Monday, March 19, 2012

Making Yard Work Easier

It's that  time of year again... time to get outside and spruce up the yard. 

 The biggest job we have every year or so is spreading mulch. Many of our neighbors use pine straw, but it breaks down too fast and it has to be done twice a year to look good. That's definitely not happening. Plus, when we had pine straw we had too many snakes up near the house that would crawl in it. 

After doing pine straw for a couple of years we changed to hardwood mulch because it lasts about a year and a half if we get single hammered hardwood mulch. Single hammered mulch is a little coarser than the kind you buy in bags at Lowe's or Home Depot . Last year we tried double hammered mulch, which is a finer mulch similar to the bagged kind, and it broke down super fast. It only looks good for about 6 months.
After starting to spread the mulch in the backyard this weekend, I snapped a few before photos.  Usually the trees are all leafed out when we spread mulch, but we needed mulch for around our raised beds and we just kept going.

Here's how the yard looks after 5 trailer fulls of hardwood mulch. Each trailer full is 4 yards. We thought we were finished after spreading 20 yards, but I looked up the hill toward the front yard and realized we still needed about 2 yards more for the side yard.  :(  
We'll do that next week.

Here's a photo taken in the evening which shows the mulch darker.

We started off doing the walking path around the raised beds, then spread mulch in the front yard.

The backyard is looking pretty good.

Here are my tips for making yard work easier:

1. Don't neglect your yard. Not keeping up with  maintenance only makes the job harder.

2.Have a plan for what you need to do and break it down over several weeks or weekends.

3. Use some type of mulch to keep the weeds down. A 3" layer definitely keeps the weeds down, which will save you time later in the season because you have less weeds to deal with and helps you conserve water.

4. If you have a large area to cover like I do, consider buying mulch by the yard from a landscaping supply. This will save you a ton of money. When we are finished, we will have purchased 22 yards of mulch for $23 a yard, for a total of $506 plus tax . Had we purchased it at Lowes or Home Depot it would have cost us closer to $1,000, plus, bagged mulch only lasts about 6 months and not a year (dyed mulch lasts for about a year). If you don't have a trailer to pick up the mulch, landscaping supply companies will deliver mulch to your home . 
Update: if you wait until  Lowes and Home Depot drops their price on the dyed mulch in the Spring to $2 for a 2 cubic food bag, the cost per yard is $27, which is still a little more than bulk, but it's so much easier to handle.

5. If you have a big job  to do in your yard, hire a couple of hardworking teenagers you know to help. We've done this several times in the past to spread mulch. This time, we picked up the mulch ourselves and spread it over about 5 days on two different weekends. Teenagers can do things like yard clean up or digging holes to plant new trees. You don't have to do it all yourself!

6. Do your yard cleanup and mulch spreading before it gets too hot! Yard work is so much easier to do when it's 60 degrees instead of 80!

7. Have the right tools for the job.

I hope that Spring is headed your way! It's so exciting to know that a big part of my Spring yard maintenance is already finished and it's only March. We still have some cleanup and burning to do out past our flower beds, but having the mulch already done is a great relief.

In a couple of weeks our yard will look like this and we are looking forward to it:
The above photos were taken at the end of April last year.

What yard maintenance do you do every Spring?
Do you have any outside landscaping projects planned in addition to your maintenance?

   Disclaimer: The above post is how we make yard work easier using mulch.  I don't take any responsibility for any errors or results obtained from using this information. When using power tools, use safety equipment.


  1. Pam your grounds have always been a favorite of mine! Absolutely Beautiful!! We still use some black mulch in areas that we freshen up every year, but we change to rocks a few years ago in our other beds which I love because it looks good all year and it's less we have to do come spring.

  2. Your gardens always look absolutely amazing, Pam!

  3. Pam, I am so jealous of how manicured your yard is. My yard looks like crap. It has been taken over by weeds and makes me sick. My lawnmower is in the shop and has been for two weeks. My kind neighbors cut the yard for me a week ago. We may did up the front yard and start over this summer with new sod and a larger island out front to cut down on the amount of grass. We have spent so much money and time on our yard and it just doesn't matter it has gotten away from us. We do use pine straw now, but have used the dyed brown mulch in bags that does last over a year in the past. We don't need as much as you, but still need a lot. If we would work on the back we probably would need truck loads.

