Thursday, March 22, 2012

Rethinking your use of your home's spaces and furniture - Part 2

I've decided that for me the first step in rethinking how we use our home (including the yard) and furniture is to set a clear decision criteria.  When I mention costs I am including not only money but also time and physical labor.  So here are some thoughts.

- Do we like the way we use this space and objects NOW?
- If not, what would we like to change?
- What would be the benefits and costs of those changes?
- If we don't make those changes now will we be less happy in a year?
- If we do make those changes at x cost, will we regret it in a year?

 The best feature of our yard - it literally stops traffic in the Fall!

Let's take a look at my yard as an example.  How do we use it now?  Mostly we use it as a scenery and the dog enjoys a small fenced area.   We do have a small patio that we can use a small portion of the year.  It is lovely when well maintained as it is a mature landscape and attracts lots of birds and butterflies.

However, it's other main use is as a chore producer and cost center.  I can't really change the ongoing cost factor as that is mostly due to dealing with mature trees that need trimming and occasionally removing.  It is the chore producer use that I don't like and might be able to change some although there will definitely be  costs. 

In talking to landscapers about maintaining our yard though two ideas were common.  First, gardening in Atlanta is often about removing things.  Secondly, to maintain a property divide it into fourths and work on one section a week.

So here is my analysis of changes that would reduce the chore producer use of the 4 sections of my yard - if we don't do these things they will only get worse and produce more work which is not the desired use of our yard..
Wooded area - Needs fast growing and spreading trash trees, vines, etc. removed with follow up spraying. 
Front yard - Dying ground cover needs pulling and mulch put down to ease maintenance.  
Side yard - This is a small but labor intensive area that runs between street and drive and carport and neighbors.  Needs hollies removed or drastically pruned by drive entrance to make it easier to see and reduce maintenance.  Another holly is growing into the glorious tree pictured above and needs to be pruned.  One section between sidewalk and street has persistent weeds - not sure how to solve this but it is a never ending chore.  
Back yard - Nothing that needs significant change.  The driveway and fenced courtyard could use more gravel.

I do think we need to spend some money on this if we are going to see real change.  What's next?

- Talk to neighbor about sharing cost of clearing wooded area since theirs has the same problems.
- Talk to landscaper about removing 2 hollies and pruning other one.  Also ask them to make suggestions for solving problems in weedy area.
- Remove dying ground cover and spread mulch ourselves.
- Get referral to person who can fix driveway and price.

I would definitely get more positive "use" out of the yard if those changes were made.


  1. Sounds like a plan. I can relate to the yard thing. Although ours is small, it is surrounded by very old trees...very old. We should really have some taken out before they fall on our house. But it is so expensive! Most of the are walnut and I have been told sometimes people will pay for that wood. Every year I say I am going to look into it...then I don't. ; ) ~~Bliss

  2. Bliss, I hear you on the expense. We have had to take down 5 pines, a sugar maple and another very large tree while we have lived here. Add to that the pruning and well, it is a significant part of the cost of living in this house.

  3. I'm a big believer in mulch, lots of mulch, lol May not be cost free, but can you substitute low maintenance or native plants for anything you have?

    1. Barb, we do have lots of mulch and it does help a lot. A lot of the challenge simply comes from living in the SE where everything, including weeds, grows like crazy and also the size of the lot.

    2. Yes, I can see how the size would kill ya. Im trying to decide on a three year landscapign plan, and I asked my readers if it makes financial sense to start a garden......who knows?

  4. Mulch is a necessity here in the Pacific Northwest. We need something to manage all the plant growth. The tree is so pretty! No wonder it's a show stopper!


    1. Thanks Leslie. That tree and a sugar maple were really nice parts of the yard that came with the house.


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