Backyard Disgrace

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  #1  
Old 04-18-06, 11:14 AM
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Question Backyard Disgrace

My boyfriend and I live in the city and we have a backyard approximately 15' x 20' that is filled with overgrown weeds. Since we know we will be moving in a year or so, we don't want to put a ton of money into it, yet we want to be able to have barbecues without being embarassed by our backyard. We would just plant grass, but it would be hard to mow that small of an area. What is a good, cheap way to make our backyard functional again ?
 
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  #2  
Old 04-18-06, 12:09 PM
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Get rid of the weed and look for Round Up or some other product that you can spray so no more weeds will grow (at least for a while). Buy some potted plants that will last long (if it's really sunny in the area buy ones that will like the sun, if it's shady buy ones that grow well in the shade, etc), and place them in a nice area together or apart. Buy some mulch so you can place in some areas on top of the dirt...spread it out. Whatever helps so it doesn't look like all you have is dirt. With patio furniture and your BBQ grill...it should look good enough. Just a thought...and you said cheap so...that's just my opinion. What's your budget?
 
  #3  
Old 04-18-06, 12:38 PM
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own or rent? shade or sun? any existing patio or deck? trees? fenced in? need more info!!
 
  #4  
Old 04-18-06, 05:27 PM
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More Info

Yes, the definite problem is that even when all the weeds are raked up and pulled out, it's just a lot of dirt.

Some ideas I had were gravel, wood chips, flagstone, or planting grass (a low-grow grass? Do those exist?).

It's a 20x20, maybe 20(N-S)x15(E-W) patch in the city. There's a privacy fence on the North and West, a dividing fence (like chicken-wire, aesthetically you can think of it as non-existent) on the East, and my apartment walks out to it from the South. At the north side there's a section that's terraced up maybe 6 inches. There's a small brick walkway (about three bricks wide) that runs North-South and not in the middle, but moreso about a third of the way in from the western side.

I hope this has been descriptive enough of the area. To answer the remaining questions:
- rent (budget around $100-$200, but might be willing to go more for something real nice if my landlord would pay for it)
- nothing else out there besides the terrace and walkway except my neighbor's "garden" encroaches a little in the northwest corner; but I'm not concerned about that.
- The area gets medium sun in the morning-time only
- the solution needs to withstand moderate foot traffic

Hope this helps, and thanks for your help!
 
  #5  
Old 04-19-06, 09:22 AM
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Don't know if you've asked your landlord yet but maybe you should ask him/her if they can put something there at their own cost...u never know...they may be willing. Plus, doesn't hurt to ask. If he/she says no, ask what they would allow you to put there. I don't know about putting grass since it's such a small section...

Personally I wouldn't spend that much if I knew for a fact I was going to move out in a year or so, unless you're gonna take what you put in. Just my opinion though. A year is going to fly by really quick.
 
  #6  
Old 04-19-06, 09:52 AM
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if your landlord will allow it, pull up anything dead or living, lay down weed barrier fabric, and dump a couple inches of river rock or mulch (or whatever you like) over the whole thing. use stepping stones for pathways. plant up containers with whatever you like that you can take with you, like large pots or window boxs, etc. maybe get a ficus tree or 2 for height & a tree-like element.

you don't own the place so you're not concerned with resale. and you're leaving in a year, so that's not reallly enough time to plant anything in the ground anyway.
 
  #7  
Old 04-19-06, 11:55 AM
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River Rock

I like this "river rock" idea the best so far. How much does that generally cost, do you know? Where can I purchase it? Would Lowe's or Home Depot have it, or would I need to find a granite works in my area? Ditto for stepping stones--Home Depot?
 
  #8  
Old 04-20-06, 09:04 AM
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You can get the river rocks at those big box stores but I would definitely compare the prices with a building and material place too. I think they might be cheaper. They range in different sizes so you should stop by and check them out so you can get an idea. The prices differ...I think from a range of $5-$12 or so...I can't remember. I did buy the large river rocks (a whole pallet) before. It is very heavy so if you buy a lot, get a truck or something. I was able to put 6 bags in my trunk but I was "low riding" (but I have low profile tires too soo...I dunno).

