Evolution of My Backyard

The realtor for my first house said I bought the yard and took whatever house went with it. That’s not entirely true, but garden potential has always been a big factor. An ugly lot with no potential is a deal-breaker.

I loved my current home as soon as I walked in the door. The privacy fence around the backyard sealed the deal. Sun all morning and shade all afternoon make the patio pleasant for most of the day. The landscaping when I moved in, however, left a lot to be desired.

I’ve mostly tinkered around the edges to make mowing easier. The lawn needs to be mowed once or twice a week for nine months or more here. Replacing hard-to-mow spots with something you don’t need to mow saves all kinds of time.

Trimming overgrown trees and bushes every year or two is another time suck. Ridding my yard of them has been a process. Selecting the right plant for the spot is the trick and the reason I’ve removed two loropetalum, a pecan tree, and two giant magnolias. (The Weekend Gardener has a ton of great time-saving ideas.)

Removing the magnolias last fall and fixing the drainage problem a few weeks ago transformed the backyard. Three downspouts empty into French drains that flow into the drainage ditch. The entire backyard was regraded and then sodded with zoysia.

I’ve run out of excuses for avoiding more permanent plants. I’m sticking to annuals for now. My seed-starting operation was well underway when I stumbled upon the drainage repair guy.

Deciding which of hundreds of favorite perennials, shrubs and small trees make the cut is a challenge. I’m in no hurry. Growing annuals from seed and changing things up every year make me happy.