Why did I regrade my yard?
Last fall, it rained. A lot. Continually. And, all that water caused a few leaks in my basement. As I spoke to some contractors who were still working on the inside of my house, they all said the same thing. I needed to regrade my yard.
The tall tree-like shrub was a lilac. It was actually beautiful and smelled so good! And then, there were the hydrangeas. Planted many, many years ago and totally out of control. They were an issue with getting in and out of the driveway.
I had tried trimming the ones that hung over the driveway and then, as healthy plants do, they grew back even more vigorously! I ended up using a rope and corraling them into the area they were supposed to be. It was a mess!
The point is, all the plantings had been there for a long time and it was hard to see, but my yard did indeed slope toward the house.
How did I tame those hydrangeas & other plantings?
As much as it killed me, they all had to be removed so that the area around my house could be regraded. The soil needed to be higher near my house and then the water would run away from the house. If my basement wouldn't have continually gotten wet, I would have hesitated a little longer with tearing out everything. Looking at these pictures now, the landscaping was an overgrown eyesore (it was there when I purchased the house). But, at the time, I just wanted to save the hydrangeas and the big lilac trees because I just loved those plants.
I got a few quotes and ended up using a landscaper that my neighbor had used for some big landscaping projects.
It took heavy equipment. Those hydrangeas were old and there was no way to even get a shovel into the ground/roots. They were dug up using this digger (Is that even the name of this thing?).
You can also see in the above pictures the long plastic pipes that were attached to my downspouts to move the rainwater away from my foundation.
It rained, so much that fall, that a simple project took months because it was always too wet to work.
I remember at one point thinking maybe I should decorate this guy for Halloween. Because he was just hanging in my yard waiting for the rain to stop so that the ground would be dry enough to finish the job.
The landscaper did save 10 freshly divided plants and put them aside. I still loved those hydrangeas but wanted them a little more contained. This is the pile of roots that got started. I gave away tons of hydrangea roots. And, they are tough plants. I took just a few of these and planted them in some very bare area in my backyard. They came back just fine.
These (I think) yews went too! Even with trying to trim them, they just kept spilling over onto the driveway. Don't you love the big weed against the house? At that point, I gave up trying to fight my way through the bushes to get rid of that weed because I got too scratched up!
This wasn't all of what was torn out and left. But a big part of it. I think my house signed a big sigh of relief when all this thick overgrown landscaping went away.
Was I happy I tore out all the landscape plantings?
Yes! I had significantly less water coming into my basement. And, in hindsight, I didn't realize how bad my yard looked. I think I might be a little bit of a plant hoarder : ).
Can I tell ya, I lost count of how many neighbors, who were just casually walking by, told me how great my yard looked now. Guess pulling everything looked better than having everything so overgrown - for years! I had wanted to save those overgrown hydrangeas so much. Oh well, I did keep more than enough plants and am still finding some volunteer plants that I dig up and give away.
A reminder - this is the before - with thousands of hydrangeas and the lilac tree.
This was the after.
You couldn't even see the house in the before picture! It was so tidied up after everything was removed!
I did replace some hydrangeas in the front. But had the landscaper put in 5 individual plants on each side. And they did survive and thrive.
I'll have to confess that I did cut tons of the hydrangea flowers and dried them.
What to do with dried hydrangeas.
There are lots of fun things you can do with them and they are so expensive if you buy them. Here are some ideas!