Good luck!
 
  #9  
Old 04-20-06, 09:14 AM
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most everything's cheaper by the truckload versus by the bag, but for people without a truck and/or wheelbarrel and/or just want easier handling, bags are pretty convenient. most any nursery or home improvement store (even Walmart) will have many varieties of landscape rock and stepping stones.
 
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Old 04-20-06, 09:54 AM
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River rock...

Washed rock runs about $8 a ton +$80 delivery fee (up to 13 tons) where I live from a rock company compared to $3 for a 60lb bag from Home Depot. How easy is it to get into your back yard? Will everything have to go through the building to get there? If so I'd stick with woodchips - lighter and cheaper buying rock to fill a 20x20 area by the bag will blow your budget in a hurry. The large stepping stones cost between $1-4 depending on the look you want and size. Most weigh between 20-50lbs each.

Have you asked your landlord about it? I've know several landlords who will pay materials - within reason, if the renter is willing to do the labor. They end up with a unit that will be worth more and you get more money to work with.
 
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Old 04-20-06, 11:40 AM
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When we wanted to paint they did pay for materials and we did the labor. I think if it's around $250 they'd be willing to spring for the materials. There is access to the backyard but for maybe a pickup truck--but not a big dumper. My boyfriend's brother has a pickup that's a decent size that we have brought back there before, so I know it fits. How does, say, 1 ton of washed rock translate into sq. footage with maybe 1-2" depth?
 
  #12  
Old 04-20-06, 11:54 AM
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Thumbs up Backyard Solutions?

Great ideas so far: I'll also throw in a couple cents.

With your budget, I too would pull up any grasses/weeds. This is a lot easier with wet soil; after a good rain or just hosing it down real well. Or, just yank 'em and use landscape cloth to prevent future growth.

Landscape cloth can cost (in my area of west Michigan) any where from $20. for 3' x 150' at a nursery-type place, or as little as $30 - $35. for 4' x 250' at a warehouse place, ie Sam's Club or Costco.

Consider putting in some kind of patio area for your grill, furniture, etc. You can get concrete paving blocks, you know the traditional grey concrete, size appx. 12" x 6" x 2" thick, for less than a buck apiece (I think) at your local Lowe's or Home Depot. A 6' x 6' area may cost appx. $70-ish. Hey, visit them and maybe you'll find something on sale. Those places want your Spring business!

A river rock idea is great, but if you go with a "patio" area, your remaining space could handle a garden area with a path. For the path, a smaller rock/gravel would be appropriate. A 15' path 24" wide and 2" thick is appx. 6 cubic ft., or 1/6th of a cubic yd. (I think!) Visit a landscaping place if you can, and check out the types of stone; many are very cool and choose something that's "yours" to enjoy. Cost may be $6 - $10, total, depending on what you choose. [Add an inexpensive 4" high plastic edging, (usually sold in 25' to 50' rolls), to keep the gravel inside its border for appx. $8 -$15.]

Bags of stone or gravel are great for small areas, but will cost more... most come in 1 1/2 cubic foot bags, at-- $2.50 - $5 -- ( for the good stuff!) apiece. An area described above for a garden path would cost, using 1 1/2 cf bags, would be in-the-neighborhood of $10 - $20.

I too like the idea of mulch or shredded bark to give the area a "finished" look. This is available at most landscaping businesses or nurseries(in west Michigan at least) for $19 cu. yard for regular ole' shredded bark down to $14 cu. yard for a mixture of mulch from chipping trees that have been cut recently. This "mulch mixture" is harder to find, but in my opinion, looks better than the pine bark chips you can buy, (personal preference) and won't blow around as easily during a strong wind! The equivalent of a 15' x 15' x 2" area of shredded bark should cost appx. $7 - $10 at a nursery or landscaping business, or probably double at a "big box"... Menards, Home Depot, Lowes...

