Major Yard Progress (Pavers and Planting Sod!)

We did a ton of yard work this weekend and things are really coming along! Things might have moved a little faster if we didn't have our little helpers, but they did provide the entertainment.


Remember this is what the backyard looked like when we moved in a couple weeks ago. Overgrown and a misallocation of the usable space, I think.



For what feels like millions of photos of the during and after process of the new grass and pavers (and an antique treasure from the bushes!), please join me after the jump...
Oh, man. I'm tired just looking at these photos and thinking of all those weeds we pulled, dirt we moved and rocks we hefted this weekend! This place was a real mess!





You guys were all right about saving the pavers. They are great (and not replacing these saved us a ton of money!).



We started by pulling up and rearranging the pavers. We brought them all to the front of the yard and tried a little harder to make the gaps smaller and more uniform. They're not perfect, but we had *just* enough stones, and I think they'll look great once we grow moss in the gaps.


I was worried that we missed our chance to plant sod, but fall is actually a really great time to put out grass because the sun is a little more gentle. I read that even until the 1st week of October is a good time to plant. I think the species we bought (from Home Depot in Long Island) is Tall Fescue. It could be Sun and Shade though.


It's important to lay the sod the same day you buy it, so we had to hustle through some last minute ground prep before we got to laying down the pieces.


I wanted to keep but move these mature hosta plants, so we carefully dug them up and moved them to the little ivy bed nearer to the house. The bench there was absolutely crumbling. Same story with that wheel barrel planter. The girls also found an old rusted-over birdhouse. 


I however found a ground hive of bumblebees as I replanted the hostas and was stung on my stomach and face. Ouch!


But I also found this antique faux bois side table base hiding in the hostas, so all is well in my book. I want to put a marble top on it and use it on the balcony next to a chaise.


Once all the plants were moved, I used a flat-edge shovel to level the ground as best I could. We've laid sod once before and we rented a heavy roller to flatten the ground and that worked really well for us. This time I just used a shovel and my feet and it was a little trickier, though definitely doable. It's the old school method.


Raking also helps to flatten and smooth the dirt.



I sprinkled a winter formula slow-release fertilizer on the ground just before laying the soda down.



Then comes the fun part!! Unrolling the sheets of grass! You should lay sod just like laying brick. The seams of the rows of 2x5' pieces should never line up.


Which means that sometimes you'll have to cut the sod sheets. There is a sod cutter you can rent, but that's for fancy people. Old kitchen shears work well enough!


Don't forget to sort of roll in and tuck under the ends of the sod pieces, so they fit seamlessly together.


And then you water the sod till it's super soggy. It will need two or three heavy waterings every day for about a week.


I sort of messed up on the edges here, but we were losing steam and daylight at that point, so I'll have to trim it up and fill with seed later. Overall, we're super happy with the way these two projects transformed the yard. 


Oh, and did you notice the gap in the back against the brick wall?



Future home to a playhouse for the girls! We ordered one a couple weeks ago (post coming!) and we're about a quarter of the way done building it, but decided to give the sod at least a couple of days to take root. Technically we're not supposed to walk on it for a whole week, but we're just so excited to let these girls play in the yard again. There are so many earthworms that need to be set in flowers!

59 comments:

meg said...

what a transformation! we have a similarly bedraggled yard, and i'm inspired!

Anonymous said...

It's starting to look great. I'm so jealous of your piece of land! How it could have been left in the before state previously is beyond me.
Enjoy! There are so many possibilities with what you can do with a little yard.

Sara said...

It looks much larger!

Gillianne said...

A dramatic change, thanks to your family's sweat equity! It takes a good sense of space and "vision" to do that. Can't wait to see the playhouse.

Splendid Sass said...

And they say Rome wasn't built in a day, meet Jenny.
Looks great.
Happy Tuesday.
Teresa
xoxo

Julie said...

Looks beautiful! Very nice transformation and can't wait to see the playhouse:)

Bethany said...

You've done amazing work back there! I love the new arrangement for the pavers!

Anonymous said...

It looks wonderful! You are very inspirational as always with your projects that you tackle!
-Barb K

Samantha said...

Amazing!!

Maggie Pearson said...

Stunning! Is there nothing you can't do?!

Maggie Pearson said...

Stunning! Is there nothing you can't do?!

Joy said...

That is indeed a major improvement! Excellent job. I am really happy for you. Visit my blog at http://www.ecarport.com.au/

karen brown said...

Looks fantastic!

When we moved in and cleaned up our overgrown yard, we found an 10 speed bike and a 5 gallon jug of soy sauce in our bushes! Good times!

Nat said...

Great transformation! Worth all the hard work! Can't wait to see the playhouse for the girls!

