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My Early-Season Yard Updates

I usually do a yearly yard update post closer to the end of the growing season—usually in late August or early September when the garden has really filled in and there’s lots to look at. This will be our second full growing season in our current yard.

The first year we focused on putting in a long bed that ran the length of the fence. You can see pictures of that in this post. We also put in a fire pit that we use a ton. We built a DIY fire pit with an underground blower that helps control smoke and really makes the pit into an inferno.

Then, last year, focused on landscaping around the patio and adding an area with raised garden beds. This was a lot of work, but our goal has always been to slowly chip away at our grass by putting in mulched and raised beds with native plants, pollinator-friendly plants, and veggies.

beautiful backyard garden
Last year’s garden in July

Things we’re focusing on this year…

So far, we think our focus for 2024 will be on five things:

  • Expanding our raised beds
  • Maximizing vertical growing space
  • Planting more native and fruit trees
  • Managing our bat problem
  • Putting in a small pond

No big deal, right?? I know…I’m not sure if this list is too ambitious. But we’re already making some great progress on our goals for the spring and summer, and it’s only April! Let’s walk through a few of them.

beautiful backyard garden

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1. Expanding our raised beds

At first I wanted to add in only two more Vego raised beds to math the two we already had. But after going through everything I wanted to grow, I realized I should bite the bullet and put in a few more.

So, ultimately we added 5 new beds to the raised beds area—and that’s in addition to the 2 we already had. I did two large 17” deep rectangle beds, two 11” deep square beds, and a smaller 17” bed designed for kids.

Did you know that Vego Garden sells beds for kids?? They have a really cool program where you can buy a decent-sized bed for $100 or so. Then, after you send in a picture of your kid with the bed, you get a $50 refund!

The first thing we did was put the beds in place and decide on the shape. Based on the movement of the sun, I decided it was probably best to continue expanding the length of the mulched area instead of the width.

So we added the beds, edged out the grass around them, and started filling the beds. You don’t want to fill these all the way with soil…that’d be killer on your wallet! So we filled them with cardboard, half-done compost, yard waste, sticks, and some of the dirt we dug up while edging the area out.

Then we finished off the last few inches of each bed with bags of leaf compost and some manure. I like to let it rain a few times then top off the beds again—the rain helps settle things.

We’ll fill in the area around the beds with some perennials and annuals. My goal is to have mostly all native perennials up here, but it’s a process. I have a bunch of zinnia seeds going that I’ll plant in a week or two. Then sheet mulch with layered cardboard and mulch!

raised beds in a garden
raised beds in a garden
raised beds in a garden

2. Maximizing vertical growing space

Although I’m now up to 7 total raised beds, I still want to get better about maximizing our vertical growing space. Why? Well, I want to grow as much as I can! And I want to give myself the space to sequence my plants with the growing season.

For example, planting snap peas and cucumbers in the same bed. By the time the snap peas are done and ready to be pulled, my pickling cucumbers will really be taking off and moving up the trellis. 

The company Best Nest very generously reached out to me to see if I wanted to review some of their trellises, and I jumped at the chance! I love the a-frame trellises that they sent me because they are powder-coated, meaning they are much, much more resistant to the elements than many other materials are.

I love a-frame trellises…and while I do like to buy locally, when I need something specific or quite a few of something, I find that ordering online can be the most economical choice. A 10-pack of these trellises is only $147.99, which comes out to just about $15 per trellis. That is the same price as what’s available at my local Lowe’s, but those aren’t powder-coated, so they’ll rust quickly.

I will be using these for snap peas, green beans, cucumbers, and tomatoes. I know you might not think to use a-frame trellises for tomatoes, but they work so much better than traditional tomato cages. Those cylindrical cages can just flop over so easily.

raised beds with a-frame trellises
raised beds with a-frame trellises
raised beds with a-frame trellises

They also sent me a beautiful cedar obelisk trellis that I’ve just finished putting together. Aside from it being a fantastic cat playground while I was assembling it in the kitchen, it will also make a gorgeous feature in my garden.

I bought a Blue Mars seedless grape tree that I’m considering growing using the obelisk, but I haven’t totally decided yet. In my end-of-the-season post this summer, I’ll make sure to update my review of these pieces and show you more pictures of them in action!

cedar obelisk trellis

3. Planting more native and fruit trees

We planted three trees on our almost totally tree-less yard last year—one in the front, and two in the back. I’d like to plant one more in the front and then a few more in the back.

In the back, I’d like to focus on fruiting trees. Definitely a cherry tree and the grape tree I mentioned already, but also probably a plum or peach tree!

4. Managing our bat problem

I love bats. They are amazing, helpful creatures. But I do not love bats in my house. Can you tell where this is going? 🙂 We’ve been battling bats since we moved in. 

Our house is old, and one thing we weren’t totally prepared for with an older home is critter management. Mostly the critters don’t bother us too much. But we kind of had a feeling we had a bat problem when we heard squeaking behind the wall one night.

Mike ventured up into the attic one day with a flashlight and found a whole extended family of them huddled together, hanging out. He located where they were coming in and replaced the screen one night when they were all out flying around.

Then, at the end of last season, I found a bat IN THE BASEMENT HANGING FROM THE CEILING JOISTS. (This was before we worked on partially finishing it.) Mike captured and released it.

bat hanging from a ceiling

This year we’re calling in a pro to audit the attic and figure out where they are getting in. And we’re putting up a bat house! I’ve wanted a bat house for a while, so this is very excited for me. Like I said…I want bats…just not in my house!

In addition to the trellises they sent, Best Nest sent us a wooden bat house as well. It’s a gorgeous piece that came already assembled. And it has a cute little bat engraved on it. I did decide to stain and finish mine with Thompson’s WaterSeal to elongate its life, and I’m hoping we’ll see lots of bats using it (instead of our attic) as a safe, cozy home.

Make sure to grab a 15-foot telescoping pole, too. We mounted ours to the back of our shed in the corner of the yard. In addition to the telescoping pole, we also used some brackets to secure it to the shed because we sometimes get very high winds here.

woman holding a bat house
shed with trees and a bat house
bat house mounted on a pole

5. Putting in a small pond

This one is the biggest goal this year. And if I’m being totally honest, I didn’t know that we’d get to it. It would be a totally DIY job that I know would be time-consuming.

Well, my husband decided last week that it was time. He picked up a liner and started digging! I got home from the office and found this. So, more updates to come on the pond!

man digging a hole for a pond

And that’s it for now!

And that’s a wrap on our goals for our backyard this summer. Do you think we can tackle them all? I’m confident in the first four, but we’ll see how putting in a pond goes. Check back later in the season for an update—or follow me on Instagram for real-time updates on my projects!

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  1. denise b says:

    I love everything you talked about in this post from bats to garden 😃but just a warning on the pond..if you love it as much as I love mine you will want to keep going bigger! I’m already dreaming of a third size up 😬haven’t told hubby yet..I’ve over wintered my gold fish in the pond for the past 8yrs I am so happy with it!
    Good luck..and happy digging !

    • Brittany Goldwyn says:

      Thank you so much!! Well, we have already put the liner in, so the ship has sailed on this size. Maybe I’ll add another one?? I do already love sitting at my computer with the window open and listening to the waterfall!

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