So Jake and I have an amazing back yard that is an absolute wreck and a whole summer to work on it. Thing is, we have zero money to spend on it. So I’ve decided to give us a Zero-Spend Garden Challenge.
- We can of course use any tool we already own and move around plants that are already on the property.
- We can barrow tools from friends and relatives, but we cannot rent them from stores.
- “Found” items (a.k.a. stuff in the alley) is fair game.
- Trading and swapping for plants, materials, tools, and help is cool as long as we don’t buy something just to swap it.
- We will accept gifts toward the project (but not from each other – that’s cheating!)
There are a few caveats to the “zero-spend” rule – including a few large safety-related projects we have to hire contractors for:
- We can spend up to $10 a week on things that would get used up like nails, screws and garbage bags.
- We can purchase herb/food plants, but only if it there is left over grocery budget at the end of the month.
- We can purchase a replacement if a tool gets broken beyond repair.
- If monthly home-repair budget allows, we will hire a gate contractor to repair the side gate, a masonry contractor to repair loose bricks on the garage and buy a new door for the garage service entrance.
- In the fall, we will purchase grass seed, fertilizer & straw for fall grass planting.
So here is our yard (photos from Oct. 2008 when we first looked at the house – weeds are currently much higher! EEK!):
View when standing on back deck
View when standing at back gate – that’s Scott Curcio – best realtor in Chicago!
This is from standing at the garage looking down the side of the house toward the front.
That fur ball in the center is a neighborhood tomcat we call Chewbacca…
…if you were feeling generous you could call him an “asset” 🙂
A quick assessment of the assets and challenges of the yard:
- Awesome Magnolia tree perfectly positioned to shade the deck
- Pretty, single-car, brick garage
- Fence in mostly good shape
- Beautiful Ivy growing on the garage
- Decent sized deck in good shape
- Tons of giant lily plants
- A couple nice (if overgrown) bushes under the magnolia tree
- Tons of plain green hastas (front yard)
- Fun purple powder puff plants
- The majority of the yard is covered in sand and gravel from where the previous owners had an above ground pool.
- The rest of the yard is covered in weeds.
- No one has given the yard any love (not even mowed) in about 2 years, so it’s pretty overgrown.
- Posts to Side gate have rotted and need to be replaced (contractor level job)
- There is a large section of loose bricks over the service door to the garage that are in real danger of falling out (contractor level job)
- The service door to the garage needs to be replaced.
I’ll be posting regular updates on my progress! I can’t wait to see how it turns out!