Mean people suck. This afternoon, as Mom sat in the living room window, reading, she could hear some neighbors walking by, making snarky comments about the yard. "What's with the shape of that flower bed?" "It's a diamond, you just have to look at it from this angle." "And that one? Why a triangle?"
As they walked by again, Mom could hear their voices loud and clear through the window. "This looks just awful. They should have left it alone. It looked much better before."
Oh boy. Hearing that was enough to send me into an hours-long funk that nobody could shake me out of; not Mom, not Ted, not even Maggie, who brought me numerous toys to play with. I am overly sensitive when it comes to criticism.
I have put hours into the yard so far. I know it doesn't look great. It's obvious (or so I thought) that it's a work in progress.
We had removed all the old bushes because they were overgrown and blocking egress from the basement, a real safety issue. I haven't really replanted because I'm slowly regrading the soil around the foundation. It had been allowed to build up and over the limestone edging in some spots, and onto the actual windowsills of the basement windows. Almost everywhere this has occurred has allowed moisture to seep in, with lots of brick effloresence and some mortar loss. So I'm digging up a lot of dirt, transferring it to other low spots in the yard, and leveling it so it will no longer be a problem. That takes a lot of effort, and it's not pretty in the process, but where I've already regraded, moisture no longer seems to be an issue.
I have put a few foundation bushes in this year because they are slow growers, and I want to give them this season to grow. But I won't be adding much else to the foundation planting this summer except to prep the beds for next year. Fixing issues with the house takes priority in the budget.
The overgrown yew bushes were blocking all of these windows. Completely. Removing them revealed that the grade had been allowed up and over the limestone and onto the windowsills. Weeds were actually growing on the windowsills. I weeded the windows and swept out the dirt, but along this section of the foundation most of the ground is level with the top of the limestone and will have to be corrected.
In this photo, you can see how I've managed to get the ground mostly even with the base of the limestone. There was lots and lots o' manual digging involved.
This is where the grade was the worst. I've leveled most of it and am working to slope it slightly away from the foundation. It's all very soft along here; you actually sink somewhat while walking across the surface, so I still have to compact the dirt. We're thinking of putting a flagstone patio here, just big enough for a bistro set. If we do that, then my grumbling neighbors will have to look at this bare patch of dirt a while longer.