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The State of My Back Yard

April 22, 2015

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An update on my backyard project and what it looks like now!That photo is not my back yard, but mine is equally as much of a disaster, if not more.

When I bought my house in October 2012, both the front and back yards were a total disaster. Prior to me purchasing the house, it had been a construction site as the house that stood before mine had burned nearly to the ground. Then the remains of the burnt house were purchased by a local contractor and his wife as a money-making project and then I bought it from them.

With the housing shortage in my community, I’m so glad I got on-board to buy the house directly from them before construction was even complete. But due to the fire, the demolition of the old house and the construction of my house in its place, my front and back yards were in sad, sad shape.

Since then I’ve tackled the front yard and have it 100% complete. I killed off all the “grass” and weeds (mostly weeds). I removed a hideous tree and some shrubs, added some new landscaping and replanted the grass. It’s finally in pretty decent shape. Now all I have to do is maintain it, which is still quite a bit of work when I’m already busy.

Re-doing the front yard was a lot of work, but I pretty much DIY-ed the entire project (with some help from my parents and brother). The back yard is a completely different story though.

Hiring Professional Help

I don’t like paying others to do things that I could do myself. But I don’t mind hiring some help when projects are way above my skill level or require tools and equipment that neither my dad or I own or have easy access to. With that in mind, I decided to hire professionals to handle a few things in my back yard. But first, here’s a description of the messy state of my back yard before I did anything.

Before I started anything back there, the largest portion of my back yard was covered with tiny pebbles from the previous owners and due to the yard not being properly cared for a long time, the pebbles have spread all over the yard and strayed from their black plastic lined and designated area.

My back yard also had several large trees that were mostly dead and needed to be removed. Because of their large size and location, I decided to hire a professional to remove them so I wouldn’t risk them falling on my house or my neighbor’s garage. That was an expensive bill, $1,050, that I paid for using my year-end bonus this year.

Additionally, I’ve got the world’s crappiest fence on all sides of my yard. My dogs are able to easily dig themselves out of the back yard and they do so several times each week. After finally getting fed up with having to stash random bricks and things around the base of my fence, I’ve finally decided to do something about it and get the fence replaced. But that also means cleaning up the pebble mess.

The Pebbles

Now that the trees have been professionally removed, I started working on cleaning up the pebbles out of the back corner of my yard. My BFF and I worked on it when she was last here and unfortunately, you can’t tell we did anything. That’s how much of a mess it is back there.

After more discussion with my dad (read: I told him I’m not manually shoveling these pebbles up anymore because it’s a ridiculous amount of work), he agreed to bring in his skid steer and an enclosed trailer to haul off the pebbles. This will make the process go much faster.

The Fence

Once the pebbles are all cleaned up, my dad and I will be taking down 2/3 of my backyard fence. Because of how my house and detached garage are located, 2/3 of the fence is on the east side of my house and garage while about 1/3 (or less) is on the west side of them. Fortunately, the west side fence isn’t in too bad of shape. For now, I’ll be leaving it as is. I do hope to tackle it in the next couple of years though. But for now, the east 2/3 is my focus.

After we take down the fence and existing posts, a professional will be pouring a concrete footer and installing new posts at the same time. This is a very expensive project. I did explore cheaper options for the footer, but I know that I will be happiest with the concrete option and it won’t ever have to be replaced, at least not as long as I live there. At the same time, I’m having a small slab of concrete poured for an outdoor dog run. It makes sense to do this at the same time while the equipment is already there and before I have replaced the grass and fixed up the yard.

Once the concrete is set, my dad and I will be installing the new wooden fence ourselves to cut down on costs as much as possible.

The cost of this professional project will be $3200. Additionally, the fencing materials will cost about another $898. Brining the total for this project to $4,098-ish. These are mostly estimates so it could end up being a little more or less. I tried to estimate on the high side though to avoid any surprises.

Luckily, my neighbor agree to cost share 50/50 on the side that’s between us. Her share will be about $1,186-ish, which brings my total down to $2,912-ish.

How I’m Paying For It

This project is going to cost me nearly $3,000 and I’ve decided to try to keep it all off my credit cards as I don’t want to go backwards with my debt progress or end up paying interest on this project. The remaining $1,000-ish of my tax money will be used to pay for this project. The other $2,000 will be in the form of a loan.

