Thank you to everyone who weighed in on whether I should throw money at my lumpy, muddy backyard. My greatest flaw (and greatest strength) is that I am stubborn. If I set my mind on an English Cottage Garden in the backyard, I will do anything to accomplish it. My obstinance becomes a liability when I disregard reason in order to accomplish a goal. For example, when we couldn’t get the queen-sized box spring up the stairs, I was ready to rip a hole in the outside wall and install a door. Similarly, I was ready to bring in a crew to dig up the yard, install drains, level the soil, build raised beds, and install a flagstone patio in pursuit of a backyard oasis. I even left messages with three landscapers. In the end, your advice, and the fact that the landscapers NEVER CALLED ME BACK, has finally percolated through my mulish mind.
I am going to listen to Brit and Brian Heckel (a landscaper from Wisconsin) and my mother-in-law and modify my plans. I’ll concentrate my efforts on the established planting beds and container gardening (thanks Brit!). As Brian said, my money would be better spent on the front yard, enhancing our curb appeal. The final bit of input that changed my hard head was an email from my mother-in-law, Kim. She said: “...it makes a big difference that you plan to stay in your house only a couple of years and then resell. From what I have seen both in renting out and in buying and selling property, is that almost always....no matter how much work you do, or how nice something looks, the new owners will want something else. Their own "stamp" so to speak. I would recommend just keeping the yard neat, maybe a few border flowers, some blog person suggested containers of flowers which is a wonderful idea. Just keep the yard as a neat and clean 'blank slate' for a potential buyer. It will save you money and probably be good for your resale value. (Some people will actually be put off from buying a house with a yard that, although beautiful, looks like too much work.)”
With that in mind, I’ve scaled back my plans. Just cleaning up the yard and a few small planting projects should keep me busy. I still want a fussy, overblown garden, but for now, I’ll content myself with lurking on the Cottage Garden forum. I may have delayed my plans, but, in the words of my sister Cynda, “I’m never giving up!”
A scaled sketch of the backyard.
Click the image for a larger view.