OldHouseNut said...

Amazing work! You might be interested in "Stepables" which are branded plants able to withstand foot traffic for filling in your paver gaps. Also, Marta Stewart had some photos of different plants in an issue over the summer.

You should test your soil for lead. Brooklyn yards are notorious for having really high lead levels!

Erin | Holtwood Hipster said...

Wow that looks good. Lots of work, but truly rewarding in just a short amount of time. Your brownstone is probably my favorite ongoing project on the interwebs! Love how beautifully it is unfolding.

Heather said...

Wow! It looks great! I'm exhausted just looking at the photos! I think you're due for a spa day!

Bethany [at] Powell Brower Home said...

jenny! fantastic!!

Maegan said...

The yard looks AMAZING! And I can't wait for the playhouse post. We are in the planning stages of building one and are gathering inspiration, and I know yours will not disappoint in the inspiration area!

Elizabeth Downie said...

Haha, that last picture was SO cute! Your kids are adorable.

Great job on your yard too! You are such a hard worker and you have such vision! I can't wait to see more pictures of your new house's transformation!

Pat said...

Great job! Do you look out the window every morning and just smile?

Anonymous said...

Love the transformation! It's going to be such a beautiful city garden. And how lucky were you to find that great faux bios table base? If you should, by some chance, to lose your mind and decide NOT to use it, it can come to Arkansas and live on my deck!

elisegriswoldart.com said...

It looks beautiful!!! Sod might be one of the most instant-gratification upgrades for a yard...it's awesome. Great post!

Torey said...

Just wanted to say those probably weren't bumblebees. . they usually don't sting. It is more likely you found yellowjackets (which are small wasps with black and yellow stripes like bees). Be careful if the hive is still in the ground. I stepped on a yellowjacket hive and got nearly a hundred stings and ended up in the ER. You should probably have a professional out to exterminated the hive (it can be the size of a watermelon underground).

SB said...

The garden looks great! If you run into trouble with maintaining the sod around your trees, you can try phlox subulata, which is an evergreen creeping groundcover with pretty flowers in the spring. I've had great success with it in my south-facing Brooklyn brownstone under a crape myrtle. I'm also tracking down the ivy groundcover that surrounds the hydrangea and smokebush down at the Pier 6 playground; I believe it is also evergreen and it appears to be thriving there in shade.

Your Rose of Sharon looks great; I'm glad you didn't take it out, as it is such a classic Brooklyn fall shrub. I think you may also have a holly in there, which is great for year-round greenery.

I have two recommendations for your fences (but not the gorgeous brick one in the back) -- sweet autumn clematis, an easy growing semi-evergreen vine, and clematis armandii, another evergreen clematis with beautiful spring flowers. Both provide a nice distraction from the wood fencing and the sweet autumn clematis thrives in our climate (the armandii is a little more marginal here but I'm giving it a try).

Good luck!

Chelsea said...

I CANNOT believe how much you are able to get done in a weekend. I need your secret, really! It looks awesome!

SB said...

The garden looks great! If you run into trouble with maintaining the sod around your trees, you can try phlox subulata, which is an evergreen creeping groundcover with pretty flowers in the spring. I've had great success with it in my south-facing Brooklyn brownstone under a crape myrtle. I'm also tracking down the ivy groundcover that surrounds the hydrangea and smokebush down at the Pier 6 playground; I believe it is also evergreen and it appears to be thriving there in shade.

Your Rose of Sharon looks great; I'm glad you didn't take it out, as it is such a classic Brooklyn fall shrub. I think you may also have a holly in there, which is great for year-round greenery.

I have two recommendations for your fences (but not the gorgeous brick one in the back) -- sweet autumn clematis, an easy growing semi-evergreen vine, and clematis armandii, another evergreen clematis with beautiful spring flowers. Both provide a nice distraction from the wood fencing and the sweet autumn clematis thrives in our climate (the armandii is a little more marginal here but I'm giving it a try).

Good luck!

Kimberly said...

Your hustle is so inspiring. Love how much you have done on the new place already.

Anonymous said...

Do you ever sleep? This is an amazing job. For those of us who work both in and outside of our homes- the outside takes A LOT more patience, effort and just plain energy. For us old schoolers- there used to be two shows on BBC- Changing Rooms and Ground Fource. The Changing Rooms designers switched with the Ground Fource group on an episode and the vote was unanimous- reworking/designing the yard was WAY more difficult than doing the inside. And for me- the results are more gratifying. I have enjoyed watching all the transformations. I hope you are able to take a little time for yourself through all this. It's hard enough being a mom to 3 little ones on top of everything else you do!

Anonymous said...

