Outdoor Tour 2012

It’s yard tour time, baby! Every year we try to take a few video tours of the inside of our house, just to look back on how it has evolved (you can check those out here). And we even made a little outdoor tour post last year, complete with a full video of John bush-wacking his way around our yard. So we thought it would be fun to make that an annual tradition. Just so we can see how the exterior of our house is evolving as we tackle projects big (like the patio and the deck) and small (like all of the transplanting/seeding/weeding that we do – more on that here). The funny thing is that it’s actually a huge difference between this year’s yard tour and last year’s. Both thanks to work we’ve done on certain parts of the yard and the way that mother nature has completely crazy-fied our backyard (which we have yet to touch).

You think I’m kidding. Check out this photo of the backyard last year:

And a shot from the same spot now:

See how much bigger/denser the little planting bed between the two paths above got in the past 12 months? These photos don’t do it justice, but our video does. That butterfly bush is about 12 feet tall. Seriously. Somebody call the Guinness Book Of World Records.

Here’s another picture of the back yard from last year:

And the same POV from now. See how giant the butterfly bush got? Check out how you basically see the whole tree trunk behind it in the shot above and how it’s almost completely covered by bushery (that’s a word in my head) in the photo below.

Here’s how things looked staring back at our house from the back of our lot last year:

And here’s what that view looks like now. It’s really crazy how much those tiny purple bushes above filled in (they got at least three times bigger). The entire house’s foundation isn’t visible anymore from the same spot. Note: A few folks asked why the nook in the bedroom was there, and you can see from this shot of the back of the house, that it’s there so the back looks balanced like this. That large window in the bump-out is in the living room, so if we added a window to the nook in an effort to balance the other window on that wall in the bedroom it would be a big window right next to a small window on that bumped out section of the back of the house. Hope this photo makes more sense of that description!

This is a shot from a little over a year ago, so it’s even more dramatic. This is what things looked like last spring, before they got semi-big.

And here’s what they look like now, with everything in bloom. See how the knockout roses in the left side of the picture above are giant now? And once again that planting bed in the middle (with Sir Butterfly Bush, Sr.) got crazy big? This almost doesn’t even look like the same POV, but looking at the three big trees in the background can help you line things up between the before above and the after picture below.

And it’s also pretty crazy to see how much the side yard of ours has grown – which was actually the plan since we’d love to naturalize that area- so yay! We have enough to mow in the front and back, so we want the way back and the side to get all woodsy and charming like our first house’s back perimeter. Check out a few photos of the side yard from last year

And these pics of that area now. Definitely looks bushier, eh? And we’ve planted a few trees (river birches), so we’re just waiting for those to fill in for even more of a wooded look.

Oh and one spot we didn’t document last year, but have decided to start this year, is the side lot from the side. So here’s what it looks like now. The wild grasses are actually really pretty down there.

Here’s how the view has changed from the corner of the grass in the front yard. This is that area last year (see the little bush fence that surrounded the yard?):

And here’s that area now from the same POV:

And just to keep this post complete, we’ll also include the what the front yard looked like last year

… and what it looks like now:

That’s our favorite one so far. Well that and our big patio makeover, which went from this…

… to this.

Uh, yeah – lots has changed, huh? It’s a jungle back there! So we have yet to tackle things out back, but it’s really cool to see how the front has evolved since this old video tour from last year:

For example, in this year’s updated tour you can see how we landscaped the patio, tamed the front yard, got some upgraded patio furniture, seeded the lawn with some more grass, and removed lots and lots of bush fences that hid our house from the street (and how we hid a secret outdoor book project with bath towels). Warning: I should never ever be allowed to do these video tours again. You basically need anti-nausea medicine before viewing. Can someone just be born flail-y?

Video thrashiness aside, we’re so glad to have documented evidence of our yard for the summer of 2012. I wonder what next year’s footage will look like? Think we’ll tackle some of that jungle of ours in the back (we’d love to create a nice patch of grass for Burger and Clara to romp around in while naturalizing the area behind the grass into a nice privacy riddled woods of sorts). Think we’ll have a bit more patio furniture and a deck by then? Sure, hope so! Heck, maybe our carport will be converted into a garage by this time next year. It should be fun to – in the words of Andy Cohen – watch what happens.

