Creating a mountain out of a molehill

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Remember that backyard with the tiny little lawn that we used to have?  It was great for a tiny slide and a tiny dogs or two.

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However, we needed a bit more room to breathe, run, play, fall, and put our playscape.  You remember this guy from our old house, right?

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Anyway, in order to do that, we first had to move our fence which took some time since we needed HOA approval.  And a retaining wall:

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But eventually we added about 15 ft to the yard by moving our fence toward the street.

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We then got busy removing some of the existing landscaping (with Chloe’s help, of course).  We took out two of the large bushes on the right and all of the bushes along the house which were scraggly & overgrown anyway.  We also had to remove a magnolia tree which was a tough decision, but we have several others that are much happier and better placed.  Some of the smaller plants successfully moved and some were trampled or just plain unwilling to transplant.

Having done some re-landscaping before, we knew to not get stuck on what was there and focus on what we really wanted.  Sometimes a few plants/trees/bushes need to be sacrificed, but you won’t miss them if you achieve your ultimate goal.  For us, that was as a play area as large, open, and beautiful as we could make it.  The kids get to play and have fun there, but us grown-ups might as well enjoy the view while we’re supervising!

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In a perfect world, we would have waited until everything was finished to bring the playscape home, but once there was room for it, it came home before we had finished leveling.  It actually made a bit of sense… kind of.  To safely install a playscape, you need a grade of less than 2%.  In other words, to protect the structural integrity, you shouldn’t have a fall of more than 2 inches over 100 inches.  That’s complicated, so we decided to set the playscape up and then level it.  It actually worked pretty well.  We used existing materials including some left-over sand to level the club-house, then set the A-frame for the swings on blocks to level the swing-set extension.  It was nearly perfectly level, but we then had to quickly do something to prevent our two very excited children from falling into the random holes left from removing plants and partially leveling into the new part of the yard.

So, we, ordered some dirt…

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20130930-122152.jpg…and handed Chloe a shovel.  Okay, not really, but you’ll have trouble convincing her that she didn’t make an enormous contribution to the leveling project.

We ordered dirt and scheduled help for the same day.  The 3 experienced landscapers took no time at all to make the 8 yards of dirt disappear around the house, past the pool, and down the hill to its new home.  It was a ton of work that we needed done yesterday, so it was money well spent.  They even cleaned up the driveway when they were finished and I bet most of our neighbors never even noticed the dirt mountain that was briefly on our driveway.

It turns out that dirt is really fun for everyone, even prissy little dogs.

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And it made our newly improved yard much more fun.  Until it rained.  But that’s a story for another day!

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And bigger!

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Hope you enjoyed this 2-projects-in-one post, and watch for more on both the yard & playscape improvements we have in the pipeline!  We are so excited to be on the downhill side of this labor-intensive project.

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