My extended family has taken a couple of Saturdays this fall to have “work days” where we tackle a major job at one of our houses. This is such a great way to accomplish a lot in a little bit of time (remember the adage, “many hands…” and all that) and also to have some fun and time to visit with people we love.
And free labor? Just what this frugal girl dreams of!
I think this is a great idea that one of my sisters had and it can be done with a family group or a group of friends. Four or five families work best, so we can do it once in the fall and once in the spring at each family’s house.
In order to inspire you to get your own group ready to go for those spring projects, here’s what we accomplished last weekend at my sister’s house:
We didn’t get the “totally before” shot, but imagine this without the hoses, leaves, or cardboard. Just a lot of weedy grass and flower beds, three full size standard apple trees the previous owner planted 10 feet apart (what were they thinking??), and a rusty old clothes “tree” dryer.
My sister said that she never wanted to go out into the backyard and be faced with all that “loveliness.”
As preparation, I came to her house in August and we sketched out a plan for the yard. Then she made sure to have edging, black plastic, soil, and gravel ready for the work day. Plus lots of newspaper and cardboard.
Look at what nine adults can accomplish in three hours.
Yep, I said three hours. Who needs Ty Pennington?
After removing two of the apple trees and the clothes dryer, we used a layering method to make the bed on the left right over the grass. We found lots of leaves around the neighborhood and laid them over the grass, then covered the leaves with cardboard or thick layers of newspaper when we ran out of cardboard before covering it with a 4 to 6-inch layer of soil (mulch would work as well).
This can sit all winter, killing the grass and getting the bed ready for planting shrubs in the spring. I had some perennials I divided and passed along to my sister, so I planted them right through the paper, digging out the sod in those areas and adding the soil. Shallow rooted plants like iris I just planted right in the new soil.
For the path they laid edging and black plastic over the grass and then spread the gravel.
Here’s some more shots:
And, yes, my brother-in-law is kinda into water collection. He’s very proud of it, and no, these aren’t even all his barrels.
Just don’t get him started talking about it.
My brother-in-law also didn’t want to give up his clothes dryer, eyesore that it was. But with a promise of new ones (a permanent line back by the fence and a retractable line nearer the laundry room), he reluctantly let it go.
Not only does it look better without the two extra trees and the metal dryer, it looks bigger.
Now, imagine a winding path of stepping stones through the middle of the wide border on the right (you can see the footsteps where the path will be starting at the front corner), some larger bushes and tall, narrow evergreens on the right of the stepping stones and a bench at the end beside the remaining apple tree.
And for the kids, a play structure down at the very end where we left a patch of grass (which will become a play surface).
Raised beds, a place for play, wide paths, flowers, and easy maintenace- what’s not to love?
And if that’s not enough for you, I’ve got another inspiring post coming up next week about what we were able to accomplish at my house.
Ready to organize that group now?
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