant.

photo-167I pulled up the grass and weeds in the back in two short days; it all came up so easily! Then on Wednesday I started digging to amend the soil. That is when I realized why the grass and weed roots were so shallow back there–I couldn’t get my shovel more than three inches into the ground. I kept hitting something, no matter where I put my shovel. Finally I was able to find a way under the hard masses and realized the ground back there is FILLED with huge chunks of concrete, giant rocks, old ceramic pots, rusty pipes and even tiled counter top! After two days of back breaking work I’d cleared about 10 square feet and planted two lavender bushes.

photo-168In the space below those two small plants, I dug up this:

photo-170Can you believe that shit?! It’s insane how much crap was down there. It took forever to get it all up, and I think I actually pulled something in my pelvic area because I can hardly walk today. Oh, and I have blisters all over my hands.

So I have to get rid of all that stone. Oh, and these 20+ bags of dead grass and soil.


Clearing the rest of the back stretch is going to take another week entirely and then I have to clear, amend and plant the other side yard and the middle square. And I have to dispose of all that yard waste as well.

I actually asked a friend’s son if he would be interested in pulling the grass out of the middle square. His mom seemed to think he’d be interested but he hasn’t responded to my message on Facebook. Not sure what to make of that.

Deciding on what to put in the 300 sq ft square also took WAY longer than I expected. I found a couple drought tolerate ground covers that could withstand heavy foot traffic but neither was available online and I couldn’t find them at any local nurseries. Nothing I could find locally was drought tolerant or could withstand foot traffic–most couldn’t do either. I actually starting looking into fake grass again but quickly realized that at $7K for purchasing the stuff and installing it, I couldn’t begin to afford it. When I was about to lose hope I came across Miniature Stonecrop, which is very drought tolerant, can withstand heavy foot traffic AND is available online.I also love the way it looks. I’ve decided I’m going to put some very large, flat stones in the middle square too, so it won’t be just ground cover.

This gives you an idea of what Miniature Stonecrop looks like. I’m not going to do a checker board look, but more big, stepping stones scattered throughout the 300 sq ft space with miniature stonecrop in between.

I actually think it’s going to look amazing. Finally figuring out what to do with that middle square has been almost as big an accomplishment as all the hard labor I’ve performed outside. I’m really looking forward to enjoying the final product.

In the meantime, I’m very pleased with what I’ve accomplished so far.

photo-166I plan on posting a new schedule of goals for the rest of the summer, now that I know what I’ve gotten myself into. I still think I can finish before the school year starts, but it’s going to require A LOT of work. I really hope I can get it done and that it’s all worth it.

7 responses

  1. You are rocking it!! This looks awesome! I can’t imagine doing heavy yard work while pregnant! I went out and pulled weeds once when I was pregnant with G then I informed the garden it was on it’s own.

  2. You did a TON of work. Work of the physical kind, and also the research. I really like how you picked things that won’t need a lot of upkeep, so once you get this done, it’ll stay nice.

  3. WHOA!!! I am so impressed! I cannot believe all that stuff you dug up. And it looks so much better already. It must feel great to see the progress. Can’t wait to continue to see what you accomplish with this! Love the idea with the stones. Gorgeous.

  4. DUDE! This is seriously badass! You should be super proud and pleased with yourself. Amazing!

    I LOVE the ground cover you picked too! It’s fun and pretty and unusual: not your boring old backyard, for sure.

    Fantastic stuff! My Project Dreamcatchers are putting me to shame 🙂

  5. Pingback: Project Dreamcatcher: The Value of Hard Work | Too Many Fish to Fry

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