Practical and Realistic Advice for First-Time Homeowners Tackling Yardwork

We have roughly a 2,500 square foot front yard that feels WAY bigger once you actually start working. And my word, we definitely underestimated how much work transforming the garden beds, the yard, and removing hundreds of rocks (thanks GA soil) would be. We’re still working on wrapping things up before the fall comes but we will carry over some bush and flower planting till next spring. Expenses, weather, and full planned weekends played a big part in us dragging the work load out. Because, again, we are total amateurs at taking care of our own yard. We had to change gears a few times too and as we learned more about our yard, we added on a few extra projects that were not originally planned. In future posts will go more into some of the nitty gritty of what we did and what we learned. But first we wanted to provide a quick list of tips that helped us get started and things that we’ll keep in mind for next season as well. 

  1. Come up with a plan on what plants you want to take out and what you want to add. We did a drawing (needed it for HOA approval since it noted changes to bushes and trees) and that helped us visualize our plan a lot better. We made some changes as we got started but having a nice visual to start made it easier to plan while purchasing plants as well. 
  2. Take some time to get a feel for how the sun hits your yard during the day. We have some areas that are full sun and partial sun that are only 5 feet apart. This will play a huge part as to what plants you want to choose and where to put them. We personally have a few spots where our hydrangeas got a little angry and had to tent them for a bit so they could grow. Huge life saver, linked here. Took then a few extra weeks to catch up and their buddies not far from them were thriving all summer with no issues. So just take some time to learn your sunny and shady spots.
  3. Plan for more mulch (or pine straw) than you think. Mulch helps lock in moisture for your plants, feeds your soil, helps suppress weed growth, and protects against erosion. And it protects your plants! Especially the super sensitive hydrangeas that we planted. They loved the extra mulch covering. Since mulch is a very important part of your garden, you don’t want to skip out. My personal unit of measurement…hold your arms out, make a circle, and that space needs 3 bags of mulch. There are more specific calculations that exist, but what’s the fun in that?!
  4. We had to have professional intervention with the grass because we had 7ish types of weeds that popped up. We were late in the weed prevention so it really bit us in the butt this year. Next year will be much better. We had a lot that popped up in the mulch beds (had to add in more mulch to help with that too) and if we skipped a weekend of weed pulling or spraying. Also don’t use a weed barrier. It will semi protect your yard for one season but the next year…all bets are off when new seedlings blow into your yard. 
  5. Learn your grass type! We are very lucky to have really sweet neighbors that gave us some advice on how they care for their grass and when to do the first and final cut of the year. We also opted for a reel push mower and we couldn’t recommend it more. It requires, obviously, no gas and it is eco friendly. Plus the sound is so quiet-sounds like a screen door opening.
  6. Wear your sunscreen, drink a lot of water, and check for ticks when you’re done. Preventing a bad sunburn, keeping hydrated, and making sure a tick (again, a GA thing) didn’t sneak their way onto you will make it an overall all more fun experience for you and the loved ones that you share your yard work with. For sunscreen, don’t skimp-treat your skin! We use this for face and this for body. We’re both fair skinned and helped us not burn once. And we loved our Stanley to keep our water cold and refreshing.

We worked very hard on our yard and we are really happy with all we have accomplished so far. Many trips to the plant nursery and lots of tubes of sunscreen later, we have a front yard and garden that we are proud of. We learned a lot and laughed our way through falling into dirt piles and tossing a lot of profanity when transferring very mature boxwoods. And we learned two last very important things: 

  1. Do the work together to make some really special memories.
  2. We will hire for our back yard to be cleared…

Thanks for following along! We hope our realistic approach will make you feel a little less intimated for next spring with your home. Feel free to share your tips below too! We’d love to hear them. 

Have a great day!

Melanie and K.C. 


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