  4. My goodness that looks gorgeous Pam. You have a lot of work there but such beautiful property. Here is my new url to add to your blog roll. I will not come up otherwise anymore and this is a real pain to go and tell everyone.

  5. Hi Pam... so large area it is and it is simply a hard task... Cant wait to see the sweet fruit of your efforts... sure it will look gorgeous...
    Hope you will enjoy a visit at
    to have some fun with crochet doily bowls
    With love

  6. Pam your back yard is absolutely gorgeous! I love the pebbled walk out to the sitting area. You have been so very busy! We are still so covered in pollen and just starting to get rid of all the leaves everywhere. We need mulch by the truckload too! I don't think I've ever seen your backyard before at least not w/out the tree leaves. It really is so very pretty!

  7. What a GORGEOUS yard you have, Pam! Your lawn is so lush and your beds are beautiful ... fabulous landscaping! We (meaning, my husband) just tackled that in our yard this past weekend. A fresh layer of mulch (we use brown cypress) makes all the difference, doesn't it?

  8. This post makes me smile!! Your yard is so gorgeous..I so agree with all your tips! I have been getting my beds cleaned out of all the oak leaves and we are ready to mulch next weekend! There is nothing prettier than a well manicured yard and fresh mulch! I try to have everything done by May and then I can sit back and just enjoy! Your yard must bring you much joy it is truly beautiful!
    Miss Bloomers

  9. Pam, your yard is lovely. Buying by the truckload is the way to go. We have landscape timbers all over the place we want removed and that is going to be a huge job. Then we will have some rock or stamped concrete poured. All this may wait til CC finishes college. hugs, olive

  10. Pam,
    Your yard is so beautiful that it needs to be in Southern Living or Better Homes and Garden magazine! We use pine straw because we have a place where we can go rake it for free! I love your round fire pit area, too.

  11. Your yard looks gorgeous!
    We started on ours this past week, getting everything ready in the evenings and mulching this weekend. Hopefully, we can do the same this week and be done next weekend.
    You're so right about starting early. I had rather do it now than in June when I should be at the lake :)

  12. Lovely! There is no way you have dogs in that beautiful yard. Our beds use 75 bags of mulch and I thought that was a lot. This year I think it would be so much easier and cost efficient to have the chips delivered.

  13. Wow, we get 5 yds and I thought that was a lot! It is a lot! You guys are work-a-holics! I'v never heard the term "single hammered" etc. There is a definite difference to the stuff we buy at the landscape yard than to the ones in the bags. Ours is much more coarse and binds together better. I bought the stuff that looks picture perfect but it moves around way too easily. Biggest problem you can run into with deep mulch is growing fungus and mildew. The pine straw would make nervous. That stuff would light up and burn in a moment. I wouldn't want to surround my home with it. It probably smells good though. Your yard looks fantastic! You guys created a first class oasis!

  14. It looks great...what a lot of wonderful space to work all the trees and grass..Mulch always makes things better...

  15. What a beautiful yard Pam! I'm sure you really enjoy it. Everything is turning green very quickly in my area also (Ohio) so we need to get out there and do some work!

  16. All I can say is WOW!!! That is one incredible back yard! Absolutely beautiful!!!

    Thanks so much for sharing at Creatively Living!

  17. You are so fortunate to have so much space!!! Stunning, thanks for sharing with us!

  18. Are you going to do a follow up article? Would love to know what happens next.

    Northampton landscaping supplies

  19. Your yard is thus stunning that it must be in Southern Living or higher Homes and Garden magazine! we have a tendency to use pine straw as a result of we've got space} wherever we are able to go rake it for free! i really like your spherical cavity area, too....
    Bellevue Yard Maintenance


  20. Thank you for a great and inspiring blog post. I just want you to know that I enjoyed reading your post.


Leave a comment and let me know you stopped by! If you are not on blogger, leave me your email or some other way of getting in touch with you in the comment. That way I can reply to your question or comment.