What a great place for your 3 little girls to play. Can't wait to see it with the playhouse and some outdoor lighting. Best home reno to watch on the internet...can't wait to see what else you do!

Jen @ RamblingRenovators said...

Two bee stings? Ouch! But well worth the effort. Your backyard is looking great! Looking forward to seeing the playhouse.

Maria said...

have you thought about staining the pavers? they look like concrete but that could just be the pictures. If so I just stained mine with concrete stain from Home Depot and it turned out GREAT! Used two different colors to give the stone look and I could not be happier!

Good Job and good luck!

Sonel said...

I love the way the yard is turning out. For those of us with kids in the city it's life-changing to have an outdoor space for kids to play. It makes going to the playground a special treat, not a necessity! I can't wait to see what you have planned next!

Erin said...

Your renovations inspires me every time you post! I just sent this one to my husband telling him that I want us to emulate your do it yourself attitude when we buy our house.

Barbie said...

That table is gorgeous. You find treasures EVERYWHERE. The bee experience sounds horrible!

That brick wall strewn with vines and moss is pretty!

Lauren said...

jenny! the yard is beautiful! what a great transformation! it's amazing what some sweat and manual labor can accomplish

Kate Galston said...

If we could just bottle your energy and enthusiasm, Jenny, we'd make millions. Looks amazing! What a change!!!!

Sarah Barksdale Design said...

The yard looks great! You are really going to enjoy having that outdoor space!

msp said...

looks awesome!

Angeline said...

So fun! Your shoes are purty fancy for yard work :) Can't wait to see the playhouse!

Kim said...

You must have the luckiest landlord in all of New York City! I hope he realizes that after seeing this backyard!

And it is so fun to see your little girls out there working along side you. I have fond memories of doing the same thing with my parents when I was little and now invite my four helpers out to the yard often.

Mari said...

That's some hard work. Looking good!!

Lauren Tien said...

I love it! jenny, it is looking so great! You are completely inspiring me to do something with my itty bitty side yard before the snow comes this way!

Anonymous said...

Jenny - you are truly unstoppable!! I swear you complete more DIY projects in a week than I would in a year! It doesn't even look like the same yard! We are having a massive backyard blitz this weekend as spring has sprung in Australia and it's time to tackle our jungle... I can't wait to see the cubby, all the ones in Oz are ridiculously expensive so I'm looking to you for ideas!

Jenna at Homeslice said...

It looks awesome! Your girls are so lucky- and that last picture is hilarious. :)

Emily said...

The pavers look so much better laid out like that!!! Sorry about the bee stings. :(

Lindsey McLean said...

Awesome yard!!! I don't think that's a table base. I think it's a bird bath base! But it will make an awesome table, too. ;) xo

Stacey Merrill said...

looking great! You all deserve a pat on the back (& a cocktail on the patio)

Erin said...

You did this in a weekend! You guys are so fast. It speaks to how productive one can be with a plan and vision. Thanks for sharing this experience!! I look forward to these progress reports!

KelseyDesign said...

This is amazing! I love how nothing seems to intimidate you.

How2home said...

WOW! what a transformation. it does look a lot bigger.

landscape architect brisbane said...

Childes are doing hard working and also enjoying their every little bit activity so you managed to do work.

BTC said...

I locw your blog! I'm redoing my guestroom in turquoise and lime green, and you feature a lime green lamp in one of your photos. Can you tell me where you got that lamp?

Betsy

BTC said...

I locw your blog! I'm redoing my guestroom in turquoise and lime green, and you feature a lime green lamp in one of your photos. Can you tell me where you got that lamp?

Betsy

Alissa said...

Wow, that is incredible.

montrealdigs.com said...

Just lifting up the pavers and resetting them was a weekend job in itself - can't believe how much you accomplished! Looks wonderful.

Julie S said...

Fantastic job! It really looks great, and the division of space seems like it's going to work really well. Be proud of your hard work.

Em said...

Hopefully it's not too late for you to read this comment, but I'm going to recommend filling in around the pavers with wooly thyme or Magic Carpet Thyme instead of Moss. They're both tough enough to take foot traffic, they smell amazing, and are super soft. More drought tolerant than moss, less prone to browning, and the Magic Carpet Thyme flowers for a while and looks totally magical. Just wanted to share in case you weren't aware of the option!

Anne At Large said...

I am super late to this (and glad to hear you're feeling better!) but I am worried about how close you have that sod to the bases of those trees - it is usually a good idea to leave a sod-free area around tree trunks and make sure the trunks don't get hit when you're watering the lawn or you can suddenly become host to a bunch of tree diseases. I hate to be a downer because you did an amazing job but I want your trees to stay happy!

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