Do you guys document outdoor upgrades as well? Does anyone else walk around the house with the video camera, just to capture how things were looking on a specific day? I hope this is something we keep up with because we wish we had thought to document all of the yearly outdoor changes from our first house on video. Oh, well – live and learn!


  1. says

    It looks great! And those butterfly bushes do grow crazy (are yours working & attracting butterflies?)! My parents planted 3 next to their shed and they grew so quickly that my dad has to constantly trim them. Right now, they’re right at the bottom of the shed’s roof.

  2. says

    Such a great idea to do an annual “tour” documenting the changes inside and out! Somethings small things change and don’t seem like as big of a deal (ie warrant photo documentation), but lots of little changes each year really show the progression of a home.

    Have a great day today!

  3. says

    Defiitely much better and it shows that with what you did in the front yard! I can’t wait to see what you do to the back yard. There’s so much potential! I hope you can keep some of the plants and move them to your side yard. Knock out roses are great, as are the butterfly bushes, but they do both get really big. We cut our rose bush down to the ground every year and it keeps on coming back. I’d love a butterfly bush but have no where for something to get that big! I’ll just enjoy my mom’s! (I almost said “my mom’s bush” but realized that went really dirty!!!)

  4. Master Gardener says

    You do know that butterfly bushes should be trimmed to the ground each year, right? In your zone they’ll grow right back and have a better, less leggy, shape.

    • says

      We’re going to eventually make that area a big grassy play spot, so that planting bed will get transplanted, maybe to the wild side yard so it can fill in and be all woodsy!


  5. Reenie says

    WOW!! I bet your neighbors drive or walk by slowly to see all the improvements you’ve made. Love it.

    ~ I need to get some butterfly bushes!! :)

  6. says

    Those butterfly bushes are incredible!

    Before you even got to the explanation of the nook in your bedroom I was already drawing lines on the screen to explain it to myself :) I get it now. But I’m still surprised that they created that nook for the sake of that gable. Interesting…

  7. says

    Hope you have fun today at Haven!! I hope you’ll share everything with those of us who couldn’t make it. Can’t wait to hear all about it :-)

  8. says

    Wow things are really changing. Plants really grow quickly each year that is for sure…even if you don’t want them to. haha. I have pictures from each year. Though I haven’t taken any this year. I better get on that actually. It’s great to see where we have come from to where we are now with the inside of the house and the outside. I love documenting all of this. Heck we have even moved plants around in our yard because they got too big. Can’t wait to hear all about Haven. :)

  9. lisa says

    Second cutting back the butterfly bush. Also, I think if you just mow the monkey grass, it will either act like grass or give up and die—which beats digging the damn stuff up. I civilized an entire meadow by biweekly mowing to keep the weeds from seeding or storing up enough roots to survive the winter.

  10. Brynn says

    I was just wondering what you do with your video diaries to keep them organized and where you store them. I have videos of my daughter I would love to organize so that I can always look back. (and of my house when I get it!) Any suggestions? (when you get a chance, I know you are busy today.)Thank YHL!

    • says

      We try to upload them to a site like YouTube.com so they’re safe in an off-site place! And we label them so we can hopefully find them again (like outdoor tour 2012).


  11. says

    Blimey, don’t get me started on butterfly bushes. Those things are INSANE. We had to cut back so much of ours a couple of weeks ago after it threatened to take over the garden. We then looked at some pictures from 2 years ago when we had just moved in and – wait for it – THERE IS NO BUSH. The current bush is right up against the fence and we think this baby has basically started growing from our neighbours’ side, underneath the fence, and went to town in our back yard. Well played, stealth butterfly bush, well played.

    • says

      I wouldn’t doubt that. Butterfly bushes are extremely invasive and will kill/suffocate anything in their way so they can spread…so much so that they are illegal in some states (like Oregon and New Jersey). It’s true that butterflies do like the nectar from these bushes, but there are hundreds of other blooming plants they prefer as well.

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