Yes, I’m taking out a loan from the bank of Myself. Part of my online income report each month tells you that I set aside a huge chunk of money for Uncle Sam. After speaking with my accountant, I should have a TON leftover again this year (considering my estimated income and expenses for 2015). Therefore, I will be borrowing against my freelance tax savings to get the additional $2,000.

Notice I said borrow, I will be repaying this back by not taking as much “profit” for the next couple of months until it’s paid back. I will still have to take enough profit each month to meet my budget obligation, but beyond that I won’t be taking any more profit until my tax savings are built back up to what they need to be.

I realize some people might disagree with this decision, but I know I’ll be able to pay myself back and not paying interest will be a great benefit of borrowing from myself instead of a credit card or actual loan from a bank. Plus, whenever I get ready to sell my house in the future, the value of the house will be more because of my improvements.

What projects do you have going on? What’s the state of your back yard like?

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Kayla

Kayla is a mid-20s single girl living in the Midwest, USA. She is focused on paying off her consumer and student loans, while simplifying her life and closet. You can join her on her journey at ShoeaholicNoMore or follow her on Twitter.

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18 responses to “The State of My Back Yard

  1. I like your attitude of doing what you can yourself, but being comfortable paying someone else to do things beyond your skill level, or that require tools you don’t have. That seems totally reasonable. I also think you plan for paying for the work makes sense.

    Our backyard requires a TON of work! It’s mainly sandy construction fill from when the house was built, and it’s settled quite a bit in places. Also, the previous owner had an above-ground pool that was not maintained in the back, which we had them take out as part of the sale. This left a large, flat space in a yard that’s fairly sloped. Fixing it will require LOADS of topsoil, and we’re just not able to pay for that right now. So we live with it, but look for other ways to pretty things up, like planting flowers and small shrubs.

    1. That’s a great point Amy. I’ve been putting up with this for quite a while now, since I bought the house, and I finally saw the opportunity to get it fixed, so I’m going for it! I did do other things in the meantime to keep my yard as attractive and maintained as possible.

  2. I’m so impressed with your DIY abilities!

    I have very little experience or skill with yard maintenance, but luckily my fiance is very in to yard care. He asked for yard tools for his birthday this year… We still have a bunch of work left to go in our yard, some that I want to help with, and some that I am totally willing to let my fiance or a professional take on, but the yard is generally useable right now. My priority that I want to concentrate on is getting some vegetables planted! I bought some seeds the other day, now I just have to prep the garden and get planting!

    1. That’s great! I’m glad your finace is into the yard projects. DIY-ing cuts down on costs, big time! If I didn’t have my dad’s help though, I probably wouldn’t be able to do nearly as much myself.

  3. Wow! That’s a ton of work! Usually when people say they have “yard work” to do, they mean they’re going to plant flowers or make a vegetable patch. Best wishes with all this work, and kudos for finding the time to work so much in addition to this! You’re basically Beyonce.

  4. It’s looking a little better. We extended the masonry wall and got rid of a crappy, weather-beaten wood fence that was out front along our driveway. We then replaced the gate doors, which were similarly weather-beaten. Now they actually lock. Total cost: $2,100. Ouch.

    We’ve also had to get some yard guys in to spray and trim. We’re right next to a park, and people apparently feel free to complain about our yard, despite not being able to see it from the park/our neighbor’s being just as bad. We’re trying to kill off the patches of grass once and for all. Next year we’ll bite the bullet and put in river rocks out front. That’ll hurt.

    The joys of homeownership, no?

    1. I know! Ugh! Sometimes I hate being a homeowner. Sounds like you’ve done a lot of work already.

  5. Putting in some time and money in your yard now will end up bringing you soooooooo much more pleasure in the future (even if it seems a little stressful/exorbitant right now). It’s so nice you have family nearby who can help out, and when it’s done you’ll have to have a big backyard get together and relax while admiring your handiwork.

    I’d like to get rid of my lawn in the backyard, not sure what I would do instead yet.

    Also, I nominated you for the Liebster Award! The info is on my site and I hope you’ll participate so we can learn even more about you!

    1. Oh Thanks Marie! I appreciate the nomination. 🙂 I know it’s expensive, but it’ll totally be worth it in the end!

  6. What a great idea, borrowing money from yourself! And if you don’t pay yourself back in a timely manner, at least you know where you live! 😛

    It really sounds like you have a lovely yard in your near future, Kayla. Best wishes! 🙂

    1. Thanks Kay! I thought it would be a good way to finance my project without having to pay a ton of interest along the way. 🙂

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