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Old 04-18-2016, 06:47 PM
1,701 posts, read 1,874,414 times
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A deck would be nice. A screened in back porch would be great if you can afford it.
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Old 04-18-2016, 08:45 PM
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OK--me again
Lot of dead leaves, plant overgrowth, and large rocks...be alert for snakes and spiders...
Reasons I would hire someone to do the clean up

Looks like trees provide shade
Shade from trees and tree roots have an effect on plant growth and are two reasons why you can't treat all areas of landscape/yard the same...
So know your trees...
And with the yard as unkept as that the trees likely need to be pruned as well and maybe checked for disease...

Mark the shade boundaries on the yard -- you can use spray paint in different colors to make any permanent shade areas and those that move during the daytime...
Worse thing you can do is design a yard w/o taking shade/sun patterns into consideration and that isn't something you can copy from other people's yards...they are intrinsic to YOUR yard.
Just as slope and how rain water flows...

If you are good with drawing/ computers you can get a software program and draw your space with some indications of what is going on....

Looks like you have a window well into the basement next to the doors--any issue with water retention or leaking?

While I think you have lot of potential and options for improving the look and function of your yard, try to plan for long term--remember that smaller plants can double or triple in size within a few years and look overgrown if their final sizes aren't taken into account initially...
Try to use local/native plants that don't require lot of maintenance (unless you enjoy it) or irrigation...xeriscape is a suggestion...

Sometimes you can find things on local Craig'sList or local free site if you are willing to do labor...like sod that is left from project or landscaping rock or even lighting or fencing...
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Old 04-18-2016, 08:53 PM
Location: San Francisco Bay Area
7,702 posts, read 5,446,630 times
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Originally Posted by davebarnes View Post
Hire a landscape architect. They have the expertise you need.
They may have the expertise, but you misspelled LAND$CAPE.
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Old 04-18-2016, 08:56 PM
Location: Berkeley Neighborhood, Denver, CO USA
17,705 posts, read 29,796,003 times
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Originally Posted by SFBayBoomer View Post
you misspelled LAND$CAPE
I did not.
$100/hr x 3 hours and you will have tons of great ideas.
NH is not the Bay Area.
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Old 04-19-2016, 09:22 AM
2,578 posts, read 2,067,004 times
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Originally Posted by Senah View Post
I agree - go onto Houzz and look for ideas. In terms of the patio, I think you should either pressure wash it and paint it or rip it out and have the landscape architects put in flagstones (you can have them space them with some sand or grit in the middle and it is pretty low maintenance). With wood you really have to re-stain it and eventually it rots and can curl depending.

You can buy sod pretty cheap and put it down in the back yard and have a small lawn area, just be sure to water it well while it establishes, and then put down a spaced flagstone walk. Landscapers could widen your planted areas or create beds if you don't want to maintain as much lawn - especially all along the side of the house you could put some edging and mulch and trellis bushy plants like roses (if it gets enough light) or raspberries or something like that and you have less space to maintain. Really areas under pines should be acidic soil, and blueberries should grow well there, as should other berries that are ground cover like cranberries and lingonberries, which are also pretty cold weather plants (also wintergreen). They would all establish and be nice ground cover. You can also move out the beds and have larger bushes or plants in the beds, and line the last foot between the shrubs and rocks with herbs that spread and are often perennial.

I agree - fix the doors to the basement and paint them - you DON'T want a leaky basement. Also, make sure drainage if you do grow next to the house is sloped away to keep it dry.

I like the outbuilding. Repaint it and just put some new wood framing on the base of the door and it should look very charming.

Around trees, take about 3-5 feet and make a ring of stones or mulch with edging, and grow ground cover, and that means less lawn to maintain as well.

I think you can do a lot with this little yard.
The yard itself is a clean slate. Sod is cheap and gives you immediate upgrade, whereas seeding will take longer but may give you a healthier (read: more durable, healthy, thick) lawn. Either would be fine.

However, I would strongly suggest getting a soil sample before doing either because ultimately having a healthy lawn is about having healthy soil. If you budget allows, perhaps also bring is a few cubic yards of quality top soil before putting down sod or seeding. It makes a huge difference if done before sodding.

Regarding the lawn, consider going to the aroundtheyard.com forum on northern grasses (http://aroundtheyard.com/northern/), create an account and post the photos of the lawn, asking for feedback.

They will recommend Logan Labs in Ohio for the soil test, but they (the folks who post there) know that lab well and have helped dozens (or hundreds) of folks interpret the results and know what to do to get the soil healthy. They also know grasses well, benefits of sod vs. seed, lawn renovations, etc.

Tell them your level of input (not everyone wants to spend big bucks and all of their spare time on their lawns, though some of the folks there actually do love this stuff ... but are very willing to help others). A great, great forum with good advice. My lawn has improved greatly since I started taking advice there - cheaper than my neighbors who use commercial services, down to nearly no chemicals and not much extra time of my part compared to neighbors (who comment on how their lawns don't look as thick or nice as our lawn). Seriously, my goal is a chemical-free lawn with few weeds and little work.

Good luck.
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Old 04-19-2016, 09:32 AM
1,278 posts, read 1,247,324 times
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Originally Posted by WoodyWW View Post
I bought this house in S. NH last year. Very nice '60's era solid house, & the former owner did tons of tasteful updates & upgrades to the house itself. But the back yard that's about 1/2 bare dirt, the concrete slab "patio", & the weird old deteriorating shed are very unappealing. (I'll try to attach pics).
You can really make it look better without paying too much.. Most of the work you can do yourself as follows or hire some cheap labor. The patio will have to be redone, it's dated.

1) Patio is better than deck for your situation. First hire a mason, remove entire concrete patio and install a brick paver patio. Choose the color/brick that you like. Have mason remove the shed too.

