When my husband and I built our house 8 1/2 years ago we made the choice to spend our money on permanent features and eliminate virtually anything that could be added later. This meant no kitchen island or butler’s pantry, no air conditioning (for two years), crown molding, bead board or wainscoting, no driveway, landscaping, patios or sidewalk, no built-in cabinets, finished basement or gardens. The outside of our house looked like this the day we moved in – not a blade of grass, bush or tree, and no hardscaping to be found.
I mentioned in an earlier post that my husband is quite handy and talented when it comes to projects around the house. I wanted to share a few of the many incredible outdoor things he has accomplished.
Retaining walls were the first project on the list as they were necessary to hold back the hill behind the house as well as the dirt around the side of the house. The first picture below shows where we started. My husband had help on the first wall from his Dad but after that he was pretty much on his own. I helped out by carrying rocks but everything else he did.
This is what the side of the house looks like today.
Next came the sidewalk and front retaining walls. We lived for five years (yes, five!) with just a dirt path to the front door. Below is a picture from Mother’s Day 2005. You can see we still do not have a sidewalk or retaining walls around the front light post (which also has been changed). We have just finished planting my present – a red maple tree
Here is a view of the front today – lots of landscaping and a sidewalk. My husband lined the bluestone sidewalk with Belgian blocks to keep the bluestone from moving over time. We also designed and planted everything you see.
The upper patio and steps were then added. Unfortunately, I do not have a before picture of this view. It is enough to say, however, that all that was here was dirt.
Finally, the patio behind the walkout basement was completed.
It has taken 8 years of hard work to get to this point. Since we do not own a tractor, my husband and I used only a wheelbarrow, shovel, level, and circular saw. We bought materials as we could afford them, one load of rocks and bluestone at a time. When it came time to build the sidewalk and patios, we wanted only “blue” bluestone. Each time our local supplier received a new shipment, my husband and I went and chose each piece for our projects by hand.
The overall landscaping has also been an ongoing process. We planted grass seed in stages and then developed the flower beds and other gardens. My husband and I dug up the oak trees that line our driveway (You can see the branch of one of the trees in the picture above of what our house looks like today) from the woods behind our house. Most of the trees and shrubs are Mother’s Day presents. Instead of going out to dinner or buying a present, every year we have lived in this house I have received a new addition to our landscaping.
I obviously am proud of what we have accomplished. It has taken years of hard work to get to this point and it has definitely been worth the wait.
Wow, wasn’t that a great transformation
and test of patience?