DIY Summer Ready Yard

If you have followed the insta stories you are no stranger to the fact that we have been yard workin’. Before the time to get started on your own yard comes and goes I wanted to share how we are prepping our yard for summer. Just in case you missed the artistic and informative videos on instagram, let me give you a quick summary of the original state of our backyard. A dirt patch with a moss minefield (see below). Any questions?


Let’s Get Started!

First thing we did was consult the experts. We strolled over to Swansons Nursery, who provided us with some pointers on how to get started. Of course, we googled our eyes out on what to do, but sometimes in-person consultations are way more valuable. Here’s what we learned:

  1. Test your soil. We picked up a soil test kit from Lowe’s for $12.
  2. Moss killing time. Sprinkle Moss Out $15 over the moss ridden area. Give it several days to do its job.
  3. Moss raking time. Once several days have come and gone…rake up all the moss.


Oh look, there’s sod. While we were raking up the moss, green, plastic mesh was coming up with it. So at some point sod was put down, which either didn’t take or had not been treated well in several years. We pulled up as much of it as we could and I’ll tell you why in a moment. At this point we needed to review the plan and wanted further confirmation. Levi Brown of Mountain Laurel Landscape and Design in South Windsor, CT stepped in to give us some pointers.

4. Till the yard. This is why we pulled up the plastic, we knew we’d have to rent a tiller and did not want to get the plastic stuck. We opted for the medium duty tiller for $70/4 hours, we originally purchased for a day because we were unsure how long it would take, but it was super quick, took about an hour. Aurora Rents was really helpful and totally cool with giving us our money back to adjust for a 4 hour rental vs one day.

diy summer yard


Once the yard was tilled we spread around the dirt to level the slightly sloped back corner. We also removed the paved walkway, pulled up most of the shrubs surrounding the house and that lean-to of a deck. (Anticipating DIY Deck project, fingers crossed for Summer 2017…)

5. Compost. Your local nursery will know who to call for compost and they might even carry their own. Swansons recommended using Dirt Exchange. We gave them our yard measurements (1000sq ft). We received 5 yards of compost for $258 including a $40 delivery charge. With all the dump runs from shrubs, branches, and a hacked up, previously rotting picnic table so generously left for us to deal with, we didn’t want to tie up the use of Linc’s truck. We did have to purchase a bigger tarp for the compost drop area and used another to cover it in between working on the yard.

6. Distribute Compost. Evenly distribute the compost, we were given the suggestion to have about 3 inches of thickness. This process took us about 2 hours.



7. Another round of tilling. In order to mix the original yard dirt with the compost we were instructed to till again. Linc opted for the smaller duty tiller this time at $50/4 hours. This round took him about 2 hours.

8. Water, water and wait. For you folks not living in Seattle, the suggestion is to water the yard 2x/day for about 2 weeks to allow the compost to flatten out. Lucky for us (or dreadful..either way) it rained everyday for over a week after laying the compost and our yard was pretty flat. Now we just need to wait until the average ground temperature increases to 42 degrees before laying the grass seed.


9. Grass Seed. We anticipate this week we will be spreading grass seed and we’ll return to Swansons for the specific recommendation on what type of seed to get for our climate. Of course Lowes or The Home Depot will carry grass seed as well, but we have found that our local nursery has been really patient and helpful. Support local.

10. More compost. Save some of your compost so that once the grass seed is down you can provide a thin layer of compost on top of the seed. This mostly serves as an insurance policy protecting your grass seed from the peril of hungry birds.

11. Water, water and wait. Yup, again. We were advised that we should start seeing growth within a few weeks, but not to mow until the grass is 3 inches long.

We will keep you posted along the way and provide an updated DIY Yard post in April demonstrating the progress. Lots of maintenance is involved when striving for a healthy yard. We know we will have to revisit this project often to achieve our backyard goals, but hopefully planning ahead and laying the groundwork now will prove beneficial.


When we get around to the DIY deck project, I’m hoping we can get something like this to be featured on it once it’s complete!! Heidi and Brent from Kruse’s Workshop are DIY gurus, check out their latest bathroom remodel. Wink wink, nudge nudge, I’m looking at you Linc 🙂

party table




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Looks awesome! Can not wait to see the grass finally coming in. Lucky you it rains otherwise the water bill would be quite high!
And heck yes to the deck project.!

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