This spring we’ve been working on connecting two decks on the back of our house with landscaping.
We’d rather just connect the two decks and make one gigantic deck, but someone forgot to plant a money tree in the backyard. Decks are expensive to build and maintain and this house needs one hundred other things before it needs a bigger deck.
Until that day comes we can try to visually connect the decks with landscaping instead. Think of it as a bridge between two islands.
Here’s a picture from three years ago when we moved into the Colonial Farmhouse. You can hardly see the small deck on the right because it was hidden by two rotten Hawthorn trees. There was also a chainlink fence and a bunch of out-of-control forsythia bushes.
For the purposes of clarification, I’m going to throw around words like landscape, landscaped, and landscaping in this blog post. It sounds fancier than “we cleaned stuff up.”
However, anytime you read that word in this blog post you should probably add the word partial or partially in front of it. This is because we won’t truly be done until we add plants to the areas that need plants.
This is a journey, not a race and we’ve given ourselves permission to take our time.
A year ago we landscaped around the big deck and painted the deck’s railing.
It’s the deck we use daily and the deck everyone sees when they visit.
This year was the small deck’s turn for landscaping. It waited so patiently.
The small deck was lower in priority because it was out-of-sight, out-of-mind. No one can see the area around it and we only use the deck itself in the summer to access the clothesline and some vegetable pots.
Landscaping the part of your yard that no one sees is a little bit like finally cleaning out that messy closet that you usually just shut the door on. You ask yourself, “How did we let it get so bad and why did we wait so long to fix it up?”
Connecting two decks with landscaping meant we first needed to landscape around the neglected small deck.
We dug up all the weeds, which was quite the job because this area is filled with gravel.
So. Much. Gravel.
There used to be a dog run here that was sectioned off with a chainlink fence. I don’t know if the gravel was there independent of that or for that reason.
In addition to the gravel, we found a bunch of fieldstones buried in the gravel and dirt. I don’t know if these stones were rejects from our house’s foundation or if they were from an old wall or flowerbed.
We dug up two wheelbarrows worth of these fieldstones in all shapes – a few that took two of us to lift. We used them to shore up some of our existing fieldstone walls. Woohoo! Free rocks!
Connecting the two decks with landscaping meant we needed to continue the landscaping around the small deck and along the back of the house to where it meets the big deck.
You can see in the below “in progress” picture where I started digging my new flowerbed (aka area that will just be mulched for now) along the back of the house.
This picture also shows how we reuse good (i.e. weed-free) grass that we dig up. We replant it in an area that really needs it like where those rotten Hawthorn trees used to be located.
We’ve had good luck using this replanting method. The grass will eventually reroot and fill itself in.
We may end up putting grass seed down in this area to move it along a little faster, but we’ll see.
With the new flowerbed area shaped and connected between the two decks, it was time to put down a super thick layer of mulch.
We’ve had good luck with weed control by clearing the ground and then adding at least 4 inches of mulch to the area.
A few persistent weeds inevitably come up, but it’s manageable to this person who does not enjoy weeding. I’d rather go to the dentist instead of pulling weeds.
Okay, that might have been stretching it, but I really don’t like weeding.
Laying mulch is the ultimate home improvement task if you want instant gratification.
Let’s remember how the entire back of the house looked three years ago when we moved in.
Chainlink fence? Check.
Rotten Hawthorn trees with horrendous thorns? Stepped on those a couple of times.
Decks in bad shape? Makes dining alfresco extra thrilling if you don’t know if the deck will hold you.
Overgrown bushes everywhere? We had more than our fair share.
Here’s how it looks today.
I could cry with happiness.
I did cry with happiness…or maybe that was my allergies making my eyes water.
The best part of that after picture showing how we are connecting two decks with landscaping is we aren’t done. That’s right, we aren’t done and this house still looks a million times more cared for.
By the way, we’ll never be done. Ha!
We have learned to appreciate and revel in the happiness that comes with every single small improvement we make while caring for this Colonial Farmhouse. If we don’t, this whole journey becomes very overwhelming.
What’s left to do? How much time do you have for me to tell you? Ha!
The main thing will be to make a stone path from the small deck to the water spigot on the back of the house. We also need to make a gate to protect the garden bed behind the small deck. Eventually, I’d like to plant some plants as well. I’m not in any hurry to do that though. Let’s see if I can take care of all of this first.
I’m thrilled with our progress in connecting these two decks with landscaping, but I also hope it encourages you if it feels like your landscaping projects are taking forever. It’s not a race. Do what you can, when you can, and celebrate the progress along the way. The rest will work itself out.
If you’ve been working on landscaping projects, big or small, I’d love to hear about them. You can always email me here or reach out via Instagram or Facebook. If you leave a comment on this blog post, go through the trouble of proving you aren’t a robot and don’t see your comment post immediately, please don’t be discouraged. I have to manually approve it due to the exceedingly high number of spam comments I get daily. Thank you so much!
As always, I’m glad you are here to share in this old house journey with us. Journeys are always more enjoyable when taken with friends! If you’d like another blog post to read, I’ve got you covered.