Right now, our Home Depot sells hanging pots / baskets of annuals for $5 - $15. I have bought many in the past, as they include great annuals, including geraniums, flowering vines/hanging thingies, ornamental grasses, and more. I'll usually remove these plants from the basket they cam in and either re-pot or put in the ground. There are plenty in each purchase to do this, and this is a more cost effective way to fill those beautiful pots you have...or will have! I would purchase potting soil, $5 generic - $9 Miracle-Gro, for a large bag (55 quart) for your pots. Or at least mix topsoil with potting soil at a 1/4 to 3/4 ratio, to get the most from these plants. I sometmes make my own soil by combining a good topsoil with peat and vermiculite (those little white styrofoam-like things in potting soil). You can make a lot of good soil for about $15 total, including screened topsoil, canadian peat and vermiculite.

The great thing about pots (I still like the terra cotta pots, and you can decorate/paint them) is that by mixing shapes and styles you'll be able to group them any way you wish and can move them around the yard for a "new" look, as well as follow the sunlight depending which need full, partial, etc. Pots can be expensive... Lowes, etc. will be $5 - $40 for terra cotta -- a little more for fiberglass/synthetic blend. If you have a Hobby Lobby, Michaels or similar craft-kinda place, my experience is they are cheaper there. I get large pots --14" - 18" -- at Sam's Club (fiberglass/synthetic blend) for $10 - $25, and they are great.

Plant/perennial food: You'll get better blooms and faster growth if you use it. Ask for advice on this. For annuals and perennials, I use a Miracle-Gro powder concentrate, and for appx. $15 at a Sam's Club/Costco, you should be able to buy plenty to last through October. (For your purposes you probably don't need to get a time-released granual that Miracle Gro also makes.)

The "chicken wire" fence, as well as the privacy fence, can be decorated with a type of vine; clematis are great, many are fast growing and they're perennials. The right variety planted now will bloom by this summer and many bloom until frost. Most varieties generally cost appx. $15, and grow 8' - 20', THIS SUMMER... most need some sun. But any fast growing vine will be great to spruce the fence up.

All told, I'll bet you can make a nice backyard spot for $100 - $200... more or less, depending how you decide what's best for you and access to a small pickup or trailer to go shopping at a landscaper! (Hey, you can easily do this from Lowes, Home Depot, etc. if you have to.) Although you plan on being there just a year, you still have SIX MONTHS of growing season left, and any permanent improvements you make, including any perennials you plant, the landlord may split or at least, share in the cost of... maybe(?)

Good Luck to you; it's nice to know you're somewhat determined to make your personal "space" look good for the remainder of your stay...(boy, this got long... )

Darrel
(Oh, and I'd really be interested on what you guys do... if you feel like it, I'd really like an update when you've decided/finished, even if you just pave over the area! [email protected] )
 

Last edited by Annette; 04-20-06 at 12:02 PM. Reason: Email address removed - email address are not permitted in forums
  #13  
Old 05-09-06, 08:30 AM
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Talking We did it!

We incorporated everyone's suggestions and went with a small patio area made of 16x16" red patio brick. We ripped up all the weeds, then laid down landscape cloth. The patio brick went down on that, then we used red cedar mulch around everywhere else.

http://www.its530somewhere.com/image...kyard2-023.jpg
http://www.its530somewhere.com/image...kyard2-024.jpg
http://www.its530somewhere.com/image...kyard2-025.jpg

The whole thing cost about $300 including yard waste bags, weed killer, landscape cloth, 30 bags of red cedar mulch (2 cu ft x 30 bags) and 40 16x16 patio bricks (~64 sq ft excepting that "pathway" area we created with the extra four I bought).

It took four of us a total of about 5 hours, including a lengthy trip to Home Depot (the only thing around)... waiting for the guy to bring down the next palette of patio brick.

And, the landlord's gonna pay for the mulch and brick!

Thank you all SO much for the wonderful ideas!
 
  #14  
Old 05-10-06, 02:01 PM
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glad you're happy with it!
 
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