Clearing Up The Yard (And Calling Miss Utility)

We were busy bees this weekend. And as some of you noticed in yesterday’s post, in the picture where John was playing the role of the deck, we had already started to clear out the liriope/weeds/bushes that were going on in our future-deck spot.

You might remember that we started with this:

The first step was to call Miss Utility to make sure digging things up and building a deck wouldn’t endanger ourselves (or our house) by potentially hitting an electrical line or a water pipe or any other booby trap that might be lurking below the dirt. Thankfully we got the all clear. So we transplanted that big bush (seen above hugging the side of the house) to a spot in desperate need of some greenery: the left side of our house. It looks kinda lonely by itself, but right now we’re filing this under “it’s better than nothing.” Someday we’ll get him a line of friends (the same bushes – called Gold Dust- grow along the bedroom addition and look great, so we have high hopes that this spot works for them too).

Next up, digging up liriope. Our favorite thing! Not. But at least we had our favorite thing to cheer us on: Burger. Here he is giving the “glad I’m not the one who has to dig up all that liriope” look.

I think it took a little over an hour of digging (with Clara inside napping with her monitor on blast by the door) for the space to go from this…

…to this.

We dumped the dug-up monkey grass on our side yard in hopes that some of it will survive and fill in (that stuff is crazy-hardy). Also, under the balcony are pallets that we’ll get rid of when we demo that thing out.

Unfortunately the clearing task didn’t end there. We also had to take care of this weird assortment of bricks, weeds, and lawn ornaments that we lovingly call “the AC shrine.”

We can’t quite figure out what its purpose was – besides maybe putting some leftover bricks to use. They were arranged kind of like some permanent four-square game, with the stone pagoda in the middle. It earned the name “the AC shrine” because between the mini-temple and unusual layout we decided it must have some greater, cosmic meaning while being located right in front of – you guessed it – the AC.

In digging it up we didn’t find sacrificial animal bones, but we did discover that the bricks were laid two levels deep. Awesome. It gave us flashbacks of this and this. Yes, we’ve done our fair share of brick-digging-up around here.

Around 160 bricks later, we had everything dug up. Oh yeah, don’t mind the pile of paver stones in the background. Those were leftovers from the patio project. Guess now you know where we’ve been hiding them for the past 12 months. But we’ve got plans for them someday…

Several sweat-inducing wheelbarrow loads later, to take them to our brick stockpile next to our carport – future use still unknown (but possibly for when we convert the carport into a garage), the area was officially clear. Well, clear of bricks at least.

A bit more digging later, and it was also mostly clear of weeds.

We still have to move our paver collection, demo the existing balcony, and get rid of the pallets it’s shielding – but the area is much more ready for a deck than it was last weekend.

Now we just have to:

  • continue weighing the pros and cons of different decking materials (we’ll share a lot more on that when we make a final decision)
  • get some estimates for our materials
  • get that dang permit thing taken care of

Oh yes, and then we have to actually:

  • build a deck

Haha. You know we’ll keep you posted! Oh and speaking of keeping you posted, we called our power company to make sure those electrical meters on the side of the house won’t sabotage our deck plans (we have heard in some places they have to be at a certain height so people reading them don’t have to crouch – which would mean no deck) but thankfully our meter readers are happy to crouch, so there’s no issue with them! Wahoo! One of them is actually not active anymore (the extra low one) and the other one will be about 2.5′ above the bottom of the deck (and since they do most of their reading remotely now, it just needs to be accessed to be serviced, which they say is no problem at that height). Whew. And we’ll paint it to blend in like we did at our first house.

Have you guys been clearing things or digging up any areas around the house? Did you find anything cool while digging? We once found an old milk bottle cap at our first house…

… and actually hung it up on our gallery wall to commemorate it.

Someone tell me they found a box full of money or gold bars or something. Or a dinosaur bone.

Psst- In one of our quickest giveaways in history, we hit 10,000 entries within six hours of posting it, so we’ve already announced this week’s winner here.


  1. says

    I can’t believe that giveaway went that quick! Everyone must love them some Lazy Boy furniture.

    I think the deck right there is going to look and be great for you guys. Such a cool spot for it.

  2. says

    I found an old house number from when our house was #24, not number #60 (pre-911 system), and… borrowed from you guys by gluing it to a small canvas and hanging it in our frame gallery. Such a good idea.

  3. says

    Looks so much better back there. I was wondering what was hiding under the current deck!

    My parents replaced their wood deck with this sort of eco-no splinter-faux wood thing (I’ll ask what it was) and it’s held up for at least 10 years and still looks great! Can’t wait to hear what material you decide to go with.

  4. Kelly says

    About two weeks ago we dug up all the plants on the side of our ~150 year old house to fix the grading and replace with gravel (sorry plants, but now having water gushing in our basement every time it rained seemed more important.)

    The whole time we dug I just kept chanting “diamond ring, baby!” but we didn’t find anything except a bagillion tulip bulbs, onions, and trash.

  5. Missy G. says

    I don’t have any cool digging up stories, but I did make an awesome find while cleaning up our back apartment after a brother-in-law moved out. He left all kinda junk for us to trash and clean up for him (nice, huh?). Actually I’m not sure if it was that brother, another brother, or one of my hubby’s random friends that rented that apartment from him, but someone decided to hide a bag full of quarters in the back of the entertainment center and then forgot about it. There was $100 worth of quarters in there! Yes, of course I counted. I certainly kept it because, hello, I had to pick up your junk. :)

  6. says

    Monkey Grass is extremely hardy, no need to worry about planting it. I love that y’all are transplanting as many plants as possible. I wish I felt that way about some of mine. I would rather dig them up and be done with some of our shrubs.

  7. Brooke S says

    Looking forward to hearing what you guys use for materials as well, thinking about DIY this summer for a front porch. Do you know how you will get the footings in the ground? (I believe that’s what their called)

    • says

      No idea yet! We are still figuring out what we’ll need to do for our permit (what they require, etc). Will keep you posted for sure!


  8. Jackie E. says

    Great job cleaning everything up.

    Now for a plant tidbit for you.

    That “gold dust” plant you have is also known as Aucuba and you can make more plants from your if you are so inclined. Cut a few branches and stick them in a container of water. They will make nice indoor bouquets and will grow roots, so you can plant outside when the root system is nice and developed.

  9. says

    I am so upset that I didn’t win that giveaway! LOL

    We plan on replacing the boards on our deck and really going back and forth about whether to use composite or regular wood. This will probably be a “Next summer” project unfortunately. :( I can’t wait to see how you guys do it. I am trying to convince my husband we can do ours. Now, with your future tutorial, I am pretty sure we can pull it off!

  10. Katie Carroll says

    I thought that temple thing was a frog house? At least that’s how they sell them at our local garden place! :)