Healing a Scarred Yard

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAI’m digging this summer.

I don’t mean this as a retro way of saying “I like summer,” because, truthfully, it’s not my favorite season. I don’t care for the heat and my kids are home all day with me for 82 days in row.

What I mean is that I’m going to spend most of the summer digging up my yard.

The first week of summer kicked off with blisters and sunburns acquired while hacking into landscaping elements I paid big bucks for “professionals” to install just a few years ago.

Once upon a time, I stood on the front porch of my new custom-built home and looked over my raw country acreage. I quivered with excitement over the possibilities. I imagined a mini-orchard of my favorite fruit trees, flower beds blooming with perennials, meandering flagstone paths through wildflower gardens and fresh herbs growing right out the door from my kitchen.

HGTV would be clamoring for a live tour!

Though we’d done most of the landscaping of our previous little spec home with valiant DIY efforts that turned out respectable, we felt our more elaborate plans this time would benefit from experienced expertise so we hired professionals—or so we thought.

It’s a long, boring, cliché, homeowner-done-wrong-by-contractor nightmare story so I’ll spare you.

I’ll just offer a sampling of a phone conversation I had with the landscape company owner:

“Hi, it’s Kari . . . again. I was just wondering if you were ever going to actually set foot on my property like you promised to see the botched job your crew did on my yard.”

“Well, my guys tell me it’s going great out there.”

“Really? People on your payroll, who use a grotesque amount of it to buy Big Gulps then leave the empty cups around my property, assure you they’re amazing workers? That’s so surprising!”

It finally ended with me kicking the crew off my shoddy half-finished property, eventually giving up on the futile battle to get my money back and letting go of dreams to host garden wedding receptions for my children. I’ve been so disgruntled over it that I’ve basically let the elements, weeds and wildlife have their way with my yard. I’d already blown my dream yard budget and figured I’d probably never have a lump sum like that again to redo it, so why bother with it at all? I turned a blind eye to it and have taken to enjoying the great indoors.

Then the other day I dropped off my son at a friend’s house I’d never been to before. I was immediately struck by this lovely property set back in some trees with a simple, well-groomed landscape. Adorned in its Cache Valley spring splendor, it looked so welcoming.

I’d forgotten how that felt.

When I drove back into the driveway of my tangled wasteland I was ashamed. It was time to swallow my pride and pick up a shovel.

It’s not going to be the yard I envisioned, but it can be well-kept and welcoming. What I don’t have in funds this time will have to be paid in time and sweat, in 82 days of child slave labor.

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