1) Lawn repair. First, remove redundant plantlife, weeds at the borders. Create defined border between the lawn and the perrenial flowers/plants with a shovel. Dig the border, youtube this. The perennials will then exist in islands independent of lawn. Right now, the "lawn" transitions straight into those plants. Next, you don't need to resod, but you need to repair the current situation, it looks beaten down. just topdress and reseed to give it an even look and natural with a nice clean lawn. Order 2 cubic yards of soil from a local nursery have them dump it on your driveway, cost you like $100. You need to amend and topdress your lawn. Youtube videos on topdressing lawn and add the soil amendment to your existing lawn. wheelbarrow it in, smooth out with rake and and use bristle brush in to make generally level with some of the existing grass poking out, the bare spots add more soil, make it all generally level. Compact it down and let it settle. Buy sun and shade mix grass seeds. liberally seed entire area even where there's grass, and gently rake in. get a bag of starter fertilizer and toss it over the same area. Water twice a day for 2 weeks with a sprinkler.

2) Inspect the basement doors, it looks in ok condition. sand out rough areas with power sander, buy gorilla metal epoxy and fill any holes and rusted areas that leak. Resand flush. Apply a high build bonding primer with a brush, 2-3 coats with HIM High build water primer/sealer from amazon.com. Then paint with an oil based paint.

3) Buy a small shed from home depot, keep it small and buy their install service.
4) Plant some new perennial and annual flowers in random places. A few shrubs wouldn't hurt against the rear wall of your home.

Last edited by ControlJohnsons; 04-19-2016 at 09:46 AM..
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Old 04-19-2016, 10:17 AM
Location: Johns Creek, GA
17,472 posts, read 66,002,677 times
Reputation: 23621
Bulkhead doors-
Options Basement Door Bilco Basement Doors

Shed not worth keeping/fixing.

Keep the patio. Power wash it to remove the old paint and whatever else is on it- then stain it with concrete stain. Stain is much better than paint.

The yard is probably a victim of too much canopy- that's why there's no grass. Limb-up, prune, cut-down some trees to allow more sun.
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Old 04-19-2016, 11:04 AM
613 posts, read 943,906 times
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Originally Posted by davebarnes View Post
Nuke the shed.
Sand, prime, paint bulkhead door. A dark color.

I prefer decks over patios for the warmth. But, patios are much cheaper.
Can you even sit outside? My brother lives in Lyme and cannot go outside at all during clement weather as the bugs are fearsome predators.

Hire a landscape architect. They have the expertise you need.
Hi, thanks to all for the great tips!, and:

Doing much, if any, of this work myself--not gonna happen. Just, FYI. I'm still doing the mowing, & Fall leaf clean up myself tho. Haven't seen snakes in the backyard as someone asked.

And yeah, I can sit outside in summer. No major bugs in summer, at least last year. Altho I hear parts of ME are very buggy.

The shed is a tear-down. Looks even nastier from close-up, let alone inside (yech!). I got a couple of nasty e-mails from my insurance co. about it after I bought this place. That wild vine or bush growing over it tho--has beautiful lilac colored flowers in late summer, so I'll try to save that.

The ideas of saving the old concrete patio & getting it stained--I asked both of the landscape guys I talked to--they don't do that, but I'm sure there are people that do. I just looked at it again tho--a long crack down the middle, & some other cracks & chipped areas. It's probably original to this early '60's house. And I just want it gone anyway. If davebarnes is right & patios are much cheaper than decks, that makes that decision a lot easier. Altho I haven't gotten bids for either, so need to do that.

The bulkhead door(s)--don't even latch tight, bent somehow I guess, so I put bricks on the doors to hold them down--helps the leaking a bit, as does a big poly sheeting I put over it. And I can see a bit of daylight from "down below"--like they might be rusted thru a little. They're also ridiculously heavy to try to open--I think they make bulkhead doors that are easier to open now(?). I think they're beyond "fixing". Painting them--it might be like painting that old shed--sometimes better just to get new.

(Maybe I'm wrong about that, a lot of smart-sounding people here say to keep the bulkhead door & repair, but by the time I pay someone to do all that.....& even if that worked, they'd still be ridiculously heavy to try to open.)

The one estimate I had from a basement-fixing co.--the person they sent out thought that there was also leaking from the joint in the concrete near the top of the bulkhead & put in the estimate:

"Dig 4-6" trench around bulkhead, seal joint with vapor barrier. Replace with existing soil."

And: "Remove approx 9" x 3' section of concrete patio to dig along on side of bulkhead. Homeowner to replace."

There was also: "Bulkhead - Bilco Classic Series Primed. Remove existing bulkhead and clean foundation sill. Install new (Standard Size) - "Bilco" Steel Bulkhead. Install foundation plates to Bulkhead for proper install of new door." Total estimate: $2445.

And: if I get the old shed removed, & had a usable bulkhead door, I could store the few things I have out there in the basement.

Wow--I just saw some of the new posts--like the one from WoodburyWoody about getting a soil sample test. And lots of others; I'm going to save all of these posts to refer to. Great stuff; thanks people. BTW, pics of the house from the front & back (is that OK to post on a public forum?). The previous owner did so many nice upgrades; new siding, roof, new windows, on & on. Part of my thinking for getting a nice patio, new bulkhead doors, etc........backyard is one of the few areas she neglected.....
Attached Thumbnails
What to do with this nasty looking concrete "patio" & marginal back yard? Deck, or New patio? Ground cover plants?-dsc_0002-.jpg   What to do with this nasty looking concrete "patio" & marginal back yard? Deck, or New patio? Ground cover plants?-dsc_0004.jpg  
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