Sideyard Before

Hey there! Somehow I got suckered into working on the sideyard, which is technically part of the backyard but totally its own thing, in tandem with the actual backyard. I’d sum this place up by calling it a stressyard and saying that it’s too much. When pressed, I’m thankful for the space and the possibilities it affords, but I’ve mostly felt burdened by it so far. We already have enough to take care of with more than adequate back and front yards. So basically, yes, I’m complaining because idiot me has “too much yard” and a mini orchard and a garden bed and a shed and land between my neighbor’s house and mine. Our goal back here is to get it to a place where we don’t complain. Where it is manageable (no/less weeds and drought tolerant), simplified, organized, and usable.

As you can imagine, this space was actually quite nice and tidy when we moved in:

We know how to trash stuff, man, because this is how it looks on a good day since we’ve become stewards:

The only significant things we’ve done so far here is to install that play structure tightly between trees right after we moved in and to somehow keep the fruit trees alive (and seemingly thriving, despite only approximately 12 watering over 3 years…I KNOW). We have 2 orange trees, a huge avocado tree, and a little apple and nectarine tree. I talked myself into purchasing a lime tree too so that needs to join the mix somewhere.

The list back here is a mile long, but for now we’ve been focusing on clearing out weeds and dead plants, digging out a thousand flower bulbs, removing rotted wood borders, correcting some drainage issues, and beginning to laying down rock and wood mulch. Already it’s looking so much better.

This big garden bed was one of my favorite things about the yard, even though I’ve only used it twice since moving in. The day before I took this picture, my husband cleared dead plants from 2 summers ago. I want to be the mom who growing veggies with her kids, but I just couldn’t handle any more yard responsibilities last year (and maybe this year too depending on how things go… )

People who hate yard work probably don’t buy garden sheds (and if they did they’d probably be looking for something cuter than this one), but it’s been so nice to have the storage, especially when our garage sees so much renovation action (zero car action). After having one, I don’t want to go back to being shedless so this guy stays. It might be fun to build one, but many years from now.

Speaking of sheds…We’ve also decided to remove the play structure. It has been well loved and well used for a couple of years but we always planned on swapping it for a trampoline when our kids were a bit older. The yard works really well as an orchard/garden combo, but adding fun kid stuff complicates the flow. We’d love to have a play structure and trampoline and swings and so much more, but unless we clear all the trees and turn this into a dedicated playspace, we’ve got to be choosy. We were prepared to relocate or remove the smaller trees in order to give us a more usable space, but everything became clear when we began cleaning up around the shed and shoveling rocks: JUST MOVE THE SHED. I’m not sure why we’ve never thought of that before but it solves a multitude of problems for us and just makes better sense. That semi-easy change will offer a large (trampoline sized) chunk of space in close proximity to the rest of the backyard without us having to sacrifice any trees, or sheds.

As for the dismantled play structure (a free used find on craigslist that has reached the end of its life expectancy), we plan on repurposing some of its pieces to build a little tree-house in the avocado tree, which miraculously has a (tree-house sized) vacancy right inside it. 



  • Build a play structure
  • Remove random thirsty plants
  • Weed everything
  • Remove damaged wood accents in sidewalks and borders
  • Plant lime tree
  • Prune trees
  • Mulch around trees
  • Mulch garden bed
  • Rock everything else
  • Make BBQ pad/area
  • Repair fence above garden
  • Paint garden fence and gate
  • Remove play structure
  • Move shed
  • Paint shed?
  • One day build custom shed???
  • Trampoline
  • Build tree house
  • Paint motel chairs
  • Make kid art space?
  • Dreaming big in a few years: pottery wheel and kiln space???

Did you catch that last one ^? Sometimes I think the dreaming is almost as fun as the making. I know for sure that batty ideas derail me for days so I’m currently running a no-dream operation as we hustle to get some basics done before summer. But lets just say, I have a “phase 2” list for almost every space on our property and maybe this one even includes an outdoor shower and a skate ramp :)

xoxo Jenny



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