And it’s not just the color of the grass!
One of the things I was most looking forward to when we moved here was having a back yard. Apartment living had turned a normally outdoorsy gal into much more of a homebody and I was excited to have space to live in-outdoors.
Over the past few months I’ve been adding different things to the back yard that are helping us enjoy the space we have while minimizing the impact we have on the planet. Let me take you on a short tour of the yard:
We purchased this little beauty from the New England Rain Barrel Company. It only has one job, but boy does it do it well. Water runs off the roof, through the gutters, down the spout right into the barrel. There are two nozzles. The one at the top allows water to run out when the barrel gets full. The second is at the bottom and has a short hose attached. We use the second nozzle to fill the watering can for watering the gardens.
The benefits are numerous: by collecting water we keep it from running off and eroding the area under our deck, it also prevents water from pooling or seeping into the basement, we’re saving money (and water) by not using town water to water plants and by using a recycled barrel we’re cutting down on the waste byproducts of manufacturing. The company had a partnership with the town of Danvers so we were able to get our barrel at a discount, even!
Just because we have a yard doesn’t mean that we have all the tools necessary to maintain a yard or a garden. I had originally wanted to put in a medium to large size veggie garden. Then I realized that I didn’t have any way to till the ground…I didn’t even own a hoe! Through the mamas (and dads) at Motheringdotcommune I was introduced to Square Foot Gardening.
The basic idea behind the method is that in each1’x1′ section of a raised bed garden you plant one crop. Because of the size of the garden (only 4’x4′) you can reach each section easily for weeding and harvesting. The footprint is small, and no tilling is necessary.
I built my own bed with lumber from Home Depot and some nails we already had. Add in some soil and seeds and the cost is still minimal. I put in beans, peas, carrots, peppers, squash, spinach and pumpkins. The plants are growing up nicely and I’m happy to say that there are very few weeds! The squash and beans have a few blossoms and I’m hoping for a nice harvest come the end of summer. We’ll probably have enough for some meals or snacks but not enough to freeze or can for the winter. I figure this year is my test run and if the garden does well I can expand it next year.
Worst come to worst I was planning on having a compost heap out back. Really just a place to toss yard clippings and kitchen scraps where they could decompose in peace. As luck would have it, though, I found a stack composter on Freecycle (like this one). It sits just beyond the edge of the yard and I take our food scraps out there every couple of days. The stack hasn’t decomposed into usable mulch yet, but it is definitely working. I think that I’ll have some nutrient rich mulch to mix in with the veggie garden’s soil when I prep the bed for winter. Then by spring there should be plenty to kick start the beds for the growing season.
As a bonus the composter helps keep our trash output lower and by not using the garbage disposal we are conserving more water and reducing the energy needed to treat the gray water. And it gives me a great place to toss the occasional worm I find crawling around!
I love that crisp, crunchy feeling of clothes dried on a line. I love seeing beach towels and bathing suits hung side by side. I love knowing that every time I hang out instead of machine dry the pennies are adding up in my bank account. Plus, this time of year who wants the dryer heating up the inside of the house? Not me! (though, I’m a bit to bashful to hang my underwear out to dry…)
This clothesline cost us one dollar. The rope I found amongst our things (who knows when [or if] it was purchased). The fence and the tree were preexisting. I just had to buy pins. I found a package at the dollar store. They’re pretty low quality, but I’m willing to put up with that for now. As long as my laundry doesn’t end up on the ground.
Overall, it is a pretty good setup for us who don’t want to spend tons of money working on the lawn. I’d like to get some flowers in for next spring but I wouldn’t change much else!