Thursday, July 9, 2009

Backyard Project reflections

PREFACE: The cost of this backyard project, besides the obvious cost of the materials, was a lot of time, energy, sweat, tears, some hurt feelings, a lot of self examination and even a little bit of blood. Definitely lots of scratches, bruises and sore muscles. Many compromises, changes in plans and so much help from so many... often without being asked or requesting anything in return.
(OK, maybe they were just sick of looking at the s*l*o*w*l*y shrinking pile of rocks in the street)

THE STORY: When we originally drew up our plans of the back yard, I had illusions of grandeur. I could see our whole family working together every day for a few weeks, bonding as we worked side by side, and then sitting back to enjoy it the rest of the summer.
Go ahead and laugh... I now do too when I think about it.

Yes... I forgot that my husband has a job,
and my kids didn't have the same plans on how to spend their summer.

Also as we began to move forward the "dry" stream bed became less dry and - well, things multiplied.

While I had researched how to make a working stream and found great information on the internet (ie. "How to make a backyard stream in just two weekends") I didn't factor in a lot of the other projects that would be in progress at the same time, as well as the previous sweat (obviously not shed by me) that made things - such as our garden box - so awesome. And now I was constructing three plus garden boxes...
But I soon learned... and also understood with exquisite detail why my dear husband (who is the one put the sweat into the one we currently had) was not as excited as I was about creating so many more.

I also learned that when there is something I really want I tend to minimize other peoples warnings and feelings in favor of what I want. During the hours that I dug below the ground level of these boxes in order to till in freshly hauled in compost so that we could again have 5+ foot high tomato plants and a bounty of tomatoes; I thought a lot about counting the costs before beginning a project as well as my headstrong ways.

The original plan for the stream was for it to be about 15 feet long and end here -
kind of in the middle of the yard. (Already longer than the one that we were supposed to be able to complete in two weekends - not counting the little side stream at the top).
But the boys suggested - and were quite correct - that it looking funny ending where it did. It really needed to continue to the corner of the house - which it now does.

It looks awesome - and yes it did take more than two weekends.
You would think I would have learned from my "potty training in less than a day" experience.
See the awesome grasses above? - Mark's suggestion
We get a lot of compliments on those.

I finally started to really listen - not just give lip service to what others were saying before moving forward and doing what I wanted. That's when a funny thing started to happen. It no longer was "my" project but more of the family project that we had envisioned all along.

Little details worked out better than planned.
The top of the stream is almost always in the shade and plants that bloom in the shade are hard to come by - but now we have an awesome perennial shade garden with some flowers, but an amazing array of color and texture in the foliage itself that's there month after month.

I had planned in my mind to have one very large boulder here to create a sheer face...
but after unsuccessfully working with the rock company my boulder never materialized so I improvised, and in all honesty I think this came out better. A taller and more sheer face than I probably could have gotten from one large rock and the color and fit of these rocks was amazing. They also created nooks and crannies for the plants to spill over.
Sometimes we don't get what we want but if we are open to the possibilities it often turns out better than we originally planned.

I love that when we open our bedroom windows at night I can hear the sound of water from the stream.
I didn't expect that.

I love that this is what I see from my kitchen window.
Life may require time, effort and hard work but in the end it will be worth it.
Doubt not but be believing... Mormon 9:27

I love that we eat outside as often as possible, fully enjoying family and friends and the beautiful summer evenings.
I love that we see all kinds of birds enjoying the stream including a father quail and his nine babies.
I love that our backyard is no longer "my" project but an example of synergy - where the interaction or cooperation of two or more produced a combined effect greater than the sum of the individual parts.
I love that we look for opportunities to spend time together here -
Which was what this was all about in the first place.

The cost of this project was high but the value of this whole experience and what we have to show for it is priceless.


MZ said...

You did an amazing job on the yard! I find myself looking out the window all the time just for the view. Great work!

Chelsea said...

job well done! Projects are always more (time, effort, money) than we think they'll be once we dive into it. Nice to know we aren't the only ones. You guys do a great job at "do-it-yourself" projects. We are impressed!

Christie said...

I just love it! You know I love beautiful gardens...and yours turned out beautifully. I need to come by and see it. Isn't it just a joy to walk around and see how all your new backyard 'friends' are doing? least that's the way I feel about my plants!